15 Spray Tan Tips That'll Make You A Pro At Getting A Summer Glow

You may love that rosy glow your skin naturally gets after spending a few hours in the sun, but surely you don't love the damage the sun can cause. Not only can the sun dry out and burn your skin which can contribute to premature wrinkles, aging, and sun spots, but prolonged exposure to its rays can also put you at greater risk for skin cancer. Protecting your skin by wearing sunscreen and hats when you're outdoors is a wise choice, but it doesn't mean you still can't get that beautiful, sunkissed look you would get if you did sunbathe year 'round.


While some people used to head to the tanning salon to lay under harmful UV lights to get that perfect shade of bronze, spray tans have grown in popularity. Many salons are now offering spray tans to those who are more conscious of the damage tanning beds can cause and want a healthier way to achieve that perfect tan.

Spray tans aren't foolproof, however, and if you don't prepare for them properly you may end up with less than ideal results. Here are 15 spray tan tips that'll make you a pro at getting that gorgeous summer glow.

Watch what you wear

There is nothing better than fresh spray tan to put a little spring in your step and nothing like an orange stain on a favorite item of clothing to ruin your day! To help prevent pesky spray tan stains, you'll definitely want to arrive at your spray tan appointment dressed appropriately. According to Palm Beach Tan, that means wearing something that's either black or a dark color that won't show stains easily. Loose-fitting garments are also recommended because anything tight can affect the coverage of your spray tan, and you'll want to avoid wearing tight socks or boots, and jewelry.


When you change for your spray tan you can choose to wear a bikini, swimsuit, underwear, or nothing at all, according to Palm Beach Tan. If you do choose to wear clothing during your spray tan you should also wear something that you won't mind getting stained. You also definitely want to avoid wearing anything that is expensive or new because there is a good chance that some of the mist from the spray tan will land on it. If you don't have anything to wear, don't worry. Many tanning salons will have disposable undergarments that you can choose to wear instead of wearing your own.

Exfoliate beforehand

Proper exfoliation is crucial to getting a great spray tan. While you'll definitely want to exfoliate the day before your appointment, you can actually start to prep your skin even earlier, especially if you don't exfoliate regularly. According to St. Tropez, you should start exfoliating your whole body two to three days before your appointment. 


To help get the smoothest coverage possible, you'll also want to focus your exfoliating on the driest areas of your body (via Palm Beach Tan). Those include your elbows, knees, hands, backs of your feet, and ankles. A scrub or an exfoliating mitt will help to ensure you're getting rid of any old, dry skin cells.

And while you'll want to generously apply moisturizer after regular exfoliating in the days leading up to your spray tan to ensure your skin is hydrated, you'll want to skip it completely on the day of your appointment. Unless it is an oil-free moisturizer specifically made for sunless tanning (via Palm Beach Tan).

Product choice matters

Exfoliating is a very important part of preparing your skin for the ultimate spray tan experience, but so is using products that contain the right ingredients. Or, rather, products that don't contain the wrong ingredients. It is recommended that you avoid using bar soap in the shower prior to your spray tan. According to Tampa Bay Tan, bar soaps are often made with ingredients that can linger on your skin and don't wash away completely, which can affect how well your skin will absorb the spray tan. 


The same goes for shower products with high pH levels as they can also have an adverse effect on your tanning results. According to Tanning Myth Busters, products with a pH level around that of the skin's pH level (5.5, or slightly acidic) are best to apply after a spray tan. Anything higher than 5.5, or more alkaline, will affect the longevity of the tan. Even products advertised as being "pH balanced" have a pH level of 7, which is still too high to not affect the result of your tan.

Choose the right salon

You're definitely going to want to put as much effort into finding the right spray tan salon and artist for yourself as you would put into finding a hair salon, esthetician, or any other professional that you see for beauty services. Referrals from trusted friends are a great way to find a fabulous spray tan salon, but there are some other things that you should look for when choosing the perfect spot to get your spray tan. 


According to Women's Health Magazine, you want to make sure the salon is clean and well-ventilated. Poor ventilation could cause you to inhale the spray tan product. Look for salons that have low volume, low-pressure fans that suck away any overspray immediately. You also don't want to see remnants of a past client's spray tan on the walls or floors, as that suggests the salon does not keep up with regular maintenance and cleaning procedures. And while not all salons will offer disposable undergarments, protective wear for your ears, nose, and eyes should always be available.

