In this spray tan equipment buying guide you will learn:
- My professional tips on how to choose a spray tan machine that best suits your business needs.
- A breakdown of all the features on the market and how they impact your spraying.
- The EXACT spray tan equipment that I choose to use in my high volume studio.
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.
The first step in buying spray tan equipment is planning ahead. Deciding how you are going to use the equipment in your business.
For example, how many clients will you be spraying at a time? Will you be doing large spray tan parties, or will you only do one or two tans at a time? It’s also important to consider if you will need to be moving the spray tan machine frequently. If you are a mobile spray tan artist the equipment needs to be easily packable and lightweight. If your spray tan business will be located inside a salon or spa a larger/heavier unit won’t be an issue.
Thinking about how you will set up your spray tan business will help you compare spray tan machines and decide what kind to purchase and what spray tan gun options are important to your business’s needs. If you will be a mobile spray tan business there are several machines available to fit this business model.
The main points to consider when buying a spray tan machine include cost, volume, noise, overspray, weight, and spray tan gun.
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.
Investing into a top quality, spray tan machine is an important business decision.
Breaking It Down: Spray Tan Components
Let’s look at the individual parts of choosing the best spray tanning equipment for your new spray tan business.
- spray tan gun
There may be other things that you need to purchase like a tent, backdrop or extraction unit if you are starting a mobile spray tan business.
- Spray Tan Course Directory
- How To Start Your Own Spray Tan Business
- Spray Tan Business Resources
- Spray Tan Business Webpage
Spray Tan Starter 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 your spray tan business.
It’s nice and easy to order all the spray tan equipment pieces together as a kit but I also LOVE my options when it comes to picking what I want.
I really want you to think about the equipment you are deciding to bring into your business so you are happy with your purchase and it works well for the volume of spraying you will be doing and how you plan on using your new spray tan machine.
Next, I will break out all the individual pieces of a spray tan machine so you can compare and decide what will work best for your spray tan business.
Spray Tan Compressor
The actual machine that comes with your spray tan equipment is called a compressor. It’s main job is to move the air through the spray gun and push the spray tan solution out in a fine mist to be sprayed on your clients skin.
Compressors come in several different varieties:
- Air pump compressors
There are different spray tan equipment manufacturers and private label companies.
A private label or OEM (original equipment manufacturer) is an equipment manufacturer who makes spray equipment for sunless tanning distributors and labels it with the spray tan company name. Like when the Whirlpool washing machine factory makes the Kenmore brand of washers for Sears.
The top brands of spray tan machines are Apollo, MaxiMist and Fuji
Airbrush Tanning System
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 very messy.
This is how spray tans were applied when the sunless tanning industry started. I have been doing airbrush tans for 19 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
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 making is super easy to set up and use.
PROS: gentle mist for spraying delicate skin, preset compressor settings, powerful enough for heavy client load, easy learning curve
CONS: some equipment is larger/heavy and not suitable for a mobile application, can be loud depending on the manufacturer
These tend to be good options for entry-level spray tan artists as well as have good detail work for spray tan pros.
What Is The Best Spray Tan Gun?
Your spray tan gun is an extension of your hand when you are applying a spray tan on your client. The best spray tan gun has to be comfortable to hold, easy to spray with and have excellent detail and control.
Spray tan guns come in plastic, aluminum, and combinations of materials.
Some are good for general spray tanning and the Pro guns can have an airbrush setting with detail features. There are dual phase and single phase guns. Some spray tan guns will blow air constantly as you are spraying your client drying them as you apply their spray tan and other spray tan guns will only spray the tanning solution when you pull the trigger.
Features To Consider When Choosing A Spray Tan Gun
Things to think about when choosing your spray tan gun:
How much spray tan solution will the cup hold?
How large or small the cup that comes with your spray gun will determine how often you are filling it with spray tan solution. You will generally use 2-3 oz. of spray tan solution per tan, plus you will need a little extra so that you don’t run the cup dry during your clients spray tan session. Another feature to consider is, does the spray tan gun come with extra cups and lids for storing different spray tan solutions so you don’t have to constantly clean out the cup to switch spray tan solution.
