“Especially when I have a new client, that’s the first thing they say: ‘I don’t want to be orange,’” said Brandi Warner, owner of Beautifaux Bronzing, a spray tanning shop on Lander Street in midtown.
Often people are scared to try it for that reason alone. But according to Warner, spray tanning in the year 2019 isn’t the same old process that often yielded orange results in the past.
When a client arrives at Beautifaux Bronzing, Warner begins by looking over the person’s skin tone and type. This, she said, helps her determine which spray tan formula she’ll apply—and how much.
“That’s the thing with the color, too—they’ve perfected the formulation of it,” Warner said. “So that’s also why you don’t see as much orange. It’s come a long way.”
Of course, many us can think of at least a few prominent examples—perhaps one in particular—of orange-hued spray tanners.
“Right—right, for sure,” Warner said. “So, it could be caused by a lot of things, really. The biggest thing is if a person’s sprayed for their skin type. If they’re sprayed too heavily or too dark for their skin type, if they’re super fair and getting too dark of a solution, it’s just not natural. That’s the number one thing. Number two is that their PH balance could be off. If they’re too acidic, that could be a factor in the color.”
Other things that can affect the final color include things like medications, especially hormonal ones.
“The biggest thing with medication is that if you’ve been on it for a long time, it’s probably not going to do anything—it’s if it’s a new change,” Warner said.
To ensure her clients don’t end up orange, Warner checks with them about their medications and applies a lighter tan if they’ve recently changed them. In the six years she’s been in business, Warner said she’s become skilled in avoiding off-tone tans. But part of the responsibility for getting the perfect fake tan lies with the client, who should understand a bit about how it works and how to prepare.
“What it does is tints the outer layer of your skin, and it’s that dead outer skin layer—which is why you want to exfoliate and get that layer fresh off,” Warner said. “And then it just interacts, kind of like cutting an apple, oxidizing when it hits the air. When the product and the air meet, it causes a reaction that tints the skin brown.”
Being properly exfoliated, and other considerations like how far in advance to shave, are all factors.
“You do want to do it in advance—that way your pores can close and you don’t get little speckles and that,” Warner said. “Ideally, you do it four to six hours beforehand. You also don’t want to strip your skin so it’s squeaky clean. You want to still have something to grab onto—the natural oils in your skins.”
When it comes to exfoliating, Warner advises her clients that the best products to use are home products.
“I mean, the pantry things, like baking soda, are actually best,” she said. “It’s a little paste made of baking soda and a little water. It’s mildly abrasive but good for sensitive skin types, good for your face. And then it also balances the PH balance of your skin, which is crucial to spray tanning.”
In the end, Warner said, people will do well if they ask their questions about spray tans before stepping into a shop to get one.
“It’s just best to check with your spray tanner and make sure you know,” she said.