March 30, 2017

Pro Tips: Mixing vs. Layering

Customised Spray Tanning secrets with Tan Angels Director, Sam O’Brien

In the world of professional tanning, it’s no surprise that salon owners want to stand out from the crowd as tanning products are becoming more and more mainstream. So, how does a salon create that “wow” factor with all the noise around tanning brands and ensure they don’t compromise on quality? The trends coming out of Hollywood, Sydney, London and New York are high end salon’s moving toward “custom blended spray tans”. These salons essentially use their experience to mix purpose made formulas for every skin type, season or event. The right kind of customised tan can make any salon stand out from the competition and create points of difference that keep clients coming back tan after tan after tan.

Product Layering v Product Mixing

We’ve all heard of double coats, triple coats, tanning cocktails and even second day resprays. Salon owners will try anything to create a point of difference, but one thing that can never be substituted is creating your own blended tan. Even though private labeling your own tanning range has never been more affordable, one great way to save yourself time and money whilst still ensuring you are using the highest quality of ingredients is to either mix or layer your professional tanning products.

So, let’s cut straight to the chase, what’s the difference between product layering and product mixing?

Product Layering

Layering is all about technique and your equipment. First of all, if you use equipment that saturates the customer on first application, layering really isn’t for you. You need tanning equipment that allows you to apply multiple coats of tan without product running or dripping; you want an “airbrush effect”. Tan Easy are the best systems for layering.

Layering is effectively “double coating” using a minimum of two products to obtain multiple product benefits. The key difference is between each coat, we use the hot air (from your spray tan compressor) to set the tan on the client’s skin. So, remove the applicator and use the hose to dry your client. The heated air will also cause the clients pores to open slightly and allow that second coat application to absorb deeper than a usual double coat application.


When choosing products to layer with, I always use a “strong base” colour to ensure a flawless result. My favourite “Go-To” layering combination during the events season of 2016/2017 was “Dark Ash-Onyx” and “Liquid Bronze” by MineTan. Dark-Ash Onyx is a strong base which suits all skin types. Then using Liquid Bronze as a finishing spray, we get the added benefit of a high gloss, hydrated result which feels amazing on the client and gives a long lasting rich glow.

Here’s a few more of my favourite MineTan products for layering and the benefits you will see when using each of them, I give them all a customised name to create an exciting tanning menu for my VIP clients:

  • Hydration in Hollywood: Layer Dark Ash Onyx and then Liquid Bronze to achieve the perfect deep dark tan with a high sheen finish.
  • Coconut Bomb: Layer Workout Ready and Coconut for a Hydrating all natural active Tan that won’t sweat off and smells divine.
  • Paparazzi Proof: Layer Absolute as your base and Camera Ready for the deepest darkest tan that always photographs picture perfect.
  • Choc-Caramel delight: Layer Dark Chocolate and Caramel to achieve the perfect blend of addictive faux tan, the result is as irresistible as the names themselves!

Product Mixing

Mixing is simple, combine one product with another. The % mix is up to you; however essentially by mixing one product with another you are changing the result and stability of that product and creating your own blended result. Changing stability is always risky and not recommended prior to trialing, however using the same brand of product will usually counteract any risk of the product not developing through altering stability. Mixing products will usually have the best results when combining “bases” within the same brand. Using the same brand means the product will be stable (so no adverse skin reactions or fluro orange results). So, a product range such as b.tan is the perfect example.

By mixing b.tan’s Licorice (mixed base) with Purple Reign (violet base), we achieve a customised result which is incredibly dark in DHA %, with a flawless violet base product, perfect for photos or a night out on the town. In response, we will achieve a balanced DHA at just over 15% (based on a 50/50 mix) with a dark, pure and flawless finish suiting all skin types.

Sam’s Tip

When trying mixing for the first time always start at a 50/50 mix. Customise your best from here and make sure to record your customer’s blend so you cate it again and again. That’s what makes your tans unique and irreplaceable! Don’t be afraid to promote that you use a particular brand of product, it will assist in getting you first time customers who trust the brand, then educate them that you use those products to make your own blend suited to their skin type (just like a hair dresser creating you the perfect colour).



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