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How Long Does Self-Tanner Take to Dry: Answers Explained!

Written by Lexi Carlson
Medically Reviewed by Denise Christine Bries, MD
How Long Does Self-Tanner Take to Dry - Answers Explained

You no longer have to expose yourself to the sun’s scorching heat!

Achieving that PERFECT TAN SKIN should not be complex and risky to your health. Make self-tanners your partner to reach that darker skin tone goal.

Let’s start by explaining how long a self-tanner takes to dry.

So, How Long Does Self-Tanner Take to Dry?

You just have to apply your self-tanner and wait for more or less 20 minutes for it to dry.

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is the SECRET to the golden skin colors behind self-tanners.

Thus, you NO LONGER have to wait and risk yourself taking too much Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation from sun exposure.

Make sure that your tanning product is ALREADY DRY before you wear clothes. This is not just to ensure the tan effect works but also to keep the product from staining your clothes.

NOTE: The waiting time varies according to the product. Read product details for the best results!

How to Make Self-Tan Last Longer in 7 Ways

How to Make Self-Tan Last Longer in 7 Ways

Similar to the drying time, how long the self-tan stays depends on the tanning products.

However, an average of 10 days is common among these self-tanners.

You can develop a more extended tan color if you are CAREFUL in following your tanner’s instructions and recommendations.

Thus, you can take note of the tips below to ensure your darker color goal stays longer.

1. Be Familiar With Your Self-Tanner

Different self-tanning products have different times to apply and dry.

Thus, the same is also true when it comes to their tanning durations.

There are average answers to every category, but most of them are basically product-dependant.

Do NOT expect identical results when using different products.

2. Know the Perfect Shaving Time

The shaving time is also an important activity to be observed to make the self-tan last long. It would be best if you shave BEFORE you apply the self-tanner.

A day before (24 hours) the application is the best time to shave. Letting the hair follicles close back in this time is essential for the best results.

3. Remove Dead Skin Cells Before Self-tanning

Dead skins absorb MORE if not taken before tanning application. They also prevent you from having an even tan.

Thus, you have to exfoliate your skin BEFORE putting on self-tanners.

You can do this via an exfoliating mitt, body scrub, a wet towel, or any dry skin-removing object and method.

4. Know the Best Time Self-Tanner Application

It is best to apply your self-tanner at night. This is because you have several activities during the day.

Thus, it is advised to apply any self-tanner before you go to bed.

You can keep yourself from wiping or washing any part where you applied the product—knees, legs, arms, face, and the like.

After getting dry, you have enough time to let your skin absorb the product for a better tan.

5. Make Sure to Keep Your Skin Dry

People have different skin types.

Regardless, you must keep your skin away from water, sweat, and other liquid types within the first 20 minutes after application.

You must do these to keep yourself from washing out the product while your skin cells are in the process of FULL absorption.

Doing this will also prevent uneven tan results when the self-tanning process is thoroughly done.

6. Keep Your Tanned Skin Moisturized

It is very important to MOISTURIZE your fake tan.

This is to maintain a nice glow caused by hydrated skin. However, always use an oil moisturizer instead of the regular one people choose daily.

7. Stay Indoors and Away From The Sun

Overusing anything leads to wrong results!

This also applies when using too many self-tanners!

Thus, applying any self-tanner and exposing yourself to UV light from the sun is not a good idea.

It is advised that applying self-tanner calls for staying away from the sun within 72 hours after usage.

Important Things to Remember When Self-Tanning

Important Things to Remember When Self-Tanning

There are more things to keep in mind when using self-tanners. This is BEYOND being familiar with just the application process.

Thus, below are some of the points we believe you should remember when self-tanning.

What Is DHA?

Self-tanners use dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as their most active ingredient.

It is a natural sugar approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to be used on self-tanners responsible for causing a darker tone on your skin.

Self-Tanners Have Several Types

If you are new to self-tanning, remember that it has various types.

These sunless tanning goods in various forms help you achieve the dark tone you wish for your skin more easily and safely.

  • Moisturizer
  • Lotion
  • Spray
  • Mousse
  • Towelette

All of them will more or less cause the same tanning results (if you use them right, that is), so it’s just a matter of which is the most comfortable for you.

Prepare Your Skin

Of course, you DON’T want to just jump into self-tanner application without preparations.

Exfoliating your dry parts, shaving, and showering are common activities in this preparation stage.

First, it is best to shave a day or at least 24 hours before you apply self-tanner to your body is best.

Next, exfoliate your knees, elbows, and other parts with dry skin. This will save you time and the amount of self-tanner to be used in the process.

Lastly, showering is suitable for cleaning and hydrating the areas you will apply the product.

Self-Tanners Might Stain

You should wear a tanning mitt to rub when applying self-tanner for an even tan result. It also keeps unwanted tan stains on your palms!

When applying a self-tanner before sleeping in bed, don’t forget to put a cover above your bed.

This will also keep you from staining your bed sheets which might cause a headache during laundry time.

How Long Does Self-Tanner Take to Set?

How Long Does Self-Tanner Take to Set

The process of applying self-tanners usually takes you to wait a few hours, specifically, an average time range of 4-8 hours, depending on the product instructions.

Some also wear a tanning mitt while coating a couple of times.

This means you wait for a few hours of intervals in between to achieve a more natural-looking dark tan.

This also helps make sure NO STREAKS are present after application.

Once drying is finished after a few minutes, you can already wash and wear loose or semi-loose clothing.

TIP: Do not get dressed in any tight clothing after applying self-tanners, even after your wash. The product might have dried already, but there is still an instance that it removes the tanner.

How Long After Self-Tanning Can I Shower?

How Long After Self-Tanning Can I Shower

Most self-tanners have a quick drying effect.

Thus, you can wash up and shower AFTER completely setting and drying the product.

However, the longer you wait for the coat to stay, the darker the tan tone.

Thus, give special attention to having the desired outcome first before completely taking a shower to avoid redoing everything and again taking a bath afterward.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our goal is to have that smooth, moisture-rich, non-streaky, and well-developed brown tan.

Thus, answering your inquiries first before jumping into the self-tanner application process is best.

Can I Shave After a Fake Tan?

Although it is best to shave body hair a day before you apply the self-tanners, you CAN still do the action afterward.

HOWEVER! It might remove some of the tanners you applied that might develop uneven tan results.

Thus, it is BEST to wait and make sure the product has taken its full effect! This is before you wash or shave after application.

TIP: Use an oil-free product to moisturize the parts you want to shave. Do not use the usual shaving cream we commonly use in a normal shaving situation.

How Can I Get My Self-Tanner to Dry Faster?

Instead of wondering, “How long does self-tanner take to dry?” you may want to know how to make it dry FASTER.

Unfortunately, there is no significant recommendation to answer the second question.

Most self-tanners already have a quick drying effect. But, some users use fans to have more air to dry the product quicker.

Does Layering Fake Tan Make It Darker?


Layering fake tan can make the color appear darker. It also helps you put more tanner on missed parts.

However, this method also makes streaks more visible.

Thus, it is still best to WAIT for longer hours before you wash the tanner. This will ensure the product’s DHA compound has completely reacted to your skin cells.

The tanner is completely set, and you can develop a smooth, darker, and better tan.

Final Thoughts

Save yourself a lot of money by buying tanning beds. Save yourself from irritations and diseases from hours upon hours of sun exposure.

With self-tanners, develop that smooth, natural-looking self-tan goal easier, safer, and faster.

All these tips while enjoying the self-tanning process in the comfort of your home.