* $39 for three spray tans ($75 value)
UV, Spray, or Airbrush Tan? Choosing How to Shun the Sun
With so many methods and products on the market, deciding on the best way to bronze can be daunting. Shine a UV light on the three most prominent tanning methods while perusing these services.
UV Tanning: Tanning beds and standup booths harness the same types of ultraviolet radiation produced by the sun—UVA rays, which penetrate lower skin layers to trigger pigment change, and UVB rays, which brown the outer layers. These apparatus change the ratio between the two types of naturally occurring radiation, yielding a tan in far less time than it would take to darken outdoors, unless you have a big UV lamp shining over your yard. The ratio isn’t set in stone, however; some beds boast higher UVB rays for skin that absorbs UV light easily, while others skew more toward UVA for skin that’s more prone to burn.
Spray Tanning: Similar to a human car wash, most spray-tanning equipment utilizes robot-like arms or in-wall jet streams to spray a solution on clients within a private, well-ventilated booth. Many of the mechanically applied solutions rely on dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a colorless plant-derived sugar that’s been used to treat skin-pigmentation disorders for more than 50 years. Through a reaction with the outermost layer of cells, DHA temporarily darkens skin for five to seven days. Unlike with tanning beds, however, results can take up to 12 hours to see. To counter this sluggishness, many salons infuse the solutions with a temporary dye or bronzer so that clients can see an immediate change.
Airbrush Tanning: Using the same DHA-based formulas as most spray tans, airbrush tanning relies on the handiwork of an actual human technician, who mists the body with a high-pressure wand to ensure a precise, even application. The tech can touch up areas, blend colors, add definition, or even out skin-tone issues such as rosacea in ways that machines and scribbling furiously with a brown crayon can’t.