How To Properly Prep Your Skin For A Spray Tan For An Even Glow

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Are you ready to spend more time outdoors, don your favorite bikini, and soak up the sunshine? Warmer weather means more opportunities to show off your golden glow and strut your stuff confidently. But spray tans aren't just for summer — they're a year-round solution for those who want to look radiant! 


With concerns over skin damage and the risk of skin cancer on the rise, more and more of us are turning to spray tans to get a bronzed glow without exposing ourselves to harmful UV rays. Especially since UV exposure causes age-related skin changes such as wrinkling, pigmentary changes, and thinning.

Despite the benefits of spray tans, it's important to remember that they are only temporary solutions and offer no protection against UV damage. Wearing sunscreen daily is still essential. But with proper preparation and product, a spray tan can be a safe and effective way to achieve a beautiful tan.


Exfoliation is a skincare practice that involves removing dead skin cells from the surface. Dead skin cells cause the tanning solution to appear blotchy and uneven. Exfoliating your skin before a spray tan appointment creates a smooth and even surface for the tanning solution, ensuring a natural, long-lasting tan.


There are many ways to exfoliate your skin, including scrubs, brushes, and chemical exfoliants. Choose an exfoliation method that works best for your skin type and sensitivity. We recommend gentle exfoliants, like sugar scrubs, for sensitive skin. The best exfoliating scrubs for spray tanning are gentle yet effective, such as St. Tropez Tan Enhancing Body Polish or Sugar Me Smooth Body Scrub.

These scrubs help to remove dead skin cells and create an even surface for a flawless, long-lasting tan. They also smell amazing! Keep in mind that improper or over-exfoliation can cause irritation and damage to the skin, so be gentle.

Avoid moisturizing right before your appointment

Whether getting a spray tan for a special occasion or just to feel good about yourself, taking care of your skin before your appointment is important for achieving the best possible results. One of the best ways you can do this is by avoiding moisturizers or lotions before you spray tan.


Moisturizers and lotions create a barrier between your skin and the spray tan solution. Applying a moisturizer or cream to your skin forms a thin layer on your skin's surface, preventing the spray tan solution from being absorbed properly and resulting in a patchy or uneven tan. Not only that, but it can leave behind an icky residue on the skin, contributing to an even patchier tan. 

As we know, this can be so frustrating! So, it's best to have clean, dry skin before your appointment. This includes using skincare products that could form a barrier between your skin and the spray tan solution. Following this one simple tip will ensure your spray tan looks flawless and natural, giving you a beautiful and healthy radiance.


Don't wear makeup

Wearing makeup — especially foundation and concealer — creates that pesky barrier that hinders the spray tan solution from penetrating and being absorbed evenly into your skin. As a result, your skin may appear streaky, patchy, or uneven, and you may end up with a less-than-desirable tan.


If you must wear makeup, remove it thoroughly before your appointment. A gentle cleanser will help remove any traces of makeup and ensure that your skin is free from any oils or dirt that could affect the tan's quality. You also want to rinse well, as any leftover product on the skin can mess with the solution's color. 

However, you should avoid using toners or astringents that could dry out your skin. Dry skin can also lead to an uneven or patchy tan since spray tan solutions have a tendency to cling to dry patches. Instead, use a moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated, soft, and supple.

Shave or wax at least 24 hours before your spray tan

When you shave, you're removing hair from the surface of your skin — and waxing pulls the hair directly from the root. Both processes remove the top layer of dead skin cells, leaving your skin more vulnerable and sensitive to the spray tan solution. Applying the spray tan too soon after hair removal will increase the chance of the solution settling into your pores and creating dark spots or uneven patches on your skin.


Therefore, shaving or waxing at least 24 hours before your appointment is best. This will give your skin plenty of time to recover, allowing your pores to close and your skin to regenerate before the spray tan solution is applied. If you forget to shave the day before your appointment and are forced to do so right before, try rinsing the area with cold water to close those open pores quicker for a smoother tan.

Get a manicure and pedicure

One great way to complement your new tan is to get a manicure and pedicure — but you want to do so before your appointment. This way, you aren't disrupting your new tan with any chemicals and solutions used at the salon. Other spa treatments, such as facials, massages, and waxing, also affect the quality of your spray tan.


For example, getting a facial or exfoliating treatment may leave your skin red or irritated. Getting a spray tan right after may not be the best idea! Similarly, getting a massage or other treatment that causes you to sweat could affect your tan's development. 

Whether you opt for a fun twist on a classic French manicure or a bold and colorful nail art design, your nails will look amazing against your new, bronzed skin. If you're getting a spray tan for a special event, such as a wedding, prom, or another formal occasion, we know you'll want to rock a gorgeous mani and pedi — but refrain from doing any of that once the tan is applied. 

Avoid showering right before your appointment

Taking a shower immediately before your appointment can hurt the outcome of your tan. A shower that is too hot can affect your skin barrier and opens up your pores, making them more likely to absorb the spray tan solution, leading to streaks, uneven patches, or a darker-than-expected result. It's best to shower at least four to six hours before your appointment, giving your pores plenty of time to close up and your skin fully dries before applying the spray tan solution.


Be also mindful of the soap and body wash you use when showering before your spray tan appointment. Avoid using products that contain oils or moisturizers. Instead, opt for a gentle, oil-free body wash or soap that cleans your skin without leaving behind any residue.

After your appointment, wait at least eight to 12 hours to shower. And when you do so, use lukewarm water and avoid using harsh or abrasive products that could scrub away the tan. Instead, gently pat your skin dry with a towel and apply a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer to help extend the life of your tan.

