No, there are no regulations for spray tanning in the United States at a Federal level. Meaning, there is no governing body that requires an actual “certification” for you to spray tan. Some states (currently Oregon & AZ) require an aesthetician’s license in order to spray tan. However, unlike cosmetology and aesthetician licenses, spray tanning is not yet regulated and any training that you choose should be based on the background and knowledge that the company or individual can share with you.

Note that not all training is created equal, but be sure that you do your own due diligence and find a training program that fits your needs. Ensure to contact your state cosmetology board to ensure that no new regulations have passed.

You will want to acquire some form of training to ensure that you fully understand how it works, how bronzers work, how to prepare the skin, Food and Drug Administration guidelines, how to identify potential allergy concerns, and how to handle pregnant or lactating women.

The National Tanning Training Institute offers correspondence training in basic indoor tanning for $105. The American Tanning Institute offers a certification for $195. At a minimum, you will be expected to file a Doing Business As with your county clerk, a fee of about $15, depending on your county. If you plan to open and manage a facility, then you will have to create a business entity, such as a limited liability company, with a cost of about $300.

Many spray tanning businesses offer mobile services and if you intend to do the same, you can also cut your overhead costs by using your current vehicle—decked out with vinyl signage advertising your business. If not and you are looking to start a studio, costs will vary. Expect to pay at least $7 per square foot to lease commercial property in a good area.

You will also be expected to have adequate insurance to protect you, your business, your employees, and most importantly your clients. GLS Underwriters and Insuretec are two companies that insure spray tanning operators. Your current insurance company may also connect you with a business insurance provider.

A policy with general liability, product, and property liability may cost you about $200 to $500 per year, depending on the type of business you operate, services provided, and location. Regardless of how friendly or timely your service is; customer satisfaction depends on the evenness and color of the tan.

Owing to that, selecting the ideal solution for your clientele is very necessary. Many companies will allow you to try out samples. Or you can visit other tanning salons in your area to find a solution that works for you. A gallon of the solution starts at about $55. You’ll use about 2 to 6 oz. per client.

Types of Training in the Spray Tan Business

There are basically two training options for people looking to get started in the spray tan business; online or in-person. In-person is obviously the preferred choice, but sometimes your time and budget won’t allow this to happen. Owing to that, online can be very appealing to people and you can get trained in the comfort of your own home and on your own schedule.

  1. In Person Training

Notably, being trained in person is the ideal situation because spray tanning is a very hands-on service and learning experience. Note that being able to watch the trainer and see how they handle the spray gun can be very helpful for someone that is learning the process.

Most courses offer the option to meet in person and learn the spray tanning process. However, one important thing to consider is the cost of travel and the course itself. Most trainers charge a premium if you want live training.

The ideal scenario for live training is that you meet with your trainer and they will cover the spray tanning process with you and then teach you, on live models, how to apply the solution. Note that this offers you a great opportunity to watch how they apply the solution so you can try your best to replicate the process.

Coupled with teaching you how to spray tan, they also teach you more about the history of spray tanning, the ingredients, pre and post tan care, and more. Types of in person trainings include;

  • 1 On 1 Training

This is considered the cream of the crop. The premium and most intimate training option is offered here. Have it in mind that learning from a spray tan artist 1 on 1 would be the perfect situation for anyone that is eager to learn how to Tan. The attention is all on you and you get to learn from an expert. You should be able to ask as many questions as you want, and they should cater to the entire learning experience.

  • 1 On a Few

Just like 1 on 1 training, but in this case, the trainer will place you with a couple of other trainees. It can be beneficial for you to be with a group since the other trainees may ask questions that you would never think of and you get to see how they handle the spray tan process as a whole.

Note that every person will adapt the technique to their liking and to something that is comfortable for them. And this is very fine. In a perfect situation, the trainer will still provide each trainee with their own model to spray and you will still get the hands-on experience necessary to learn.

  • Group Training

Out of every other option mentioned so far, this is the least ideal. This more or less involves a trainer at the front of the room teaching a group of people how to spray tan. In this situation, the trainer will spray a model or two and you will watch, along with the others in the group.

In some cases, these trainees can be as many as 30-40 people in a single classroom trying to learn from afar. Although this isn’t ideal, this is used for a lot of beginner training classes, simply to teach people and to provide a chance to “certify” a large group of people in one sitting.

In addition, there are a couple of benefits in this scenario. You will be able to hear the questions that others are asking in the group and they may be questions that you hadn’t thought of yet. Furthermore and probably not directly related, you may be able to connect with others who are new to the industry and in similar situations.

  1. Online Training

Just by doing a quick Google search for “online spray tan training OR certification”, you will find a number of courses that are offered in a digital format. Note that most of these trainings put together written explanations with accompanying videos to help teach you visually. There are indeed some cons to that, but it is also a wonderful way to get a feel of spray tanning techniques in general, and it is also quite affordable compared to most in-person training.

Even if you are forced to do online training due to other factors, it is crucial to understand what you need to look for in that training so you can make the best decision possible when choosing the right spray tan certification course for you. Note that the way the training is delivered is extremely important.

Experts in the industry suggest looking for training that offers written explanations of everything included in the training, along with videos to accompany the text and to show the techniques in a “live” format. Normally, the videos would be produced to educate you and show you the techniques and methods in a learning format, instead of just showing the process of a normal spray tan.

If someone is trying to teach you how to spray tan, it is ideal if they walk through it slower than normal so that you can understand the concepts. Furthermore, if they truly want to educate you on spray tanning, they should provide multiple models and body types to show you the differences in technique based on these factors. It can be difficult to show all  the body types, however, the more examples they can show, the better.

Conclusion

In states like California and Texas, there are no licensing requirements for individuals joining the industry. As of 2021, Oregon and Ohio are the only states that mandate anyone who directly applies spray tans to customers to have an aesthetics certification and work in a licensed cosmetology facility.

However, by not requiring you to attend cosmetology school or acquire hours of training, the sunless industry offers lucrative opportunities for career changers and entrepreneurs. However, the lack of structure in the industry can also make it difficult for newcomers to learn the ropes.

Joy Nwokoro