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How Long Does a Spray Tan Last From a Salon? [Tanning Guide]

Written by Lexi Carlson
Medically Reviewed by Denise Christine Bries, MD
How Long Does a Spray Tan Last

Before you rush off to get a healthy glow, let’s do a fact check. This article has EVERYTHING you need to know about spray tans by answering the important question:  “how long does a spray tan last?

Plustips to make your spray tan last longer and mistakes to avoid on your first time.

Let’s get right into it!

How Long Does a Spray Tan Last?

A good spray tan lasts you up to 10 days, many tanning experts say. But, ultimately, it depends on the shade you choose.

  • Lighter shades of spray tan last about 5 days
  • Medium shades of spray tan last up to 7 days, and
  • Darker shades of spray tan last 10 days

Of course, we can’t forget about our DHA.

They play a huge role in how long a spray tan can fade and last. Spray tans that contain more DHA come out with a darker shade and tend to sit longer than lighter ones.

What’s in a Spray Tan Formula?

While spray tans don’t have the best reputations, (at some point, we all think of the orangey Cheetos look sported during Y2K―yikes!), but that’s far from the truth.

Nowadays, spray tans are subtle and sophisticated, having a more natural glow. Think of Kardashians!

And the secret behind it?

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA). All spray tan formulas contain DHA, a color additive. When it’s applied, DHA reacts with dead skin cells on the top layer and temporarily darkens the skin to a beautiful tan.

And, no, it’s anything but dangerousJust don’t apply the tanning solution to your eyes, lips, or nose. A spray tan isn’t harmful, unlike tanning beds.

Also, keep in mind that the formula is what affects how much a spray tan costs. More expensive tans will probably have more nourishing formulas so take your pick wisely.

Mistakes to Avoid on Your First Spray Tan Appointment

Mistakes to Avoid

Ready for a spray tan?  Think again.

Many people make these 7 common yet costly tanning mistakes. So, here are things you should NOT do right before your session.

1. Exfoliating and Moisturizing Your Skin

Because exfoliators open up your pores and moisturizers, especially oily ones, tend to sit on your skin, doing it the night before getting your spray tan will cause the formula to absorb unevenly and leave ugly spray tan splotches.

The solution? Exfoliating AT LEAST 24 hours before and skipping the moisturizer a day ahead of the appointment.  This gives enough time for pores to close and moisture to settle.

2. Waxing and Shaving

A quick google search will tell you to wax and shave before tanning. And, we 100% agree with them!

You can do both right before getting a spray tan, however, it’s important to wash it off completely with lukewarm water.

Waxing and shaving products can get left behind on your skin which makes it difficult for the spray tan to be absorbed.  It’s a sure way for your tan to fade quicker than you can say cheese!

What’s more, it results in dark spots.

To avoid fast-fading spray tan results, it’s better to do the waxing and shaving 24-48 hours BEFORE.

3. Using Oils

If there was one spray tanning fact we wished we knew earlier, it’s this. An oil-filled exfoliator leaves residue. Oil creates a barrier on your skin and causes nasty spray tan streaks.

4. Taking a Shower

If your skin is wet, chances are it won’t work. The spray tan will slide off your skin. Just like that, you wasted hundreds of bucks!

Before getting a tan, always dry yourself properly―in all areas.

5. Wearing Deodorant with Aluminum

Unless you want your armpits to turn green with the spray tan, don’t.

To battle body odor, use a deodorant without aluminumThey’re free of harmful chemicals.

6. Spray Tanning After Beauty Treatments

Laser treatments, massages, and facials should be done days before your spray tanning appointment. Otherwise, it leaves dark spots and tan fades.

7. Wearing Makeup

Always come in bare-faced. Do not wear makeup before you spray tan!

You can wear makeup after spray tanning though. Just be sure to wait at least 6 to 8 hours.

After Session Do’s: Tips for a Longer Lasting Tan

After Session Do's

To make your spray tan last longer, follow these simple aftercare tips.

#1 Wear Loose Fitting Clothes

After application, wear dark, loose clothes to cover your fresh tan. Outfits such as a black cotton tee, yoga pants, and a comfy long-sleeved pullover will do the trick.

NEVER wear tight clothing.  It’ll rub off all the tan on your skin.

#2 Fix Imperfections with Baby Oil

For uneven and patchy regions, coat a layer of skin with baby oil before taking a shower and exfoliating the area.

You can also try using a self-tanner or tanning lotion for your finishing touches.

#3 Take Your First Shower

There’s nothing as scary as taking your first shower after a tanning session. But, don’t be scared.

A good 8-10 hours after should do it. It’s enough time for the tan to develop.

Don’t forget to avoid a hot shower, and absolutely NO loofahs or body scrubs! They will wash off the spray tan earlier than you’d want to.

#4 Lots of Water

Happy skin won’t shed and hold out color longer.

(Refrain from drinking alcohol while at it. A bummer, we know, but that’s the price of beauty.)

#5 Keep Your Skincare Routine Simple

Avoid using skincare products with retinol, AHAs,  or BHAs. Because these products exfoliate, it encourages faster cell turnover and causes faster spray tan fading.

#6 Avoid Sweat

Once your tan has settled, moisturize using baby powder or a good old moisturizing lotions/body lotion to avoid sweat.

Remember: humidity, chlorinated water, and sweat turn your spray tan into a sticky mess.

#7 Top Up

Finish off your look with a tan extender. It will keep skin hydrated while enhancing your tan every day.

Shaving After Spray Tan

If you need to get rid of hair after applying your spray tan, here are some tips:

  • Wait for 8 hours after applying.
  • Use an electric razor to remove only the top layer to avoid the tan to fade.
  • Use oil-free moisturizing body wash and not the traditional cream that strips your tan away.

Spray Tan After Waxing

Waxing immediately after a spray tan isn’t a good idea.

Because waxing involves exfoliating, the result is a dry and dull complexion instead of healthy skin and bright glow.

Our advice is to wax at least 4 days after because it takes about 4-7 days for your tan to fully settle in.

Let’s Sum It Up

Let's Sum It Up

So, how long does a spray tan last?

10 days but it’ll last longer if you take good care of it with our tips and tricks. 

Of course, there are also a few other factors to think about. Just discern well!

Overall, we highly recommend it as a tanning method since it helps you avoid UV rays and ugly tan lines.