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Spray Tan Aftercare Tips: How to Take Care of Your Glow

Written by Lexi Carlson
Medically Reviewed by Denise Christine Bries, MD
Spray Tan Aftercare Tips_ How to Take Care of Your Glow

Tanning is a popular trend in the beauty world, and it is easy to see why.

It is the PERFECT way to get that sun-kissed glow without experiencing the harmful effects of UV rays. HOWEVER, taking care of your skin after each session is still important. 

After all, spray tans (whether that’s an airbrush tan or a normal one) are just like any other form of UV exposure.

It may cause skin damage if not properly cared for!

So if you’re new to tanning, here are some tried-and-true spray tan tips to keep your skin looking FANTASTIC from the moment you leave the studio until your next appointment.

10 Important Tan Maintenance Tips

How long spray tans last depends on how you take care of them.

To make sure you’re still looking and feeling flawless after your tanning services, here are our TOP 10 post-spray tan care tips to remember.

TIP#1: Wear Loose-Fit Clothing

TIP#1- Wear Loose-Fit Clothing-

The first stop in our spray tan tips is wearing loose clothes.

It’s crucial for you to understand that what they wear during the first 24 hours of getting a spray tan may MAKE OR BREAK how you look!

A professional tanning artist will always recommend you wear loose-fit clothing.

Restrictive garments (yoga pants, jeans, leggings) or closed shoes that fit snug on your feet are not only tight and uncomfortable but also cause you to sweat.

This increases the chances of rubbing off the fresh tan on certain areas or, worse, makes it seem uneven!

If you’re into fashion and you’re unsure of what to wear, we suggest partnering any dark clothing (t-shirt or dress) with a good pair of flip-flops (not shoes) for your feet.

Self tanners SWEAR by this ensemble!

TIP#2: Go Commando

TIP#2- Go Commando

You may think this tip sounds stupid, but here us out!

To wear undergarments after tanning is a HUGE MISTAKE.

It can cause fading on certain areas and can even stain the fabric of your undies! Yikes!

If you must wear underwear, pick a loose dark-colored one. At the same time, if you wish to wear a bra, try something strapless.

TIP#3: Stay Dry

TIP#3- Stay Dry

After getting a self-tan, you should avoid getting wet for at least 4 to 5 hours.

Attempting to wear socks, exercise, do hot yoga, and other similar activities can cause you to sweat.

This can leave undesirable streaks, especially on your face, arms, legs, and feet. As such, staying dry will help the tanning solution adhere to your skin better.

TIP#4: Wash Wisely

TIP#4- Wash Wisely-

You should only attempt to take a bath at least 4 hours after a tan treatment.

When you’re already in the shower, use lukewarm water only. Otherwise, it’ll immediately strip your tan, and you can say goodbye to your natural-like glow!

Moreover, be EXTRA CAUTIOUS when choosing cleansers.

Only use products that are natural or free of oil. Using scrub, hot water, soap, and other related items must also be avoided.

And yes, we know it can sometimes feel sticky after having a tan. But it’s the number one rule to just rinse off the surface bronzer with the palm of your hand.

TIP#5: Moisturizing is Key

TIP#5- Moisturizing is Key-

We find that one of the top spray tan tips avid self-tanners give is to regularly follow a moisturizing routine.

After all, being beautifully tanned doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of your skin.

PLUS, spray tans fade slower when you moisturize.

TIP#6: Be Careful When Touching Your Skin

TIP#6- Be Careful When Touching Your Skin-

To avoid any patchy shade or discoloration, keep your hands away from your skin as often as possible! This also includes avoiding long durations of crossing your legs and arms.

When you’re done taking a bath, on the other hand, don’t rub your skin’s surface. Instead, pat to dry only.

TIP#7: Don’t Forget Your Sunblock

TIP#7- Don_t Forget Your Sunblock-

We can’t deny that having a bronzed shade gives you an EXTRA glow. But tanning does not mean you shouldn’t care about the scorching heat!

You are still prone to the negative effects of UV rays, such as wrinkles and age spots. Too much exposure can also increase your risk of skin cancer.

So even if you don’t intend on spending much time outside, NEVER FORGET YOUR SUNBLOCK!

TIP#8: Be Gentle

TIP#8- Be Gentle-

Any self-tanner can’t help but also get hooked on different beauty treatments.

From shaving to trying different cosmetic products, it seems like your skin can’t get a break!

As such, you must remember that you should give your body a break from all the chemical experimenting!

We recommend trying the following:

  • Avoiding harsh soaps
  • Moisturizing regularly (especially on your arms, legs, and feet)
  • Using shaving cream instead of a normal cleanser
  • Patting your body dry instead of rubbing

REMEMBER: Your skin is delicate, and too many products or harshly treating it will only lead to bad things!

TIP#9: Don’t Forget Your Fruits and Veggies

TIP#9- Don_t Forget Your Fruits and Veggies-

Since we’re talking about top tips for tanning, you should also be aware that maintaining your bronzed glow should radiate from WITHIN.

Going for cosmetic products or other beauty services is great to prevent your shade from fading.

But it would be best if you still had a balanced diet to keep your skin’s health at its best.

So consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, healthy grains, and lean meats!

Taking supplements like fish oil and avoiding harmful fats and processed or refined carbs can also do wonders for your body.

NOTE: Before taking any supplement, please consult your doctor first.

TIP#10: Hydrate

TIP#10- Hydrate-

Hydration is one of the MOST IMPORTANT spray tan tips!

Any self-tanner knows that drinking plenty of water benefits your skin and your entire body!

Doctors recommend drinking up to 8 glasses of water a day.

But if you’re someone who wants to make their life complicated, you can also compute what half of your current weight is.

The number you’ll get will give you the amount of water you need daily.

