How to Start a Spray Tan Business

woman spray tanning at salon

Even with the thousands of spray tanning salons across the USA today, starting a spray tan business can be a lucrative and profitable choice. If you love tanning, want to be your own boss, and want to make clients feel great in their skin, it could be a great option.

Starting a business is daunting, so if you have the idea in mind, you will probably be wondering how to start a spray tan business. You will need to find a location for your business, invest in some great equipment, and make sure you have a qualification to build trust with your clients.

Let’s have a look at the things you need to consider when starting a spray tan business in more detail.

Upfront Costs

The upfront costs are a scary part of starting any business. You spend savings on products, space, training, and marketing, with no idea if it will pay off or not. It’s totally understandable that you will want to keep these costs as low as possible. Let’s take a look at what you will need to spend on.


You will, of course, need to invest in a spray tan machine. Airbrush tanning machines start at around $100 and increase in price up to the thousands. If you want to keep costs as low as possible at the beginning, you could invest in a machine on the cheaper end. Just remember that these are mostly designed for personal use and so might be surprising to clients in a professional setting.

I would definitely recommend choosing and airbrush tanning machine over a traditional one. Coverage is more even, and it is easier to apply, so it’s better for you and better for the client.  

A spray tan extractor machine will keep the salon clean by filtering out leftover tanning solution in the air, so is another essential investment when starting a tanning business. It would be almost impossible to keep the salon, you, and your clients, clean without it.


You will also need the right product. If you are an experienced tanner yourself, you will probably have a good idea about what kind of products you have liked when you have gone for your own spray tans. If you are completely new to the world of tanning, you will need to do some research.

Remember that the tanning products you use will say a lot about the type of business you are. Do you want to run an eco-friendly business that uses local and organic spray tanning products? Do you want your business to be high-end and luxury? Your products need to reflect what kind of business you are.

You will need a selection of color products, varying in levels of DHA, to suit clients with all skin types from pale skin to darker skin. This is essential to keep your business competitive on the market.


Finding the right space for your salon is probably going to be the most difficult part of your new business venture. You need somewhere accessible, and you need to create a professional, comfortable space inside.

If you get lucky, you might cross paths with a closing salon that is already well-equipped to suit your needs. This is, however, quite unlikely.

When renting a business space, it is a good idea to have six months’ worth of rent in savings, just as a reserve or buffer if you will. Figure out what you can afford based on this, and then hire a good broker to help you find the perfect space. Make sure it has (or has the space to build) a reception area, as well as a private room for the spray tans. A bathroom is also essential.

Then, you will need to use your interior design skills to create a welcoming, professional reception area with comfortable seating for clients while they are waiting. This is possible on a budget, but if you have more to spend, you could hire an interior designer who specializes in small businesses to help you.


Finally, your marketing strategy is another cost to add to the list. When you open your doors, you need to make sure people know that you are there. These days, social media promotion is the most popular strategy for new businesses.

Consider social media advertising or paying an influencer to promote your salon.

If you have more money to spend, you could hire a marketing consultant specialist to help you. They will be able to assist you in where and how to advertise, social media management, and branding.


If you want to start your own tanning business because you have worked for other spray tan salons for years, then you can skip this section! Take your experience and your qualifications and paste them on the walls of your business, you’re good to go.

If you are completely new to spray tanning, however, you’re going to need to learn how to do it.

There are so many types of courses to choose from when it comes to spray tanning. There are even online courses that cover the basics of method and hygiene. A good starting point may even be our article here – spray tan instructions – guidelines and how to prepare.

Good training will prepare you better for your new role. A face-to-face course over a couple of months will teach you a variety of techniques and give you lots of opportunity to practice, using different machines and different products.

Search your local area for schools offering spray tanning courses and read the reviews of that course. You could also visit other salons in the area and ask about their training and qualifications.

Your customers need to know they can trust you, so you will need to have all the answers to questions about skin types, how to maintain a spray tan, skin preparation prior to spray tanning, and the equipment and method you use. It will take some studying, but if you put the work in, you will be rewarded with loyal customers.

Another option, of course, is to hire a qualified and experienced person to do the spray tanning, if you just want to handle the business side of things. Factor in labor costs if you go down this route and remember that knowledge about equipment and products will still help you to run a more successful business.

Related Questions

Is Spray Tanning a Profitable Business?

It absolutely can be! If you deliver high-quality spray tanning services, word will spread, and you will quickly build a customer base. Spray tanning shows no signs of going out of fashion.

Profitability will depend on you, however. You need to get your pricing right and keep your costs low. If you invest in quality products, you can charge more for each spray tan. This is probably the more profitable route than the “cheap and cheerful” route because people care about how they look, and so are willing to spend more on spray tans. An alternative worth mentioning is mobile spray tanning, which typically doesn’t require as much investment but may not be as profitable.

How Hard is it to Learn to Spray Tan?

The basics of spray tanning are not at all difficult to get to grips with. Some people complete short online courses and go straight into business.

Practice is important, so if you have willing friends or family members, use them as guinea pigs. Investing in higher quality training, however, will make you more prepared for the role, and take away the difficulty of the learning process.

How Much Can You Charge for a Spray Tan?

On average, people expect to pay between $30 and $80 for a spray tan. When you first start out, it might be a good idea to choose a lower price point, in order to stay competitive. Once you build a loyal customer base, you can raise the prices.

Do some market research to see what other salons in the area charge for spray tans, and what kind of services they offer. You might choose to come in a little lower to draw in customers.

The most important thing is to do a cost analysis to ensure you will make a profit on what you charge. Consider the cost of the product, the rent you pay on the space, and labor. From there, you will start to see what you need to charge to see a profit margin.

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