Tips For Shaving Before And After Your Spray Tan Appointment

If you choose to remove your body hair and tan your skin, you'll know how stressful it can be to coordinate your hair removal with your spray tanning. Working out the order to fit your beauty processes in requires some planning in advance, especially if your hair tends to grow back quickly.


Unfortunately, shaving can seriously hinder the results of your tan if you don't plan properly. The most important thing to know is that you should shave with enough time before your tan for the skin to settle down, and then start shaving again only after your tan is completely dry. Shaving any closer to your appointment, on either side, could result in a patchy tan.

Since you won't be able to shave while your tan is drying, it's crucial to get everything right before your appointment. That means doing the job as carefully as possible and timing it correctly.

Before: Exfoliate before you shave

Tanning and exfoliation go hand in hand, as do exfoliating and shaving. Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells and leaving your skin soft as a result, so this important step ensures that your skin is smooth for your tan application. If you have clusters of dry, dead skin, the tanning product is likely to stick to those, resulting in dark, uneven patches.


Exfoliating is equally important to do before shaving because removing dead skin cells and other unwanted fragments also lifts your hairs, stopping them from lying flat on top of your skin. If you don't exfoliate before you shave, you may find that even the sharpest razor misses a few hairs. And as we'll get into later, you can't shave over hairy areas once you've had your spray tan.

You can exfoliate with a specifically designed scrub, often containing exfoliating ingredients like coffee grounds or oatmeal. Alternatively, you can use a tool such as an exfoliating mitt or glove, which will have a rough, textured surface to sweep away dead skin. Thoroughly exfoliate every part of your body (that you'll be shaving and tanning) before you shave.


Shave at least 24 hours before your tan

Timing your shave in relation to your spray tan is probably the most important element of coordinating your beauty prep. Of course, it's vital to shave before your tan, but doing it too close to the appointment can jeopardize your results.


Golden State Tanning Studio recommends shaving the night before your appointment, but ideally, you want to shave 24 hours before. Shaving and exfoliating will have the effect of opening and unclogging your pores, so it's important to give them plenty of time to close over before your spray tan. Additionally, the razor can leave indents on your skin that should be left to return to normal before you tan, otherwise the product may streak over those indents.

If you have to shave closer to your appointment than 24 hours, you can close your pores more quickly by rinsing off in cold water. Depending on how quickly your hair grows back, it's not a good idea to shave more than 24 hours in advance of your appointment, as you might start to get stubble back within one or two days of your spray tan.


Shave thoroughly (and don't miss anything)

You might be familiar with the lazy girl shave. That's when you hop in the shower and give your legs a quick once over with a razor, maybe not even going to the effort of using shaving cream. Lazy girl shaves usually take less than two minutes and tend to miss the hard-to-get areas, such as the knee caps or elbows.


Absolutely no judgment here if you're into the lazy girl shave (really, aren't we all?). But leave lazy shaving for those times when you're not about to get a spray tan. It's crucial that you shave properly before a spray tan and pick up every hair that you want to, because you won't be able to go back over it after your appointment. And given the recommended waiting times between shaving and tanning, you might not be able to shave again before your tan if you notice stray hairs later in the day.

After: Let your tan dry before shaving again

It seems like common sense, but it's worth a reminder — missing this step is the best way to ruin your tan. Every spray tan formula is different, but they all having drying times. Even those that are more instant will have a certain period where you need to avoid touching and aggravating the tan. During this period, you won't be able to get your tan wet, rub it with tight clothes, and of course, you won't be able to shave (even softly).


Check with your beautician as to how long you'll need to wait before shaving again. Some spray tans will have a drying period of eight hours, while others may have more or less. Even if you wait the appropriate amount of time, most spray tans will require you to rinse off the excess before you can go in with a razor. Shaving over the excess without showering first may lead to subtle streaking.

Sun Spray by Katherine recommends waiting 24 hours after your spray tan to shave again for the first time, while many online sources claim that eight hours is enough time to wait. Again, every product is different, so ask your beautician.

Don't use shaving cream

Dry shaving is a no-no, as this can irritate your skin and will be more likely to lead to cuts. That said, you shouldn't use shaving cream after a tan, either. Most shaving creams contain alcohol and other harsh ingredients that can actually remove parts of your tan. While the actual razor itself won't do much damage to your tan, shaving cream can actually take off your hard-earned color.


Opt for a product that will still provide a slippery surface and buffer for your skin, but without the harsh ingredients. If you can find a natural shaving cream without alcohol, sulfates, or other similar ingredients, that's an option. Otherwise, go for a gentle shampoo or soap-free body wash. Also look for products that don't contain oil, as oil will break down your tan.

Ideally, you want to leave whatever product you use on for as little time as possible (without rushing your shaving — the rougher you are, the more likely you are to accidentally remove color).

Accept that every shave will fade your tan

If you wait the recommended time for your tan to dry, avoid using shaving cream, and shave lightly to avoid scraping your skin, it's less likely that you will ruin your tan. But ultimately, the act of bringing that razor so close to your skin does pose a risk to your new color. While shaving once may not actually remove your tan altogether, the tanning experts at 3000 BC Spa agree that every time you shave, you are causing your tan to fade more quickly.


The obvious answer is to avoid shaving unless you absolutely need to, so that your tan lasts as long as possible. For those with darker or faster-growing hair, this can be annoying. Hair-removal methods that last a little longer than shaving, such as waxing or laser hair removal, may be something to think about if your hair grows super quickly.

Of course, your tan won't last forever anyway, so it might not bother you that something as necessary as shaving causes it to fade. But if you're paying money for a spray tan and you love your new glow, it makes sense to seek out other, longer-lasting methods of hair removal while you are tanning.