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American Turbine Inc. HVLP Paint Spray Systems

DHA and Tanning

About DHA

Sunless tanners contain DHA (dihydroxyacetone) which reacts with the amino acids in the dead layer of your skin. DHA combines with the amino acids to form brown-colored melaninoids. It is not absorbed into the body and is non-toxic. DHA is derived from sugar cane and was discovered back in the 1920's. It was approved by the FDA in 1973.
Some tanners contain:

  • Erythrulose - a natural keto-sugar, which reacts with, free primary or secondary amino groups. This is being developed to reduce or even eliminate the disadvantages of the presently available self-tanning solutions; namely an irregular and streaky tan as well as a strong drying effect.

DHA is applied and usually takes 7-12 hours for the tan to fully develop. The tan lasts between 5-7 days but can be extended with the use of moisturizers and tan extenders, which contain small amounts of DHA (1-1/2-2%). It is recommended not to shower, bathe or swim during the first 12 hours after a tanning session. Also, swimming in chlorinated water will cause the tan to fade more quickly.

There are different percentages of DHA in the product for different skin types. They all come in clear or dark. The dark varieties allow the application to be tracked - you can see where you have sprayed and it gives the "instant gratification" tan that some clients want.

5-8% - skin types I and II (white and very white)
10% - skin types III and IV (European skin)
12% - skin type V

The maximum amount of DHA percentage that a person should be sprayed with is 11-13% as the pores will only absorb so much DHA - the rest will wash off.

There are additives called boosters or enhancers that can be added by the drop to darken any of the above formulas.

Most solutions are fragrance free, hypoallergenic, and fast drying and available in gallons, half gallons, quarts, pints and smaller sample sizes.

DHA solutions have a shelf life of 7-8 months. Heat or sunlight degrades DHA. DHA products should be stored below 85 degrees F. and never left in the sun. DHA products should be kept as airtight as possible as it will oxidize.

The following chart shows how much DHA solution should be sprayed by body weight:

95-180 lbs. 2 oz.
181-250 lbs. 2-1/2 oz.

1 gallon of solution should be enough for 65-70 full body sprays.

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The Spray Tanning Experience

Preparing For the Tanning Session

Before a tanning session, the client should shower and use an exfoliator. Women should shave their legs prior to exfoliating, as shaving creams that contain oils will block the pores and the DHA will not penetrate. This cleans the skin's surface and sloughs off dead skin cells. The client should not apply any lotions, fragrances, creams or makeup prior to the tanning session as this can cause a streaked, uneven tan. They should wear an old bathing suit or undergarments taking into consideration the tan line they wish to achieve. Disposable bras, thongs and boxers are also available on the market that can be offered by the tanning salon/spa.

Long hair should be pulled up away from the neck and face. A shower cap is recommended although DHA will not affect hair color.

Nail polish or a clear coat should be applied to the fingernails and toenails to prevent nail discoloration. Barrier creams are also sold for this purpose.

If the client is a walk-in and has not exfoliated, there are spray-on exfoliators that can be applied with the spray system. It should be sprayed on one section of the body at a time, and toweled off with dry paper towels while the skin is wet.

The fabrics of the clothing they wear during and after the spray tanning could become stained, depending on the fabric. They should wash all garments upon returning home. DHA will not come out of 100% silk fabrics.

The Tanning Session

The operator should be wearing latex gloves. Test spray in a sink or basket. Begin spraying the client's back, approximately four (4) inches from the skin, starting at the neck. Spray down one side of the back, down to the foot. Repeat the process on the other side of the back. Make sure the client bends forward to spray any creases they may have. Then have the client turn to the side and spray the shoulder to the hand. The client should then raise their arm up while the operator sprays the inside of the arm down to the armpit and down the side of the leg to the foot. Spray the front similar to the back, lifting or bending any parts of the body that are causing creases. Be sure to spray inner thighs as well. Then it's time to spray the neck and face. Asking the client to close their eyes and hold their breath, apply the solution in an even manner.

Don't spray the palms of the hands or the bottoms of feet.

If a dark spray is being applied, check that all areas have been covered. If a clear spray is being applied, a second coat may be necessary to ensure coverage.

The client should avoid lowering their arms or pressing their thighs together until dry to avoid streaking or smudging off the solution. A fan or blower can be used to accelerate the drying process.

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