Frequently asked questions
How do sunless/self tanners work?
The principle tanning agent used in all self-tanning formulas is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). This ingredient does not produce a “real tan” by increasing the skin’s melanin levels, rather it creates a tanned appearance by developing a brown color on the surface of the skin.
The action of DHA is limited to the upper layer of the skin and involves a reaction between DHA and skin proteins and oxygen that produces brown compounds. This process is similar to what occurs when you slice open an apple and the surface of the apple browns when it’s exposed to the oxygen in the air.
The development of color takes anywhere from 2 to 4 hours and the intensity of color is dependent upon the DHA concentration in the product as well as each tanner’s individual skin characteristics. The color developed by the DHA usually lasts 5 to 7 days and begins to fade as the top layer of the skin naturally exfoliates.
How long will my sunless tan last?
The longevity of a sunless tan depends on the type of self-tanning application, the skin’s natural exfoliation process, and on the skincare regimen followed before and after application.
On average, self-tanners last 4-7 days. A professional application, I.e. a sunless tan received at a salon or spa, will last longer than an at-home application as there is usually a greater percentage of DHA used.
At-home application (lotions, sprays, mousse, etc.) = 3 to 5 days
Professional application (stand-up spray units, airbrush, Custom Bronzing) = 5 to 7 days
The “life span” of a sunless tan also depends on your skin’s natural exfoliation. The faster your skin turns over, the faster the sunless tan will fade. The tan created by the DHA affects only the top layer of the skin and will begin to fade after 4 to 5 days as the skin naturally begins to exfoliate.
Following a good skin care regimen before and after sunless tanning will help a sunless tan last longer. Exfoliating prior to a sunless tanning application and keeping skin moisturized afterwards are essential. Sunless tan-extending products with a light self-tanning bronzer, like Norvell Color Extender Pro-long™ Moisturizer or Dancing with the Stars by Norvell Endurance, help hydrate skin and maintain even, natural-looking color longer.
Why is keeping skin mosturized essential to maintain great sunless results?
It is important to keep skin moisturized after sunless tanning as dry, flaky skin will slough off faster and color will fade sooner. Your goal is to basically slow down your body’s natural exfoliation process.
Sunless tan-extending products with a light self-tanning bronzer, such as Norvell Color Extender Pro-long™ Moisturizer, help hydrate skin and maintain even, natural-looking color longer by providing subtle bronzers.
Will bronzers from a spray tan rub off on my clothes?
If you are using a spray solution with a cosmetic bronzer (water-soluble make-up), some of the bronze color may rub off on clothing or bed sheets. This is most likely to happen when you get dressed immediately after tanning.
To minimize the chance of the bronzers transferring to clothing, we recommend you wear loose-fitting, darker clothes after your spray session. Try to refrain from physical exertion that could result in your sweating until you shower and wash off the cosmetic bronzers.
All cosmetic bronzers used within Norvell products are water-soluble. Therefore, in most cases, the color will come out of clothing in the wash.
It is however important to note bronzers may stain light hair, wool, spandex, lycra, silks or other fine fabrics. If product comes into contact with hands or clothing rinse immediately.
Should I allow the skin to rest in betwen spray tan sessions?
It is recommended that individuals not tan more than 3 times in a 2 week period, to avoid build-up of tanning solution that will contribute to uneven wear-off.
This allows a complete cycle of natural exfoliation and eliminates patchiness or uneven areas of wear, such as around the waist, inside the arms where the elbow bends, underarms, and backs of knees. These are natural areas of the body where friction from clothing and daily activities may cause premature exfoliation.
In addition, spraying too frequently may also cause the skin to exfoliate more rapidly (decreasing the longevity of your sunless tan), as over-application can alter the skin’s pH levels, causing it to shed more frequently.
How long after tanning should I wait to enjoy a pool/spa/ocean?
We recommend avoiding these situations for the first 48 hours following your spray tan. Chlorinated pools & spas can increase the rate in which the skin exfoliates causing the tan to wear and fade rapidly.
