In this comprehensive guide, we're tapping into the expertise of seasoned tanning specialists to unravel the layers of achieving a tan that's not only radiant but also healthy for your skin.
Plus, we will explore what's involved in becoming a tanning specialist and setting up a tanning business in Australia.
Get ready to learn from some tanning business owners about the nuances of bronzing and uncover insider tips.
Expert Tips for Starting and Running a Tanning Business
Firstly, we speak with tanning expert Ashley Anne Lashes & Tan about running a mobile business, how to choose the right tan for your client's skin and the role of social media in growing a small biz.
I hope you get a lot of value out of her insights and expertise.
Starting a Tanning Business
Pictured - Ashley Anne Crooks
What made you decide to start a mobile tanning and lash business?
I had been in administration and managing other people's businesses for over a decade. I have always loved getting a good spray tan and a lush set of extensions and had been thinking of doing a course (for both) for over a year before I started Ashley Anne Lashes & Tan.
Then one day I decided I couldn't wait any longer! I wanted the freedom to set my own hours and to decide when I wanted to take on clients. The 9 to 5 game was great for me for more than 10 years, but once I had the fire inside me to work for myself, I just couldn't imagine NOT doing it!
I finally made the decision that it was now or never and found the best courses for me and what I wanted to learn from it.
What sets you apart from other businesses?
Apart from the fact I am a mobile service, which is uncommon for lash extensions, I think what sets me apart is my ability to always allow my clients to feel 100% comfortable with me as a stranger; not only in their homes but also most times standing naked in front of me.
I have had so many new mums or women who don't have the greatest confidence thanking me for making them feel so great about their bodies. That's such a great feeling knowing that after having a baby, or at a time they don't feel their best when they couldn't get out of the house or find a sitter, I was able to come to their home and make them love their new brown skin or fluttering lashes.
Who is your ideal client?
My current clients are generally women aged in their early 20s to late 40s and any woman who wants to look in the mirror and feel great or feel like she doesn't need to wear makeup.
My dream clients are those who are on top of booking their appointments in advance and following my aftercare advice is a huge bonus, too!
How do you attract your clients?
Social media is a huge resource for finding new clients; it is essentially your portfolio for new clients to view your previous work. It's important to make sure your page is looking aesthetically pleasing, showcasing your work with some handy tips, and what you offer along with prices.
Google is also great to utilise; make sure you verify your business and add photos and links to your social media platforms. You need to make all platforms as easy to use and reliable as possible so your clients can feel confident in trusting you and making it as easy as pie to book that appointment.
One way that absolutely cannot be beaten for attracting new clients is referrals! So many new clients come from word-of-mouth, for example, a client might be referred by their cousin's friend's sister who used you once or is even a regular, and you made such an impression that "you just have to go to her!"
What is most important for you to achieve in your business?
My clients are the most valuable part of my business, I wouldn't have one without them, so the most important thing for me is always going above and beyond to make sure they have a great experience. Whether it's doing 6 a.m. tans or spending those few extra minutes to make sure you leave them with the perfect tan/lashes for the big event they have.
Ultimately, I would like to achieve a reputation within my local community and beyond that I provide a luxury service with a home comfort feel and amazing results. My future goals for Ashley Anne Lashes & Tan would be to have an in-home salon where I would be able to offer in-salon and mobile, various services and retail items to be purchased as part of their service.
What role has social media played in the growth of your business?
Hugely; from Facebook and Instagram ads that bring in new clients who may not have known about me otherwise, to clients being able to show their friends my page when they can't find my business card. It's so convenient to essentially have a portfolio, tips and tricks, pre and post-service advice, prices and everything in between there for potential clients to see.
The ability to also have competitions that require likes/shares to build your following and visibility in a short time, for little to no outlay expense.
How do you select your tanning products?
Before I started Ashley Anne Lashes & Tan, I thought all tanning solutions were practically the same, some different colours but they all do the same job. Can't be that hard right?
Oh, was I wrong!
There is so much to learn and research when looking for a perfect solution.
