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Preparing For the Perfect Airbrush Tan

Skin Prep - Getting ready to receive a smooth, even air brushed tan.

If you don't currently exfoliate daily, start now! Scrub as much dead skin off as possible with every shower. Use an exfoliating sponge or gloves and even an exfoliating body wash. Pay special attention to the rough areas of your skin such as the elbows, knees and knuckles. Rough skin tends to soak up more of the spray tan solution, causing that area to be darker and blotchy. Exfoliating thoroughly will help prevent this and it will also help the tan fade more evenly as it goes away. Whatever soap you decide to use should be pH neutral and free of metals such as aluminum oxide. A safe bet is Jan Tana exfoliating scrub or Neutragena Rainbath (see note below).

Your skin must be well hydrated with a neutral pH lotion such as Neutragena, or Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion. Jan Tana makes a lotion that is guaranteed not to conflict with the tanning solution. If you choose your own lotion, just be sure it is neutral in Ph, has no perfumes added to it, and is free of metals such as aluminum oxide. We have seen perfume and lotion cause the tanning solution to turn green on the skin. Just as with exfoliation, pay special attention to your knees, elbows, and knuckles. (see note below about the lotion we recommend)

Get Funky!
What I mean is, if you don't stink, you should! Stop using under arm deodorant until after the shoot. Deodorant has a way of leaching into the skin, and then leaching out again, causing the tan to either turn green or go away. Stop using deodorant a couple of weeks before the tan is applied in order to give your skin time to get rid of most of what has built up in your poors. The main culprit is again metals such as aluminum oxide. (see note below about recommended deodorant)

Wax, Shave, Mow, Whatever!
However you do it, get the hair off before you tan. Hair tends to draw more solition into the root, causing small black spots. Make sure you show up to get spray tanned, cleanly shaved.

Hang Loose!
Wear loose fitting clothes to and from being air brushed. Tight clothes, including socks, will rub against the freshly applied tan and cause light areas. Consider what may be exposed later and make sure you're not causing issues with waist lines and sock lines. 

We recommend the foloowing products since we have used them and can vouch for their compatability with Jan Tana products.

Neutrogena Ranbath Body Wash

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion

Tom's Natural Deodorant


Special Notes for Competitors and Models:

You've worked hard to get your body where it is and It's time to show it off! Don't let a hastily applied, sloppy tan hide all of that work! As a judge, I can tell you that it does affect your scoring and, in fact, skin tone is one of the original judging criteria. Truly, if it comes down to a close call between you and another competitior, if your tan is poorly applied and distracting, it will make it easier to look at the other competitor. You do not want your tan making you hard to look at! Following are some steps in the tanning process that, when added to the above preparations, will help you look your best on the big day.

Start your tanning at least a couple of days out. If your physique pre-judging is on Saturday, it's a good idea to get a base coat applied on Thursday. With Jan Tana On Stage Competition Color, there are two different processes working to color your skin. First, there is a dark mahogany pigment. This will darken as it dries, giving you a pretty even color. Unseen to the eye is DHA (dihydroxyacetones). DHA is a safe chemical used in most modern air brush tanning solutions that actually causes your skin to brown due to an amino acid response on the outer layers of the epidermis. This browning can last up to 6-7 days but this depends a great deal on how well you prepped your skin. The better prepped your skin is, the longer the tan will last and the more evenly it will fade, which is great for those post contest photo shoots!

The reason for starting your tanning so early is so you can give the DHA in the first coat a good deal of time to brown your skin. I like to have clients get sprayed as early as possible in the day and then wear the tan all day long. It may even be a good idea to sleep with this first coat on and then shower in the morning. When you shower, you will wash away all of the pigment and what will remain is your own browned skin, thanks to the DHA. Your skin should now be smooth and silky and have a nice even color. This will serve as the perfect base for subsequent coats.

Your second coat should happen early Friday and, depending on the competition schedule, you should also wear this coat as long as you can. On the day of pre-judging you should receive one or two coats, depending on how your skin takes the color. At this point most people do well with one coat. For fitness, figure and bikini, you want to be dark but it is possible to be too dark. For body builders, generally, the darker the better. It can also depend on the venue. Some venues have good professional quality stage lighting so you may want to be darker where other venues use what amounts to house lighting for pre-judging in which case you will want to be a little lighter. An experienced trainer or air brush technician will know something about most major venues. For photo shoots, you normally want to be lighter than for competition, especially women.

Once upon a time, a novice competitior put Dream Tan or Pro Tan on his face and the results were disastrous. No one else ever wanted to be "that guy" so the word on the street has been don't Pro Tan your face. The result is often a freaky white faced Fantom of the Opera look that, from a judges point of view, can be very distracting.

This is not an issue with Jan Tana air brush tanning products. While you do want your face to be a shade lighter than the rest of your body, this difference should not be noticable. A good spray tan technician will apply the tan in such a way that there will be a smooth transition at the neck line. The face should generally be sprayed with the very last coat so you dont mess things up while you are sleeping, eating, or brushing your teeth. Ladies, make an effort to find a good foundation make-up that will compliment the color. It can be as simple as a trip to a Walgreens near your hotel with a coat of color on so you can compare colors to your skin. Guys, a little of this foundation around your eye sockets will help to avoid the racoon look - just stay away from the lip bloss! Also for the ladies, it's a good idea to have a shower cap so the amount of overspray on your hair can be minimized.

Between pre-judging and the evening show a touch up coat may be necessary. This can usually be a quick light coat just to smooth out some of the smears that may have occured. 

A lot goes into making sure your color is just right on the big day but it is well worth the effort. We've all seen those athletes with the perfect tan and we know that it is impressive when a great physique is polished with magnificent mahogany color.

Alaska Stage Color, 10901 Mausel Street, Suite 107, Eagle River, Alaska 99577