How long does a spray tan take to dry?
Norvell® Solution should dry enough to re-dress in 8-12 minutes. Your spray technician can reduce this time by removing the spray gun from the quick disconnect air hose and “blow drying” the skin.
How dark will my tan appear after one application?
Results will vary based on the individual’s skin type and pH balance. Norvell® solutions have been formulated to provide a color that will be appealing to the majority of sunless tanners, and a variety of shades will allow you to find the perfect solution for your individual needs.
Your sunless technician should have all the tools needed to achieve the custom color you so desire.
Will a sunless tan protect from exposure to UV sun rays?
No. It is common to get a false sense of security when you have been spray tanned. Your skin will still burn when overexposed.
It is still necessary to apply SPF lotions or sprays when in the sun. Norvell® solutions do NOT contain any SPF.
How should I prepare for a sunless spray tan?
Preparation and maintenance of your sunless tan is the KEY to sunless success. Make sure to read our online sunless preparation and maintenance guide prior to your sunless application.
Follow these important steps to ensure maximum sunless results:
GENTLY exfoliate your skin prior to your sunless spray session. A gentle, sulfate-free skin polish, such as Norvell Renewing Sunless Exfoliator, can be used prior to your sunless session.
Any waxing or shaving should be performed 24 hours in advance of applying sunless products.
Remove any ‘barriers’ that may prevent the sunless product from absorbing into the skin evenly. These include, but are not limited to: make-up, deodorant, perfume, oils, moisturizers, residue from hair conditioners.
Optimize your skin surface pH levels prior to application. Do not use bar soaps prior to your sunless tan, and apply Norvell Pre-Sunless xLaTan Ph Balancing Spray.
xLaTan works on the skin surface 3 ways:
Boosts amino acid levels, which work directly with DHA, to maximize sunless color results.
Balances the pH on skin to reduce any ‘orange’ coloring and produce golden brown results.
Hydrates skin for even and maximum absorption of sunless solution.
Will I turn orange?
When used as recommended, Norvell’s professional and retail sunless tanning products are formulated to give a natural, just off the beach™ color, starting with our perfectly blended instant cosmetic bronzers that allow you to gently transition into your DHA tan over 24 hours after application.
High pH levels in the skin can sometimes give individuals an undesirable, ‘fake’ non-natural looking sunless color. Sunless application on skin that is out of balance due to high pH levels sometimes results in what many people refer to as an ‘orange’ coloring.
To prevent this from happening, there are a few things you can do:
Do not use bar soaps before your sunless session. A properly pH balanced skin cleanser will not elevate pH levels on the skin, and result in more ‘golden brown’ sunless tanning results.
Norvell recommends spraying the body with Pre Sunless xLaTan pH Balancing Spray prior to any sunless application. This product is formulated to lower the pH levels of the skin giving a more golden brown color, and maximizing your sunless results.
Do not over-apply sunless products. In general, the darker your natural skin tone, the higher concentration of DHA (sunless product) you can apply to the skin and still maintain ‘natural’ color. Generally, those will fair/light skin tones should apply less DHA (sunless product) to the skin to ensure natural looking results. Be sure to not only evaluate how much product you apply to the skin, but what the concentration level of DHA in each product is. Sunless products that are designed to give a darker color may not be desirable for fair skin.
What is DHA
DHA is an acronym for Dihydroxyacetone.
DHA is the active ingredient found in all sunless tanning products. It is a simple carbohydrate that is primarily used as an ingredient in sunless tanning products. It is often derived from plant sources such as sugar beets and sugar cane, and by the fermentation of glycerin. DHA does not make your skin cells darker in pigmentation, but rather reacts with the proteins and amino acids found in the top layer of your skin to create a darkening effect or ‘sunless tan’.
Read The DHA Story for more information about the science behind DHA and how it is used in sunless tanning products.
Is tipping customary?
Air brush artists are treated the same as salon artists or estheticians, they accept tips for their services.