- Does it apply flawlessly?
- Once developed, is it a true bronze or more of a golden undertone?
- How long is the processing time before they need to wash off?
- Is it a green base, red base, violet base or mixed base?
- How long can a particular solution be left on for 1 client when it will not achieve the same results on another client?
- How does it wear?
- Does it fade evenly or is it patchy?
- Does it stick to certain spots and is it hard to get off? (Which isn't great for those religious tanners that get sprayed every week!)
I've found solutions that I love, and I've found solutions that I'll never use again, but I'm always searching for the best products for my clients.
Pictured - PureTan PureBronze Medium
Getting Great Results for Clients
How do you assess a client's skin and select the right shade for them specifically?
The active ingredient within the spray tan solution that makes your skin change colour is called dihydroxyacetone or DHA. Different solutions have different percentages of DHA in order to get a natural glow or a super dark bronze, usually ranging from 8% all the way to 18% or higher. The higher the DHA, the darker a tan is produced.
The client's skin tone also plays a big part in what kind of colour is produced, for example, if an olive-skin-toned dark-haired client got an 18% solution applied, it would look amazing and natural. However, if a very pale client with blonde or red hair received the same 18% solution spray tan, it would not look as natural and would most likely throw more of the golden undertone that can sometimes make a tan look orange. This is why it's so important to be able to have the knowledge as a technician to choose the right solution for your client's skin tone.
How do you prep your client for a tan?
Truly preparing skin for a spray tan is, in fact, a couple of days in the making! It starts off with 7 days beforehand to stop using any fake tan/gradual tanning products, then for the 3-4 days leading up to your client's spray tan appointment, they should start exfoliating once a day (focusing extra on any dry areas they have) and moisturising twice a day to really give the solution a fantastic base to produce a beautiful colour.
The client should also not wax 48 hours before the appointment or shave 24 hours before the appointment as this will open up the pores in the skin.
Then, on the day of their spray tan, make sure the client does not exfoliate or moisturise, they just need to have a normal shower at least 4 hours before the appointment. avoid washing their hair as this can leave a barrier on the body).
How do you achieve the perfect tan?
Every spray tan technician has their own preference in technique, such as what machine they use or what solution they think is the best. All these things combined will affect how their tans turn out for their clients. I am obsessed with my Tan.
Easy Tan Lite 32000 machine as it has the finest mist which applies solution flawlessly!
The techniques that I learnt from my trainer, The Spray Tanning Expert, have never failed me - I start with the front of the client's legs (don't forget inner thighs). Then I work my way up to their stomach and chest, I then move on to their sides and arms, then their back and the back of their legs.
Always remember to taper off the spray when coming down to wrists and ankles so you don't get the dreaded build-up in those areas. I also ask a client before the appointment starts if they know of any spots where their body grabs the tan (mine are my shins). That way I can be mindful not to overspray in those areas, so it doesn't grab as much.
Pictured - Sunescape Week in Maui
How do you avoid making your client's tan orange?
This is all about choosing the right solution for your client's skin tone. You also need to manage client expectations and let them know anything that may hinder achieving the colour they want, letting them know you are only able to work with what their skin tone naturally is but would get as close to their desired look as possible.
What aftercare tips do you provide your clients?
I always send my clients away with both verbal and written explanations of aftercare advice (because as a client I always forgot what I was told!). Some of the major ones are:
- Do not get wet, or sweaty or use any products before your rinse-off time.
- Wash off should be a 2-3min lukewarm shower gently buffing the skin with hands in a circular motion until water runs clear (don't forget the back of your neck and back of legs!)
- Sweat, chlorine and salt water will strip the tan faster.
- Pat yourself dry after every shower instead of rubbing.
- And the big one is MOISTURISE! At least once if not twice a day and always after a shower. Hydrated skin is a spray tan's best friend and will allow your tan to look flawless for up to 10 days.
How do you ensure their level of satisfaction with their service?
