Say “I DO” to a Professional Sunless Spray Tan

Many brides are apprehensive to even consider getting a spray tan before their big day. We’ve all heard and seen the horror stories; streaking, smearing, blotchy areas, skin not sprayed, or even looking like an “Oopma- Loompa”. Wearing all white can be very daunting if you’re fair skinned, or even orange from a poor-quality spray tan. I want to help squash the negative stigma of Bridal Spray Tans for you and educate you on how to achieve the best-looking tan with pre and post care and where to go!


First, I’d like to start with how spray tan solution colors the skin. 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.” It is called the Maillard Effect; like when you take a bite of an apple and let it set, it turns brown. The quality of DHA and where and how it is derived is very important to how your tan will turn out.



The next step is preparing for your appointment. It may sound like a lot to remember; however, it is very important to follow the pre care to ensure an amazing tan for your wedding.

Exfoliate dead skin 24 hours prior to appointment. Your spray tan will fall off as dead skin exfoliates off, so come to your appointment with the least amount of dead skin as possible so it stays for a long time! You also do not want to shower/exfoliate immediately before your appointment as your skin will not accept the solution as best as it can. Please be sure that any prior self-tanner or spray tanned is completely removed; you don’t want to layer on top of old sunless as it will be uneven/blotchy. To exfoliate you can use any product that has a grit to it or exfoliation gloves with any soap or body wash.

* If you don’t have the products, forgot, or just want to ensure you’re exfoliated; I do have a product you can purchase day of your appointment that Norvell created to use immediately prior to your tan that will remove dead skin, lotions, oils, deodorant, and pH balance the skin. ($6)

Shave/Wax 24-48hours before your appointment. You will want to minimize your shaving after your spray tan, as the razor and shaving cream will exfoliate dead skin as you shave. Waxing after your spray tan will completely remove it. (Waxing prior to spray tan is your best option as you won’t have to shave at all, you will have smooth skin for up to 3 weeks, and won’t have to shave on your honeymoon)

Nail appointments 24-48hrs prior to sunless appointment. It sounds like the ideal ‘girls night’ week of wedding to go get your nails done together then head to your spray tan appointment, however, that is not what is best for your spray tan results. When you get mani’s and pedi’s they exfoliate, use lotions, creams, oils; and all of that will block the sunless solution from penetrating into the skin. The solution will not absorb and streak on the skin and cause an uneven spray tan.

Day of your appointment: Please come with no lotions, oils, body sprays, perfumes, or deodorant on the skin; as all of these will change the pH of your skin as well as potentially block the sunless solution from absorbing into the skin. It is very important to wear dark loose clothing after your spray tan. Tight clothing will absorb the solution more. No leggings, spandex, tights, jeans, sports bras, socks or shoes. Sandals or flip flops are best.

Rain: In case of rain be mindful to dress head to toe, or bring a raincoat, umbrella to protect your skin from getting rain drops on it or a complete wash out when it’s a heavy down pour. (I’ve had to walk clients out to their cars and have even pulled their cars closer to the door to ensure no rain touches their skin!) Water, rain, and sweat will dilute the solution and will cause spots development to stop where wet.



Professional Spray Tan Technicians know that not everyone is comfortable walking into a new place, with a new person, and getting completely naked. I try to welcome my guests by having a conversation first, asking if they need to use the restroom, thoroughly explaining how the appointment will go, and asking if they have any questions. I explain that they can wear one of three options: 1) their own undergarments 2) Disposable undergarments that I provide (some wear a top and bottom, some wear just the bottom) or 3) go bare. The only advice I give is that if your back shows in your wedding dress that you don’t wear a bra as the tan lines are harsh! Also, if you’re going on your honeymoon right away, that the tan lines may look drastic in your swim wear.

I also explain solution options and my professional opinion of what to use for their skin tone and lifestyle; more than likely we have discussed this prior to booking their appointment, or they came in for a trial spray tan maybe for their bridal shower or photos. I then explain showering depending on their solution. I use both a 24-hour solution and a rapid rinse solution.

During your development time period you will want to avoid getting the skin wet; drops of water from a drink, a dog licking your leg, rain, washing your hair even over a sink will get your forearms wet. You will want to avoid sweating/working out as well during this development time period.

The 24-hour solution: You will want to wait as close to humanly possible to 24 hours before you shower with soap. There is no early rinsing with this solution. You cannot get wet or sweat during this time.

