Looking for an easy way to expand your service offerings? Consider custom spray-tanning. The luxury service is quick (once you get the technique down), has minimal startup costs and can bring you a new source of revenue. Interested? We spoke with Los Angeles-based Fake Bake brand ambassador Tanya Pongrac about her tanning business and how you can incorporate a similar service into your salon.
What’s the biggest misnomer about spray tanning?
“There’s always the running joke that a spray tan makes you look orange! But as technology evolves, products do as well. Many solutions now sit more naturally on the skin and have different undertones—so you don’t end up looking like a pumpkin!”
How long does a full-body spray tan take, and how much do you charge?
“I have a system when tanning a client, from arrival to end, and I’m usually finished within 30 minutes. My starting rate is $100, but my business is fully mobile, so I service my clients in their homes or hotels [and can charge more].”
What sets your services apart from others?
“I have a background in color theory and design, and I definitely use that when tanning my clients. There is a science behind spray-tanning. I take into consideration the angles of the body, shadows, skin tone, undertone, the skin’s texture, how the color will lay once applied and, most importantly, the undertone of the solution I use. I also believe knowledge is power, so I make sure to inform my clients about all of the details, including how to prep the skin, what to expect during the tan development stage and how to maintain the tan.”
What’s the learning curve for professionals mastering this technique?
“I started in this business by answering a Craigslist ad for a spray- tanning gig, even though I had no knowledge about it. I figured it was like painting. I showed up to an office space and was crammed in a room with five models and a woman who showed me how to spray-tan someone. After about three sets of legs, I nailed down what she considered great application—so it doesn’t take long! And as you learn, you create your own tricks and secrets, which is what makes this industry so personal and always evolving.”
What advice would you give to salon owners who are interested in adding spray-tanning services to their menu?
“Practice on anyone you meet before fully offering the service. To this day, I am still learning new ways to improve my craft.”
What are the startup costs?
“You have to buy equipment, which ranges from $500 to $1,000, plus solution and accessories.”
Do you offer retail?
“Yes! I offer Fake Bake Flawless; it leaves you with golden color and can be used days after a tan for touchups or an overall boost of color. It also comes with a super fluffy mitt, which is ideal for at- home use.”
–by Stephanie Yaggy Lavery