Proper planning is key

If you're about to get a spray tan to prepare for a special occasion, trip, or another important function, timing is everything. Ideally want to get your spray tan two days before any big event (via Women's Health Magazine). Your color could take as long as 24 hours to fully develop, so you'll want to ensure you have enough time to see your final results, especially if you end up with patches or uneven areas. Giving yourself time before your event allows you to fix any issues if you end up having them. 


Exposure to water can also lead to your spray tan fading, so the fewer showers you take before your event, the better. And you will also want to avoid going into swimming pools after your spray tan, as chlorine will fade its color quickly. 

It will take about 48 hours for your spray tan to fully dry, so avoid wearing any important outfits before then to limit the likelihood of staining.

Sacrifice your usual routine

What you put on your skin before your spray tan is very important and can affect the quality of your tan. You may feel like you should lather your skin in moisturizer before you head out to your spray tan appointment, but experts actually warn against using any creams or lotions on your skin the day of. According to Total Tan LA, lotions and moisturizers can actually create a barrier on the skin which can prevent or limit the skin's absorption of the spray tan. Your tan will actually stick better to dry skin.


You'll also want to remove any makeup before your tanning session, leaving your face bare and clean. Again, this is to make sure that you get even coverage. Use your deodorant sparingly, or skip it completely if possible, and ditch the perfume as well. 

It may feel odd to skip so many aspects of your usual routine before you head out the door, but these small sacrifices can make a big impact on the quality of your spray tan.

Learn how your diet can affect your results

Believe it or not, eating certain foods can actually help you achieve better results from your spray tan. Tanning expert Alyson Hogg told Byrdie she recommends eating foods high in lysine before your spray tan appointment for the best results. "This is a really important amino acid for tanning and will improve the color you achieve," she said. 


According to WebMD, lysine is one of the building blocks of protein and can be found in many protein-rich foods. Foods high in lysine include red meat, pork, chicken, cheese, fish, and eggs. If you're a vegetarian, lysine-rich foods include soybeans, tofu, and legumes.

The good news is that most of us already eat foods containing lysine so you don't have to go about changing your entire diet to get the ultimate spray tan. Eating lysine-rich foods as well as drinking lots of water prior to your spray tan appointment will help maximize your spray tan results.

Schedule beauty treatments accordingly

If you're getting your spray tan for a special event, you already know that you'll want to get it two days in advance to ensure you have given your tan time to fully develop. But you should also schedule any other beauty treatments you plan on getting before your spray tan appointment as well (via Town and Country Magazine). Services like facials, spa treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxes, and massages should all be scheduled for a time before your spray tan appointment because they can all impact your results and the longevity of your tan.


If you don't want to shave the day before your appointment, tanning expert Kristyn Pradas told Town and Country Magazine that she recommends shaving earlier on the day of your appointment, but not immediately before. She also suggests using cold water to rinse to help close your pores, which will prevent any of the spray tan from getting trapped in your pores, resulting in those little brown dots. Using a sharp new razor blade will also help maintain the life of your tan and prevent any uneven fading as well.

Be open about any skin concerns

Many of us deal with a variety of skin issues like sensitive skin, eczema, and psoriasis, to name a few. Only you can determine whether or not your skin concern may be a problem when it comes time to spray tan, but as dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi explained to Allure, your skin condition could very well affect the results of your spray tan. "Not because it will worsen the skin condition, but because it will have a very uneven and blotchy looking result," she explained. 


Tanzi suggests that if you're concerned about any skin conditions and how they may affect the application of the spray tan, consult a dermatologist or medical professional before making an appointment. It's always better to check with the experts before so you won't be left with less than desirable results, especially if your spray tan is for an important event.

Wear nail polish

While you'll want your body to be a clean slate and free of lotions, creams, makeup, perfumes, and deodorant for your spray tan, it is a good idea to have your nails polished before your appointment, according to Sun Spray by Kathryn. The process of getting your nails done – using nail polish remover, soaking, exfoliating, and using lotions — can affect the results of your tan. 


