Spray Tanning Tips for Redheads

redhead girl

Sunless tanning is becoming more and more popular as the risks associated with sun exposure are becoming more known. With this, the technology of spray tanning has become more advanced. The orange skin of the 90s is history.

So, can redheads get a spray tan? And the answer is obviously yes. Finding a product and a shade that suits your complexion might be a little more challenging, but, when you find it, ginger hair with a spray tan can look gorgeous.

In this article we will explore some top tips about spray tan for redheads, at a salon and at home.

#1 Know Your Skin Type

I often get asked how to tan as a pale ginger, and even in asking the question, you have already made a step towards achieving the first thing you need to do.

Knowing your skin type is a key step in getting a spray tan, no matter what your hair color is. Skin types vary from type one through to type six. Type one is the palest, and type six is the darkest.

Natural redheads often have pale skin and freckles, so it is likely your skin will fall under type one or type two skin. According to the FDA, type one skin is ‘pale white’ and ‘always burns – never tans.’ Type two is ‘white to light beige’ and ‘burns easily – tans minimally’.

This is where the question ‘can gingers tan?’ comes from. People are still thinking about old-school orange spray tans, which doesn’t always suit people with red hair. But this truly is a thing of the past.

Knowing your skin type will give you a more informed decision in how to go about your spray tan. If your skin doesn’t tan naturally, a very dark shade is likely to look fake (which is great if that’s the look you’re going for but something to bear in mind if you want a more natural looking glow).

It is also important to be aware of the undertones of your natural skin. Often in redheads, skin has ivory and red undertones, so you want to find a color that will work well with that.

If your skin has ivory or red undertones, opt for a soft shade of spray tan without golden or reddish tones. You can always ask for a patch test if you visit a salon. It might take a few goes to find the perfect shade.

#2 Find a Professional Salon

Because finding a perfect shade and not overdoing the coverage is more of a challenge for most redheads, finding a reputable salon with qualified technicians is a must.

When you find a potential salon, talk to the technicians and ask lots of questions about which products they would recommend for your skin type. If they are not able to build your trust through their answers, you know it’s time to make a run for it.

Google reviews are also a great way to decide if you can trust the technicians at a salon it’s even worth paying more for a quality salon.

If the salon offers custom options for individual clients based on skin type, and they are able to talk you through your options in a confident and professional way, then you’re in good hands.

#3 Build Slowly

The main ingredient in spray tan that gives you color is DHA (dihydroxyacetone). The amino acids in your skin react with DHA to produce the color. In redheads with type 1 or type 2 skin types, the reaction is more likely to bring out reddish tones, so a spray tan lower in DHA is a good option.

However, lower levels of DHA mean a more subtle tan, and so if that’s not the look you want, you may need a second application or instead a darker color.

Building slowly over a couple of coats will reduce redness in the skin and prevent extreme fade aways.

Having a slight base tan will also help if you are a redhead with pale skin, because it will raise the DHA level in your skin, meaning the spray tan will react better with your skin.

Building slowly can be frustrating, and definitely takes patience, but will help to avoid surprise orange tones resulting from your spray tan.

At Home Tanning for Redheads

If you don’t want to visit a salon, at home tanning is absolutely possible as a redhead, with a wealth of products on the market to choose from. Whilst there isn’t a specific ‘redhead tanning lotion’, opting for lighter shades if you have a lighter skin tone is always a good idea.

The same tips apply: choose a lighter, lower-DHA level self-tan; do some research about your skin type; read reviews of the product to see if any fellow redheads have had a positive or negative experience with it; and build slowly!

The St Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse is a favorite of ours. Mousse is easier to apply with a mitt to avoid streaks particularly with our special blackout tanning mitt, but it might take some practice before you get it perfect. The product is also really hydrating which is essential in all fake tan.

Another option which lines up well with the ‘build slowly’ approach is a tinted moisturizer that gradually adds color to your skin. A good option is the Tan-Luxe Illuminating Gradual Tan Lotion can be applied daily like a normal moisturizer, and color will develop between two to four hours later.

A gradual build lotion allows you to judge your color daily and apply more the next day if you like, or stop for a couple of days if you are happy with the color.

General Spray Tanning Tips

If you are looking for a sunless tan this summer, there are some tips that apply to everyone in order to achieve an even color.

Firstly, exfoliate your skin the day before you spray tan and shave any areas that you normally would before but don’t shave after a spray tan. Removing dead skin from the top layer is essential to an even, long-lasting tan. Exfoliating will mean that the DHA will react with the fresh layer of skin underneath and not clog up with dead skin on the surface.

Secondly, wear loose dark clothing after your spray tan. Most come with an artificial layer of color that will wash off with your first shower but can also rub off onto clothes. Not a good look on a white bodycon dress.

Lastly, after you have washed off the artificial layer of color, apply moisturizer regularly to keep skin hydrated, which will help the color remain even and long-lasting.

For more on spray tanning advice check some of our advice – what to do after a spray tan, tanning tips for pale skin & how long does a spray tan last.

Related Questions

How Long Does Spray Tan Last on Redheads?

Salon spray tans usually last between seven and ten days. If you opt for a lighter shade and go for another coat, expect the color to last for about a week after the second coat.

Being a redhead doesn’t affect how long the spray tan will last.

Do Redheads Look Good with a Tan?

Absolutely! It might take a bit more effort to find the perfect product or shade to compliment your skin tone, but don’t let that put you off.

More importantly, if you think you look good, it’s not up to anyone else to have an opinion. Self-confidence always looks good.

What Fake Tan is Best for Gingers?

Generally, redheads prefer low-DHA level spray tans because it gives a lighter tan. This gives more control over the color and avoids the DHA bringing out too much redness in the skin.

Another option for at home is a gradual tan lotion, as mentioned above.

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