When it comes to how to choose the best professional spray tan equipment for your business there are a few things to consider before investing in a sunless tanning machine.

Your spray tan equipment is the center of your spray tanning business and by virtue of this you will probably spend thousands of hours spraying, filling, and cleaning your machine over a year. Investing into a top quality, top brand spray tan machine is an important business decision.

In this Spray Tan Equipment Buying Guide we will look at some of the most critical aspects of selecting the right spray tanning equipment. If you feel comfortable with any portion then skip ahead, to learn more keep reading.

Sunless Tanning System Components

There are several components to your spray tanning system–the compressor, the hose and the gun.  Depending on your business model there maybe other things that you need to consider purchasing (like a tent, backdrop or extraction unit) but for right now let’s just work through your spray tan machine.

Spray Tan Compressors

Compressors come in several different varieties: airbrush, air pump compressors and HVLP turbines are the most common. There are also 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 private labels it with a spray tan company name. Like when the Whirlpool washing machine factory makes the Kenmore brand of washers for Sears.

A true airbrush is small and runs with a small compressor.  This can be used for detail work and touch ups but using it for a whole spray tan would take far too long and the overspray is pretty messy.  This is how spray tans were applied when the sunless tanning industry started.

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.  The pro to this option is that all the parts are able to be replaced and maintained.  The cons: pricing, equipment education and spray tan artists spraying skills. This is NOT entry level equipment.

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.  It is 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.  This is good as you will be spraying skin and skin is delicate. You also don’t have to worry about changing compressor settings other than how fast or slow your spray tan solution is coming out of the gun. These tend to have good options for entry level spray tan artists as well as spray tan pros.

Spray Tan Guns

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 spraying 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. Replaceable parts are available for some models of spray guns so if you were to have a breakdown you could replace and repair your own equipment. And finally some spray tan guns can be completely disassembled for cleaning and others cannot.

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.  Since 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 hard plastic, double coated material, flexible, stiff, too long, too short, or too heavy.  How does the hose connect to the compressor and the gun?  Where does it connect to the compressor and gun? If it’s in the wrong spot for you it is going to be in your way all day making spraying your clients frustrating.

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

Spray Tan Equipment Features that I consider:

  1. Volume of use–how many sunless tans a day are you planning 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?
  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 and your ears/head will thank you for the quietest unit you can choose, and will you be able to communicate with your client without yelling?
  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 in to clients homes you are going to want a clean unit so that spray tan solution is NOT ending up on your clients furniture.
  4. Weight and easy of moving–do you need to move your spray tan system on a regular basis, pack and unpack it or will it be in a dedicated space? Mobile units are smaller, weigh less and can be easily packed up. 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, and what kind of solution are you working with? Is it a thick (viscous) solution or is a thinner watery consistency. {Coming Soon how to choose a spray tan solution guide} What about detail work?
  6. Hose–is the hose is stiff and awkward, soft and flexible, 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 and you have been fighting with it all day, you may wish you had chosen a different spray tan machine. My spray tan gun and compressor 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.

Check out my professional spray tan equipment reviews:

Please keep in mind that I am NOT a spray tan equipment distributor nor am I 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.