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Spray Tan Shades Chart: A Guide to Different Tanning Colors

Written by Lexi Carlson
Medically Reviewed by Denise Christine Bries, MD
Spray Tan Shades Chart_ A Guide to Different Tanning Colors

Everyone is born with different skin tones, and our skin reacts differently to various conditions.

And spray tanning is just one example!

There are different spray tans for different skin tones, and if you want to be responsible for maintaining a healthy, golden glow, it is important to learn about your skin!

This handy guide will help you learn more about the various skin tones and spray tan shades and how they interact with each other in the body.

How to Choose the Right Spray Tan Color

Of course, you can’t just choose any spray tan color you like! It is important to choose a spray tan color based on skin color.

Additionally, it has to be the right shade, reacts well with your skin tone and undertone, and eventually produce a golden glow that looks nice and complementary.

We will discuss the different factors that go into choosing the right spray tan for your body: skin tone, skin undertone, season, and DHA content.

According to Skin Tone

According to Skin Tone-

This first part should be easy.

You can easily figure out your skin just by looking at a mirror! From there, you can determine what kind of spray tan color you need!

Fair Skin Tone (Group I-II)

Let’s start with fair skin tones.

A fair or pale skin tone is the lightest type of skin tone. In terms of your spray tan color, you want to choose a shade that is even LIGHTER than that, usually one shade lighter.

Choosing a lighter spray tan color when you already have a light skin tone will result in a nice, sun-kissed glow! This will cause your tan to look natural!

If you want your tan to be even darker than that, you can try a violet or red-based shade to bring out a browner skin tone.

For very fair tones (those on the paler side), try one shade lighter as well. Violet or red-based spray tan colors will give a nice, soft golden tone while still maintaining your fair skin color.

Don’t worry; it won’t make your skin orange!

Medium Skin Tone (Group III-IV)

Those with medium skin tones are the ones that look like they have already gotten a tan. These skin colors are a little browner than the fair ones.

Luckily, those with a medium skin tone don’t need to choose the perfect spray tan shade as they don’t necessarily need it.

Of course, if you want to go have darker skin than normal, you can choose a natural, classic shade or colorless spray tan to accentuate your already-tanned skin.

Some standard shades include sunset, caramel, or bronze.

Dark Skin Tone (Group V-VI)

Similar to medium-skin-toned people, a classic, natural chocolate shade is enough to enhance your dark skin tones.

If you have a dark tone, you might think that a tan is already unnecessary at that point. There are still ways you can give your chocolate shade a gorgeous glow!

Even if your skin is naturally a darker shade, you can still accentuate it and give it a nice golden glow!

The same principle applies even if you have a very dark skin tone.

According to Skin Undertone

Your skin undertones are a bit tricky to determine since you cannot spot them at first glance. These are the colors UNDER your skin that is responsible for your skin pigmentation.

There are three main types of undertones; cool, warm, and neutral undertones.

  • A cool undertone usually has hints of pink, red, or blue color tones.
  • A warm undertone includes golden or yellowy color tones.
  • A neutral undertone consists of both warm and cool colors OR if you have a greyish tone.

Your skin’s undertone works with spray tans to change your overall pigmentation.

For example, some spray tans have bronzing properties which cause a neutral undertone, eventually changing your overall skin tone.

EXTRA TIP: Some self-tanners are catered to people with sensitive skin. If you are one of those people, this convenient buying guide should help you out!

How to Determine Your Skin Undertone

How to Determine Your Skin Undertone-

As mentioned earlier, your skin undertones are easy to spot at first glance.

If you can’t tell from looking at yourself in the mirror what your skin’s undertone is, here are a few easy ways to tell!

1. Wear a White Shirt

Find a brightly lit area (preferably natural light) and wear a white T-shirt. You can also do this with even a white piece of paper!

Hold up the piece of paper in front of your face and notice your natural skin tone. From here, the same principles mentioned earlier apply.

  • You have a cool undertone if you notice any pink or rose colors.
  • You have a warm undertone if you look more on the yellowish side. For people with warm undertones, creamy white or off-white clothes may look better instead of pure white.
  • You have a neutral undertone if you can sport both off-white and pure white!

NOTE: When trying this tip, refrain from wearing makeup or any kind of skin enhancer. You want your skin to look as NATURAL as possible to bring out your undertone.

2. Jewelry

How does jewelry help determine the undertone?

How gold and silver jewelry looks on the skin is an effective way to find out your skin undertone.

Gold jewelry tends to look “better” or more flattering on a warmer undertone. On the other hand, silver brings out a cooler undertone.

If both gold and jewelry look good on your skin, you have neutral undertones.

Or maybe all jewelry just suits you!

3. Check Your Veins

Here’s another interesting one!

Oddly enough, the veins around your face, neck, or wrists can help determine your undertone.

To test this step, hold out your wrist in natural light and look at your vein color.

