How to choose a Spray Tanning Machine...

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With so many spray tanning machines on the market. finding the right one for you can sometimes be a 'stab in the dark' purchase. Avoiding the lemon and finding a gem can be made easier by understanding what features will give you consistently perfect results ...

A tanning machine can be thought of as a household vacuum working in reverse. A high volume of air is pushed through a tanning gun which aims to feed a consistent flow of solution past a fine needle tip. This needle tip atomises the solution, while the air 'bleeding' out of the gun shapes the spray pattern to form a flat 'fan pattern' rather than a circular shape. This fan pattern helps to cover more skin surface in fewer strokes - allowing for faster applications.

Tip sizes in spray tanning range from between 0.3 mm to 3.5 mm in diameter and are made from either plastic, metal alloys or brass. The smaller the needle tip  - the better the atomisation, but conversely, the more over spray.
A needle tip of between 0.5mm and 1mm is recommended for adequate atomisation of the droplets landing on the skin - resulting in more even applications with faster drying times.
It is recommended that you look for machines which have Alloy or Brass needles as the plastic needle tips are generally too thick and can not be produced thin enough to adequately atomise solution (too thin and they will break!).

As a general rule - the smaller a machine, the louder it is.
For salon applications you will need a quiet system to avoid disturbing other treatments and maintain a pleasant atmosphere.
Mobile Technicians however need lightweight portability and noise is not a major concern as they are tanning for a brief period in their clients home (this also applies to home use tanners).

HVLP is a common term used in spray tanning - it stands for High Volume Low Pressure. HVLP systems allow large amounts of solution to be sprayed quickly with a relatively low overspray. A full body application will take between 2 - 10 minutes depending on the gun setting you use.
The alternative, LVLP (Low Volume Low Pressure) systems suffer from low solution output and relatively high overspray. A full body tan also takes much longer at around 10 - 15 minutes per application.
HVLP machines are preferred in spray tanning due to fast applications and low over spray / wastage.

A bleeding gun refers to the air streaming out of the gun when the trigger is NOT pulled.
A non-bleeding gun will only allow air to pass out of the gun when the trigger is pulled and solution is being expelled.
A bleeding gun is preferable due to the added advantage of drying during and after the application - without having to pull the trigger. The client will also be able to use the gun themselves to dry themselves after application as the trigger does not need to be depressed to gain any air flow.
There is also less stress on the motor of the unit with a bleeding gun as the pressure load on the machine is less.

It is generally accepted that bottom feed is preferable to the top feed variety. The top positioning of the cup tends to enter your line of sight when spraying.

Pressurised Cup:- A consistent solution flow to the needle tip is vital for an even application. Air is forced into the cup creating an increased air pressure which acts to force solution up the tube in smooth and consistent stream.

Non-Pressurised Cup:- Tend to suffer from the 'spluttering' effect, where by solution flow will momentarily stop and then resume - resulting in missed portions of the skin and an uneven application.

Controlling the rate at which solution is fed through the gun is a commonly adjustable feature of a tanning gun. Adjusting the gun for a high solution flow allows for a faster tanning stroke and a faster application. Reducing the solution flow will require you to slow down your application stroke and will increase the application time.

There is a balance your will need to find between speed and accuracy. A tanning stroke too fast may result in decrease spraying accuracy. The machine you purchase should have a guide to show you how to adjust your gun for optimal use.

Some HVLP systems will allow you to adjust the width of the spray pattern by adjusting the airflow from the compressor.
Having a wide pattern allows you to apply the tan in fewer strokes but results in more overspray. While a narrow pattern requires more strokes (longer applications) but less overspray.
Once again - find a balance to suit your technique.


With the information above you should be able to compare machines more effectively before you decide what to buy. A quality machine will make life easier for you and will give you the confidence to produce consistently flawless tans.

For more information about the many spray tanning machines we offer... Please see the link below...

BUY SPRAY TANNING MACHINES (Maroochydore, QLD - Australian Supplier)
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