Airbrush Tan vs. Spray Tan: 5 Big Differences

air brush tanning

While natural tan looks ideal, it takes a lot of time and poses health risks to your skin. Owing to it, methods of sunless tanning are becoming increasingly popular. Spray tan and airbrush tan are among the most popular among avid tanners.

So, do you want to get an artificial tan but can’t decide between airbrush tan vs. spray tan? There are a few differences between the two. It is essential to understand the two methods before deciding which is right for you.

Keep reading to know everything about airbrushing and spray tanning to choose the most suitable one. 

What Are the Differences Between Airbrush and Spray Tan?

There are five major differences between an airbrush tan vs spray tan. They are:


How does airbrush tanning work? An airbrush tan is administered by an expert technician. They hold a tanning gun that contains the tanning solution which they apply to your skin. The fact that it is done by another person makes it more customizable.

They can ensure the solution reaches the areas that are otherwise hard to reach, like under the breast or inner thighs. You can not only choose the specific shade of tan you want to achieve but also ask the technician to do a patch test to ensure it suits your skin.

When it comes to spray tan, you have to stand in a tanning booth containing nozzles that spray the solution containing bronzer and DHA. You just need to turn around to expose all the body parts that you wish to tan.

While spray tan offers privacy, there is no room for customization. The spray solution will only reach the body parts that are exposed so you will have to move around to get an even tan.


In the case of airbrush tanning, you can achieve a flawless tan with just one session. The tan can last for around 4 to 10 days, depending on the shade you choose and how you care for it.

You might have to schedule a few appointments to get the desired level of tan. Ideally, you might need 1 to 3 spray tan sessions and the results can last from 5 to 7 days on average. 


The cost for an airbrush tanning session can vary significantly on the basis of the salon, the product, and the technician’s skills. On average, the cost can range from $35 to $80 per session.

There is also a lot of variation in the cost of a spray tan. Each spray tan session can cost on average around $40 and can range from $18 to $100.  

Overall on average airbrush tanning tends to be a little more expensive though the difference in cost often isn’t that much.  


A basic airbrush session takes around 15-20 minutes, but the time depends on the technician’s skill. It might even take more time if you have any special requirements. You must schedule a prior appointment if you want to go to a particular technician.

Spray tanning is much faster when compared to airbrush tanning. It only takes around 5-7 minutes to complete a spray tan session. 


Aftercare is essential, no matter the method of tanning you opt for. There is a difference between airbrush and spray tanning aftercare that you must understand before choosing.  

For an airbrush tan, you need to leave it on for at least 8 hours to ensure it interacts with your skin to develop a darker shade. To make sure it lasts longer, you can even extend it for 12-24 hours.

If you have opted for a spray tan, you can take a shower after 4-6 hours. Much like airbrush tanning, the longer you leave it on, the better the results will be. So you can take a shower even after 8-12 hours post the tan. For more on if you should shower after tanning – should you shower after tanning.

Related Questions:

Is Airbrush Tan Better Than Spray Tan?

Airbrush tanning can be better than spray tan in terms of convenience and customization. Since it is done by a tanning expert, there is precision and you can get an even tan in even the body parts that are hard to reach.   

How Long Does an Airbrush Tan Last?

Most of the time, an airbrush tan can last for 5-7 days, depending on your skin type and the level of your tan. However, you can extend it with proper care and make it last for around 10 days.   

What Is an Airbrush Tan?

What is airbrush tanning? It is a highly common and preferred method of sunless tanning. It involves a tanning expert who meticulously uses an airbrush gun and compressor to spray tanning lotion all over your skin. They ensure the color matches your skin tone and covers your body evenly to give a smooth tanned look. 

Is Airbrush Tanning Worth It?

Airbrush tanning helps you achieve a professional tanned look without having to put in any effort. You can sit in front of a technician who will spray the solution all over you. It even allows you to customize the tan shade, do a patch test, and tan the areas that are otherwise hard to reach.

The benefits and convenience of airbrush tanning make it worth the cost.

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