SunLESS Tanning vs. Other Tanning Methods

Are you interested in getting a spray tan but worried if it is safe or effective?


Maybe you're just wondering which is better - a sunless tanning, a tan from a tanning bed or maybe just resorting to the good ol’ hay maker – a natural suntan.


Let’s dig in, it might be a bit technical but push through there is lots of good info here!


Information below is share from SkinCancer.Org



Understanding UVA / UVB ultraviolet rays.


Suntans, sunburns, and premature skin aging can all be caused by overexposure to ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B (UVA and UVB) rays which has been identified as cancer causing agents.


UVA rays accounts for about 95% of the UV light that reaches our skin, it is the more dominant tanning ray and penetrates farther into skin destroying key substances in skin that give it its firmness and elasticity. UVA rays are deemed the sun’s “silent killers” because, unlike UVB rays, you do not feel the effects of UVA rays damaging your skin.


UVB rays while not as skin-penetrating or ever-present as UVA rays, UVB light is still just as powerful. These rays are directly responsible for sunburn and other visible changes to skin’s surface, including discolorations and photo-aging. Its intensity varies by season, location, and time of day but can burn and damage your skin year-round, especially at reflective surfaces such as snow or ice, which bounce back up to 80 percent of the rays so that they hit the skin twice. UVB unlike UVA rays do not significantly penetrate glass.


Both types of rays damage the skin cells’ DNA, prompting the production of more melanin, the pigment that gives our eyes and skin their color. UVA oxidizes the existing melanin, causing immediate pigment darkening. All this melanin production signals that DNA damage has already occurred (the tan), and the damage from repeated UV exposures (tanning) keeps accumulating and can ultimately lead to skin cancer.

Spray Tan vs Sun Tanning / Tanning Bed


So, what exactly is a spray tan and how does it compare to other tanning methods?



A spray tan or sunless tanning is literally spraying a chemical mixture containing a coloring agent called dihydroxyacetone (DHA), on your skin that temporarily "tints " the skin to a different shade or color. The coloring from the chemical stays on the outer layers of the skin and is removed as the skin sheds. While the normal shedding cycle for the epidermis is around 40-60 days, don’t expect your tan to last that long because other factors increase skin shedding such as bathing, exfoliating, cleansers and so on. Thus, the typical length that a spray tan lasts is about 5-10 days.


BUT is it safe???


You are putting chemicals on your skin so it's natural to ask if the products used are safe.


The answer is that most of the time most people won't experience any bad side effects from getting a spray tan or using sunless products. There is a slight change that some people may react to ingredients or chemicals in the sunless tan mixture, but these people are those who tend to react to EVERYTHING and are very sensitive to medications, supplements and so on.


While this is a rare reaction it's often worth considering. If you do happen to be one of those few, scope out products that use organic based ingredients which are less likely to cause any real problems but still provide your body with a nice tan.


If you want more info on this - SkinCancer.Org - Sunless Tanning Explained



A tanning booth your body is exposed to ultraviolet A (UVA) light from the high-pressure sunlamps in the booth. This UVA light triggers the production of melanin in your body which is the natural pigment in your skin therefore the reaction to this light your body produces more melanin which then creates that browning of the skin that everyone wants!


Natural suntan, incidentally, this is the same reaction that occurs when you expose your skin to natural sun outside of a tanning booth but also includes ultraviolet B (UVB) light as well!


You now have an idea of how a spray tan or sunless tanning works and why it's different from other tanning methods, we can talk about the specific reasons you may want to get a sunless tan vs. tanning bed/natural sun but before we dive in let’s explain a few more things.


Sunless tanning has some real potential benefits that are unique to this method of obtaining a tan.


When determining if you should get a spray tan make sure to evaluate both the pros and cons because like anything, the method you use largely depends on your preferences and your situation! Let's jump in!!


#1. Fast and Efficient!


The first reason is that getting a spray tan is incredibly fast and efficient.


You can schedule your time, walk in, and walk out with a tan that is optimized for your skin in less than 30 minutes.

When comparing this to natural tans from natural light, could take weeks to months to create! Even a tanning bed with artificial lights will take weeks to obtain the right glow.


This makes getting a spray tan ideal for those who either don't want to spend the time to heighten their color or because they have a special event coming and literally don’t have the time. They are great if you have a wedding coming up, taking a vacation or have some other special event in your life. Spray tans are fast and convenient.


#2. Save your skin


The biggest benefit, in my opinion, is that spray tans may save your skin.


You must remember that the sun (both natural and artificial light) cause damage to the skin (as noted above) which then stimulates the melanin response. This process DAMAGES the skin, photo-damage to be exact, and photo-damage is the #1 reason for aging skin among ALL people.


This process of damage is one of the reasons that you always see medical professionals basically avoiding the sun … to try and save their skin.


Photo-damage is when the UV radiation damages the skin's fibers resulting in the loss of collagen and elasticity and starts the formation of wrinkles, sun spots, and starts the process of premature skin aging and skin damage.


Sunless tanning options save your skin because you avoid the potential damage of the sun. Many sunless tanning products now contain amazing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, free of harsh dyes and chemicals, Vitamins A,B,C,D and E, Aloe Vera, green tea extract, Coconut, Paraben-free, nut oil-free, gluten-free, 100% vegan, 100% cruelty-free the list goes on. However, they say that this can be a double-edged sword, however, because some sunlight is important for vitamin D production (which we will discuss below).