Also, because nails are porous, they can absorb the spray tan if they are bare. You don't have to hit the nail salon for a professional manicure, you can apply polish at home because even just a clear coat will protect against discoloration, according to Palm Beach Tan. If you forget to polish your nails before your spray tan appointment, just make sure you wipe off your nails just after your appointment to ensure you remove any of the spray tan mist.

Use a barrier cream

There's nothing worse than those dreaded orange fingers and toes that you're sometimes left with after a spray tan. But there is a way to help avoid them. According to Palm Beach Tan, using a barrier cream on areas like the palms of your hands and between your fingers, the bottoms of your feet and on your toes, your elbows, and even on your cuticles can help prevent any build-up of the spray tan mist. You only need to apply a light coat of your chosen barrier cream, and only to those areas that you want to protect. Doing so can make a huge difference in the quality of your tan. 


Many beauty and tanning product companies sell spray-tan-specific barrier creams that you can choose from but some basic alternatives that you may already have at home include Vaseline, Aquaphor Healing Ointment, and Palmer's Cocoa Butter, according to Women.com.

Protect your clothes and bedding

You'll want to wait, on average, between four and eight hours after your appointment to take a shower (via Simply Skin Esthetics). Because of this, you need to be extra-cautious to avoid your tan rubbing off onto things like your clothing and bedding. This would be a good time to put those dark sheets on your bed and add a few older blankets to the couch. 


How long you need to wait to shower after your spray tan depends on what type of spray tan you received. Traditional spray tans take eight hours on average to develop, and express tans can develop in up to four hours (via Simply Tan). 

It's important that you take care to wear undergarments and clothes that you're okay with getting stained to avoid damaging any items that you really love. If you're waiting until the day after your spray tan appointment to shower — experts at Simply Skin Esthetics say to wait no longer than 24 hours — you should have long, dark pajamas and dark sheets on hand to camouflage any of the spray tan that may rub off while you sleep.

Take your time

You'll get the most out of your spray tan when you give it the time it needs to fully develop and don't rush the process. To do that, ensure you're scheduling your appointment when you have ample time to wait and let the spray tan dry before you begin getting dressed.


You should also avoid any strenuous activity that could cause sweating or allow any moisture to sit on your skin for at least eight hours after your appointment, according to Fake Bake. So skip the gym or any other exercise routines you typically do and give yourself enough time to allow your tan to develop.

Think of your spray tan as the perfect excuse to indulge in a few hours, or even a full day, of self-care. You can enjoy the day by relaxing at home and binge-watching all those shows you've been missing out on or simply allowing yourself a few hours off from your regular busy schedule. 

Invest in products to extend the life of your tan

After taking all the proper steps to prepare your skin to ensure you get the spray tan of your dreams, you're definitely going to want to make sure it lasts as long as possible. Hydration is key to helping elongate the life of your spray tan, so you'll want to make sure you're drinking lots of water and keeping your skin moisturized after your appointment (via Town and Country Magazine).


When it comes to moisturizing, some lotions — and even some body washes — contain oils that you'll want to avoid, such as mineral oil, grapeseed oil, and coconut oil. According to Town and Country Magazine, they can all strip your tan away prematurely. 

Many tanning salons will offer a variety of different products for purchase that can help extend the life of your spray tan and don't contain ingredients that will cause your tan to fade too quickly. These can really help ensure you get the most out of your spray tan.

Research to find the best artist

You may find a great spray tan artist on your first try or you may have to make a few appointments before you find someone who you really trust. Just like with any other beauty service professional you see, all artists are different and you may have to try a few before you find the person who is right for you. 


You'll want to make sure you're comfortable with your spray tan artist and that they're certified to do spray tans. It's always a good idea to ask trusted friends, relatives, or acquaintances for their recommendations. If they don't have any or if you're new to the area, the first thing to do is to make sure you're going to a trusted salon. Check their social media accounts, read as many reviews as possible, and look at pictures of their work before making your appointment. Make sure you find out their fees upfront so there are no surprises when you get there. 

If you aren't thrilled with the results, don't rule out spray tans for good. Instead, find a different spray tan artist to see if that makes a difference.