Rapid Rinse Solution (aka Rapid Development): The solution I use the most is called Norvell VenetianONE. You can rinse in 1 hour for a light tan, 2 hours for a medium tan, and 3 hours for a dark tan. You simply hop in the shower and rinse off the cosmetic bronzer that you see on your skin. When you leave your appointment, you have that wonderful instant gratification of a just off the beach tan, it also helps me see where I have sprayed. You will rinse all of that off (NO SOAP) and you’ll see what seems like your tan go down the drain, please don’t panic! Now, you can get wet, sweat, and live life like normal again! Phew! You will have a very light tan as it still takes the full 24 hours for your full tan to develop! I always say, never judge your tan or panic until it’s been 24 hours and you have showered with soap.

Trust the solution!



After your first shower with soap, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!

Like I mentioned before, your spray tan sticks to dead skin cells, prior to your tan we want to get rid of dead skin, but now after your tan we want to maintain and keep those skin cells for as long as possible so you can get the most out of your beautiful tan! Drinking a lot of water to hydrate your skin from the inside is vital, your skin is the last organ your body gives hydration to, so if you don’t get in enough water your skin will become dehydrated and dead skin cells will form much quicker. Also, you’ll want to get a compatible skin moisturizer that will work with your sunless tan, not against it. Sometimes lotion ingredients are not the best for our skin. I retail Norvell’s Pre and Post care retail products that are designed work the best with your Norvell spray tan. (Hempz is another approved lotion) You will want to minimize shaving after your tan and avoid waxing. You can swim and workout. Soaking in the bathtub, hot tub or prolonged pool use MAY lessen the time of your spray tan but will not remove it in one session. *Please remember that there is NO sun protection in your sunless tan, and you will need to apply Sun Protection, as you can tan/burn through your spray tan*


I’ve been an Esthetician for 12 years; and I have spray tanned over 5 years. When I started out, I initially chose the wrong solution (I can’t even remember the name of it now, but it was poor quality DHA, and I had many orange experiences) I quickly got rid of that, stopped spray tanning for the time being until I could research and learn more. I found Norvell Sunless, and I have never looked back! Norvell promises a “Just off the Beach Tan, every time.” They use top quality DHA from Italy, and several of their solutions have a violet undertone to cancel out orange! I typically only use the violet undertone solutions: Venetian, Venetian Plus, VenetianONE, Cosmo, and CosmoLight. I will carry a small quantity of their other solutions for when I see fit to use those on certain skin types/tones, or to blend a customized solution. Norvell also offers a full retail line of at home self-tanners in lotions or mousse, exfoliants, shower gel, body butter/moisturizer, and products to prolong your Sunless Spray Tan.

Through Norvell I have completed their “Sunless 101” certification back in 2013, after a year of experience I was able to go to Nashville for Norvell University to complete my in depth sunless training, learned to spray tan for competitions/bodybuilding, and received my Master Level Certification; I am a “Master Blaster.” At that training in 2015 I fell in love with all things sunless and set a goal to change everyone’s preconceived thoughts and opinions about spray tans.

I encourage brides to contact me for a trial spray tan about two months prior to your wedding. This is always great for your bridal photos, bridal shower, or an early bachelorette party. Then, for a Saturday wedding, you will want to schedule your spray tan for Thursday evening. (now you can plan backwards for all other appointments; for example, nails on Wednesday, waxing/facial on Monday or Tuesday)

I love to have bridal parties come get spray tanned together on Thursday evening, and sometimes schedules don’t allow and the others are more than welcome to come earlier in the day; but I will customize a bridal party package; and if there are 4 or more bridesmaids, I include the bride’s Spray Tan complimentary.

Please remember to pre book your appointments with your spray tan technician. Thursdays are very busy spray tan days/evenings and you’ll want to secure your appointment(s) early. I personally tend to book out 4-8 weeks early, especially for evening appointments (especially since I also do skincare and waxing services as well). During busy spray tan seasons, I will try to block out Thursday evenings for spray tan appointments only (Valentine’s Day, prom, spring break, wedding months June/October, early summer, fall family photos, Christmas Dances/events, and a lot of cheer and dance teams)

I know it sounds like a lot to do and remember, but I promise you it is worth it to have that amazing glow on your wedding day! After your first session, it’ll be easier to remember all the do’s and don’ts. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions about spray tanning. Feel free to follow my Business page on Facebook and/or Instagram “DonnaCurryEsthetics”. I always accept new Spray Tan Clients, however I recommend pre-booking your appointment as after 12 years in the business I am no longer accepting new skincare and waxing clients at this time. (I am happy to add anyone to my waiting list for those services, or refer out to other local Licensed Estheticians)


Written by: Donna Curry of Donna Curry Esthetics

Photos by Sur La Lune Photography