She left with a perfect spray tan and now it's streaky... Common causes of uneven tans and how to fix them!

That dreaded phone call saying “my tan is streaky”. As a technician, this can send you straight into panic mode! How do you determine what happened? How do you fix it? First things first, ask lots of questions to determine cause. It may seem like an interrogation to your client, so assure them by eliminating all of the possible sources you can work together to prevent the situation from occurring again. Streaky tans can commonly be caused by 3 things: Lack of skin preparation, improper spray technique or an issue with the first rinse.

1. Lack of Skin Preparation

Lack of Skin Preparation is the leading cause for a streaky tan.  Ask questions about the client’s preparation routine. What did they use to exfoliate and what cleanser did they use? Lack of exfoliation or even poor exfoliation can leave patches of old, dehydrated skin cells that can absorb excess spray tan solution. These areas can appear darker, yet will tend to exfoliate prematurely causing an uneven appearance both after rinse and while fading.  The Fix: A gentle exfoliation in uneven areas can even out the color. Offer to give your client a light respray or suggest a tan extender, gradual tanner or touch up spray to add a touch of color.

2. Improper Spray Technique

Improper application techniques can also cause a streaky tan. Inconsistent speed, varying spray distance, incorrect gun settings and oversaturation can all cause the tan to develop “streaks”. Oftentimes, these darker spots can be corrected immediately after application with a blending brush or blotting cloth. However caution must be taken to ensure that the blended areas will develop evenly. The Fix: Our best suggestion for avoiding these mistakes is to consult with a seasoned educator that can evaluate your spray technique.

3. First Rinse Issues

The last common cause for that dreaded “streaky” tan result is an issue with the first rinse. I cannot tell you how many times my salon has received the panicked “I’m streaked!” phone call and the only issue was that the client did not completely rinse the cosmetic bronzer off, causing the tan to look streaked when they exited the shower. The Fix: Another quick but complete rinse, using their hand to gently remove the cosmetic bronzer, solves the problem. Additionally, we have seen clients attempt to shave during this first rinse which in some cases causes the tan to end up uneven on the legs and in all cases causes the tan to fade prematurely.

Let's not to forget to mention the unmentionable- urination during the first rinse can cause a streaky tan. The major organic component of urine is Urea. Popular and effective Spray Tan Removers, also contain Urea. Urea in cosmetics, however, is man-made in the laboratory. Same chemical formula, just synthetically made. The Fix: Do not urinate in the shower!! If your client comes in with some tell-tale streaks, suggest an exfoliating mitt to even out the uneven areas. If needed, a light touch up mist can help add extra color.

The best way to avoid some of these common errors is to communicate and educate your client! Give thorough and detailed instructions for the first rinse and provide written instructions for them to follow, either on a handout or on your website. The more educated your client is on proper skin preparation, what to expect after the spray and how to care for it, the better results they will have and the happier they will be with your service! Happy tanning!




1 comment


The dreaded pee streaks!!!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published