Spray Tan Shades Chart: An Ultimate Guide

In the pursuit of a sun-kissed complexion without the harmful effects of UV rays, spray tanning has emerged as a popular choice. The most important decision to make when getting a spray tan is the shade you want to go. There is a wide range of different spray tan colors, but only a few would be suited to your skin tone. Someone with fair skin should not go the same shade as someone with darker skin, and vice versa. You cannot simply pick any spray tan color, or snatch any self-tanner from the shelves at the store. You need to put the best spray tan machine thought into it.

Understanding the Basics of Spray Tan Shades

Before we explore the finer details of different spray tan shades, it’s essential to have a solid understanding of the foundational principles that guide their selection. Spray tan shades, essentially, are the result of a complex interplay of factors that come together to create the desired hue on your skin.


  • The primary determinant of spray tan shades is the concentration of Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a colorless sugar compound. DHA interacts with the amino acids present in the outermost layer of your skin, which is known as the epidermis. This chemical reaction between DHA and amino acids triggers the development of a temporary tan, mimicking the appearance of a sun-kissed glow.
  • Other crucial elements play a significant role in shaping the final outcome. One of these factors is the application technique employed during the spray tanning process. The skillful application of the tanning solution, whether through airbrushing or automated spray booths, contributes to an even distribution of color, ensuring a natural-looking tan.
  • Every individual has undertones that can be broadly categorized as cool or warm. Cool undertones are characterized by hints of pink or blue, while warm undertones lean towards yellow or golden hues. The interaction between these undertones and the spray tan solution’s composition can result in distinct variations of color.
  • In essence, achieving the desired depth and shade of your spray tan involves a delicate balance of DHA concentration, the application technique’s precision, and your skin’s unique undertones. It’s the harmonious fusion of these elements that ultimately determines whether you’ll flaunt a subtle, sun-kissed radiance or a more pronounced and deep tan. 

Deciphering the Spray Tan Shade Chart

Navigating the intricacies of the Spray Tan Shade Chart is akin to deciphering a personalized code that unlocks the secret to your ideal tan.

  1. Light Shades: These delicate hues are tailor-made for fair and light skin tones. Offering a subtle, sunlit glow, light shades boast a lower concentration of Dihydroxyacetone (DHA). This ensures a gradual tan development that gracefully enhances your complexion without overpowering it.
  2. Medium Shades: Catering to medium and olive skin tones, medium shades strike a harmonious balance between depth and subtlety, varying intensities available, these shades provide a richer, more pronounced tan that accentuates your natural beauty.
  3. Dark Shades: For those with deeper skin tones or those who desire a bold statement, dark shades deliver a dramatic and intense tan. With a higher DHA concentration, they create a captivating depth that captures attention and exudes confidence.
  4. Cool vs. Warm Undertones: The Spray Tan Shade Chart extends beyond mere color variations. It delves into the realm of undertones, where cool (pink or blue) and warm (yellow or golden) tones come into play. By aligning your undertones with the appropriate shade, you ensure a harmonious and flattering result.
  5. Red-Based or Green-Based Tans: Unveiling a further layer of customization, the chart accommodates red-based and green-based tans. Red-based tans can counteract any underlying greenish hues, creating a balanced and even-toned effect. Conversely, green-based tans harmonize with red undertones, fostering a seamless and natural appearance.
  6. Light Shades Light spray tan shades are ideal for individuals with fair or light skin tones. These shades offer a subtle sun-kissed glow that adds warmth without appearing overly dramatic. Light shades often have a lower DHA concentration, ensuring a natural and gradual tan development.
  7. Medium Shades Medium spray tan shades cater to those with medium or olive skin tones. These shades strike a balance between depth and subtlety, delivering a richer tan that enhances your complexion. Medium shades can vary in intensity, allowing for a customized approach to achieving your desired look.
  8. Dark Shades Dark spray tan shades are designed for individuals with deeper skin tones or those who crave a bold and striking tan. These shades contain higher DHA concentrations, resulting in a deeper and more intense color payoff. Dark shades are perfect for special occasions or when you want to make a statement with your tan.
  9. Cool vs. Warm Undertones Just like choosing makeup or clothing, considering your skin’s undertones is essential when selecting a spray tan shade. Cool undertones (pink or blue hues) may lean towards a shade with more violet or ash tones, while warm undertones (yellow or golden hues) could benefit from shades with warmer undertones, such as caramel or golden brown.
  10. Red-Based or Green-Based Tans Understanding whether your skin tone has red or green undertones can further refine your choice of spray tan shade. Red-based tans can counteract any greenish hues, while green-based tans can balance out redness, creating a harmonious and even-toned result.

Expert Tips for Achieving the Perfect Spray Tan


Attaining the perfect spray tan requires a blend of expertise, preparation, and aftercare. Here are some expert tips that can help you achieve a flawless and natural-looking tan:

  • Consultation and Analysis

Begin your spray tan journey with a thorough consultation. Skilled technicians can assess your skin type, undertones, and preferences to recommend the most suitable shade for your desired outcome. This personalized approach ensures that your spray tan aligns with your unique characteristics.

  • Patch Test

If you’re uncertain about the chosen shade, request a patch test. A patch test involves applying a small amount of the spray tan solution to a discreet area of your skin. This allows you to preview how the color develops and ensures that you’re comfortable with the chosen shade before proceeding with a full application.

  • Custom Blends

Many reputable salons offer custom spray tan blends. Technicians can mix different shades to achieve the exact color you have in mind. This tailored approach ensures that your spray tan is precisely the hue you desire, enhancing your satisfaction with the results.

  • Preparation

 Adequate preparation is key to an even and long-lasting tan. Exfoliate your skin before your appointment to remove dead skin cells and create a smooth canvas for the tanning solution. Avoid applying moisturizers, oils, or perfumes before the session, as they can create a barrier and hinder the tan’s absorption.

  • Wardrobe Selection

Wear loose, dark-colored clothing to your spray tan appointment. This prevents friction and rubbing that could potentially affect the even development of the tan. Opt for a swimsuit or undergarments that you’re comfortable with during the session.

  • Application Technique

Skilled technicians use precise application techniques to ensure an even distribution of the spray tan solution. Whether through airbrushing or automated spray booths, their expertise guarantees that the color is flawlessly applied, reducing the risk of streaks or uneven patches.

  • Post-Tan Care

 After your spray tan session, wait the recommended time before showering. Be gentle while drying off and pat your skin instead of rubbing. Moisturize your skin daily to prolong the tan’s lifespan and maintain its vibrancy. Opt for oil-free, hydrating lotions to prevent premature fading.

  • Avoid Excessive Water Exposure

While your spray tan is developing, it’s crucial to avoid activities that involve excessive water exposure, such as swimming or excessive sweating. Water can cause the tan to fade unevenly or prematurely.

  • Touch-Ups and Maintenance

Depending on your desired tan longevity, consider scheduling touch-up sessions. These sessions can help maintain the vibrancy of your tan as it naturally fades over time. Proper maintenance, including regular moisturization and gentle exfoliation, can also extend the tan’s life.



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