According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, “A spray tan is a type of fake tan (a substance to make the skin look darker) that is sprayed onto someone’s skin, usually using a special machine.”
The concept of spray tanning, as we know it today, first originated in the 1950s when the researcher Wittgenstein splattered a medicine containing the colourless chemical, dihydroxyactenone (DHA), on patients’ skins, discovering that although it stained their bodies, it did not stain their clothes. Astonished, she then splattered her own skin with the solution, noticing that within hours these patches turned brown.
Not long after, this baffling ingredient was bottled into beauty products which promised to bronze your body or “tan groom” your legs according to the 1960s fashion trends at the time.
Today, DHA is the most common ingredient found in spray tan solutions. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the most effective sunless tanning products contain DHA as the active ingredient. DHA works by interacting with the amino acids in dead skin cells to produce a brown colour change. Other common ingredients that serve purposes ranging from moisturising the skin to preserving the tanning solution include: Aloe vera, Witch Hazel, propellant, humectants, preservatives and stabilisers.
There are two different ways a spray tan can be achieved- through spray tan bottles for self-application or by visiting a spray tan salon. The luxury of visiting a salon certainly has its advantages over self-application such as the lack of effort required to apply the tan manually; a longer-lasting tan; less mess to clean up and a smoother and more even and flawless finish with less chances of patches of tan-free skin which could have been overlooked during self-application. Nevertheless, the awkwardness of having to stand naked in front of a beautician if spray tanning the whole body and the price are the two main drawbacks of visiting a salon versus self-application in front of a mirror. However, there is always the alternative of a spray tan booth where a machine does the process for the client while directing and guiding them through the process. Moreover, if a full-body tan is not sought, then a swimsuit or other clothing may be worn during the process so that only the targeted areas are exposed.
The spray tan process is pretty straight-forward. Before the process, the client will need to undress to expose the areas that need to be tanned and inform the beautician (if in a salon) of how ‘dark’ they wish to turn. They may do this by showing the beautician a picture. Then the beautician or machine will spray them for around five minutes and the desired bronze effect will be achieved and should last for between 3-7 days depending on the quality of the fake tan solution used.
To conclude, spray tanning is a Western fashionable trend which originated around the 1950s. Many pale-skinned people spray tan when wanting their skins to look more bronzed either for special occasions or to feel more beautiful.