Protect your hair

Since a dark solution is being sprayed on your body, it can also get in your hair — giving you an unwanted hair-dye application in the process (especially if you have lighter hair). The chemicals in the solution can also dry out and damage your hair. To avoid this, cover your hair during the tanning session. 


Most salons will provide a cap for you to use, but you can also bring your own if you prefer. Place the cap about two inches behind your hairline to avoid any untanned lines on your face. Additionally, you can wrap your hair in a towel or use a hair tie to keep it off your face and neck. Or, apply a light layer of conditioner or oil before the tanning session, minimizing any potential absorption from the solution.

If any tanning solution does get in your hair, you can wash your hair with your go-to shampoo to remove any residue from the tanning solution. Use hot water to really remove the solution, and apply apple cider vinegar for hard-to-remove areas.

Bring a towel

A spray tan can leave a mess on your car seats, especially if you don't take the necessary precautions. You should bring a towel to your spray tan appointment to act as a barrier between you and your seats and protect them from any tanning solution that may rub off your clothing and stain the interior.


Simply place the towel on the car seat before sitting down, and adjust it to cover the areas that may come into contact with your skin, protecting your seats and saving the hassle of cleaning up any stains later. You can also grab a soft pillowcase instead if the towel's material is too harsh on your skin.

Be cautious, however, as your skin may still be wet when you get a spray tan. Avoid rubbing your skin with the towel, which can cause streaking and unevenness. Instead, gently pat your skin with a towel, if you must, to absorb excess moisture so your tan develops evenly and lasts longer.

Plan ahead

If you plan to get a spray tan for a special event or activity, schedule your appointment at least 48 hours beforehand. When you get a spray tan, the tanning solution needs time to penetrate and settle into your skin. This process takes several hours and is influenced by various factors such as the type of solution used, the level of DHA (the active ingredient in spray tans), and your skin type.


Typically, a spray tan takes 24 to 48 hours to develop and settle in fully. By scheduling your spray tan appointment at least 48 hours before your event, you'll give your skin enough time to absorb the tanning solution fully. Then your tan will look natural and even, with no streaking or blotchiness.

During the first 24 hours after getting a spray tan, you should avoid activities that cause sweating, such as exercising or swimming, so the solution doesn't rub off or fade unevenly. Also, avoid coming into contact with any harsh chemicals. 

Bring a swimsuit

It's important to know what to wear during your spray tan appointment — and a swimsuit is a popular choice. When choosing your swimsuit, consider the type of tan you want. For example, if you want a more natural-looking tan, you might wish for a bikini or swimsuit that exposes more skin.


On the other hand, if you want a more dramatic tan or only need a few major areas to be tanned, choose a one-piece or high-waisted bikini to leave more areas of your body untanned. You should take special consideration of the sort of bathing suit you're wearing to avoid unsightly lines.

You can also attend the session in your birthday suit. It's entirely up to you! You'll have no lines and get an even tan all over your body. However, it's important to note that you should only do this if you're comfortable.

Dress in dark, loose clothing

When it comes to maintaining a flawless and even tan, choosing the proper clothing is just as important as picking the right tanning product. It's just one of those non-negotiable spray tan prep steps you must take. Wearing light-colored or tight-fitting clothing can cause the fabric to get stained and rub off your newly-applied tan, which can be unsightly. It's best to avoid wearing anything that could cause friction or a transfer of color. One way to avoid tan lines and prevent rubbing is by going commando or bra-free if you feel comfortable doing so.


Wearing underwear or a bra can cause unwanted lines or rub against your skin. Going without ensures a more even, seamless tan without annoying lines or discoloration. Wear loose-fitting clothing made from breathable fabrics like cotton if going without underwear or a bra is not an option. These materials will help prevent staining and rubbing and keep you cool and comfortable during hot summer days.

Get in touch with your spray tan technician

Getting in touch with your spray tan technician before your appointment is essential to ensure both of you are prepared. One of the most important things to communicate with your tanning professional is any allergies or sensitivities you may have. Spray tans typically use a solution that contains DHA, a chemical that reacts with the amino acids in your skin to produce a tan.


However, some people may be allergic to DHA or other ingredients in the solution. By informing your technician about your allergies or sensitivities, they can suggest alternative products or take additional precautions to minimize the risk of an allergic reaction.

Another essential subject to discuss with your tanning professional is the best color for your skin tone. Everybody's skin is different, so what works for one person may not suit another. Your technician can help you select a shade that complements your natural skin tone and creates a natural-looking tan. You can also discuss which areas of your body you want to tan. Focus on specific areas, such as your legs or arms, or achieve a more even overall tan.


Check the weather on the day of your appointment

While it may seem arbitrary, the weather impacts your spray tan. For example, be careful about sweating on a hot day before your appointment. Sweating causes your skin to moisten, interfering with the spray tan solution. If you get into a hot car after your appointment, the heat causes your skin to become hot and sticky, affecting the tan's quality. Try to stay cool and dry before your appointment. Bring a fan or portable air conditioner to keep yourself comfortable if you have to! 


Rainwater dilutes the spray tan solution and causes splotching or unevenness. So, if it's raining on the day of your appointment, bring an umbrella or long-sleeved garments to protect your skin, or a towel or extra clothing to dry yourself off if you get wet.

Overall, the weather affects your spray tan's lifespan. High humidity levels can cause your tan to fade more quickly, while dry air can cause your skin to become flaky and uneven. To maintain your spray tan for as long as possible, moisturize your skin and avoid spending too much time in extreme weather conditions.