The ingredient that tans your skin is dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a color less sugar that interacts with dead skin cells to create the tanned color. The DHA causes a chemical reaction with the proteins in the outer most layers of the skin, which causes the color of the skin to change, producing a beautiful natural tan.
A spray tan does not dye the skin; the immediate color you see when your tan is applied is a color guide or bronzer that helps the technician not miss any sections and allows you to instantly see your tan. The DHA starts to react with the skin within 1 hours of the tan application and continues to do so for a total of 8 hours. A spray gun is used to spray a combination of air and tanning solution directly onto the skin, which dries almost immediately. In less than 15 minutes you can have a flawless tan that will develop over the next 4 to 82 hours.
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