Blue-ish veins are a sign of cool undertones, and greenish veins indicate warmer undertones. Meanwhile, a mix of blue-green veins means you have neutral undertones.

4. Look at Your Hair and Eyes

Your hair and eye color can give off what kind of undertone you have as well. It is not as easy to tell as with the other methods, but it can give a general idea.

You likely have neutral or cool undertones if you have light hair and blue or light brown eyes. Meanwhile, dark hair and brown eyes are usually indicators of warmer undertones.

According to Seasons

According to Seasons-

The four seasons are also important factors to consider when picking out spray tan colors.

After all, you wouldn’t want to look sun-kissed orange or like a burnt vegetable wearing winter clothing.

Consider the seasons and which spray tan color would look best on you!


Of course, we all know summer is the BEST TIME to get a tan!

Going for a classic, dark brown tanning solution in the bright summer is ideal. This is because the sun’s warm glow will make your tan look the most natural and believable.

Some recommended spray tan shades for summer include dark brown, dark ash, or orange-based spray tans.

EXTRA TIP: Check out this guide if you are considering spray tanning or using a tanning bed!


Autumn is known for its warm, bright orange, and yellow colors. It is this time of the year when you don’t have to think too much about choosing a spray tan.

Generally, it is best to choose a classic shade that is not too dark. It makes your tan look clean and natural and blends in well with the warm colors of autumn.

Some options that look best for this season are caramel or classic tan colors.


The cool colors of winter and a super dark-orange spray tan do not look like the best spray tan combination.

Winter doesn’t have as much sunlight to provide the look of a classic dark tan, so a subtle, almost unnoticeable tan would be ideal.

You can achieve a winter spray tan by going for a lighter shade that doesn’t turn your skin into a much darker shade.

Other tanning shade options include soft, classic colors or light caramel tones to complement the cool colors of winter.


Spring is another bright and sunny season, but it is not as warm as summer.

Similar to summer, you can opt for darker spray tan colors to match the bright colors of spring.

The best spray tan solution for spring is to go for darker shades, such as brown or chocolate, or even sunset or caramel colors.

According to DHA Content

According to DHA Content-

The secret ingredient in most regular spray tans is DHA. DHA (also known as dihydroxyacetone) is what’s responsible for your darker skin tones.

The more DHA percentage in the spray, the darker your tan will be.

Consider your skin tone, as not everyone will react the same to high levels of DHA.

To put it in perspective, a spray tan with 6% DHA is light, while the darker ones have around 15%.

Consider these percentages plus your skin tone when choosing a spray tan.

Other Factors to Consider

Of course, tones and undertones aren’t the only things to look for in a color spray tan. Consider these other spray tan factors as well for the ultimate spray tanning experience!


The best spray tans are ORGANIC spray tans!

In other words, you want to find a spray tan made from natural skin-friendly ingredients only.

Look for ingredients like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid, to name a few. Additionally, you want a spray tanner with natural DHA only.

Refrain from buying spray tans with artificial colors. Instead, look for colorless or invisible spray tans.

Anti-Aging Properties

Aside from healthy ingredients, you also want your tan to give you that youthful glow!

There are a lot of ingredients that have anti-aging properties, such as collagen peptides, so look for these as well.

Additionally, the DHA content can also have an effect on aging. Too much DHA can cause premature aging, so be sure to find a spray tan shade with not too much DHA content.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions-

What is Bronzer?

Similar to DHA, bronzer is used to give the skin a warm, tanned look.

It gives your skin an instant tan look and removes any unwanted golden undertones.

How Long Does a Spray Tan Last?

Spray tanners usually last around 7-10 days, but it also depends on your skin and the spray tan shade itself.

Usually, light shades may last up to 5 days, and medium to darker shades last up to 7-10 days.

What Are the Levels of Spray Tans?

Spray tan levels are the same as the skin tone groups listed earlier.

  • Level 1 (Dark) is used for light or fair skin, giving off softer, natural shades.
  • Level 2 (Darker) is for those who want a darker shade.
  • Level 3 (Darkest) is for dark skin tones and those who want their spray tan darker than normal.

EXTRA TIP: Check out these best indoor tanning lotions for your next session!

Does Spray Tan Turn the Skin Orange?

To some degree, yes.

Normal spray tan colors will turn your skin into a darker, more orange look than its natural shade.

But if you tan correctly and prepare beforehand, the orange color will be more natural!

Be sure to follow these post-tan aftercare tips to prevent any tanning mishaps!


Now that you are familiar with skin types and spray tans, it’s time to get yourself the perfect spray tan color based on your skin tone!

Or, if you have friends who have other skin tones, you can show them this guide and help them with their next spray tanning session!

What are you waiting for? It’s time to give yourself a fabulous tan!

FINAL TIP: You can choose between airbrush tanning or spray tanning. Learn the difference in this guide!