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How to Exfoliate Before Spray Tan: A Step-By-Step Guide

Written by Lexi Carlson
Medically Reviewed by Denise Christine Bries, MD
How to Exfoliate Before Spray Tan A Step-By-Step Guide

We know you’re excited about getting that sunless tan you’ve always wanted.

But don’t get too excited! There are still some things to do before applying your self-tanner.

One of the most important things to do before applying your spray tan is to EXFOLIATE! Exfoliation ensures your skin stays healthy and smooth as you apply your spray tan.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to gently exfoliate your skin before getting a fake tan to get the best results!

How to Exfoliate to Make Spray Tan Last Longer

To elaborate further on how regular exfoliation helps with self-tanning, exfoliating removes dead skin cells, leaving behind the fresh skin to absorb all that spray tan.

This will lead to a longer and more even tan! No one likes an uneven tan!

Here is a quick exfoliation routine you can follow so your next self-tan will last longer.

1. Buy an Exfoliating Product that Suits Your Skin

1. Buy an Exfoliating Product that Suits Your Skin-

Before anything else, you first need a proper exfoliator to use!

Finding the right exfoliating product entails a lot of research, including research on your skin type (sensitive skin, dry skin, etc.), the healthiest ingredients it includes, and so on.

Usually, your regular body wash, shower oils, or shower gel is not enough as they cannot do the work an actual pre-tan exfoliator is meant to do.

2. Warm Bath or Shower

2. Warm Bath or Shower

Start off pre-tan routine by taking a warm bath or shower for a few minutes.

Usually, it should not last longer than 20 minutes and it must be a WARM shower, not a hot or cold one.

Too hot or too cold water could do more harm than good, so rest your skin in a warm shower.

Make sure to scrub and rinse thoroughly so as to not leave any body scrub residue on your body.

Additionally, you can also go the extra mile and shave all areas that need shaving before your tan. Be careful though, as your tan can cause razor bumps after shaving.

Take your first shower around 4 hours before you tan to give it enough time to settle in. You can also do this at night before sleeping!

3. Exfoliate Outside of the Shower

3. Exfoliate Outside of the Shower

When you are done showering, step outside and pat yourself dry first! It will be difficult to remove any dead skin cells if you are still wet.

Once your skin is no longer wet or oily, use your exfoliator product to scrub all those dead skin cells off the top layer of your skin surface.

The best exfoliators are those that are oil-free and all-natural!

Additionally, it is also best to use an exfoliator mitt to scrub. Gently brush yourself in circular motions.

Remember, don’t brush yourself too rough!

If you do not have an exfoliator mitt, you can scrub using a body scrub or regular washcloth or loofah.

4. Rinse and Moisturize

4. Rinse and Moisturize

Once you’re done exfoliating, you can get back to washing off in the shower.

The final step would be to use a nice moisturizer to maintain fresh skin and replenish any lost moisture during exfoliation.

This step is important as you want your skin surface to be as hydrated as possible when you apply your spray tan or fake tan.

Additional Reminders

Now that you’ve got your pre-tan routine done, there are some extra tips you can do during your entire tan application.

  1. Before tanning, do not wear makeup or other heavy products. At most, use a gentle cream barrier or a pre-moisturizer or lotion for dry areas. These areas will likely soak up the spray tan more than the rest of your skin.
  2. Do not wear tight clothing, sneakers, or socks, as your spray tan may cause a permanent stain!
  3. Use a gel cleanser over body lotion or bar soap as products like these can inhibit your self-tan.
  4. Don’t forget your face! Research on face-friendly exfoliation products as your facial skin is a lot more delicate than your body.
  5. Exfoliate a few days ahead of applying your spray tan and not on the day of. This will help your tan last longer and fade evenly.
  6. Waxing is also a good form of exfoliating as it removes hair from your body to make the tan last longer!

How to Exfoliate Your Face Before Spray Tanning

How to Exfoliate Your Face Before Spray Tanning-

As mentioned earlier, your facial skin is more sensitive than your body, so you want to be extra careful when you exfoliate your face.

Here’s a quick rundown on how to gently exfoliate your face.

1. Find Non-Comedogenic Products

If you are prone to breakouts, find a non-comedogenic self-tanner.

There are a lot of spray tans and self-tanning products that are non-comedogenic, which help prevent blocking the pores.

This comes with researching on your skin type (oily, dry, or sensitive skin).

Since some facial tanning products come lighter than body tanning ones, carefully find one that matches your skin tone and that of your body tan.

Otherwise, your glow might come out in two shades!

2. Prepare Your Facial Care Routine

Like with your body, remember to do all the necessary cleaning and moisturizing on your face before your spray tan application.