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 will need to handle your spray gun and if you can set it down or need will feel like you need 3 hands to fill/change the solution cup.
What spray patterns settings come on your spray tan gun and how easy is it to change?
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. If you are going to be doing body contouring you may want to consider the spray tan gun with the additional spray pattern settings.
How heavy is the spray tan gun when fully loaded with spray tan solution?
When you have a full client list and your spray tan appointments are 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.
Basic Spray Tan Gun or Pro Series?
The most obvious feature to choose between when buying a spray tan machine is whether you should pick the basic spray tan gun or pro version. Each comes with its own set of pros and cons.
Basic Plastic Spray Tan Gun
The basic plastic spray tan gun that comes standard with some spray tan kits is usually the cheapest option to getting started. Keep in mind they may cost more long-term, because you could need to upgrade in the future if you decide to add body contouring.
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 while switching solution or refilling your cup.
Pro Metal Spray Tan Gun
A pro spray tan gun is normally metal and is typically more expensive upfront. However, they have more replaceable parts, offer detail settings the basic guns don’t come with and can be completely dissassembaled, making them able to be sanitized and used in states that regulate sunless tanning businesses.
The replaceable parts that are available for some models of pro spray tan guns make it so if you were to have a malfunctioning spray tan gun you could replace the broken part instead of having to purchase a whole new spray tan kit.
MaxiMist Progun Spraygun
Shop this pro spray gun on Amazon
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.
Also, in some states the Board of Health or Cosmetology Board regulates sunless tanning businesses and there are requirements for how your equipment must be sanitized.
If you purchase a spray tan machine with a spray tan gun that doesn’t meet these standards you may have to repurchase your equipment.
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.
Example of a plastic spray tan gun that
CANNOT be disassembled for cleaning.
Never leave spray tan solution sitting in your spray tan gun.
When you are done with your spray tan appointments you should:
- Empty the unused spray tan solution
- Rinse and clean the cup
- Flush the spray tan solution from your gun
- Disassemble and sanitize your spray tan gun
- Let dry
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 so 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.
Putting It All Together-Spray Tan Kits
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 tan gun and hose come prepackaged together as a unit commonly called your spray tan machine or kit.
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:
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?
How loud is the spray tan equipment? 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.
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 business 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 professional spray gun is going to lower the amount of overspray.
Weight and ease of moving
Do you need to move your spray tan system on a regular basis, pack and unpack it for mobile spray tans 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.
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?
Spray Tan Hose
Is the hose is stiff and awkward or soft and flexible? Is it long enough to work around your client comfortably?
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.
My Pick For Best Home Or Mobile Spray Tan Machine:
I love the MaxiMist line of spray tan equipment. I use it in my own spray tan business and I have to say that these spray tan machines are workhorses! They just don’t quit. I have girls who bought them over 10 years ago and are still using them.
If you are looking for a spray tan machine that is easy to set up, easy to spray with and is reliable then this is your machine.
MaxiMist Lite Plus HVLP Sunless Spray Tanning KIT
Shop this spray tan machine on Amazon
This MaxiMist Lite Plus HVLP is a great starter machine whether you want to use it for home tanning or a mobile spray tan business. It comes with the basic spray tan gun set and is rated for 5-10 sprays a day. At only 5 lbs. this machine is easy to tuck into a mobile spray tan kit or store in your linen closet if you want to spray at home.
Looking for the MaxiMist Lite + Pro Spray Gun HVLP Spray Tanning System
Shop this pro spray tan gun on Amazon
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.
- MaxiMist SprayMate Pro HVLP Spray Tanning System
- MaxiMist Evolution Pro HVLP Spray Tanning System
- Fuji 2150 salonTAN Spray Tan Equipment
- Review of the MaxiMist Pro TNT Spray Tanning System
Please keep in mind that I am NOT a spray tan 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.