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Basic Tanning Certification
Indoor Salon Certification
Regulatory Information
Business Resources
Sunless Airbrush/HVLP Technician Course Chapters
Introduction to Sunless
Setting up your Equipment
Skin Preparation and Application
Working with the Client
Federal Statement on DHA

Electrical Safety

Avoiding Slips & Falls

Chapter 3
Skin Preparation And Application

Skin replaces itself naturally every 28 days. Twenty-five percent of skin is exfoliated each week, causing a UV-tan to wear away. Sunless spray tans affect only the top 25 percent of skin. Sunless tanners should use a tan-extending program to maintain the level of the sunless tan longer.

Preparation For The Client

Exfoliating with a salt scrub or other appropriate product is recommended the day before you sunless-tan. Removing loose, dead, dry skin cells that prevent even application of sunless solution will improve and extend your tanning results.

  • Before sunless-tanning, your skin should be clean and dry with no soap residue to interfere with your tan. Avoid bar soap.
  • Do not apply deodorant or perfumes to skin prior to tanning. It is recommended you shave the day before you tan. It is recommended you remove makeup before the tanning process, but it is not absolutely necessary.
  • Remove any jewelry when being sprayed.
  • Select an old, preferably dark bathing suit to wear while being sprayed. Also remember to bring old dark-colored, loose-fitting clothing to wear home.
  • If you are tanning for the first time (pale skin), you should apply a product over your entire body to lower your skin’s pH level. It has been shown that a balanced pH level of skin may provide browner, more natural-looking color.
  • Apply a barrier cream to areas that tend to attract too much color during the spray-tan process such as cuticles, knees, elbows, hands and feet. Apply to tattoos to reduce spray’s effect and keep colors vibrant. Gently wipe off spray color from tattoos after tanning.

Although the likelihood for an allergic reaction is very small, a patch test is recommended for persons who have a known sensitivity to sunless products or the ingredients in them, including fragrances.

Very fair skin types may require a follow-up sunless application 12 to 24 hours later.

After all sunless treatments, wait at least four to five hours before bathing or exercise to allow the DHA bronzer enough time to begin the reaction process.

Sunless-Tan Maintenance

We recommend that after every five weeks of spray-tanning, let your skin rest for 10 days. This allows you to completely lose your sunless tan periodically, which helps eliminate patchiness or uneven areas of wear. These areas are caused by normal contact with clothing and other surfaces, which cause unintended exfoliation. Healthy, moist skin will retain the results of your sunless tanning session longer. Sunless spray results will vary by individual.

Using a moisturizer can help to extend the length of a sunless tan. Also, there are moisturizers that are available with a light DHA bronzer in them to extend the look of a UV tan or sunless tan. The DHA bronzing will help to extend the tan and reduce uneven wear and patchiness.

General Airbrush Application

  • Once you have become familiar with the operation of the airbrush, you’re ready to begin spraying on the body.
  • The tanning technician should wear gloves while applying the sunless solution. Overspray and residue may stain hands.
  • Begin spraying on the body, working from the top to the bottom. Hold the airbrush six to eight inches from the surface of the skin for best results.
  • Hold the airbrush perpendicular to the surface of the skin. Do not tilt the airbrush back and forth while spraying. Maintain an even, relaxed speed across the surface of the skin. Slower movement will result in color buildup, while faster movement causes light areas.
  • While spraying in a circular pattern, move the brush in an arch to follow the contour of the customer’s face or body. This will create the most even coverage and reduce overspray.

Note: Always spray the face first, as this will give the facial area the longest amount of time to dry. This avoids smudging and staining when the customer dresses.

Spraying The Face

  • Ask the customer to hold his or her face with the chin slightly raised to stretch wrinkles in the front of the neck, but not high enough to cause wrinkles at the back of the neck. Do a general, light overspray of the entire face and neck first to establish an even, overall color.
  • Avoid spraying into ears. Oils in the ear often cause ears to over-darken. Overspray from the face will blend color onto the ears nicely.
  • Feather the spray lightly into the hairline to give a natural tan effect. Note: Light blonde and platinum hair may be temporarily discolored by this step. Special care should be taken when applying spray to people with this type of hair. Discoloration of the hair typically will disappear after the hair is washed the first time following the sunless process.
  • Go back into detailed areas of the face that may not have gotten sprayed evenly on the first pass, such as under eyebrows and nose. (Avoid spraying directly into nostrils.) Pay particular attention to the area of the face shadowed by the nostrils. Have the customer use his or her tongue inside the lower lip to push it out. The lower lip has a natural turndown in this area. This allows you to evenly cover this area often missed.