Client satisfaction starts from the moment they contact you enquiring about the service. I always try to be professional and prompt while still showing my bubbly personality in all communications with clients.
The next thing is I always try to take the time to understand why my clients are getting their spray tans and if it is for something special. This way I can truly provide them with the best possible outcome for what they are after. For example, a bride usually needs a subtle glow for her wedding day, not a 'just got back from the Bahamas' deep bronze!
Their entire experience from start to finish and how you make them feel is what will make them loyal return clients.
How To Become A Tanning Specialist
With the ban on commercial solarium use in all states and territories all over Australia since January 2015, the impact and high demand for fake tanning has grown significantly.
Starting your own spray tanning business without any professional training is extremely risky.
Whether you are dreaming about running your own tanning salon one day or just want an extra skill to gain to offer a portable tanning service, signing up for a spray tanning course is key; they give you the foundations to build a successful business. Improving your skills and investing in your future is vital. I mean, knowledge is power, right?
Advice on Starting A Business from Mobile Spray Tanning Specialists
Recently, I have been given a fantastic opportunity to interview dynamic duo Alana and Emma who are not only business partners in life but are also sisters, too. They run their amazing mobile spray tanning business called Sunkissed and Co.
I had the pleasure of asking them a few questions about how they started their successful mobile spray tanning business.
When did you decide to become a tanning specialist?
In 2016, we made the decision to start the business. We spent 6 months researching products and competitors before launching.
Our goal was to be a luxury spray tanning service, not just for special occasions, photo shoots and weddings but for males and females who want to maintain a regular tan.
When did you start your career as a tanning specialist?
We launched Sunkissed & Co in March 2017.
Who taught you to spray tan?
We completed a NAKED Tan Spray Tan course which taught us the basics and then went on to perfect our technique by practicing on one another.
How long have you been working in the tanning industry?
Just over 12 months.
What speed bumps did you face starting your mobile spray tanning business?
Initially, product knowledge, there are many products to choose from and understanding the products and what clients were after was a challenge but through research and testing, we have overcome this hurdle.
What advice do you have for potential beginners who want to become tanning specialists?
Learn about products and utilise your personal and professional networks. We have had a really good start. Emma has a car sales industry background and Alana has a real estate industry background.
We both have knowledge of how to sell, market and build a client database. We utilised our personal and professional networks (gym, family, friends and other industry professionals) to spread the word.
What do you love most about your job?
The dawn-starts and all-nighters we have had. Spray tanning for competitions and shoots can be a lot of fun with our clients, but ultimately it comes down to being sisters.
As sisters, we love having a business together. We are both motivated and strong-willed women. Our principles and goals align which we believe is as essential for a successful business.
Do you need the training to work in this industry?
Yes absolutely. It may not be rocket science but achieving an even tan without build-up on feet, elbows and fingers is not easy if you have not been trained.
What are your must-haves when starting a mobile tanning business?
Sticky feet! As you spray your client, excess tan drops on the floor of the tent. The last thing you want is for your client to have a beautiful tan and then the bottom of their feet look dirty.
How do you protect yourself from people that want to scam you?
We have been fortunate enough to not have experienced this issue. Initially, we did not have any protection and trusted our clients however we have thought about this as our business is growing rapidly.
We recently moved to an online booking and payment system. Not only does it streamline the process, but it removes the risk of the client not paying.
What do you love most about meeting potential clients?
Everyone is so excited - it's contagious! We have bodybuilders who have been working for months on their bodies and finally get to go onstage, brides who are beaming that their big day has finally arrived, and models who have been selected for an event they've had their eyes on since they were little girls - our clients all have a story, a reason and a purpose. We love being a part of their journey!
Thank you, Alana and Emma, for sharing your journey and story with us all on how to become a tanning specialist. All you need is a can-do and never-say-die attitude.
When you work hard like these ladies, you will reap the benefits and rewards.
There you have it guys, I hope you enjoyed these expert tips. You can shop tanning products with AMR and delivery is available Australia-wide.
Please comment below what you think and I shall see you all in the next blog.