Creating the perfect spray tan might not — scratch that, definitely isn’t — as simple as one might think. Working with spray tan solutions and achieving the perfect ‘tone/shade’ for each client, requires the extensive, scientific understanding of the solution being applied.

Remember the iconic spray tan scene from Friends, where Ross fails to follow the ‘simple’ instructions from the technician and (hilariously) ends up about 8 shades too dark on one side of his body? Skilled technicians in our industry ensure that will never happen to a client, but in order to do so, we need to understand the ins and outs of how to apply colour theory.

In our industry, there are three main components attributing to the (consistent) creation of a great tan:

1. An intricate understanding and application of colour theory
2. A solid understanding of the ingredients and compounds within the cosmetic makeup of each solution
3. Proper application in accordance to each client’s skin undertones

Luckily, I’m going to break this all down for you, and specifically discuss what working with green-based spray tan solutions require and what results you can expect. 

To begin, let’s identify the cosmetic makeup for a “green base” solution:

  • 2 parts red
  • 1 part yellow 
  • 1 part green 

Why is this colour breakdown so important to know? Because no matter which way you slice it, a green base solution will always provide a “golden” brown, resulting in a warmer-toned solution. If your wondering why, it’s simple colour theory math! Red + Green = Brown. Since yellow is a warm colour on the colour wheel, yellow is added to warm the solution up.

Now, let’s get to the really important part of this theory.

There are two key things to remember when applying spray tan solutions that will, undoubtedly, save you from a lot of botched tans (and unhappy clients).



Remember, we are usually trying to enhance and cancel out tones out of the skin hence why we apply solution based on this theory.

Pink, red and blue undertones found in skin are considered to be “cool undertones”. On the other hand, Yellow, Golden, Peach undertones found in skin would be considered “warm undertones”.

So, if your client’s skin exhibits pink, red or blue undertones, you would select a warm-based solution (like the green based) to create a tan that compliments their natural skin tone.

However, if you find yourself with a client who has a neutral skin undertone, you would create a 50/50 mixture of violet and green to neutralize both pigments of warm and cool.

Here is where things can get a little more complicated…

Not every solution offers the same percentage of dyes as the one I used for my makeup example. One company may have 1 part yellow, 1 part green and 2 parts red, while another might have 1 part red, 1 part green and 2 parts yellow (creating a more golden result). The key to success (and the proper application of this theory) lies in your attention to detail — make sure you double check the ingredients of each solution you use, to apply it correctly for different skin types and tones. 

Green base solutions typically can work for most skin types as it is categorized as a more “universal” colour. Which we explain in great detail about what this means in our educational classes available at our Training Center located in Toronto or now available Virtual Online.

Armed with this understanding of colour theory and the individualistic nature of each solution and — of course — each client’s skin tone, technicians are able to achieve the perfect, bronzed result for every client, every time!

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Blue-Green Base

Blue-Green Base

With great risk, comes great reward. For many new spray tan artists, working with a blue-green spray tan solution might come across as exactly that – a risk. Fortunately, as you grow to become more advanced in your craft, working with this colour base won’t shock, nor scare you. In fact, it can yield pretty incredible results. With that said, it’s important to understand how blue-green solutions are offered and applied.

A blue-green base is essential to your kit of solutions and should always be in your bag. Why? Because it is one of the 2 different formulas that will create a neutral tone result – making it an extremely useful tool for any artist.

If I had a dollar for every time a client came into my salon and requested that famous ‘Kim Kardashian glow’, I’d probably be considering an early retirement. Kim’s trademark golden glow has, quite literally, become Hollywood’s best kept secret. Her spray tan always boasts a beautiful, sultry, deep, intense and ashy colour that makes for a perfect accessory to all of her looks. As a result, “Dark Ash” spray tan solutions are constantly sold within our market, and this is where your knowledge of colour blending (click here for more info) becomes absolutely essential. Dark ash solutions are promoted as the go-to, essential solution in an artist’s arsenal to counteract gold or red tones. Now, let’s relate this back to a little colour theory. Being that there is no gold on the colour wheel, we will convert gold to orange. This is where our colour wheel “math” comes in handy. For colours to counteract each other, they must be directly across each other on the colour wheel. In this example, blue neutralizes orange and green neutralizes red. So a dark ash is essentially a blue-green base.

