The 3 Steps You Have to Take to Get the Best Spray Tan

Preparing for A Spray Tan

In order to get the best spray tan possible, the skin must properly be prepared for application. Taking the correct steps before and after the tan is essential to achieving the best results possible.

1. Pre-tan Skin Care

As you learned in the spray tanning information section, DHA is the active ingredient in tan solution that interacts with dead skin cells to produce the tan. These dead skin cells are removed from the body about every 7 days. You understanding this concept can make your tan last longer than someone who does not. 

 How long before my spray tan should I shave?

The best practice is to leave as much time between your spray tan appointment and shaving as possible. For many (especially those with darker hair) this may be 24 hours and you need at least that much time between shaving and the fake tan application. If you are one of those people that has to shave and shave often, you should use some type of lotion (conditioner works well) instead of shaving gel because the gel can contain chemicals which dry the skin. This is also true for after the airbrush tan has been applied, using lotion or conditioner when shaving will help the tan last longer.

With a fresh shave the pores are exposed and they tend to collect the tan solution and it can leave a “spotty” look, which no one wants. So if you plan on getting an airbrush tan on Wednesday night, shaving on Tuesday morning would be ideal. This will also allow for any accidental cuts to heal before the spray tan. Shaving can also help in another important pre-airbrush tan must: exfoliation.

Exfoliate! Exfoliate! Exfoliate!

The dead skin cells are removed from the body during bathing with exfoliation. With a rigorous exfoliation session before the tan (the night before is fine), you will have the tan applied on a fresh layer of mostly living skin cells allowing you to get the best spray tan possible. Applying the tan on a fresh layer of skin cells will make the tan last through the entire cycle of losing the outer layer of skin.

Exfoliation Techniques

  • Believe it or not the most simple and probably most under-used technique is the good ‘ole washcloth. The popular loofa can actually be a little too tough on a lot of the skin and they tend to retain bacteria which also doesn’t help. Focus on rough areas like elbows and knees, it sometimes harder to exfoliate these areas.
  • Another good trick is using a dry brush to go over the entire body before showering.
  • Exfoliating gloves can also be used to rid your body of those dead skin cells.
  • You should use some type of water-based exfoliating rub to help loosen up those dead skin cells.
  • Save the moisturizing for after the tan, you shouldn’t have any type of moisturizer or oil on your skin during the tan because they can create a barrier to the tan solution.

Homemade mixtures work just as well as the store bought versions:

Oil of some kind: olive oil, coconut oil

Some type of fine-grained sugar or salt, brown sugar works great

Mix 1 part water to 2 parts sugar or salt and stir with a spoon

Place in a container and apply as needed during exfoliationImportant tip to get the best spray tan


Here’s a good exfoliation tips video

*do not use these techniques on the face, it requires a more delicate approach*

2. Spray Tan Preparation: Appointment Day

The day has come for you to get that gorgeous fresh-off-the-beach dark skin, but there are a few more things you must do to make sure you get the best spray tan possible. All of that hard work preparing your skin on the days leading up to tan day could be pointless if you don’t take a few important steps on the day of your airbrush tan.

Rules You Must Follow on the Day of Your Spray Tan

  1. Make sure you have nothing on your skin prior to showing up for your appointment: lotion, moisturizer, deodorant, makeup, (if you plan on getting your face tanned) or anything else that might create a barrier between your skin and the solution.
  2. You should wear dark and loose-fitting clothing (including shoes-flip flops are a good option), stay away from silk or leather, and don’t wear a bra (unless you plan on tanning with it on). The solution can get on your clothes (don’t worry it washes out in the washing machine) so it is better to wear dark clothes. You don’t want to wear tight clothes because it might cause streaks where they fit tightly.
  3. Remove all jewelry or anything else that would prevent the solution from reaching your skin.
  4. You should apply chapstick to your lips and any blemishes you might have that the tan will not apply to correctly (pimples, scratches, etc.).
  5. If you are going to get a manicure, pedicure, massage, or facial, you should do so before the spray tan appointment because these services will disrupt a spray tan.
  6. When getting the spray tan you should wear your hair up with a hairband or something similar to prevent unwanted results on the neck and back.
  7. While most spray tan technicians can eliminate the need for barrier cream; if it is an option, apply a generous amount to your palms and around feet, and a light amount on your knees and elbows.

3. Post-Tan Skin Care

Immediately after the tan you should make sure that you do not touch the tan because it will cause the tan to rub off onto your hands. Scratching and rubbing could also cause spottiness. Do not exercise or do anything that would cause you to sweat during the initial developing time. If it is hot outside you should put something in the seat of your car to make sure sweating does not occur on the way home. You need to be conscious of the fact that you have the tan solution on you at all times during the developing period after your airbrush tan.

To make sure you get the best spray tan results possible you have to make sure you do not get wet at all within the first 8 hours after your spray tan. This point cannot be over-stressed any type of water on your skin will wash away the solution within that time frame. There are certain rapid tan solutions (that usually come with a higher cost) that will allow you to take a shower a little sooner.

If you have a little bad luck and it happens to rain on the day of your appointment this does not necessarily mean the appointment will need to be cancelled. It is important to make sure your skin does not come in contact with the rain in anyway. Most spray tan technicians will allow you to pull into a covered area or walk you to the car. It is just as important as a technician for clients not to get wet as it is for the tanner.


After you have waited the correct amount of time (8 hours for most solutions, 3-4 hours for rapid style solutions), you can get in the shower and wash off the bronzer that is in the tan solution. Do not use anything to scrub with, wash the skin with your hands. When taking showers after the initial shower,it is important to make sure that you gently wash your skin preferably with just your hands. As mentioned above the DHA interacts with the outer layer of your skin, so harsh scrubbing will remove the skin cells and thus the tan. You should also pat dry with the towel instead of the normal rubbing to dry off.

Make Your Spray Tan Last Longer

Moisturize! Moisturize! Moisturize!    

Get the Best Spray Tan

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Did I mention you should moisturize after your spray tan? The key to making your tan last as long as possible is to moisturize at least twice daily. Moisturizing will keep the dead skin cells on your body as long as possible making your airbrush tan last longer. There are special spray tan body washes and lotions that you can buy that will extend the life of your tan. While it is not necessary to use these special skin products, it is important to stay away from anything that contains Glycolic Alpha Hydroxy Acids or Sodium Laureth Sulfates.


 Things that could decrease the life of your tan

  1. Swimming pools-the chemicals in the pool will disrupt the tan

  2. Acne products, pore cleansers, bar soap

  3. Bleach products for body hair, loofas

  4. Dull razors, band-aids

To keep an even tan you should allow the tan to completely fade before getting another spray tan. While this seems like a lot of information to take in, it easily becomes a routine and you will notice an improvement in your skin even if you don’t spray tan regularly. Spray tan results will vary by individual, but understanding these basics will give you a better chance at getting the 

Best Spray Tan Possible!!!

       Check out these spray tan products to help you get awesome results!

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