lients come from all walks of life, so it’s important to be able to effectively and professionally treat anyone who comes through your salon doors. However, every therapist will, at some point, be presented for the first time with a client who needs a slightly different approach or special care during treatment. We asked three spray-tanning pros for their advice on navigating these unfamiliar situations.
“Even as an experienced tanning therapist, you may not be used to performing a spray tan on an elderly client with mobility challenges”, says Abbie McCann, Crazy Angel ambassador and owner of mobile beauty business Abbie’s Beauty Company. “I’ve been in the beauty industry for 20 years and I sometimes still need to question if I’ve handled a client in the correct way. The easiest way to approach clients is to think, ‘if this was a family member, how would I want them to be treated?’”, says McCann.
As with any appointment, the client experience begins at the point of booking. McCann recommends asking some important questions, including whether the client has any mobility needs. “Often a friend or family member will make a booking on behalf of an elderly client, but even if it’s the client themselves, establishing at this point if there’s anything you need to know in preparation sets you off on the best foot”, she says. You can then judge if the treatment is likely to take a little longer – if the client is slow with their movements, for example – and book out extra time accordingly.
Establishing open communication straight away is vital with all clients, but for some elderly customers in particular, it’s even more important. “An elderly client might not get out much, and having a spray tan might be a major thing outside of their routine. Even just five minutes of asking them about what the tan is for, what they will be wearing and what you’re going to do will make the world of difference”, says McCann, adding, “The client needs to have a complete sense of trust in you.”
You may need to gently guide the client into position and hold their hand if they’re unsteady on their feet. “Never make an issue out of what you’re doing; the client should feel as though this is how you deal with everyone, not that you’re putting yourself out for them”, says McCann. In terms of getting an even finish on sagging or crêpey skin, she advises asking the client to lift up their breasts, having carefully explained that you’ll need them to do this beforehand. Give the client the option, as they may only want to tan areas of the body that will be on show. Depending on levels of mobility, she advises holding the client’s hand while you ask her to bend her knees quickly so you can spray between the creases of the knees. “For the stomach and the back, ask the client to raise their arms and bend forwards a bit if needs be, to stretch the skin”, she adds.
If the client is hard of hearing, McCann says to explain the whole process in detail and make sure they have understood before the machine goes on. “If you need to keep turning the machine off to guide them, do so, and mimic the actions back at the client to be really clear”, she adds.
Bringing a notepad into treatment is always an option to further assist clients with speech or hearing issues if verbal communication is difficult. “Most importantly, give every spray tan client a full and detailed consultation, give the treatment the time it needs and be considerate towards your client”, says McCann. “Every one of your clients should feel like a VIP.”
While it’s generally safe for women to have a spray tan while pregnant, ensure your client is past their first trimester (over three months pregnant), as this is where any health concerns can arise. “If a client chooses to tan while pregnant, check that your insurance policy will cover you for this. You may wish to request a letter from their GP, advising that the treatment is safe to carry out”, says Kissed by Mii tanning expert Shelley Henderson. Depending on the client’s pregnancy, you may well need to plan ahead and make adjustments to your usual treatment protocol to ensure she is as comfortable as possible. Ask upon booking if the client would be more comfortable seated during the parts of the treatment where she doesn’t need to be standing, like when you’re tanning the arms and face.
“If she’s heavily pregnant, the client may be feeling light-headed or less steady on her feet, so create enough space in the treatment room to be able to guide her into the booth and into each different position during the tan”, advises Henderson, adding that you could offer a manual tanning option instead if this would be more appropriate for the client.
Check that your tanning solution is safe for use during pregnancy. You may also want to look for a brand that is cruelty-free and is largely – if not completely – natural or organic, though bear in mind that this doesn’t guarantee any kind of safety.
Henderson points out that pregnant clients may have a heightened sense of smell so, if possible, offer a solution with a lighter or minimal scent.
Proceed with caution
In consultation, “explain that due to hormonal changes during pregnancy the tan may take to the client’s skin slightly differently, so the colour might not be the same result as she’s had before”, says Henderson. “For this reason, it’s probably wise to start with a light shade and follow up to ask how the tan developed and if she was happy with the result or would prefer something a little darker.”
Attention to detail will ensure the client is as comfortable as possible, says Henderson. Kissed by Mii clients wear a soft waffle robe both before and after their treatment to keep them warm and comfortable. Offer your client a fresh glass of water to drink and adapt the temperature of the room if she’s feeling too hot or cold, with a plug-in heater, additional fan or by opening a window.”
Be aware that there may be areas of the client’s body that are more sensitive to the touch, like the breasts. “Suggest she wears a dark, strapless bra during treatment or cover the breast area while she is having her spray tan, and avoid tanning the nipple and surrounding area while a client is breast feeding”, says Henderson. A low-pressure gun can also make for a more comfortable treatment.
When it comes to retailing homecare, it’s sensible to patch-test any home-tanning products, says Henderson, “even if they’ve used it many times before they were pregnant, just to check for sensitivities.” A tan-prolonging moisturiser that contains ingredients to help stimulate collagen and fade stretch marks could also be a good choice.
CLIENTS WITH REDUCED MOBILITY
When a client with more serious mobility issues requests a spray tan, there’s no reason the treatment can’t be performed with some modifications. The first thing to consider is that wheelchairbound clients “will require a more in-depth consultation and further assistance throughout their treatment, which will affect your service time”, according to MoroccanTan education ambassador Helen Burton-Ward.
She suggests booking out extra time in your column so neither you nor the client feels rushed. On booking, check that the client will be able to complete any prep instructions. “Wheelchair users may be unable to thoroughly exfoliate beforehand, so ask if they have a carer or a responsible person who can assist them with their needs”, says Burton-Ward.
Those with reduced mobility may have a more complicated medical history, so extra care is required to decide whether or not they’re safe to have the treatment. Burton-Ward recommends requesting a written referral from the client’s GP if you’re concerned “to avoid any unnecessary issues arising on the day”. She adds, “It’s also important to establish your client’s ability to give consent, both written and verbally. If in doubt, always check your insurer’s guidelines on providing consent and, where necessary, have a responsible guardian or carer present to sign on their behalf.”
Depending on the client’s level of mobility, breaking tan application down into sections (upper front body, upper back, lower front body and lower back) and explaining to the client how this will work can make the process much smoother. “This way, you ensure a professional finish while being considerate of your client’s limitations. Be sure to clearly explain and confirm any areas that will not be spray tanned beforehand and why.
Doing so will help the client understand the treatment but also respect your professionalism and honesty”, says Burton-Ward. If the client can stand for a short period of time, they could be seated on a backless stool while you spray the upper body and then stand briefly while you spray the lower body.
“Your working area may also need to be adapted; therapists who use a tent should consider using non-slip mats instead of towels on the floor as this will help to minimise slip hazards. I’d also recommend that you assist the client stepping in and out of the tent (if they can stand), as most tents will have a lip as you step in, which is a potential hazard”, advises Burton-Ward.
Another option is to offer a menu of partial tan treatments at reduced prices – 50% off the price of a full-body tan for half body, for example. “For those who would like a full-body service, it’s important that you manage their expectations in as honest and professional a manner as possible”, says Burton-Ward.
She also points out that the client may be unable to perform proper aftercare, so that should be a consideration too. Some of these potential difficulties could be avoided by offering a manual tan application instead of a spray.
“You could further elevate the service by offering a manual exfoliation too”, suggests Burton-Ward. “Just remember to be especially considerate of any sensations and sensitivities the client may experience and adapt your touch accordingly.” PB