Sunless 101


How does sunless tanning work?

The principle tanning agent used in all 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 bare sunless tan last?

The longevity of a sunless tan depends on, the skin’s natural exfoliation process, and on the skincare regimen followed before and after application.

On average, a bare sunless tan lasts 5-7 days although it has been know that bare sunless tans can last up to a 10 day period.

  • At-home application (lotions, sprays, mousse, etc.) = 3 to 5 days
  • Professional application (sunless tanning) = 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 5 to 7 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, can be found at our San Antonio sunless studio to help hydrate skin and maintain even, natural-looking color longer.

How long should i wait to rinse after my bare sunless application?

DHA solutions take about 24-hours to fully develop. Clients will receive the best results if they can avoid bathing until the day after their sunless session. If they must bathe, they should wait a minimum of 8-12 hours after the application.

If showering prior to the 24-hour post application recommendation (except if you are tanning with our bare express option), a simple rinse with water only, is best. Soap destroys DHA. Delayed bathing allows the DHA bronzer sufficient time to complete its reaction with the amino acids (proteins) within the skin.

NOTE:  The cosmetic bronzer is the color that is immediately visible during the session and it will wash off during the first shower, revealing the DHA bronze tan beneath. An uneducated client may think their tan is washing down the drain.

Why is keeping skin moisturized 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.

We carry a range of sunless tan-extending products with a light self-tanning bronzer, these will help hydrate skin and maintain even, natural-looking color longer by providing subtle bronzer.

Will the bronzers from a bare sunless application rub-off on my clothes?

We use a sunless 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 our sunless solutions and 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.

Will I turn orange?

When used as recommended, bare Sunless tanning sessions are formulated to give a natural color, starting with our barely there 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.

Bare Sunless includes a ph balancing primer with every bare sunless tan to lower the pH levels of the skin giving a more golden brown color, and maximizing your sunless results.

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.
  • 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.

How should I prepare for my bare sunless session?

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:

  1. GENTLY exfoliate your skin prior to your sunless spray session. A gentle, sulfate-free skin polish, can be used prior to your sunless session.
  2. Any waxing or shaving should be performed 24 hours in advance of applying sunless products.
  3. 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.
  4. Optimize your skin surface pH levels prior to application. Do not use bar soaps prior to your sunless tan.

What should I wear during my bare sunless session?

During your bare Sunless session we recommend wearing dark undergarments or swimwear, just keep in mind that what you choose to wear will turn into your "tan line".  You can wear as little or as much clothes as you feel comfortable in.  Please know that your sunless pros ensure you feel comfortable during your bare sunless session.

What should I wear immediately after my bare sunless session?

After your bare sunless session it is best to wear loose a fitting top & bottom preferably black in color & flip flops (long sleeve shirt, pants & rain boots or loose closed toed shoes on rainy days).  No bra, No denim, No skin tight shorts. 

How can I prevent patchy or uneven wear-off?

Many individual factors can contribute to patch or uneven wear-off, as each person’s skin is different. It is best to follow our Preparation and Maintenance Guide for maximum sunless results.

  • Be sure to gently polish the skin before each sunless session using a sunless exfoliator (we cary a range of exfoliating products for your convenience).
  • Keep skin hydrated on the inside and out.  A daily application of moisturizer formulated for sunless success is recommended. 
  • It is also 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. For frequent sunless tanning clients, we recommend exfoliating to 2 times per month, to remove sunless tanning build-up. 

How long after tanning should I enjoy pool/ocean/spa?

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 bare sunless tan take to dry?

You should feel dry enough to re-dress in 5-10 minutes post sunless application. Your sunless pro can reduce this time by removing the spray gun from the quick disconnect air hose and “blow drying” the skin.

Will a bare Sunless tan protect me from exposure to UV sun rays?

No. It is common to get a false sense of security when you have a sunless tan. Your skin will still burn when overexposed.

It is still necessary to apply SPF lotions or sprays when in the sun.  bare Sunless solutions DO NOT contain any SPF.  We do cary sunless tan friendly SPF 30 that is water resistant, non-greasy, oil-free & paraben free.