What is Tanning Mist?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Tanning mist is a good way to get a tan without being exposed to the harsh rays of the sun or the even more damaging ultraviolet rays in a tanning bed. There are both professional and at-home versions of tanning mist, though first timers may want to get a professional job done to pick up good tips for home application. There are some drawbacks to tanning mist that should be considered before trying.

Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after applying tanning mist.
Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after applying tanning mist.

A spray-on fake tanning system, tanning mist works by applying a formula to the skin that causes a temporary change in color, much like a temporary hair dye. Usually, the component that causes this reaction is called dihydroxiacetone or DHA, though other similar agents may be used. Results usually last a week to ten days, perfect for getting a head start on a vacation tan.

Tanning mist allows users to bypass the health risks associated with UV exposure via tanning beds and direct sunlight, in favor of a more temporary tanning product.
Tanning mist allows users to bypass the health risks associated with UV exposure via tanning beds and direct sunlight, in favor of a more temporary tanning product.

There are several ways that tanning mist is applied. Some professional salons and spas use a spray-on tanning booth that spritzes the solution on the skin by machine. For custom contouring and perfect results, tanning mist can also be applied by a beautician, who may even be able to lighten or darken the color to help highlight good features and camouflage problem areas. There are also at-home versions that use a can with a spray-nozzle for continuous coverage.

Tanning mist is usually available in several shades, from a translucent beige to deep bronze. If the mist is being done at home, test the spray on a small area 24 hours before applying to the whole body. Since the DHA compounds increase the production of carotene in the skin, some people looking for a beautiful tan may turn an unpleasant, fake orange color. Proper testing can help avoid this problem, as well as give a good idea of how dark the finished shade will look.

It is important to read ingredients carefully before using a tanning mist. The formulas generally contain quite a few chemicals and may cause allergic reactions in some people. Those with asthma or respiratory disorders may want to use a different type of tanning product or at least wear a mask while tanning, to avoid inhalation.

If applying at home, it is important to spray continuously and coat the entire area evenly. This can help avoid streaks and over-saturation. Before applying a tanning mist, consider using a body scrub to exfoliate the skin and make it more receptive to the product. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after spraying to prevent tan stains on the hands, and be sure to clean up any spills or missed sprays immediately.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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