The tanning trends to watch this year

Want to see increased revenue from your spray tan services? We asked the tanning pros to give us the lowdown on 2020’s hottest tanning trends and explain how to work them into your treatment menu. 

Spray tanning is still one of the fastest-growing areas in beauty and the sector is now entering the bronze age – a time where going for a tan is as crucial to clients’ monthly maintenance as a manicure or lash infill.  

According to statistics from tanning brand St Tropez, nearly half of women (42%) tan because it makes them “look well” and “feel confident”, and it’s this body-confidence factor that salons need to tap into when marketing their services. 

For advice on how to update your menu, we asked the UK’s leading celebrity tanners which looks will be hot this year and for advice on how to warn clients about controversial products such as tanning injections, pills and sprays.

What will be the big spray tanning trends this year? 

Jules Von Heptonstall, creative director of organic tanning brand Isle of ParadiseExpect a glow like never before as 2020 is the year of the hydrated tan. Kiss goodbye to dull and lifeless matte tans and say hello to oxygen-boosting, skincare-compatible formulas.  

Invisible solutions, especially tanning waters, are proving extremely popular with clients because the lack of guide colour means no stained sheets. However, although they are better for clients, these formulations are harder for us experts to apply evenly, but we can adapt to life without a guide colour. 

Carly Hobbs, brand ambassador for tanning company Sienna XClients want their tan not only to look flawless but to improve their skin texture too. Look out for solutions with added antioxidants from sources such as green tea and chicory root extract, which nourish and help skin cells fight the ageing effects of pollution, as well as top hydrators like coconut oil. 

The frequency of clients’ tanning is also changing. Once upon a time, spray tans were for special occasions, whereas now the year-round tan client is well and truly prominent in the professional beauty market. 

Tanning is now as big a focus as nails, brows and lashes, and clients are booking accordingly. This is an ideal marketing tool for salons when it comes to loyalty cards, block booking offers and repeat tan tent sessions. 

James Harknett, global creative consultant for Fake BakeThe desire for express treatments is also trending heavily. People are more time poor than ever and rinsing their tan within two hours is a huge attraction. Also, widen your solution range because it’ll increase your ability to colour-match clients’ skin tone in a world that’s all about customisation

Tanned man at the beach

Which spray tan looks do you think will fall out of favour? 

Heptonstall: The old-school way of tanning – using slow-drying formulations that are heavily scented with cherry and vanilla – will finally die out, with these thick and gloopy solutions being no more. 

Clients are exposed to so much of the beauty industry from social media that they now expect only the best, which is why we will also see the decline of contouring during treatment as customers embrace the body positivity movement. 

Hobbs: Tans that scream fake are edging out of favour too. People want to look healthy, fit and toned instead – like they’ve been away somewhere sunny rather than sporting a blocky, dark-bronzed look


Have you noticed any regional differences in what clients want from a spray tan? 

Harknett: There are major differences in tanning regionally. I find in the North of the county there’s an increased appetite for darker tones throughout the year so they can always have that “out on the town” look, whatever the weather. 

However, in London the trend is that no one must know the tan is fake. It’s about coming up with an application that mimics the individual’s natural colour when they tan safely in the sun, and giving them a look of wellbeing rather than making them as dark as possible. 

Hobbs: I’ve found the most regional point of difference in treatments to be what clients like to wear in the tanning tent. Paper pants are the chosen attire in the South, while the naked tan is most popular up North – these clients don’t want any white bits spoiling their swimwear looks, which now include high bikini and leg lines.

Tanner spray tanning a client

Tanning injections and tanning nasal sprays are on the rise. How can spray tanners warn clients about these dangerous products?

Harknett: Tanning pills, nasal sprays and injections – [which often contain melanotan, an unlicensed medication that has been reported to cause nausea and heart palpitations] – could interfere with the chemical balance in your client’s body. I’ve spent years warning customers about the risks involved to their health from harmful use. 

Hobbs: Fake tanning is a safe way to get your glow on, and furthermore, it improves the skin rather than damaging it. Edible tanning gummies, which promise to give clients a nice hue by digesting the sweet, are only likely to disappoint. They are not safe for clients, so assure your customers that seeing a tanning professional is the best way to get their tan fix. 

The industry’s leading tanning brands will be at Professional Beauty London on October 11-12 showcasing their latest innovations. Get your free ticket. 

Watch our tanning videos: spray tanning troubleshooting and 5 tanning mistakes to avoid in salon