Types of Spray Tan

Are you looking to get a spray tan sometime soon? Did you know that there are several types of spray tans available?

Some people may not be aware that a “spray tan” can mean one of numerous different options available to you when you are looking for a fake tan of this variety. Each spray tan method has its own merits and downsides and in this post I discuss the various spray tan techniques so you can decide what is best for you.

Salon Air-brush/hand-held spray gun

This type of spray tan is done by a professional at a spray tan salon or somewhere similar. There are a few variations in the types of spray tan guns available.

The most commonly used handheld spray tan systems are the airbrush tanning system with compressor, and the Low Volumes/Low Pressure (LVLP) and High Volume/Low Pressure (HVLP) each of which is discussed below:

Airbrush tanning compressor

This type of equipment was originally designed for purposes other than spray tanning – such as delicate fake tattoos and makeup. Having said that, the airbrush is sometimes used by beauticians to apply spray tans to their clients. The typical airbrush is cheaper than the other handheld spray tan equipment and it is also a lot less noisy.
The typical airbrush operates at around 35PSI of pressure and tends to deliver more over-spray than the other handheld methods due to the narrower spray pattern. A spray tan using an airbrush generally takes anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes.
- more affordable equipment which is also quieter to operate than the other handheld spray tan systems.
- Over-spray is usually a problem due to the limited narrow spray delivery.
- Typically takes longer to apply a full spray tan – between 25 to 40 minutes.

Low Volume Low Pressure (LVLP) and High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) spray tan system

The LVLP and HVLP systems are more suited for spray tans compared to the typical airbrush compressor mentioned above.

The LVLP/HVLP spray tan equipment is turbine driven and the spray tan solution is applied via a spray gun in a similar way to the airbrush. Due to the way it’s designed, this type of equipment delivers a more even and quicker spray tan mist.
The LVLP usually operates at around 1PSI of pressure and the spray pattern and flow can be adjusted as needed and as a result this system produces very little over-spray which means it is very efficient.
The HVLP system is similar to the LVLP but it operates at a slightly higher pressure (anywhere between 4 and 10 PSI) and is a little noisier to operate because of the extra fans it uses as its turbines.
A spray tan using the LVLP/HLVP systems will typically take 5 to 10 minutes to apply and due to its efficiency, it is the most recommended form of spray tan both for the customer and those wishing to setup their own spray tanning business.
- much more efficient to use and reduces the time to apply a spray to only 10-15 minutes.
-  Over-spray is not a problem due to the flexible spray delivery adjustments and lower pressure compared to the airbrush compressor.

- the quality of the spray tan is largely dependent on  the skill of the spray tan technician.
- the equipment is more expensive and noisier than the airbrush compressor.


Automatic Spray Tan Booth

This type of spray tanning method is done in an enclosed booth (a bit like a shower cubicle). After the initial setup which is done by the tanning beautician, the spray tan solution is delivered automatically as a fine misty spray which comes from a number of nozzles which spray your whole body.
The spray tan beautician will give you instructions about how long and in which positions you must stand for your tan and then you are left on your own to get the tan in privacy.
If you are a beautician or someone who wishes to add spray tanning as part of your business, you’ll find that this method has the most expensive setup costs.
Even though this sounds like a very simple and easy method, it is still not as accurate as having your spray tan manually applied by a technician using the handheld spray gun. This is because with the handheld spray gun method, the spray tan technician is able to vary the spray tan mist and target area if necessary to produce a more even tone whereas the automatic nature of the spray tan booth means that some touch ups may be necessary if there are any inconsistently tanned body parts.

- usually takes only 1 or 2 minutes to apply the tan.
- for those who feel uncomfortable baring their skin, this is a fairly private way of getting a spray tan

- manual touch-ups may be necessary if some parts of the body were not sprayed evenly. (This is rare but it does happen)
- the automated spray tan booth is the most expensive of the spray tan equipment and hence this is also usually reflected in price for the customer.


Domestic spray tan equipment


You can buy virtually any type of spray tan equipment for your home which will be similar to the professional outfits. It all comes down to how much you want to spend. For those who are on a budget you can buy fairly easy to use and reasonably cheap air-brush systems with compressors for home use (as shown above). There are too many varieties of domestic spray equipment available to discuss in this post, but the important thing to remember is that no matter what sort of domestic spray tan equipment you do buy, it is highly likely that may need to have a few practice rounds before you get the perfect spray tan. You will also need a partner or friend to assist you with the parts of your body that you cannot see or reach such as your back.
I know a few people who have had tremendous results from domestic spray tan systems and if you are inclined to do things yourself then this might be an option for you.

- you get to do your own spray tan in the comfort of your own home
- you can have a tanning party with your friends

- it takes time to get up to speed with the spraying skills and technique when you first start out.
- spray tanning lotion refills can be quite expensive, especially when you are learning and prone to waste some of the spray tan with uneven spraying.
- you will require assistance with spraying your back.



  1. just tried the spray tan booth in downtown Santa Monica and I’m now hooked!

  2. Briana Strong

    I’ve just spent half an hour looking for info regarding types of spray tan and your site has been the most helpful! :)

  3. Kendra

    this website is good because it covers all of the fake tan options available. I actually didnt know there were so many :)

  4. NikkiMiller

    Hi Kimberley,
    Wow. I didn’t know that there were so many different types of spray tan. The only type I’ve ever used has been the spray gun at my local salon, but jeez that spray booth looks like a fantastic idea.

  5. Thanks to your article I am now much more confident about choosing the right spray tan to apply to my skin. Keep up the good work.
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