How to tailor tans for different client groups

As the summer months approach, it’s fair to say that us Brits will be looking forward to jetting off for a bit of much needed down-time, and with holiday season just around the corner there couldn’t be a better time to tailor your spray tan offering.

Salon Services reported in its 2016 Beautiful Britain report that UK women are only leaving an average of five weeks between their spray tans, compared to seven weeks in 2015, and men are indulging in top-ups now more than ever too – an extra four times a year on average. But how can you make your salon stand out?

“A high percentage of beauty salons now offer spray tanning so you have to think about why a client would prefer your service over another,” says Sandra Vaughan, global consultant for Fake Bake. “Many make the mistake of having a basic tanning menu but you need to create a bespoke treatment list to set yourself apart. Focus on tans for seasonal trends such as weddings, hen parties, festivals, mini breaks and long-haul holidays.”

To boost revenue, you also need to offer tan variety – marketing to those who love tan as well as those who are new to it. “I think messaging in salons is sometimes a bit harsh or too focused on one audience,” says Jules Heptonstall, freelance spray tanner and St Tropez skin-finishing expert. “I see lots of posters with the words ‘be dark bronze’ or ‘uber tan’ but you need to remember that some people, especially those new to tanning, just want a ‘glow’. This word can really change someone’s perception.”

Fake Bake recently introduced body mapping to its tan training – where therapists tailor the treatment to the client’s body parts to ensure an overall flawless look. “We establish with the client which areas of their body tan better than others and work from there. For example, if their legs don’t achieve as deep a colour as the rest of their body then we will use signature drops when spraying that area,” explains Vaughan.

Go bespoke
Wendy George, marketing brand product manager at Crazy Angel, agrees that tailoring the treatment is the best way to entice clients into your premises during the summer season: “Bespoke tanning not only makes your treatment unique but the personalisation builds trust between you and the customer.”

And in the consultation don’t forget to ask the crucial questions, such as where they’re flying to or how long they’re staying for, as this will give you a real indication of what the client needs. “If they’re going to Ibiza in the height of the summer then they’re more likely to want a medium to dark tan. If they’re going on a beach holiday they may want to add contouring techniques to the treatment to enhance their physique,” says Kissed by Mii tanning expert Shelly Henderson. In time for the holiday season, we quizzed leading tanning experts on how you can tailor your treatment to the different types of clients who may want a glow this summer.

The tanning virgin
Those who are new to spray tanning need clear advice and instructions on what to do preand post-treatment, so ease their anxiety by talking them through the process. “Never assume the client will know what to do in terms of preparation, what to wear, how to stand, when to rinse off and so on. You need to cover these details during the booking and again in the consultation,” says Nicola Badmus, education ambassador and lead trainer for MoroccanTan, which is distributed in the UK by Sweet Squared.

Sienna X offers Q&A leaflet packs to clients, which cover all the preparation and aftercare information. Nicky Matthews, chief executive and founder, reveals why: “It explains everything – how they need to exfoliate leading up to the tan (especially the day before), that they shouldn’t shave or wax for 48 hours prior and should avoid applying moisturiser, deodorant and perfume on the day of the treatment.” Due to the stigma surrounding a bad tan – we all remember Ross’s mishap in Friends – you need to keep the dialogue with your client open, even in the tanning booth.

“A tanning virgin will be petrified at this point, so talk them through every step. I do one coat, get them out of the booth to have a look, tell them what’s going to happen next and then let them get back in for another coat. You want them to feel like they’re in control because this is the point of no return,” adds Heptonstall. Badmus advises using a light solution – 6% or 9% DHA – on first-timers as it’s better to go only a shade or two darker than your client’s actual skin tone to achieve a natural-looking colour. 

The tanning junkie
If you have clients who tan regularly, make sure they understand the rules of exfoliation because it’s vital to maintaining an even, dark hue. “They need to exfoliate twice in the run up to their appointment – including once the night before the treatment. It’s important that any traces of the previous tan are fully removed for the most natural and even result,” says Henderson. “You can even suggest offering exfoliation before the tan for a small cost.”