This is where things can get tricky. While a blue-green base holds the key to the Kim K glow, it’s important to remember that ash is essentially grey. With this in mind, artists must be mindful of their client’s skin tone – if their skin is already ashy, applying an ashy base might wash them out. Once again, this brings us back to colour blending. Artists can add warmth to a solution in order to balance a skin tone (and avoid washing their client out), or cool down too much warmth. Having a grasp on colour theory and the confidence to tweak and modify popular solutions will take a technician from basic spray tan application to custom spray tan artistry.

Of course, it takes years of practice to understand and apply colour theory across a broad spectrum of clients hoping to achieve a perfect, signature glow. However, understanding what a blue-green base is and why it is essential to your spray tan kit will – without a doubt – put you one step closer to achieving those flawless results that clients can’t get enough of.

lucky enough if you are considering to train with Bronzed by Bloom colour theory is something we explain in great detail. Preparing our students for success with their future careers!

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Colour blending — the true art of spray tanning. But what does the term colour blending really mean?

To blend is to mix together thoroughly, and in the realm of spray tan solutions this means we colour blend solutions with skin undertones to create flawless, natural looking results. If you haven’t already been applying some type of colour theory to your spray tan method well, there’s no time like the present and I promise after reading this article, you will feel inspired (and confident) to apply colour theory to your blending process. Why? Because nothing will have more of an impact on your level of service as a spray tan artist, than the careful application of colour theory.

Across various artistries, colour theory becomes an integral pillar of curriculum. Makeup, hair, special FX, these all require a baseline understanding of colour theory. Unfortunately, it is not taught in spray tan artistry — which, in itself, is a major fault within the system. Spray tan technicians are all artists in our own way, and given the intricate nature of working with skin undertones, colour theory should be an essential part of our education while being certified. This is something that should be deemed as critical within training and, in my opinion, prospective artists should have to pass a test which demonstrates their knowledge of colour theory before receiving their certification.

To get you started, I’m going to go over a basic breakdown that can be useful for any spray tan artist. You can also check out my previous article detailing how to work with specific D.H.A colour bases (hyperlink this). For those of you with a vested interest in expanding your knowledge of colour theory, you can also download our colour blending guide for spray tan artists. 

The three topics I am going to address today are:



What is a colour wheel? The colour wheel is a remarkable tool that empowers spray tan artists to effectively determine what solution will be a good fit for their client. In simple terms, it is basically an arrangement of colour spectrums (shaped in a circle) that reveal which colours are complimentary towards the other. The colour wheel consists of 3 types of colours: primary, secondary and territory. For a more detailed breakdown of what each of these categories means, click here.

Now, if you don’t own a colour wheel I would highly suggest you buying one (or downloading one online to keep on hand), as this will help you to successfully choose solutions that enhance and compliment a client’s natural skin undertone. 


There are three types of classifications for skin undertones which are then subcategorized into different kind colours. For example; you may have a warm undertone that offers a peachy hue. In this circumstance, we would use a green based D.H.A to compliment and counteract the “peach-like colour” found in your skin.   

Those three classifications for skin undertones are warm, cool and neutral. This is where colour theory becomes especially important, as applying the wrong D.H.A with the wrong skin type can create a glaringly unnatural result, or even an orange/blue tone (which definitely isn’t the result your client is paying for). There is a reason there are so many different D.H.A based solutions on the market, after all, so pay close attention when matching a solution based with each client’s skin undertone.


Once you’ve established a thorough understanding of tones, shades, skin types and skin undertone, you can begin to master what I like to call D.H.A mixology. By this, I mean you can ‘create your own essence’ in the industry by blending different D.H.A based solutions within each other, creating customized results for your clients.

Utilizing colour theory in this manner will allow you to differentiate your services and offer unrivalled results (that keep clients coming back time and time again). Rather than limiting yourself to simply applying straight products onto your client’s skin, you’ll be able to leverage a competitive edge in the industry. Not only that, but as you progress as a spray tan artist you might decide you want to create your own solution line for your salon. With a strong foundation in colour theory education, you’ll be able to guarantee results of your product by understanding the cosmetic makeup example behind each solution.

Finding success as a spray tan artist requires the curation of a perfect tan, for each client, every visit. Taking the time to expand your knowledge as a technician will not only equip you with the tools to enhance your service, but will instil the confidence and expertise you need to make a name for yourself within an ever-competitive industry.

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