8 Spray Tan Tips for an Even, Long-Lasting Glow

Summer is fast approaching, which means it’s time to trade your parka for a hairnet and goggles if you don’t want to look like the abominable snowman coming out of hibernation for swimsuit season. A spray tan can go one of two ways: good, and horribly catastrophic. Thankfully, there some easy steps you can take to successfully get and maintain that faux glow. Follow these, and you’ll be able to take the mess and stress out of your spray tan experience.

Before Your Spray Tan

  1. Pick a Good Time

    A spray tan can be pretty disruptive for your day. Not only do you have to spend 10-15 minutes in the salon, but you must also go at least 4 hours without showering. This can be especially problematic if the salon is busy. You may find yourself waiting anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour for an open booth. A girl at Sun Tan City in Nashville once gave me a great tip to avoid a long wait.  She said that Thursday nights are usually the busiest, since many people want to have their tan for the weekend. Sunday night is also a relatively popular timeslot since some prefer to have a fresh tan to start the week. Some salons like Sun Tan City also offer mobile check-in online or on an app so you can get ahead of the crowd.

  2. Exfoliate

Spray tans last as long as your top layer of skin does. Therefore, it’s important to get rid of any dead skin so the tanning solution soaks into new, healthy skin. It’s best to exfoliate with a body scrub, or even a DIY solution like baking soda or brown sugar. Be sure to rinse well, and apply moisturizer to soothe your skin all before even stepping foot in the tanning booth. This is also the best time to shave your legs, etc. as the exfoliating effects of shaving can take off some of your spray tan.

3. Deep Clean

Make sure that you are completely makeup-free before getting your spray tan. Not only does this ensure that the tanning solution will make even contact with your skin, but this also helps you feel a little fresher when you have to endure the sticky sensation for the next 4 to 6 hours. Little known pro-tip: make sure to rinse or wipe off your deodorant from the day since it can act as a barrier to the solution, resulting in very white underarms.

4. Prime Time

Many tanning salons offer spray tan priming lotions. These help extend the life of your tan by locking in moisture. They are especially useful on your legs and arms since these are where you want your tan to last the longest. If you don’t want to purchase a specific primer, just be sure to apply your usual body lotion and facial moisturizer immediately before your tan.

5. Loose Clothing

It’s best to wear loose fitting clothing and open shoes. Clothes that are tight fitting can rub off some of the solution when you get dressed after the tan. Avoid tight underwire bras, tight waistbands, and even socks. Opt for a loose fitting t-shirt. Remember: it may get slightly stained and have a chemical-y smell until after a few washes. Shorts and open shoes such as flip-flops will also help to minimize rubbing post-tan.

6. Follow the rules

Be sure to wear the hair net, and any eye protection provided. If you have long hair, it’s best to tie it up in a bun and also wear a headband to keep any shorter hairs inside the hairnet. The headband trick is honestly life changing. Finally you won’t have sticky baby hairs at the base of your neck. Ew.

Maintaining Your Spray Tan

7. Don’t shower until time’s up

Be sure to let the tan fully absorb. Most tanning solutions require 4 to 6 hours before showering, and this goes for washing your face as well. The longer the solution stays on your skin, the deeper your tan will be. I prefer to get the clear solution, since I can see how much color I’m developing. If you use a bronzed formula, make sure you wait the required time. Looking in the mirror, you may think you’re ready to wash it off, but you may be only seeing the solution’s color—not the color that’s developed in your skin. If you get a spray tan late at night, it’s often best to let it absorb overnight and shower in the morning. Simply sleep in a loose fitting t-shirt and pants to minimize the chance of the spray tan getting rubbed off or staining your sheets.

8. Moisturize

Make sure to apply moisturizer daily (twice daily if you’re up to the challenge) to extend the life of your tan. This keeps skin hydrated, slowing the process in which your skin dries and sheds your precious glow.


Do you have any other pointers for getting a spray tan? Comment below!


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