Sonoma Tanning

“What am I doing?” I asked myself. I had never done anything like this before. Just moments before we had been sitting in the office talking shop, and now I was standing in the middle of a room all by myself wearing nothing but my skivvies. The door opened and I resisted the urge to cover my body.

“Are you ready?”

I nodded. I positioned myself and looked straight ahead. I was about to get my very first spray tan.

Oh sure, I’d tried to be tan in so many different ways. I had burned my fair skin with baby oil as a teen. I’d slathered on enough coconut oil to make a pina colada. I’d laid in tanning beds and discovered I had more freckles than Lindsay Lohan. But I had never stood in the center of a room waiting for a woman to come in and spray me down as if I were a car in need of a paint job. Thanks to my own attempts at self tanning, I was more than skeptical about the whole experience. On my own I had discovered that orange on the palms and a tan that doesn’t quite meet the hairline can be more unattractive than my naturally pasty skin. Basically, I was petrified that I would have to go into the office the next morning with a carrot face. And still, there I stood with very little to hide from Kelly Richardson, the owner of Sonoma Tanning.

Thing is, Kelly was so gracious right from the beginning. She walked me through the whole entire process so that I knew what to expect. And then she was very explicit in the aftercare. I saw photos all around her office of several of her clients. They had beautiful, natural looking tans. On her website, brides in white gowns glowed with sunkissed skin. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad…..

“Ok, put your hands up like this,” and she held her arms out to the side, her elbows bent like an L. I mimicked her movement and she held the machine in front of me. In swift motions she moved the nozzle up and down my body, instructing me to move one way, and turn another. One last puff of spray at my face and a couple touch-ups, and we were done. It literally took only 2 minutes.

She had explained to me the difference between her tans and the spray tans of other salons. Regular salons have a small nozzle that covers a very small amount of the body at a time. It can take up to 15 minutes for a spray tan, just to make sure that it’s even. Her salon is one of the only salons that uses a HVLP (high-volume, low pressure) sprayer, a revolutionary piece of equipment that is capable of creating the most perfect tan in the least amount of time. Not only that, but the solution she uses dries so fast that I was able to put my clothes back on after only a couple minutes. At other salons, I would have had to wait a lot longer in a cold room with nothing on. Not exactly my idea of comfortable.

The alarming thing about the tanning industry is that you really don’t need any kind of cosmetology license to be able to apply spray tans. Being spray tanned by an unlicensed technician can result in an orange and streaky tan that looks anything but natural. Kelly is not only licensed, but is the head trainer for the Airbrush Tanning Training Center. She recommends that anywhere you go for a spray tan, it is vitally important to make sure that the technician is properly certified.

Once I was dressed, I looked in the mirror to check out her work. I was relieved to see that I didn’t have a carrot face. Instead I looked more like I had spent the last week on the beach. The difference? I didn’t have those pesky freckles popping up all over the place. And if I had creases around my eyes, which I don’t at all (stop laughing), they were less noticeable with the sudden burst of lively color on my face. I wasn’t wearing any make-up, and for the first time in a long time I didn’t feel like I needed to. A quick look at my arms and legs and I could tell that this was way different than self-tanners. This really did look amazingly authentic. And it was way better for my skin than laying in a tanning booth. I also noticed that my skin felt really smooth. Kelly explained that this was because her solution was aloe based.

Since my tan, I have gotten so many compliments! The most common thing I heard was there was something different about me, that I looked good. One girl asked if I had even lost weight. Just that compliment alone solidified the greatness of this tan! And I was even, get this, whistled at from a passing car! That’s right, yours truly experienced a cat call, the same girl who has been called “ma’am” by every supermarket employee.

I’m thinking that I like this tan.

And since I like it so much, I want to share it with a lucky member of Sonoma Tanning is giving away one of their Spray Tanning Spa Packages to one winner and up to nine of her friends! In a couple week’s time, you too could be sporting a healthy golden glow and have everyone wondering what’s different about you. Maybe it’s you?  Just reply in the discussion thread on the forums at and tell us why you and your friends should win a tanning party at Sonoma Tanning!

Find out the details on the forums!

Kelly Richardson

Kelly Richardson is the owner of Sonoma Tanning, est. 2007. She successfully built her small mobile business Sonoma Tanning into a renowned studio that has been nominated for the “Best of the Bay” by KRON Channel 4 News, named the “Preferred Airbrush Tanning Service” of the Miss California Pageant and featured in San Francisco Brides Magazine. She has also been the South Seas Sales Distribution Manager since 2007, and has trained over 200 other women starting mobile businesses in the spray tan industry. You can reach Kelly at (707)546-1452, or at her website at


8 thoughts on “Sonoma Tanning

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  1. This is one massive ad disguised as a blog…This business has repeatedly tried to claim to be the only ones in Sonoma County to use HVLP or to have the training necessary to give a good spray tan. Kinda ridiculous. Its a simple process. Not brain surgery by any means. The training she advocates is part of her Amway type company that sells products . She is not the only game in any means….

  2. Nancy, what are some of the places that you do recommend? Seems odd to just criticize the place described here without giving alternatives or specifics.

  3. Wow…I was shocked to see the comments about Kelly’s service on this blog! She is one of the most amazing and professional spray tanners, and if you checked out the products she uses…I picked up the same stuff at the Maui Four Seasons last spring while on vacation! I came to her last year after sick of getting turned orange by other inexperienced spray tanners in this town…Funny that someone would criticize a person as great as Kelly is!

  4. Wow NANCY! Really!?! how diluted are you to make this assessment? have you enjoyed Ms. Richardson’s services as many people, all over the country have? If you had, you would have witnessed her preternatural attention to customer service, professionalism, and her revolutionary skill in the this burgeoning industry. I have personally recommended Ms. Richardson to countless family, friends, colleagues and event promoters for her exceptional work. How dare you utter the word Amway in the same breadth as Sonoma Tanning/South Seas. I’m going to venture a guess that you either; were duped by Amway, and/or Mona Vie; or you’re bitter because of the tremendous success that Kelly has had with her small business and that she has been considerate and fortunate enough to help/train others in small business ownership. Enjoy your bitter day!

  5. I have to disagree with Nancy’s comments about Kelly at Sonoma Tanning. Kelly is a smart business woman trying to promote her business. While i would agree spray tanning is not “Brain Surgery” the application process does require a certain level of skill to achieve optimum results (the kind of results Kelly achieves)… who would compare the technique process to brain surgery, anyway?!?! I have personally received many spray tans from Kelly, and she is fabulous!!! Nancy: your comment is just pure ignorance—lay off!

  6. I personally agree that Spray Tanning is far better than other available tanning options only if the tanning products are organic and safe for the skin. Choosing the right tanning solution and the color tone is an art that can be well performed by the professionals only. We should take great care of this because our skin is very sensitive.

  7. I love the spray tan look! What a great alternative to the sun without the harmful risk of UV damage. I use OC TAN 2 U they are a mobile spray tan company that comes to you, meaning they actually deliver the tan to your front door. They have service areas in St. Louis, MO and Orange County, CA. And I believe they do training and sell equipment as well.

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