Chances are you remember your first spray tan, whether it was a good or bad experience. It might have been as a teenager, when you knew little about how to prepare for the application. Or you might remember the time your tan left you looking blotchy days after going. Regardless of what your previous experience may be, consider brushing up on these spray tan tips prior to booking your next appointment so you're prepared for the best possible experience.
Of course, you could pick up a bottle of self-tanner from your local drugstore, but for best results, consider turning to the experts. No matter the route you take, it's important to make sure your skin is ready and prepped first. "Spray tans look evenly applied and last longer if you have recently exfoliated and moisturized skin," Dr. Rachel Nazarian, MD of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City tells TZR. "The pigment is deposited on newer skin, which holds it better and keeps it longer before sloughing it off naturally, which is how spray tans fade."
And that's just step one — but with even, glowing skin in your future, the work is worth it. Below, see the 10 tips you need to know before going to (tanning) bed.
1. Spray Tan Tip: Use A Gentle Exfoliator
Scrub your entire body to slough off dead skin and soften dry patches. Dr. Nazarian recommends a gentle exfoliator, like Dove's Exfoliating Body Polish Scrub. "Gentle, circular motions in the shower work best to remove surface dead skin cells and create the most ideal smooth skin surface for the pigment to be applied," she says.
2. Spray Tan Tip: Shave Prior To Your Appointment
Always wax or shave (everywhere) before your appointment — even the smallest amount of stubble can cause buildup at the follicle. "Shaving is essentially a form of exfoliation and removes a lot of skin cells," Dr. Nazarian says. "It also removes the hair which can block the spray tan from being applied correctly. Shaving after a spray tan will actually remove the color and cause it to fade faster."
3. Spray Tan Tip: Moisturize Days Before — & After, Too
"You should be moisturizing leading up to the spray tan two or three days before to ensure skin is well hydrated," Dr. Nazarian notes. But not immediately before, since many oils and creams will block the color from penetrating and absorbing well. As for post-appointment, "moisturizing should be done regularly after the spray tan to prolong the length of time it is effective," she says. "Try to moisturize daily following the spray." If you skip this step, dry skin will flake and you'll lose your color quicker.
4. Spray Tan Tip: Don't Wear Makeup
The technician will tan your face, so make sure you remove all makeup before your appointment. At the very least, pack a few micellar wipes in case there aren't any at your salon.
5. Spray Tan Tip: Prepare To Strip
You'll more than likely be asked to get naked according to your comfort level — but you can wear underwear or a bathing suit if you'd prefer. Just keep tan lines in mind.
6. Spray Tan Tip: Don't Wear Accessories
Remove all necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings to avoid the pigment staining your precious jewels and leaving you with a tan line.
7. Spray Tan Tip: Paint Your Nails Before
Paint your nails before your spray tan appointment, even if it's just a clear coat. This creates a barrier to keep your nails from staining.
8. Spray Tan Tip: Wear Something Loose
Avoid wearing white or tight clothing just after your spray tan. Light colors tend to stain, while tight pants or boots can rub against your skin and remove color on those areas.
9. Spray Tan Tip: Don't Make Social Plans Afterward
It's important to note that most spray tan products are purposely pigmented to ensure even coverage. Since you have to wait a minimum of five hours before showering, you'll typically get an initial layer that looks deep — but eventually wears off. You'll also experience a chemical smell courtesy of the product.
10. Spray Tan Tip: Don't Book A Workout Class
"Wait at least 24 hours to allow for the pigment to settle and fully form before washing the skin or sweating heavily," Dr. Nazarian explains.
This article was originally published on