Viewing images online or in print or film, can be frustrating when a client feels their Spraytan is not up to par in coloration, tone or depth, with what they perceive as a “perfect” tan.

Any good technician will always do their best to make their client happy, and help them love their new spray tan. But the reality is, limitations will occur.

Some people are unaware that the “Perfect Tan” we see on public display, worn by a favorite Celebrity, takes 2-4 hours of work with a dedicated Appearance team. This includes liberal use of both face and body makeup products to perfect the final look.

This same “Covergirl perfect look” can be impossible to achieve with a self tanner only, no matter how terrific the product and application is.

Models, Celebrity’s, Social Media Stars, heavily use body makeup and specialized finish products to fix or brown up tans, tweaking tones, and correcting errors or enriching and deepening color.

Any Red Carpet public or media event will always include a heavy dose of body makeup, bronzers, and skin perfecting products on all visible skin areas, for that perfect High definition finish. A Celebrity’s Job requires that “Perfect” look for all public appearances to help “Sell” their expected image.

Print media such as photos and film, are light balanced and color adjusted as needed, or edited with photo manipulation software, and filters. This is even more true today then in years past, with the explosion in popularity of circulating online images, and social media.


Tan applied with Photo Editing only


As a technician, you do have some options at your disposal to address some of the causes of the off color tan first, and help prevent it in many cases.

Yellow Tans can be tricky to address, as the clients individual skin matrix may naturally always produce this color, in spite of your best efforts. But utilizing the steps below can help lessened the off tones. Hopefully you can eliminate them as well, but it will depend on the cause.

Put on your Detective hat, as some sleuthing will be needed.

When a client comes to you with Yellow Tan concerns, please review the following with them to help address the problem.

Is this a one time event, or a regular occurrence?

This can help you narrow down the cause, if you better understand when it started, or has it always been this way.

Try to look at the tan yourself in person, rather then photos which may not accurately display the actual tan color due to room lighting or limitations of cellphone photos. Look at the tan, when the client is experiencing the issue, not a few days later, when the results may differ.

Lighting and location :

Is the tan off color everywhere? or only in certain locations, or in photos?

Fluorescent lighting or cloud cover often makes skin tones look strange, or “flat” often with a faded or blueish, green or grey tones, which can make a spray tan look off.

Incandescent lights can be very yellow as well as some indoor reflection and lighting.

Try to look at the tan in a variety of locations and lights. Use a range of locations to get a more accurate color feel.  How does the tan look to others?

Example image from:

Are they exfoliating enough ?

An older tan may fade yellowish, so plan to exfoliate about once a week to get some of the “old stuff” off. Scrubs and Loofahs may not do this as effectively. For a more complete exfoliation, try an exfoliate mitt or glove with a translucent (non milky) shower-gel, or a scrub with baking soda and water. (TBT Exfoliation mitts HERE)

Depending on the degree of build up, you may need to remove more of your tan and start over with a fresh spray on mostly pale skin.  Please see this link for information on Spray Tan Removal options.  (click HERE – Click on link HOW TO REMOVE A SUNLESS SPRAYTAN)

To many layers?

Avoid doing to many layers of solution at a time on the skin, and exfoliate regularly. Some sunless tanning products are more “yellowish” or golden, then others, for clients that tend to look yellow, try to stick with more neutral toned tanners, or those with a very dark deep brown bronzer, which can help add an extra brown staining tint to the skin. (in the TBT line, the dark bronzer brown tint products are Tan Envy, Natural Tan or Aussie bronze)

A “Violet” based products,is also recommended if you seem to be getting yellow easily. Products of this type are made specifically for combating yellowish tone issues.

TBT Veneto Blend is targeted for this use. (click HERE to check out some Client images with Veneto)

Is this normal Fading? 

Many tans start to show light visible fade in about three-four or so days, if that is when the yellow shows up, apply a thin new coat of sunless tanner over the “old” to refresh the color. Tan extender lotions can accomplish this, or a home applied sunless tanning product.

Some clients find products containing Erythrulose Self Tanning ingredients have more pronounced yellow tones. Switching this client to a DHA only solution may help.  Tampa Bay Tan carries both DHA only Blends, and DHA/E blends.

The below TBT blends are all Dihydroxyacetone(DHA) only products:

Tan Envy, Aussie Bronze, Natural Tan, Rapid Tan, and Sho-Glo

Shower and personal care products :

Washing daily with a bar soap or medicated soap may cause issues on some clients, instead use gel soaps only, non-medicated. Wash with a washcloth, soft sponge or SOFT shower ball/pouf

Some lotions, hair inhibiting products, shaving gels/foams, and moisturizers may cause yellowness. Try changing out your products for a week or two, and see how your tan fades.