And with this type of client it’s all about managing colour expectations, as Heptonstall explains. “For darker tans, you need to layer it. Apply one coat to the body, dry it and then apply a second coat, but with the gun turned up so a lot of mist is going on the skin. If the client wants to go even darker than the tan has taken them then they will have to allow it to develop then come back. After two coats it just won’t make any difference.”

The latest craze in this area of tanning is “doubledipping” – where the tan is applied manually in the first appointment, then followed by a spray tan the following night to achieve a fully bronzed look. “This provides a deeper than dark glow and could be a good addition to your treatment menu,” adds Jacqueline Owens, brand executive for Tantruth. However, maintenance and aftercare are just as important for this type of client, especially if they are travelling to warmer climes.

“Advise clients to avoid spending too long in the pool during the first couple of days of their holiday as the chlorine can affect the tan’s longevity. They also need to use a cream-based sunscreen, rather than a spray or oil, as the alcohol in the formulas could remove some of the colour,” says Henderson. Those who tan regularly may also suffer with dehydrated skin, so advise clients to pack a moisturiser in their suitcase.

The "never again" tanner
It’s natural for those who have had a bad tanning experience to feel nervous about having the treatment. Be considerate to their worries and do everything you can to reassure them. “Enquire about what products have irritated them before and do a patch test. If the client has particularly sensitive skin it’s better to do multiple tests – behind the ears, knees and on the elbows,” says Vaughan. Avoid fragrant products, as most of the time this can be the cause of the irritation, and “use a hydrating tan solution with lower DHA levels because higher levels can dry out the skin,” says Alyson Hogg, founder and chief executive of Vita Liberata.

Those suffering with eczema or extremely dry skin will need to use an aloe vera-based moisturiser or barrier cream first to stop the tan from clinging too much, advises Heptonstall. You will also need to take more care with those who are susceptible to circulation issues. He explains: “Sometimes, while the tan is going on, the skin can become wet because it’s trying to deal with this mist going on. It almost starts sweating. Dab the skin with a mitt and then try building the tan up slowly.”

The bronzed boy
The man tan has become hugely popular but many are still unaware of the benefits it can have. “A tan draws the eyes towards the triceps, biceps and torso area, making muscles appear more prominent,” says Owens. With your male clientele, preparation is key, especially facial and body hair maintenance, as Vaughan explains: “Men with chest hair and beards achieve the best result if the hair is trimmed prior to tanning (if waxing or shaving is not an option) but if they have a long beard it’s best not to spray the face. Use a self-tan lotion and apply it with your hands.”

When spraying the body, Badmus advises turning the traditional technique you’ve learned on its head to get the best results. “Most professional tanners will spray from the shoulders down and then from the hip down to the toes, but if you spray this pattern the opposite way – from the toes up to the hips and then up the back – you’re using the air to blow the hair out of the way.” When it comes to aftercare, ask which products your clients are using as they could affect the tan’s longevity. “Tell them to avoid any strong shaving foams post-tan as they can strip away the colour due to their high alcohol content,” adds Henderson.

The mature tanner
“The thing everyone loves about a real sun tan is that the depth of the tan is proportionate to each individual’s skin tone,” says Hogg. “Often clients are nervous of spray tanning in case their tan turns out too dark or looks unrealistic because it settles onto the body wrong.” With older clientele you have to take these things into consideration. “There are nooks and crannies that need to be considered. For example, spraying the knees standing up is fine but when the client sits down the skin will open to reveal pale tiger stripes,” explains Heptonstall. “At the end of the treatment ask the client to sit down and with a buffing mitt buff into all the creases.” Meanwhile, George recommends ensuring dry skin, on areas like the elbows, is well moisturised before the treatment to ensure better coverage when the tan goes on.

For larger clients who have rolls of fat, Heptonstall says it’s important to ask them to stretch “I call it tanning yoga. You have to be confident with your clients and ask them to lift their arms up,” he adds.