Make sure your cleanser is OIL-FREE. Otherwise, your skin may not absorb your tanning product evenly. Thoroughly spread your cleanser throughout your face and neck.

Afterwards, use an exfoliating mitt to remove any excess product. Make sure to do this a few hours before you apply your spray or fake tan.

REMEMBER: Avoid using other makeup products before and after your fake tanning solution.

You can also use an ice cube or washcloth to cool your face and close your pores.

3. Apply Self Tanner

You can’t just use spray tan straight into your face! Here are a few guidelines to remember.

  • Hold the spray tan bottle about 4 inches from your face and spray downward to avoid close contact to the eyes.
  • If you are using a cream-based tanner, gently massage your face just like how you would apply any facial cream.

TIP: Get rid of your tan using any of the natural remedies listen in this tan removal guide!

What Are The Best Natural Exfoliants?

What Are The Best Natural Exfoliants--

When it comes to exfoliation products, it is always best to choose the ones with natural ingredients that are healthy for the skin.

Here’s a list of some of the best natural ingredients to exfoliate with!

1. Salt Scrubs

All-natural salt scrubs make a great pre-tan exfoliator!

These organic body scrub exfoliants are made from all-organic ingredients that are great for smooth skin, such as shea butter, coconut oil, and other essential oils.

Sea salt helps with eliminating calluses, rough skin, and dry patches. Make sure you don’t have any allergies or sensitive skin as the salt may cause a reaction.

2. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a natural food you can use to cleanse AND exfoliate! It is a great choice for those with sensitive skin as it is gentle with the skin.

You can even use oatmeal as a body scrub or facial scrub before your spray tan.

Furthermore, oatmeal helps absorb oil from the skin, which is what makes it a great cleanser as well.

3. Sugar

If you are looking for something gentler than salt, sugar is a great exfoliation alternative!

You can use sugar to exfoliate your body, especially if you like to scrub and shave. You can combine sugar with other skin-friendly ingredients like olive oil or vanilla extract.

Sugar has a lot less sting too than salt, so it will definitely be easier to exfoliate with!

4. Coffee

Aside from waking you up in the morning, coffee makes for a great pre-tan exfoliant!

Coffee has a lot of antioxidants and also promotes collagen formation, which allows your skin to “breathe”. You can also use coffee to treat cellulite and stretch marks.

The sandy texture of coffee is great for gently removing dead skin cells and gives your skin a nice glow!

5. Milk

Milk contains lactic acid, which is a great agent for removing dead skin cells.

Additionally, you can also use a yogurt mask to exfoliate! It’s relaxing and can brighten up your skin!

Since yogurt is also a humectant, it will supply your skin with much needed moisture.

6. Baking Soda

Baking soda can be used for a bunch of things, from cleaning to teeth whitening.

And yes, that includes exfoliation!

Baking soda is great for all skin types and its fine grains help remove dirt and oil from your skin without irritating it.

You can also use it as an anti-acne solution thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Are There Any Exfoliant Ingredients You Should Avoid?

Are There Any Exfoliant Ingredients You Should Avoid-

Of course, with any beauty product on the market, there are ingredients that you should look out for and avoid!

Here are some ingredients you should NEVER exfoliate with.

1. Parabens

Parabens are alarming things to find in a spray tan as they are hormone disruptors.

Instead of producing hormones naturally, parabens may cause excess production of estrogen, causing hormonal imbalances, which can lead to breast cancer and growth of tumors.

You can avoid them by looking for any ingredient ending with -paraben.

2. Mineral Oil

Some spray tan manufacturers will justify their use of mineral oil by saying it makes skin softer, but this stuff is actually derived from petroleum! Yikes.

This does not sound good already, and the effects are just as bad. Mineral oil can cause breakouts, rashes, and clogs pores.

3. Synthetic Fragrances

While some spray tans have nice scents, make sure those are derived from natural ingredients.

Artificial fragrances, dyes, and so on can cause a bunch of unwanted effects like headaches, dizziness, and allergic reactions.

4. Alcohol

Alcohol in your spray tan cause also cause skin damage and irritation. While it makes a great cleaning solution, it can cause dry skin, cracking, and flaking.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts-

That wraps up our guide on exfoliation before spray tanning!

To achieve the perfect tan and keep your skin healthy, it is important to go the extra mile and EXFOLIATE! It is some extra work, but it will all be worth it in the end!

Make sure to choose the right spray tan formula for your skin!

Now you know the DOs and DONTs before spray tanning, here’s a guide on what to do during AND after spray tanning.

You can more in our guide of spray tan aftercare tips!