Spray Tan Tips - How dark will my spray tan go?

Heidi Reid

Posted on June 20 2014

Photo cred: La Bronze using Custom Tan

One of the best spray tan tips is learning how to control the colour you will go.  How dark your tan will be has a number of factors.  We've called our brand Custom Tan because - everyone gets a custom colour because everyone has a different skin tone, and because you can customise the colour of your skin by determining how long you choose to leave the bronzer on before you wash it off.  Let's explain.

How does fake tan actually work?

The way you achieve a gorgeous tan is via a chemical reaction between the outer layer of your skin (the stratum corneum) and the tanning ingredient (Dihydroxyacetane - DHA).  DHA is a sugar (or if you want the nitty gritty, it's a 3 carbon keto sugar).  DHA's ability to tan skin was discovered in the 1950's by accident.

That process of the skin changing colour is called the Maillard Reaction.  Best known to food scientists, the Maillard reaction was first defined in 1912 when "Maillard" described the process of animo acids reacting with sugar to create a brown compound as the "Maillard Reaction".  During our training sessions, we explain this process as being similar to cutting a piece of fruit.  If you cut an apple and leave it on the bench, the longer you leave it, the darker brown it will go.  This is the same process as your body tanning via the Maillard Reaction.

How long do I need to leave my tan to go darker?

The process of going from white to brown is an individually timed process, and because it's a unique reaction between the layers of your skin's surface and the DHA, you can't always expect an identical result.  

What we do know is that that 'browning' process happens quite quickly.  These days you have the ability to wash your tan off after a short time, ie 45-60 minutes and you will continue to darken for up to 8 hours later (which is why the old school tans are all 8 hours).  Because approx 50% of colour happens in the first 2 hours, this enables brands to market products as 'express tan' or 'rapid tan' or '1 hour tan' etc.  When the truth is - that - like we named our brand, Custom Tan - the wearer has the opportunity to Customise The Colour of Their Skin - by deciding how long to leave the tan on before rinsing off.

As colour will continue to develop for approximately 8 hours, the longer the tan is left on the skin prior to bathing, the darker the result will be.

Will my tan wash off?

IIt will certainly look like you are washing your tan off, however this isn't quite true.  What you are washing off is the instant bronzer, and the colour that develops underneath is the chemical reaction that takes time.  If you rinse the tan off sooner, it's highly probable that the bronzer you wash off, is a darker shade than the tanned skin remaining underneath - but you'll notice that even if you are sitting at the dinner at 10pm at night, your tan will continue to deepen as time wears on.

But how dark will I go?

You need to be realistic as to what results are achieveable.  We measure skin as phototypes and there are phototypes 1 - the fairest of them all, through to phototype 6, which is a deep ebony colour synonyms with African nations.  If you have a phototype 1 or 2, it's unlikely you'll end up looking like Naomi Campbell.  Sunless tanning is designed to be natural.  So you should be able to look like a deeper, more tanned colour of your natural self - again - this is how everyone achieves a Custom colour which can Customise the Colour of their Skin!

How do you get a really dark tan?

Unless you are genetically blessed, you'll need to amp up your faking it skills.  Pay particular attention to your pre-tan preparation advice from your spray tanner, and be sure to follow the post tan tips too.  The addition of the right tan extending moisturiser, tinted body makeups and mousses should help you achieve a deep golden glow to envy.  

Go take a walk on the wild side!  GRRRR


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  • Custom Tan: June 20, 2014

    Right here on the website hun. Either visit the ‘retail’ collection in our online store for the self tan, or the ‘salon’ collection for the spray tan solution as seen above x

  • cloadgh: June 20, 2014

    were can i buy it from and how much please

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