How to Start a Spray Tanning Business

by Stephanie Dube Dwilson; Updated September 26, 2017
Model's face divided in two parts - tanned and natural.

Many people opt for spray tanning so they can avoid the dangers of the sun's UV rays. Spray tanning can be a thriving business if you know what clients in your region want. If you get licensing and certification and offer extra services that go along well with spray tanning, you can stand out from the competition.

Obtain State Licensing

Some states require that you have a license to run a spray tan business. Check with your state's cosmetology board before starting a spray tan business to see if there are any local licensing requirements. For example, Oregon requires that anyone who directly applies spray tans to customers have an esthetics certification and work in a licensed cosmetology facility. Florida, however, doesn't have any licensing requirements for spray-on tanning services. It requires only that people who work with UV tanning be licensed.

Get Extra Certification

You might stand out from the competition and attract more clients if you get extra certification to go with your spray tanning business. The National Tanning Training Institute, for example, provides online training and certification. This includes an introduction to sunless tanning and a sunless airbrush technician course. Some sunless tanning companies offer training to go along with their product. Scentual Sun Airbrush Tanning, for example, offers a two-day in-person training course for everyone who purchases its tanning system -- either at its facilities or at the client's place of business. This includes Food and Drug Administration safety tips for setting up your own salon, supervised practice on customers and post-tanning instruction.

Purchase Your Tanning Products

You'll need to stock up on sunless tanning products, including spray tanning solutions, gloves and dark towels for clients to stand on. Tanning solution tends to last about a year, so don't buy too much at once. Purchase the kind that works with all skin tones. If you're offering a mobile tanning service, you'll need a car and a mobile tent that you can set up in clients' homes. Some tanning companies offer kits for people who are just starting a tanning business. These kits start at $200 and include a tanning machine, curtain or tent, solution and tonics.

Offer Extras

Offer extra products or services that can differentiate your business from the competition, such as tan extenders, body wraps and aromatherapy. Some companies offer teeth whitening services. Look at what other salons and tanning services are charging in your area and try to keep your prices comparable.

About the Author

With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.

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