What Is The Right Spray Tan Machine

When it comes to choosing the top recommended professional spray tan equipment for your new spray tan business there are a few things to consider before you make a purchase.

Your spray tanning machine is the center of your spray tan business and by virtue of this, you will spend many of hours spraying, filling, and cleaning your machine over a year.

Ask me I know!

Investing into a top quality, top brand spray tan machine is an important business decision.

Spray Tan Equipment Buying Guide

In this Spray Tan Equipment Buying Guide, we will look at some of the most critical aspects of selecting the right spray tanning equipment for your needs.

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Spray Tanning Equipment

There are several components to your spray tanning machine–the compressor, the hose, and the gun.  Depending on how you want to use your spray tan equipment and your business model there may be other things that you need to consider purchasing like a tent, backdrop or extraction unit.

Spray Tan Kit

Many spray tan equipment manufacturers sell a “business in a box”  style of startup equipment as a spray tan kit. This means that your spray tan machine, tent, accessories and solution samples all come together to get you set up to start doing spray tans.

It can feel easier to just order all the spray tan business pieces at once but I LOVE my options when it comes to deciding what I want. And I really want you to think about what you are deciding to bring into your business so you are happy with your purchase and it works well for your style of spraying.

Next, I will break out all the pieces of your spray tan machine so you can decide what works best for your spray tan business model.

Spray Tan Compressors

Compressors come in several different varieties:

  • Airbrush
  • Air pump compressors
  • LVLP
  • HVLP

There are many different manufacturers and private label situations.

A private label or OEM (original equipment manufacturer) is when a spray tan company goes to a compressor equipment manufacturer who then makes a product for them and rebrands or labels it with a spray tan company name or private label. Like when the Whirlpool washing machine factory makes the Kenmore brand of washers for Sears.

Airbrush Tan Compressor

A true airbrush is small and runs with a small air pump compressor.  This can be used for detail work and touch ups but using it for a whole spray tan would take far too long (30-40 minutes) and the overspray is pretty messy.

This is how spray tans were applied when the sunless tanning industry started. I have been doing airbrush tans for 18 years as of the writing of this post and I used to go home from a  long day of sunless tans covered in spray tan solution. I also had a permanent tan from the overspray.

That wasn’t the worst thing ever. LOL

PROS: Excellent detail work, small/portable

CONS: Messy overspray, takes too long to complete a tan, high learning curve

Airbrush Tan Pump Compressor

Professional air compressors with customized air guns are another option. These usually require a good working knowledge of HOW to set up and use a compressor and air gun as well as tear down/cleaning and maintenance.

PROS: all the parts are able to be replaced and maintained.

CONS: pricing, equipment education and spray tan artists spraying skills. This is NOT entry level equipment.

LVLP Low Volume Low Pressure

A Low volume low-pressure spray tan gun is a type of sprayer that uses a lower volume of air to mist the spray tan solution. 

It requires a lower PSI, meaning they are compatible with smaller air compressors and spray a gentle mist with less overspray.

PROS: gentle mist for spraying delicate skin, the smaller compressor is portable, cleaner spraying

CONS: smaller compressor may make for slower spraying time

HVLP High Volume Low Pressure

Most spray tan machines that are marketed for professional spray tan businesses are referred to as HVLP machines.

This stands for High Volume, Low Pressure.

How the unit sprays and the PSI (pounds per square inch) is set by the manufacturer so that you don’t need to adjust it.

PROS: gentle mist for spraying delicate skin, preset compressor settings, powerful enough for heavy client load, easy learning curve

CONS: some equipment is larger and not suitable for a mobile application, can be loud

These tend to have good options for entry-level spray tan artists as well as good detail work for spray tan pros.

Spray Tanning Gun

Your spray tan gun is an extension of your hand when you are applying a sunless tan on your client.  It has to be comfortable, easy to work with and easy to control.

Spray tan guns come in plastic, aluminum, and combinations of materials.

Some are good for general spray tanning and others have excellent detail features.  There are dual phase and single phase guns, this relates to how the air flows thru the gun picking up the spray tan solution, atomizing it and spraying it onto your clients’ skin.

Features To Consider When Choosing The Best Spray Tan Gun

Things to think about when choosing your spray tan gun:

How much spray tan solution will it hold? How large or small is the cup that comes with your spray gun and does the spray tan gun come with extra cups and lids for storing different spray tan solutions.

Where does the solution cup attach to the spray tan gun? At the top (gravity feed) or at the bottom (siphon feed).  This dictates how you have to handle your spray gun and if you can set it down or need 3 hands to fill/change the solution cup.

What is the spray pattern on your spray tan gun and is it changeable?  Some spray tan guns have the ability to change the spray pattern from horizontal to vertical and even to a circular or airbrush pen flow for detail work.  Other spray tan guns have only one setting.

How heavy is the spray tan gun when fully loaded with spray tan solution? When you have a full client list and your spray day is booked shoulder fatigue is definitely something to consider.  A lighter weight gun is going to make it easier to get all of those beautiful tans done without it feeling like your arm is going to fall off. 

Plastic Spray Tan Gun

Plastic spray tan guns are lighter weight and easier to work with on long spray tanning days with many clients.

