Air Brush Tanning

This was a new one on us! After looking into the concept we found that many feel it's a potentially safer alternative to both sun bathing and tanning booths, as there are no dangerous UV rays. Instead, this process uses a special solution approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called dihydroxyacetone (DHA), often mixed with nut oils (almond oil, for example, is a very common and good base oil for the skin).

Weíre not talking about that orange dye that comes as a rub-on from a bottle. This is not a dye but a compound that stimulates amino acids on the skin. It is dermatologist approved, making it idea for those who are ultra sensitive to both sun and UV lamps (such as freckled red-heads) or those you who are concerned about the risks of skin cancer from UV exposure.

Bear in mind that this process is new and the side effects are not yet fully known, plus it's a bit on the expensive side!

Most places are charging about $25 a treament. An actual person sprays you with the compound via a small air gun, so full body tans are only available to the bold and the brave.

The compound is not a true dye, so it will wash out of your clothing (should you wear a swim suit during the process). Itís also safe for the hair (and I suppose you can even get your scalp sprayed). Make-up or oils of any kind, however, can't be worn, so you have to shower and scrub your face before going through the process, otherwise light areas will remain on the tainted regions of your skin. That means you are literally naked in the booth where a human is spraying you. This fact may put off a lot of women and keep them in the private tanning booths.

It takes about 20 minutes to apply the solution, depending on the skill and type of air brushing machine that is used. Then it takes about 8 to 20 hours for the final dark tan to appear. There are two types of liquid, clear and bronze. The tan is very dark and said to resemble what you would get after a week on the beach at Cancun or Tahiti. It will last anywhere from 4 to 12 days depending on how often you swim, bath or how much you sweat.

For the person who goes from white to red this might be the one and only way to actually get a tan! For those in need of a fast head start this might do the trick. Itís a little expensive for regular use, being roughly 40% more in price that the average electric tanning booth, but since the results are equal to four light-booth tanning sessions the net results may actually be cost effective! If the benefits of healthier, smoother skin with less chance of drying out the skin prematurely, might just make it worth going this route.

Small scars, keloid formations and stretch marks seem to respond better to this chemical process and often get blended into the tan better than with UV rays (but it's not total or perfect for these blemishes). There are some instances of uneven coloration immediately after the treatment, however once you shower the next day it all seems to even out, according to user reports.

The reaction from users, by and large, has been very positive. One highly critical female we know did it and she liked it, to a degree (she was bothered by the fact a man applied the solution to her body). She said it hid a few skin blemishes and looked very bronze, comparing it to four sessions under UV lights. She did tell us that the spry application was a bit on the cool side, but she didn't find it annoying or uncomfortable.

There are special moisturizers and solutions you can buy ($8 to $12) that can help extend the darkness of this tan longer or protect sensitive skin. There have also been some allergic reactions (often in the form of a rash) reported by some people. If you have any strong allergies you might want to get a small patch of your skin tested before shelling out the $25 or more for what could be a disaster if you have a reaction to the solution. Most people, however, seem to handle it quite well and this process is starting to be a real crazy in the new millennium.

Will the process endure? If the tan doesn't, probably not, especially at these prices! The cost, however, could drop in the future if there is enough demand for economical production of the solution (which costs about $100 a gallon). If people also find that their skin burns once going into the rays of the real sun, then they may also go back to the tanning boths.

Ultimately you'll have to be the judge! Our test subject liked her first session, despite the lack of privacy, and is intending to do it again (she had been using the light-booths at the same spa). She's very skin aware and likes the idea of limiting UV exposure.

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