There are many benefits to getting a spray tan (read my previous blog about the Benefit’s of a Spray Tan).


#3. Slimming Effect


Ever wonder why bodybuilders (both women and men) always get spray tans before competitions?


It's because it highlights lean muscle, tends to hide fat tissue and makes you look slimmer!


If you plan on going to the beach and need a "base tan" or perhaps you have some sort of special event like a wedding, then it may be in your best interest to look and feel great with a spray tan.



Yes, it is a “fake” tan, but you can boost your self-confidence feel amazing in your own skin.


This benefit isn't unique to just spray tans, but the difference is that you can get this benefit with a spray tan within 30 minutes while it may take weeks to months to get it from other tanning methods.


#4. Rapid Results


This benefit shouldn't be overstated - A spray tan can give you a near instant result in a short period of time in comparison to the time it takes to get a tan with various options. A perfect spray tan around 30 minutes or 4-12 weeks with the other methods.


The time it takes to get the tan doesn't mean it's the best option, but it should certainly be considered if you are in a pinch for time!


#5. Tan all year long


This benefit is not unique to spray tans (you can get it with a tanning bed as well) but it is still beneficial and you can pretty much get a perfect tan any time of the year if you choose to get a spray tan.


As we all learned in school, during certain months out of the year the sun may be overcast or simply not come out such as winter, this makes getting a tan by natural light really only an option during summer months - depending on where you live of course. If you’re living in the tropics, this isn’t a problem at all, if you live in Canada you may want to consider a spray tan.


You can still take advantage of this with a tanning bed as well, but perhaps at the cost of your skin in the process.


#6. More control over Color


Another advantage to getting a spray tan is that you have more control over the color and shade of your tan. Consider how you naturally get a tan using a tanning bed or natural sunlight. The more tanning bed sessions (or sessions that you lay out) the deeper and deeper the shade and color of your tan gets. This progression of shading on your skin takes time and can be difficult to control. This simply means that if you want to control the shade using other tanning methods you really need to be consistent and stay on top of your game.


You don't have to worry about any of this if you are getting a spray tan because you can control the shade and color of the tanning solution BEFORE you even start.


This means that you can basically "pick" your shade and you end up with the exact color and shade that you want within 30 minutes.


#7. All Skin Types Can Tan


You can also get a spray tan regardless of the type of your skin and never worry about looking like a lobster.


Dermatologist use a skin scale called the Fitzpatrick Skin Scale which was developed in 1975 and is a system that classifies skin type according to the amount of pigment in your skin and your skin's reaction to sun exposure. This information can help predict your overall risk of sun damage and your risk skin cancer later in life..

You can see an example of all 6 skin types below:



If you have Fitzpatrick Skin Type I and II there is VERY little chance that you will ever be able to tan with natural light or through a tanning bed. In fact, using these methods may even increase your risk of skin cancer because your body may not be able to respond and protect itself with enough melanin production.


Those who have Fitzpatrick skin types I and II make great candidates for spray tanning because they really don't have any other options. Other skin types can still get tans but their tans may not be as uniform and may not get exactly to their desired shade with sunlight or tanning beds.


Your Fitzpatrick scale is very important when you consider getting a spray tan or using other tanning options.


Downsides of Using Sunless Products or Getting a Spray Tan


While there are some serious benefits to getting a spray tan or using sunless products, it's not necessarily for everyone!


It’s important that before you get a spray tan make sure you understand the procedure including the downsides and potential negative aspects.


#1. Potential Lack of Vitamin D


The first downside is that by avoiding sunlight and ultraviolet light you risk being vitamin D deficient.



Vitamin D is an important vitamin that helps balance your mood and control your immune system to just name a few. Being vitamin D deficient has been linked to various diseases such as autoimmune diseases and other mood related conditions so it's an important factor to consider. However, some argue that we get enough Vitamin D from foods sources or can take a supplement – ta da!!.


The bottom line is that if you avoid the sunlight in favor of getting repeated spray tans then you may increase your risk of developing Vitamin D deficiency. So, ensure you’re taking all these considerations in your quest for a great tan.


#2. Potential Stains


Another potential issue is the risk of staining your clothes with sunless products including getting a spray tan. Most of this can be avoided by being cautious - but it is still worth considering. Totally not a deal breaker.


#3. Requires Frequent Visits


Another downside is that while spray tans work great, they don't last very long, this means that you'll need to spend some time at the salon if you want to keep up your results.


This isn't a huge deal if you only occasionally get a spray tan, but it can become an issue if you try to keep up your tan exclusively through this method.


Natural sun tans and tans from tanning beds tend to last weeks to months (though they do fade over time).


#4. Up Close and Personal


Another factor to consider is that you will be up close and personal with someone in order to get your spray tan. This means that you will be in a 1 on 1 setting and exposed in order to get your tan!


Compare this to a tanning bed in which you are alone in the bed by yourself while you get your tan, so a spray tan is not necessarily a "relaxing" experience.

Watch this educational video below from the folks downunder.




Remember that your skin is the largest organ in your body you need to take care of it. Get educated about the differences so that you can make an informed decision on what works best for you whether it be the natural sun, tanning booths or sunless/spray products, understanding the risks and benefits of each will go a long way.


Still have questions … get in touch with me today!


Are you thinking about getting a spray tan?

Schedule Now!


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