Now, you might think that this tip wouldn’t help you. But, remember when we said your bronzed beauty should come from within?

Drinking water can ultimately help you with that!

Furthermore, avoid too much carbonated drinks, caffeine, or alcohol to keep your skin in tip-top shape!

5 Things to Avoid After Spray Tanning

5 Things to Avoid After Spray Tanning-

We’ve been talking about what you could do to prolong your bronzed glow, but what are the things you should AVOID after you get a spray tan?

Here are some things you should avoid after tanning that could save your life!

1. Avoid Cosmetic Products (For the Meantime)

If you’re a first-time self-tanner, you may wonder whether it’s okay to use makeup immediately after tanning.

The sad truth is, no.

But you don’t have to worry. It doesn’t have to be FOREVER!

You only need to avoid wearing cosmetics for at least 6 to 8 hours following a session in a salon.

It’s because any type of makeup still has some form of moisture that can fade your shade.

2. Don’t Wax a Day Before Your Tan

We know that getting a wax may be the most satisfying thing in the world.

But this procedure can open your pores. It can affect certain areas of your body when you’re going for an airbrush tan or similar treatments.

As such, we suggest getting your wax done AT LEAST a day before your session to ensure a stunningly even result.

3. Avoid the Pool

This might sound like one of those counterintuitive spray tan tips.

After all, you planned to get bronzed so you could flaunt it on the beach, right?

While we have nothing against enjoying your well-deserved vacation, it’s better not to stay long in the ocean or pool to keep your shade.

But if we can’t keep you away from the water, know that you’ll still get some tan after staying under the scorching heat.

That can be a decent compromise!

4. Avoid Oil-Based Products

Just like when we recommended you stop using oil-based exfoliants before your tan, you should also avoid them afterward. They can encourage tan fading.

Remember to choose products that have natural and organic ingredients only!

5. Avoid Exfoliating and Shaving

Exfoliating and shaving automatically removes your skin’s top layer. While this can be satisfying, it also removes most of your bronzed color.

Instead, we recommend getting a wax and shave a few days BEFORE your session to remove all the unnecessary hair and eliminate the need to shave a few days later.

How to Prepare for Your Next Tan Appointment

How to Prepare for Your Next Tan Appointment

Now that we’re done with the dos and don’ts, here are some points to remember before your session.

1. Properly Exfoliate Your Skin

It’s always a good start to get rid of some dead skin before a session. It makes the tanning solution more responsive to your skin’s surface, so it won’t fade easily.

We suggest doing some exfoliation 4 hours before the session to allow your open pores to seal.

Also, be picky when choosing your exfoliating product. It needs to be oil-free and created with organic or natural components.

If you need some EXTRA scrubbing, you can always rely on mitts to remove dead skin and old tans.t

2. Remove Lotion and Makeup

Although getting moisturized feels great, applying lotion can make it more difficult for the tanning solution to cling to your skin’s surface. The same principle goes with makeup.

So before any treatment, it’s always best to remove them to prevent any clashing or mixing of products or, worse, any adverse reactions.

3. Have Your Beauty Services Before Tanning

Any avid self-tanner knows that if they need to get other beauty services done, it must be done before their tanning session to avoid the tan from rubbing off.

As such, cosmetic services, such as manicure, pedicure, waxing, or massage, must be done AT LEAST a day before your session.

EXTRA TIP: Here is an entire guide on getting a spray tan for a wedding! If you have one to attend, this guide could be a huge help!

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Get Rid of Tan Lines?

To get rid of those annoying tan lines, we suggest trying the following:

  1. Exfoliate your skin
  2. Apply lemon juice and honey mixture to the affected area;
  3. Put coconut oil on the tanned area and leave overnight;
  4. Use quality sunless tanning solution to your lighter skin parts and continue the process until your tans are even; and
  5. Apply baking soda paste to tanned areas of your skin and wait 15 minutes before removing.

Unflattering streaks and stripes may sometimes appear on your arms, feet, face, and neck. It can even appear on skin parts that your swimsuit covers.

If you’re unlucky, this can last for weeks (even months) after they first begin to appear on your skin.

How Do You Fix an Uneven Tan?

There’s nothing a baby oil or coconut oil can’t solve when it comes to a stubborn tan!

Just apply it to the affected area and let it set on your skin. Afterward, take a warm bath to remove any residue.

You’ll immediately see spots that appeared to be darker (or perhaps a little more orange than anticipated) fade.

How Many Days After a Tan Does It Look Best?

As a general rule, a self-tan can last up to 10 days. But when it looks best depends on your skin type.

Luckily, there are easy-to-follow home recipes to make your tan last longer than that!

What Happens if You Shower Too Soon After a Tan?

Washing the tan too soon will RUIN your chances of acquiring that deep, vibrant color.

At the same time, using strong solutions to remove the tan can leave streaks and blotches on your skin instead of an even hue.

Generally, you have to wait around 4-8 hours after your spray before showering to give it enough time to sink in and work its magic on your skin.



By now, you’ve seen how important post-tan care is.

When we consider any type of tanning (whether that’s airbrush tan or the normal one), even the mundane things sound complicated. 

As such, when you’re thinking of spray tanning, consider going for a 2 to 3-week trial first. This can help you gauge whether the whole bronzing thing is the right thing for you.

It can also help you realize if you’re up to the task of maintaining a tan in the foreseeable future.

After all, to keep that glorious tan for as long as possible, you must be cautious with your daily routine.

At the same time, don’t forget to prepare for each session. It is your obligation (not the salon) to maintain the tan.

But the good thing is you can always keep your spray-tanned glow as long as you follow our simple reminders!

FINAL TIP: If you’re going spray tanning for the first time, it’s helpful to learn the total cost of everything in the tanning process. Research on these and you should be okay!