Try different daily moisturizers lines and types, and try moisturizing more or less often.  Dry oil products such as Moistaire  (click HERE to view) can help, as they will create less skin buildup.

Diet, Medications and Supplements:

Has you client made any changes in medications or supplements recently? Any major dietary changes?

Switching to a diet higher in Beta Carotene based fruits and vegetables (such as carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes) or dietary supplements, may cause  a slight yellow or orangy skin staining.

Beta-carotene are red, orange, and yellow pigments found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They are a good source of Vitamin A, and used as concentrated supplements to treat a variety of  disease conditions, and improve health.

Some people also use concentrated supplements to provide additional Sunburn protection/prevention or to provide a “Tan” alternative. Beta carotene derivatives are an active ingredient in some commonly used “tanning pills”

The golden discoloration usually requires long-term use, and higher concentrations of product in the system.  It is also  visible on pale untanned skin, often seen in the palms of the hands or foot soles.  Build up can also concentrate in fatty areas, creating a “patch” or stripes of orange yellow color.

When manifest all over, the skin may have a yellowish or orangish cast.

Vitamin C based skin treatments, especially in higher concentration levels, and with daily use can temporarily stain the skin yellow. Most common on the face.

This is different than a clients normal skin-tone for those who naturally have golden coloration, due to genetics and ethnic heritage.

Your Skintype or Ethnicity:

Some skintypes do look yellow easier than others, this is due to your natural skin pigmentation level, amount, and color of pigment in your skin and how you personally react to self tanners. Skintype 2 and Asian skintypes may to look more golden with self tanners.

A violet based product such as Veneto, would be recommended for this client. (click HERE to check out some Client images with Veneto)

A Sunless Tan Mimics a UV tan, but is not a perfect match:

Remember, a “sunless” tan may NOT look the exact same color as your “real” tan, it does not use UV exposure, nor does it alter or effect your bodys normal pigment levels.

A sunless tan can be a bit more “golden” or “bronze”- so it may look a bit more “yellow” if you normally UV tanned more red brown of Coffee toned. It IS a tan color, it just may not be YOUR natural UV tanned color. So it may seem off to you.

That does not mean it looks bad though, as MANY people  tan “golden”, “red”, “Orange”  “bronze” as their normal UV tan.  And most people look perfectly fine, no matter what color that tan is.

Try looking at – you will see models with MANY shades of tan, and all look lovely, and many use sunless tanners. Of course these types of photos are also edited and adjusted, and body makeup is applied. But the range of colors show that all skin tones are beautiful.



To counteract the yellow, if you can’t fix it from the above suggestions.

Use bronzers/Body makeup products:

There are MANY types available in many price ranges, and they can do wonders to “brown – up” a “tan”. Lotions, gels, sprays, powders. They can be found in Drugstores or your favorite online retailers.  They are often seasonal, so purchase in the summer, and keep a few extras on hand for off season use.

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs is popular and found in many drugstores. It can be a bit tricky to use, but blending with a large makeup brush helps. Frequent light coats will blend better, and look more natural than one heavy coat. Pouncing/stippling over the finished skin with a damp Beauty Blender type makeup sponge can help the body makeup product meld better into the skin surface for a flawless finish.

Many other brand options can be found at Sephora, Ulta and Amazon.

Some products are more water restive then others, so you may need to shop around and try a few to find one that best suits your needs.  Cost does not dictate quality, as I have found good and bad products 0f this type in all price points.

Tinted Moisturizers or Tinted CC or BB creams are readily available at many drugstores and online. They tend to be more sheer then a body makeup or bronzer product, but also are easier to work with and more forgiving. Many are less water restive however, and the cost per ounce is often higher. Tubes are generally on the smaller side, so can be a bit expensive if you are covering both legs for example.


Image from:


Can I make my own DIY Tinted Moisturizer?

If you would rather not pay the higher cost for a tinted Alphabet cream product, you can also make your own tinted moisturizer at home.

Use a dark facial foundation lotion or cream product in darker than your normal tan color depth, mix with a light moisturizer lotion of your choice.  Apply as needed, blending with a makeup brush or sponge, and set with a translucent facial powder.

Use Caution as you will have some “rub off” onto light colored fabrics, so wear darker clothing, or avoid appling where fabric will rub on skin area. Also expect product to drip or run when exposed to sweat, water etc.

Tinted Powder options:

You may also apply a lotion sunscreen, and then immediately lightly dust area with a Dark facial powder, or powdered bronzer , using a large powder application brush to impart a light brown finish.

This option tends to work best on small area, such as hands, feet, face neck chest, rather then coating the entire body head to toe.


I use this option in the summer, to do a quick fix on faded feet, that are displayed in sandles – or hands that are looking a bit ragged.

It holds up fine as long as one is not splashing through a puddle or dealing with rain.