How to get the most out of your spray tan

How to get the most out of your spray tan

A very common question sunless technicians will get is, “How do I get my spray tan to last?”. And the answer is rather simple, it is all about preparation and maintenance.


To avoid uneven or blotchy areas of tan, it is essential to start exfoliating and hydrating the skin at least 2-3 days before your spray tan. 

Exfoliation will help to remove any excess dead skin cells to reveal fresh, youthful skin. Exfoliation will also prep the skin exposing an even surface to spray, which in turn allows for an even application without error after the the tan is applied. At a minimum, it is recommended that you exfoliate and hydrate 24 hours before the spray tan session.

Moisturizing is also vital in spray tan preparation. Adding moisture to the skin will decrease the chance of discoloration, patchiness, alligator skin, and over-development in drier areas upon application. Remember: Hydrated skin is healthier, and healthy skin will “hold” onto those skin cells that have absorbed the DHA.

An important reminder for clients: All beauty appointments should be made at least 24 hours before the scheduled tanning session. Services like pedicures, massages, and hair appointments can affect the outcome of a spray tan if done too close to the sunless appointment. Be sure to remember the immediate color will wash off, the bronzer color does not reflect how the tan will look post-shower, and color may take up to 24 hours to fully develop. 

Day of Tan

Day of tanning session maintenance is of utmost importance. Follow these guidelines to improve the outcome of your spray tan: 

Wear loose-fitting, dark, cotton clothing. Avoid silk; refrain from wearing close-toed shoes and socks, tight restrictive pants, tops, and bras; and do not wear white. Remove perfumes, deodorants, and lotions before arriving at the spray tan appointment. It is best to avoid using soaps and shampoos in the shower immediately before the tanning appointment, instead, the client should take a “bird bath” to gently remove residues with hand and water only. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to hydrate the body and skin; hydration starts from the inside! Avoid using oil-based products the day of tanning session, these oils could act as a barrier to the tanning solution and cause an uneven development and lessen the longevity of a spray tan. 


How you maintain the tan is vital in the longevity of a spray tan. Please follow our instructions on when to shower. Showering before the spray tan has been able to adhere to the skin cells and begin developing will affect the color depth. If a client wears the solution too long and has been sprayed with Rapid Development, the tan could over develop and pose issues with color and evenness. We recommend that the first rinse should be a “bird bath” – no soaps or shampoos, these could affect development. 

You must remember to constantly hydrate the skin and body by drinking plenty of water and applying a daily moisturizer, at least 1-2 times per day. Ideally, using a Tan Extend Lotion or a recommended spa-grade moisturizer is best. For those clients who wish to find an over the counter moisturizer, recommend they look for a product that is oil-free, water-based, and contains minimal fragrance-this type of product will be best in improving the longevity of a spray tan. Clients should avoid using Coconut Oil as a moisturizer. Why? This concentrate can strip the tan rather than hydrate because of the oils.  

Daily soaps and washes will also affect the longevity of a spray tan. It is best to use water-based oil-free products. Soaps and washes with harsh ingredients and a large number of sulfates will slowly strip the tan diminishing its lifespan. 

Other helpful maintenance tips: 

Activities that may cause excessive sweating (gym, yoga, and other exercises) can cause friction which will remove a tan. Chlorine and Salt-Water are abrasive and act as exfoliates, it’s best to minimize exposure to these chemicals. For those on vacations who are exposed to water be forewarned that your spray tan may not last the duration of the promised time. Forms of exfoliation such as scrubs, chemical peels, and shaving will remove a tan. Minimize use of these products as much as possible. 

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