They can have a flat bottom feature making it easy to set them on a flat surface.

Metal Spray Tan Gun

Metal spray tan guns usually have more precision detail capabilities.

Replaceable parts are available for some models of metal spray guns so if you were to have a breakdown you could replace and repair your own equipment.

Why You Should Clean Your Spray Tan Gun

And finally, some spray tan guns can be completely disassembled for sanitizing and cleaning and others you can only flush with water or spray tanning gun cleaner.

This is something to be aware of as proper sanitization of your equipment is important to the health and safety of you and your clients.

Spray tan solution is a sugar base that when mixed with heat (which happens as you are spraying) creates the perfect environment for bacteria and mold growth.

Never leave spray tan solution sitting in your spray tan gun.

When you are done with your spray day you should:

  • Empty the unused spray tan solution
  • Rinse and clean the cup
  • Flush the spray tan solution from your gun
  • Let dry
  • Weekly disassemble and sanitize your spray tan gun

Spray Tan Hoses

The hose that comes with the spray tan equipment you are looking at buying is definitely something to think about before making a purchase.

Your spray tan gun is connected to the hose it stands to figure that you will be dealing with the hose during your work day and you will want one that will be easy to maneuver around your client.

Hoses can be made of hard plastic, double coated material, flexible, stiff, too long, too short, or too heavy.

Things to consider about your spray tan hose are:

  • How does the hose connect to the compressor? Is it a pressure fitting or a click lock fitting?
  • Where does the hose connect to the gun, on the bottom or the back?

If the hose connection is in the wrong spot for you it is going to be in your way all day making spraying your clients frustrating.

Spray Tan Equipment Components

So now that we have gone over the individual parts of your spray tan machine; the compressor, the spray gun, and the hose, the question becomes do I have to/get to pick out all of these pieces individually and put them together?

The answer to this is NO.

The compressor, spray gun and hose come prepackaged together as a unit. But you do need to be aware of WHAT you are buying and how it’s going to fit into your spray tan business day.

Here is a list of all the features that I think about before I commit to purchasing a new spray tanning system for my spray tanning business.

Spray Tan Equipment Features To Consider Before Purchasing:

  1. Volume of use–first you need to decide how many spray tans a day you plan on doing?  Spray tan machines are rated for how many tans they can perform without overheating. Light/intermittent, medium, or heavy use. Is this a home unit used infrequently or a salon set up with high volume? Will you be doing large spray tan parties or fitness competition style spraying with a heavy workload and many back to back spray tans? Or is this an add on service and you will be doing a handful of tans a week 1 or 2 at a time?
  2. Decibels–how loud is the compressor? Are you working in a peaceful spa environment? Are you going to be spraying 30 people a day,  will you be able to communicate with your client without yelling? I promise your ears/head will thank you for the quietest unit you can choose.
  3. Overspray–how much spray tan solution is ending up all over the room as opposed to your client when you use the machine? Overspray creates a mess that you have to continually clean up and it wastes solution.  Less over spray=less cleaning.  If you are a mobile spray tan artist going into clients homes you are going to want a clean unit so that spray tan solution is NOT ending up on your clients’ furniture. A higher quality spray gun is going to lower the amount of overspray.
  4. Weight and ease of moving–do you need to move your spray tan system on a regular basis, pack and unpack it for mobile sprays or will it be in a dedicated space? Home units are compact and easily stored. Mobile units are smaller, weigh less and can be easily moved. Larger salon units are for a stationary space.
  5. Spray Tan Gun–Is it easy to clean? Does it fit your hand well? Is it heavy, awkward to use? Does it get hot when you are using it? Where does the hose connect–bottom or back of gun? How much does it adjust for detail work? What kind of solution are you working with? Is it a thick (viscous) solution or is a thinner watery consistency?
  6. Spray Tan Hose–Is the hose is stiff and awkward or soft and flexible? Is it long enough to work around your client comfortably?
  7. What spray tan solution are you using? Heavy thick solutions require a stronger compressor to spray them properly and not burn up the equipment.

At the end of a long day of spray tans if you haven’t picked the right airbrush tanning equipment you will have been fighting with it all day. This may make you wish you had chosen a different spray tan machine.

My spray tan gun is an extension of my hand and has to operate with ease. So that I can concentrate on my client and the beautiful tan that I am applying.  If I am fighting with an unruly hose or a gun that doesn’t spray smoothly then my tan is not going to be flawless. And my client is not going to be happy.

So now that we have worked through all the possible features on spray tan equipment lets look at some real spray tan machines so that you can SEE what I am talking about.

If you would like to read in-depth reviews on what equipment I have personally used in my spray tan business please check out the spray tan equipment review links below.

Spray Tan Equipment Reviews:

Please keep in mind that I am NOT a spray tan equipment distributor.  I am NOT trying to sell you on any brand.

This is how I evaluate each piece of equipment before I purchase it and bring it on board into my busy sunless tanning business.  Equipment, solution and retail products that are listed come with my personal opinion as a spray tan business owner.  The good, the bad and the ugly.

You must evaluate what is going to work best for your business.