Spray Tanning Booth vs. Airbrush Tan

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Sunless tanning is quickly overtaking tanning beds for those who want a sunkissed glow.

From contouring specific areas to getting a healthy, natural-looking glow without exposing yourself to harmful UV rays, sunless tanning is convenient, safe, and easy.

Yet, there’s an ongoing debate when it comes to sunless tanning.

Many people are wondering which is better: spray tanning booth vs. airbrush tan.

While they’re both great at providing you with an even tan, there are slight differences between the two.

Knowing what differences to expect can help you get that stellar golden-brown tan you’ve been dreaming of.

Keep reading to find out more.

Spray Tanning Booth vs. Airbrush Tan: A Brief Overview

Let’s take a closer look at each type of sunless tanning.

Spray Tanning Booth

As you can guess from the name, this type of sunless tanning involves a booth and strategically placed nozzles. Then, when you’re ready, a tanning solution will shoot out.

To guide you on how to move while tanning, you’ll be given a set of pre-programmed instructions.

For example, you’ll be asked to turn slowly or hold out your arms at various angles to ensure you get an even tan.

Airbrush Tan

Airbrush tanning requires the help of an expert who holds a spray tan machine like this one and sprays the tanning solution all over your body. This type of sunless tanning is easier to customize and adjust to your personal preference.

Having a professional working the tanning gun means there’s more control over how much tanning solution is sprayed and where.

airbrush tan

Spray Tanning Booth vs. Airbrush Tan: Pros and Cons

Now that we know what each type of sunless tanning is and what it involves, here are a few of their pros and cons.

Understanding how they’re different can help you decide which tanning technique works better for you.


Spray tans are definitely more convenient than airbrush tans.

They take a short amount of time; from the time you step into the booth until you’re done tanning will take no more than five minutes.

They’re also more private and relatively cheaper than their spray tan gun counterpart.

Plus, spray tanning booths have been around for longer. Hence, they’re more widely available in tanning salons than airbrush tans.

Because they’re more common and widespread, it means they’re generally faster and easier to book. This means you can get your skin looking healthy and glowing in as quickly as a couple of days.

Our Verdict:

Spray tans are the winner in this category. They’re fool-proof, quick, and affordable.

Another perk is that tanning booths are private, which means you won’t have to stand nearly naked with a stranger pointing a tanning gun at you.

Hard-to-Reach Areas

One of the most challenging things about tanning, in general, is getting an even tan. We all know how hard it is to reach certain areas below your neck, armpits, and inner thighs.

The nozzles in spray tanning booths can make it difficult to reach these areas. In addition, they’re not adjustable, so it can be difficult to hit all the right spots.

With airbrush tans, you won’t have this problem. A trained tanning technician will be right there with you to make sure all the hard-to-see areas get covered.

Our Verdict:

Airbrush tans gain the upper hand here. The spray gun is easy to maneuver and guarantees a smooth, evened-out tan over your entire body.

Plus, having a skilled professional there to oversee your tanning process makes a huge difference.

woman getting airbrush tan


Contouring is basically using the tanning solution to highlight specific areas of your body, like abs or leg muscles. It’s usually done by using different shades of tanning solutions.

Unfortunately, spray tanning booths aren’t equipped to do this.

They’re designed to shoot out a certain amount of solution in a certain amount of time. So, it can be difficult to highlight certain parts over others.

However, a qualified airbrush professional certainly can. They have the skills required to determine your tanning needs and decide which parts to highlight. Then, they fill the tanning machine and aim.

Our Verdict:

If you’re looking for a tan that contours your body or gives you a deeper tan on your legs than on your torso, then airbrushing is the way to go.

By choosing a suitable tanning solution and controlling where they aim the tanning machine, the airbrush professional controls how deep or dark you want your tan to be.

It also gives them free rein to highlight and contour certain parts to make them stand out. You can’t get that level of precision in a spray tanning booth.


Most tanning salons are diligent about keeping their facilities clean and germ-free. However, it can be tricky getting a spray tanning booth 100% sterilized, and many probably aren’t kept as clean as they should be.

You don’t have to worry about all that with an airbrush tan. Instead, you’ll be asked to stand in a portable pop-up booth that looks a lot like a big tent.

They’re made from waterproof fabric, like a regular tent. One of the perks of this type of material is hygienic and easy to disinfect.

So, you get into the make-shift booth stand where the airbrush tanner tells you to stand. Then, you move around as prompted to get an even tan, strike a pose, and you’re done!

Our Verdict:

Neither can ever be completely sanitary and clean as a whistle.

Nonetheless, people tend to be wary of spray tanning booths more than the pop-up booths used in airbrush tanning. Generally speaking, the more hygienic choice would be airbrushing.

However, regardless of which option you choose, I recommend using disposable tanning feet pads for both hygienic reasons and to avoid getting spray tan on the bottom of your feet.

.Many spray tan and airbrush tan professionals offer these as part of their service, but if not, you can order a 50-pack here for a reasonable price.


How you take care of your skin before and after your tanning session has a significant effect on how long your tan will last.

The shade of your tan is also a major factor for tanning booths and airbrushing. For example, light tans will fade quicker than darker ones.

That said, both types of sunless tanning can last an average of about 6 – 10 days.

Remember to exfoliate each day for the week leading up to the tanning session. Always follow your exfoliation routine with a good moisturizer to keep your skin feeling soft and smooth.

Also, to help promote a longer-lasting tan, avoid showering for at 24 hours after your tanning session and wait at least 3 days after your tan before you shave.

Our Verdict:

Both are equally great on this point. While many factors help decide the length of your tan, the general rule is sunless tans usually last up to 10 days at most.


So, where do you stand in the spray tanning booth vs. airbrush tan debate? We’ve broken down differences and similarities so you can decide for yourself.

The main thing they have in common is that both options provide an easy and hassle-free way to get a natural glow without the dangers of the sun’s UV rays.

If you’re looking for something quick and convenient, spray tanning booths are your best pick. They’re also more budget-friendly and offer a more private setting.

On the other hand, airbrush tanning is more customizable. With the help of a tanning professional, you’re sure to get a perfect, smooth tan all over. You can also choose which areas you’d like to highlight.

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