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The Science of Spray Tanning: Sugar-Based Bronzing

When you step into a spray-tan booth, you set off a chemical reaction in your skin. Groupon explores of this feat of chemistry.

A spray tan isn't paint or makeup; it goes on clear. And it doesn?t affect melanin, the stuff that darkens skin exposed to sun. How does a spray tan work, then? It all comes down to a chemical called dihydroxyacetone?or DHA, as its friends call it.

DHA is a kind of sugar; like food sugars, it can even be derived from sugar cane or beets. When it's applied, it begins to interact with amino acids in the skin's outer layer and turn it darker. But it's not living tissue that it's after: DHA associates mostly with the dead skin cells that cover your body. As these cells naturally fall off over time?which they do so frequently that after about a month, you have an entirely new epidermis?the color fades gradually until it's back to its original state, usually after a week or so. That's why salons recommend exfoliating before getting a spray tan: if you remove the skin cells that will be first to fall off anyway, your tan will last longer.

If spray-tan formulas all start out colorless, how can tanning salons offer different darkness levels? They simply up the concentration of DHA for clients who want to go darker. Those new to spray tanning should be careful, however. A higher concentration of DHA could mean a more orange tint, so starting at a light concentration and working your way up?or spacing out multiple applications at the same concentration?is wise. To counteract any tangerine tendencies, some formulas add a second chemical known as erythrulose. Derived from the sugars found in raspberries, erythrulose produces a reddish tint that complements the orange tones in DHA to create a more natural-looking color.

6510 Virginia Parkway
Mc Kinney,
TX
US

DHA airbrush solutions—all-natural and crafted from sugar cane—are at the forefront of Suddenly Sunless’s services. Technicians custom mix the solution from five different colors to achieve a natural glow or the exact hue of an orange, whichever the client prefers. They spray it over bodies during custom airbrush sessions for a tan that lasts up to 12 days. The technician-free Pura Machine covers bodies with a moisture and prep solution before the DHA solution, which is available in six shades. The 10-minute machine session results in a tan that lasts up to 7 days.

1411 N. Custer Rd Ste 1000
Mc Kinney,
TX
US

To turn the creativity smoldering in Rocio Contreras's head from a simple idea into a client’s hairstyle requires dexterous technique. That's why the nine-year veteran merges her aesthetic sense with the technical knowledge she gained training with industry heavyweights such as Vidal Sassoon, Kadus, and Moroccanoil. Inside of A Touch of Heaven Salon, Rocio calls on these dual aspects of her art to cut, sculpt, and color hairstyles that complement each client’s personal style and goals for future limbo competitions.

106 N Chestnut St
McKinney,
TX
US

Avenir Salon focuses its beautification efforts on two key aspects of the body: the skin and the hair. Guests in need of a new look can turn to the talented stylist, who works well with both men?s and women?s hair. For a sun-kissed, yet UV-free bronzing, spray tans darken skin without requiring a trip to the beach. For such sessions, Avenir uses the Infinity Sun spray tan system, the same system used by notable celebs such as Jessica Simpson, Justin Beiber, and King Midas? postman.

3190 S Central Expwy Suite 127 & 128
McKinney,
TX
US