Spraying the Body

  • Continue spraying the entire body using a circular motion to create an even, natural-looking, non-streaky tan.
  • Ask the customer to hold his or her arms out while spraying the sides of the body.
  • Have the customer bend slightly at the knee and elbow when spraying those areas to avoid buildup in the folds of skin.
  • When spraying people with heavier builds, have them hold their arms over their heads to raise breasts and improve access to areas of skin in folds.
  • See instructions for spraying with a larger-body gun-type sprayer.

Sunless Spray Solution Technician’s Manual Body Gun Operation

In order to improve your operation’s efficiency by decreasing the time needed to apply a full-body tan, you may purchase a system that uses a larger sprayer, often called a body gun. The body gun also can improve the overall even application of sunless solution.

Although it can be more difficult to master than smaller airbrush systems, the body gun can be a terrific time-saver. It is specifically designed for use on the wide surfaces of the front and back torso. The experienced operator may want to use it for application to the upper legs. The body gun uses much more air to operate than the airbrush. Some body guns must be operated at a continuous pressure of about 25 pounds per square inch (psi).

Note: It should not be sprayed into the face or used for detailed areas of the body.

Body-Gun Use

  • Begin by attaching the air hose to your body gun at the bottom of the pistol-style grip, and then connect the other end of the hose to your compressor.
  • Fill the reservoir bottle from the gun with your sunless spray solution and close the top. Insert the bottle into the gun.
  • You will notice that the body gun comes from the factory preset for operation at a higher psi (typically about 25 psi). When you turn on your compressor, it will run for a few minutes until it has filled its on-board air tank. When it shuts off, the tank is full and you are ready to spray at 25 psi or at the gun’s preset capacity.
  • Hold the gun in your hand in the same manner a pistol is held. Like smaller spray systems, a body gun usually will offer two trigger settings. When you pull back on the trigger to the first stop position, the gun will release only air. When you pull back to the second stop position, the gun will release solution.
  • The nozzle of the gun has two fins on it pointing away from the gun. The spray from the body gun will form a flat fan pattern when sprayed. These fins indicate the position of the spray pattern that will come out of the nozzle. When the fins are turned vertically, they will spray vertically, and spray horizontally when turned horizontally. They are set at the factory to spray vertically.
  • Practice spraying the gun onto a large sheet of white paper until you are familiar with the operation and spray pattern of the device.
  • When using the body gun, begin spraying on the body first. Stand facing the customer with your feet perpendicular to the surface you are spraying. Move around the customer as you spray across the torso horizontally in short bursts that run across the entire body. Keep the gun in front of you and perpendicular to the surface being sprayed. Don’t fan the gun back and forth. Continue slightly past the profile of the customer’s body but limit overspray to conserve solution. Slightly overlap each pass to ensure a streak-free tan.
  • Due to the high volume of air from a body gun, the air pressure will periodically drop too low to operate. You will find that spraying the solution in short 1-second to 2-second bursts across the entire body works best. This will conserve air pressure in the compressor tank and allow longer use of the gun. The compressor will begin running to refill the tank when the pressure drops too low.
  • During this time you can switch to your airbrush and continue spraying the face and detailed areas. There always should be enough pressure to run your airbrush.

HVLP Spray Techniques

The solution will spray in a fan pattern. Knobs on the gun can be adjusted to control the size of the fan being sprayed and the amount of the fluid being sprayed.

Like many airbrush gun units, many HVLP guns have a 2-stage trigger pull. Pull a little and there will be mainly air; pull more and more fluid will flow. This allows the technicians to know when and where they want to stop.

To eliminate buildup of solution on skin, the gun should be moving when solution is flowing. For a more precise pattern, the knobs should be closed more tightly.

Most manufacturers recommend to spray in a continuous up-and-down motion, letting off on the solution as the end point of the stoke is reached, otherwise there will be darker lines in the outer areas.

For the face and more precise areas, use the tighter adjustments on the gun for detailing.

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