15 Airbrush Tanning Problems and Solutions

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On December 18, 2018
Last modified:July 23, 2020


15 Airbrush Tanning Problems and Solutions are presented in the article.

Airbrush tanning has become very popular among people, but many problems can occur during or after the application on the skin. If this happens, don’t panic. Every problem has a solution and here are 15 airbrush tanning problems and solutions.

Problem 1. Improper spraying technique

This can lead spraying too much or too little on some spots and making you look like you have a skin disease.

The Solution

Use the side-to-side technique. It produces a more natural looking tan and a finish of each pass in the “negative space” on any side of the body. It ensures continuous spray and eliminates the need to reverse the direction while still spraying on the skin.

Problem 2. Orange or off-color effect

Any solution can cause an orange tone on the skin. Some formulations are more prone to have this effect but the most common reason is the over-application.

The Solution

The technician or self-tanner needs to pay close attention to the application technique and immediately clean off excess solution. Use the recommended amount of solution per session – 2 ounces. In addition. You need to use the solution with the right DHA depending on the skin type of the person who is getting a tan. When diluting the solution, use distilled water as it is clean of ionic and non ionic contaminants.

Problem 3.  Uneven spray tan/missed spots

This could happen due to two reasons: the technique and the equipment.

The Solution

If the problem is in the technique, you need to slow down the spraying and make sure you are spraying with the tines of the gun 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock, this way the spray pattern will be vertical and it will ensure full coverage.

If the problem is equipment, it is related to the HPLV Airbrush needle, which is not recommended for providing an even tan. You need to use a HVLP Spray machine which sprays widely and gives a full even coverage in 10-15 minutes.

Problem 4. Removing sunless tan stains on skin

This problem can happen for two reasons, the DHA ingredient and the immediate bronzer.

The Solution

There are several ways of removing stains:

  • Using a cloth, rub some hydrogen peroxide on the stain and immediately take a shower.
  • Take a 20 minute soak with warm water and then scrub with some exfoliator.
  • Rub on some lemon juice and take a shower.

Problem 5. White lines on knuckles, thumbs, knees and elbows

Sometimes white lines can appear along the knuckles or side of the thumb after applying a spray tan on the hand as well as on knees and elbows.

The Solution

This one is easy, just make a claw as if you are holding a grapefruit in each hand.This leads to the prevention of the natural wrinkles at out knuckle joints from closing and blocking the spray tan.

For knees and elbows to be tanned properly, you need to put them in a bent position.

Problem 6. Discolored fingernails and toenails

This usually rubs off once you wash away the bronzers, but to fully avoid it use a tab of moisturizer on each nail before applying the spray tan.

Problem 7. Discolored armpit

Well if this happens, don’t panic! The reason is simple, you haven’t removed all the deodorant before applying the spray tan. The bronzers in the solution will react with the ingredients in deodorant, which causes discoloration.

The Solution

Rinse away the discoloration and next time remove the deodorant thoroughly.

Problem 8. Discolored feet and palms

These parts of the body tan much more easily and that’s why they can get discolored more easily.

The Solution

First,use the feathering method when spraying feet and palms. You will apply less solution and the tanning will look natural.

Do not spray too much spray, use the recommended two ounces. If you spray too much, the over spray will end up down, on your feet.

Problem 9. Lizard skin

This problem can appear several days after the tanning session.

The Solution

Re-hydrate your skin every day using a moisturizer or tan-extender. This will prevent lizard skin from happening as well as it will prevent the effect of uneven fading.

Problem 10. Face too dark

15 Airbrush Tanning Problems

This happens if you apply too much solution on the face. Remember to use only the recommended amount of two ounces for the ENTIRE BODY. 

The Solution

Rinse away the tan.

Problem 11. Hands and face fading faster

It is normal that the hands and face fade much faster than the rest of the body.You wash them multiple times a day. The solution for this is easy, just get a moisturizer that has DHA in it, and apply it on hands and face to boost up the color.

Problem 12. Strange smells

If your spray tan smells like alcohol, cough syrup, burnt French fries, the problem is in the solution which was formulated with lesser quality DHA.

The Solution

Formulate the DHA properly and give a sniff test before using. If it smells strangely do not apply it.

Problem 13. Tanning and shaving

Well, these to actions are not supposed go together considering that shaving means scraping your skin with a razor blade. This, of course, leads to loss of skin cells and loss of color.

The Solution

The ideal one is: do not shave after getting a spray tan.

The less ideal one is: use moisturizer that has blended DHA in it. It will counteract much of the exfoliation by refreshing tans with a boost of color. Use the moisturizer after every shaving session.

Problem 14. Runny results during spray tan

You are spray tanning and you notice streaks running down the arms or legs. No need for panic, you have probably used too much solution or aren’t holding the gun far enough from the body.

The Solution

Wash the tan away and this time do it correctly. With only two ounces of solution and not more than six inches away from the body. Spray side to side and the results will be flawless.

Problem 15. Tan not developing

You went to get a spray tan but when you come home you realized that your skin is the same as it was. This problem can happen for two reasons:

Reason 1: A traditional spray tan requires at least 8-12 hours to develop meaning that is the period when it is vulnerable to water. If you have taken a shower during the developing period, then it is possible that the tan will not develop at all,which means you need to get a another one.

Reason 2: You might have applied a city tan which will darken the skin gradually over the next 8-12 hours. You tan is on its way, no worries.


  • Use only two ounces of solution for the whole body!
  • Spray gun needs to be at least six inches away from the body!
  • Hands in claw position, knees and elbows bent!
  • Take a shower after the 8-12 hours period has passed!
  • Remove the deodorant completely!
  • Apply moisturizer with DHA blended in it!

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