General Questions About Self-Tanning
How do sunless/self-tanners work?
The principle tanning agent used in all self-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 sunless tan last?
The longevity of a sunless tan depends on the type of self-tanning application, the skin’s natural exfoliation process, and on the skincare regimen followed before and after application.
On average, self-tanners last 4-7 days. A professionally application, I.e. a sunless tan received at a salon or spa, will last longer than an at-home application as there is usually a greater percentage of DHA used.
- At-home application (lotions, sprays, mousse, etc.) = 3 to 5 days
- Professional application (stand-up spray units, airbrush, Custom Bronzing) = 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 4 to 5 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, like Norvell Color Extender Pro-long™ Moisturizer or Dancing with the Stars by Norvell Endurance, help hydrate skin and maintain even, natural-looking color longer.
How long should I wait after using a self-tanner before I shower?
DHA solutions take about 16-hours to fully develop. Clients will receive the best results if they can avid bathing until the day after their sunless session. If they must bathe, they should wait a minimum of 6-hours after the application.
If showering prior to the 16-hour post application recommendation, 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.
Sunless tan-extending products with a light self-tanning bronzer, such as Norvell Color Extender Pro-long™ Moisturizer, help hydrate skin and maintain even, natural-looking color longer by providing subtle bronzers.
Will the bronzers from a spray tanning application rub-off on my clothes?
If you are using a spray 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 Norvell 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.
Spray Tanning 101
Will I Turn Orange?
When used as recommended, Norvell’s professional and retail sunless tanning products are formulated to give a natural, just off the beach™ color, starting with our perfectly blended 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.
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.
- Norvell recommends spraying the body with Pre Sunless xLaTan pH Balancing Spray prior to any sunless application. This product is formulated to lower the pH levels of the skin giving a more golden brown color, and maximizing your sunless 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.
What is Norvell Sunless Tanning Solution?
Norvell Sunless Tanning Solution is a formulated solution, that when sprayed on a tanner’s skin, gives the tanner a Just off the Beach golden glow.
Norvell also offers a full range of sunless tanning retail products, which incorporates our professional formulations into easy-to-use self-tanning products for home use. These products are found at fine salons, spas, and beauty stores world-wide.
Norvell offers sunless solutions that can be used in airbrush units, HVLP tanning units, or sunless spray booths.
The following Professional solution shades are available:
- Clear – No cosmetic bronzers, perfect for light to medium skin tones.
- Original and Organic Original – Light cosmetic bronzers, perfect for light to medium skin tones .
- Cocoa – light to medium cosmetic bronzers, perfect for light to medium skin.
- Dark and Organic Dark – Medium cosmetic bronzers, perfect for any skin tone light to dark.
- Venetian™ – Dark Violet bronzers, perfect for anyone that wants that Mediterranean look.
- Double Dark – Dark cosmetic bronzers, perfect or medium to dark skin tones.
The following specialty formulas are also available by Norvell®:
- ONE™ One-Hour Rapid Formula – Rapid development formula with Medium to Dark cosmetic bronzers, for use on light to dark skin tones. Lightest skin tones warm water rinse within 1 hour, Medium skin tones warm water rinse within 2 hours, and Darkest skin tones warm water rinse within 3 hours.
- Black Out™ Competition Formula – Dark cosmetic bronzers, developed for the darkest of skin tones and for stage use.
If you are interested in trying any of the above formulas we recommend contacting your local salon to confirm shade availability as these vary from location to location.
What is DHA (Dihydroxyacetone)?
DHA is an acronym for Dihydroxyacetone.
DHA is the active ingredient found in all sunless tanning products. It is a simple carbohydrate that is primarily used as an ingredient in sunless tanning products. It is often derived from plant sources such as sugar beets and sugar cane, and by the fermentation of glycerin. DHA does not make your skin cells darker in pigmentation, but rather reacts with the proteins and amino acids found in the top layer of your skin to create a darkening effect or ‘sunless tan’.
Read The DHA Story for more information about the science behind DHA and how it is used in sunless tanning products.
What about the after-odor often associated with sunless tanning?
Norvell professional sunless solutions and Norvell retail self-tanning products use advanced DHA odor encapsulation, the newest technology in odor inhibitors, to ‘trap’ odor causing molecules commonly associated with DHA products and virtually eliminate sunless odor
How should I prepare for a sunless spray tan?
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:
- GENTLY exfoliate your skin prior to your sunless spray session. A gentle, sulfate-free skin polish, such as Norvell Renewing Sunless Exfoliator, can be used prior to your sunless session.
- Any waxing or shaving should be performed 24 hours in advance of applying sunless products.
- 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.
