What Color Spray Tan Should I Get?

Booked your first spray tan and wondering what color you should get?

Though many spray tan specialists will have you thinking there’s only “light / medium / dark” to choose from, I’m here to tell you there’s A WHOLE WORLD OUT THERE when it comes to choosing your spray tan color. Let’s dive in, shall we?


There are two things to consider: The bronzer color and the percentage of DHA. 


The bronzer is a minor consideration for clients, as it’s only what you see initially after your spray tan. Some people confuse this for their actual spray tan, but it’s only a cosmetic bronzer that acts as a color guide for your spray tan specialist (so we can see what the heck we’re doing). It also gives you that instant “oh-la-la!” moment. However, this is the stuff that washes off in your first rinse. There’s a whole bunch of color theory around which bronzers to use with which skin tone, but that’s the spray tan specialist’s role, so I’ll save that for another blog. 

The major consideration for clients is the percentage - or strength - of DHA (the main ingredient in spray tan solutions that actually makes you tan). DHA does not come in a “light / medium / dark” strength, per se. It actually comes in various percentages from 5%-16%.

Though every brand of solution can differ slightly, typically you’ll find the following to be true: 

5% - 7% will give you a light tan range

7.5% - 9% results in a medium tan

9.5% - 11% results in a medium-dark tan

11.5 - 12.5% will give you a dark tan

13% - 16% is found in rapid solutions or body builder solutions 

So where should you start? I always recommend starting lighter and working your way up to a darker tan, or more DHA, especially if you’re a first timer. 

Take it from my client and friend Dyana, who shares her experience getting her very first spray tan with Vacay Beauty in March 2019 at 8%, and is now loving the 12% life! 

What color spray tan should I get

1. How did you feel after your very first spray tan at 8% depth?

After my first tan, I felt perfectly sunkissed. By the time March rolls around I feel like I have not seen the sun in years. I wanted to just get a tiny bit of color and see how my skin would react to a spray tan. The lightest color was just enough to bring some life to my wintertime pale skin.

2. Did you notice a difference between 8-10%?

I noticed a difference between 8 and 10% but not in the initial day after color. With the 8% I was in love with my color 48 hours after the spray tan and felt like it stuck around for three to four days before fading. When I switched to the 10% I still loved my color 48 hours in, but I felt like I was just a squeak darker, so the "fade-out time" was closer to six days. For me, this was perfect because I was traveling and wanted to keep my glow as long as possible (and no one minds be a little darker upfront). 

3. When you finally went to 12%, how did you feel/what did you think about the color?

Full disclosure, when I went to the 12% summer was in full swing and it felt perfect for me. I am not sure I would do a 12% in winter because I have no interest in being that tan in the dead of winter. I love to push my color and go darker in the summer, but unfortunately, my Irish skin does not allow that (no matter how long I layout). 12% is my answer to not tanning very well in the summer. 

4. What is your favorite depth?

My favorite depth (currently) is 12% I feel like in the summer it is perfectly sunkissed. For the colder (less sun-filled months) my perfect glow is going to be closer to 10%. The 8% was perfect for the "I am nervous and don't want to be too dark" but after working with Sasha and learning to trust her, I am 100% comfortable going for a 10% in the winter months because I now know what 10% looks like on me. When in doubt, trust Sasha's judgment... I promise she will not disappoint. 


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No matter the percentage, Dyana looks absolutely radiant! <insert heart-eyed emojis here!> 

At Vacay Beauty, we carry solutions with 8%, 9%, 10%, and 12% DHA, but we also have DHA booster drops we can add to any formula to make you a half-percentage darker or take you all the way to a 14%. This way, you get a truly customized color every time you choose Vacay Beauty for your glow. 

To book your bronze up session and get the flawless tan of your dreams, click here. Remember, you can 20% off your first session by signing up on the homepage!