- Optimize your skin surface pH levels prior to application. Do not use bar soaps prior to your sunless tan, and apply Norvell Pre-Sunless xLaTan Ph Balancing Spray.
xLaTan works on the skin surface 3 ways:
- boosts amino acid levels, which work directly with DHA, to maximize sunless color results
- balances the pH on skin to reduce any ‘orange’ coloring and produce golden brown results
- hydrates skin for even and maximum absorption of sunless solution
Will sunless solution stain my hair?
Most people will not see any affect to the color of their hair; however, those with light blonde, gray or platinum hair may see some temporary discoloration from the cosmetic bronzers. This discoloration will easily wash out during the first after session shower.
For those with lighter hair we recommended spraying onto a cosmetic sponge for facial application, and blending into the hairline carefully.
A hair cap may also be worn during application.
Note: when wearing a hair cap, make sure to pull the cap back to expose the edge of hairline and tuck the cap behind the ears. Otherwise you will create a hard line around the forehead and temples.
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 Norvell Preparation and Maintenance Guide for maximum sunless results.
- Be sure to gently polish the skin before each sunless session using Norvell Renewing Sunless Exfoliator™.
- Keep skin hydrated on the inside and out. Using a product such as Norvell Daily Replenishing 24hr Moisturizer™ or a daily application of Norvell Color Extender Pro-Long™ Moisturizer will extend the look of your tan. This bronzing booster will also reduce the appearance of uneven wear and patchiness.
- 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 using Norvell® Intensive Detoxifying Salt Scrub 1 to 2 times per month, to remove sunless tanning build-up. Be sure to wait at least 24 hours after Salt Scrub application before applying any sunless product, and do not shave immediately prior to using Salt Scrub. For more in-depth tips about how to best exfoliate to maximize your sunless results, check out our insider tips.
Should I allow the skin to rest between spray sessions?
It is 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.
This allows a complete cycle of natural exfoliation and eliminates patchiness or uneven areas of wear, such as around the waist, inside the arms where the elbow bends, underarms, and backs of knees. These are natural areas of the body where friction from clothing and daily activities may cause premature exfoliation.
In addition, spraying too frequently may also cause the skin to exfoliate more rapidly (decreasing the longevity of your sunless tan), as over-application can alter the skin’s pH levels, causing it to shed more frequently.
How long after tanning should I wait to enjoy a pool/spa/ocean?
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 spray tan take to dry?
Norvell® Solution should dry enough to re-dress in 8-12 minutes. Your spray technician can reduce this time by removing the spray gun from the quick disconnect air hose and “blow drying” the skin.
How dark will my tan appear after one application?
Results will vary based on the individual’s skin type and pH balance. Norvell® solutions have been formulated to provide a color that will be appealing to the majority of sunless tanners, and a variety of shades will allow you to find the perfect solution for your individual needs.
Your sunless technician should have all the tools needed to achieve the custom color you so desire.
Will a sunless tan protect me from exposure to UV sun rays?
No. It is common to get a false sense of security when you have been spray tanned. Your skin will still burn when overexposed.
It is still necessary to apply SPF lotions or sprays when in the sun. Norvell® solutions do NOT contain any SPF.
Common Skin Conditions & Medical Concerns
Can pregnant women be safely sprayed?
Norvell® Sunless Spray Solutions are non-toxic, and utilize only the best DHA which has been vigorously tested before entering any Norvell formulation.
Each Norvell® solution is:
- Paraben Free
- Gluten Free
- Sulfate Free
- Nut-Allergen Free
- Propylene Glycol Free
- Phthalates Free
- Synthetic Fragrance Free
With all of the above being said, Norvell® does NOT staff licensed physicians, therefore as you would before using ANY product on an expectant mother, we recommend each customer consult with their personal physician before receiving a DHA sunless spray tan application.
Is a DHA spray tan safe for a diabetic person?
We have received no feedback from any medical authority that would indicate a risk to a diabetic person, however, as you would before using any product on a diabetic person, we recommend each customer consult their physician before receiving a DHA spray tan application.
I have Vitiligo, will the solution cause a change in the affected areas?
Yes. Norvell® sunless solution does work on the affected areas, however, it is important to remember the skin that is lighter “tans” and the unaffected skin areas also tan, therefore they will remain different colors. While both areas do achieve a sunless tan, they will appear “two toned” when finished. Norvell® color is a blend of the natural skin color and the sunless color.
Sunless color is not a “cover-up”, but rather a blend. Customers looking to darken only the lighter skin will need to take care and apply solution to these areas only, and may be best served with any of the retail self-tanning applications available from Norvell.
I have very sensitive skin, should I be concerned with a possible reaction to Norvell® solutions?
If you are concerned with a possible allergic or skin reaction to the solution we recommend you first patch test a small area of the skin prior to a full body session.
Any Norvell® Salon will be happy to arrange a pre-session patch test before scheduling a full body session.
Will sunless solution cause additional freckling to already freckled skin?
No. However, the spray does not cover freckles up either. What is darker will stay darker and what is lighter, stays lighter in contrast.