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12 Spray Tan Tips for Before, During, and After Your Session

Written by Lexi Carlson
Medically Reviewed by Denise Christine Bries, MD
Spray Tan Tips

Ever thought you had enough sun but still wanted a tan? We’ve all been there! 

Sometimes, there are just a few things you want in an instant.

Everyone feels the same way. And that’s why we’re going to be talking about spray tans today.

Below are spray tan tips for your skin. No need to hesitate to get that perfect spray tan glow!

Before Getting a Spray Tan


With a great spray tan and glowing skin comes great preparation…and responsibility. (Thank you, Uncle Ben Parker)

We’re talking about spray tanning salons here because the best glow will come from the tanning experts themselves.

Here goes the plan for that amazing spray tan:

1. Eat Right with Good Food

Three words: Greens and Proteins.

Lysine-rich food such as avocado, beets, leeks, bananas, and red meat from pork and poultry are highly recommended if you’re planning to get a spray tan. 

It’ll improve in getting the spray tan color you want to achieve.

Also, drink water.

It’s the golden diet rule. Whether you’re going to self-tan or consult an expert, don’t be thrifty with your thirst. 

More water will keep your skin hydrated and your body healthy.

2. Shave at Least 24 Hours Prior

Whatever method of hair removal you choose, just don’t do it the night before the spray tan appointment. 

That way, if you have a few nicks and cuts from the hair removal session, shaving or otherwise, you have already given your body enough time to heal. 

Just be sure you’ve removed any shaving cream or wax residue from your body completely.

Also, shaving after the spray tan session more or less might make an uneven tan, and WE DON’T WANT THAT. 

Pre-tan hair removal will cause quite a few issues.

So if you’re going to shave, always do it a few days before the spray tanning appointment.

3. Exfoliate

It’s almost an automatic habit for us to exfoliate, but now it’s one of the EXTRA important steps before a spray tan.

Exfoliation is one of the most important skin care tips. No one wants dead skin cells building up on their skin, especially during their spray tan.

Skipping this step in the pre-process of a sunless tanning session would end up with you having a patchy, uneven tan.  

The dead skin will also cause more streakiness and dry patches.

Taking a closer look at that, we look at what products go on your skin during spray tan time.

Spray Tan Solution

  • The active ingredient in spray tan solution (and other airbrush tans) is dihydroxyacetone, or DHA.
  • DHA is a colorless, nontoxic sugar taken from plants like sugarcane.
  • Spray tan solution contains DHA which reacts with protein keratin in your skin cells, creating that fake tan WE ALL WANT.

Now, with this information and expert advice, don’t skip out on exfoliating. Remember to scrub well on your hands and feet too using a good exfoliator product.

We want smooth skin and even spray tan smoother results. The skin tone you’ll end up having has to be the epitome of beauty with that spray tan.

4. Avoid Moisturizer Right Before the Tan

Just like every other thing on this list, if you’re going to do it, do it at least 24 hours before.

Putting moisturizer or body lotion on your skin should only be done AFTER the event of a spray tan. 

Or! If it’s really part of your skincare routine, use an oil-free moisturizer.

Oil-free moisturizers ensure your skin STAY hydrated whenever you do spray tans. Hydrated skin will give you the BEST spray tan.

Remember: You don’t want your tan results to be uneven or unsuccessful, so be extra wary about products that aren’t oil-free before and after the tan.

During the Spray Tan


Now that you know everything to do beforehand, let’s talk about some tips to tackle during the tanning spa treatments.

5. Stuff to Avoid Applying

Part of these tips is knowing what not to do because sometimes we get too excited and forget.

These are what you should avoid when going in for a spray tan because they become a barrier between the spray tanning solution and your skin.

  • Deodorant. We know you feel comfy with some deodorant on but trust us. If you want an even tan, skip it first.
  • Perfume. You’d smell great, but there’s a chance your tan wouldn’t be as great.
  • Makeup. Be proud and go barefaced. The makeup can wait.

6. Stuff You Should Be Applying

Barrier cream is one of the great but sometimes overlooked steps of spray tanning. 

You have to remember that’s it’s very different from what happens when you use simple indoor tanning lotions.

The hands, fingers, feet, toes, the rougher areas of your feet, and the cuticles of your nails areas of your skin where tanning solution might concentrate and soak up.

Barrier cream will help get that EVEN result.

7. Stuff to Wear

When going in for the spray tan session, it’s advised to wear loose, dark clothing.

This is for after the application process of the spray tan. 

When you’re done and all tanned up, you’d want okay-to-maybe-get-a-little-color-of-spray-tan clothes.

Extra Tip: Wear nail polish.

Even if it’s a clear coat, you’d want something to protect your nails to avoid discoloration.

8. Wear Nothing at All

Among all these tips, this one is the realest yet. You’re going to have to take your pants, and probably everything else, off.

And yes, that means you have to avoid wearing underwear during your session. 

If you wear underwear, you might get an uneven tan. And an uneven tan doesn’t look good especially if you have a lighter skin tone.

So bear in mind that, depending on your level of comfort, you will be asked to strip when you get a spray tan. 

This is to ensure you get that even color and glow all over your body. 

After the Session


You’re done. You’re finally got that spray tan. 

BUT, WAIT! There’s more!

Here are a few post-tan tips to keep that magnificent tan stay on your skin for a bit longer.

9. Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing

You wouldn’t want that spray tan to go to waste by wearing tight clothing and making it look uneven and blotchy. 

So be sure to avoid wearing tight shirts and jeans.

Wearing loose-fitting clothing will not only let your skin breathe but also help keep the color there for longer. 

Take this an extra step further and don’t wear makeup for a few days.

10. Stop! Wait a Minute

There are a few activities that you shouldn’t do for a while after getting your spray tan.

The tan will take at least 8 hours to set, so it’s best to avoid the following activities for a good half a day.

  • Showering. Showers are lovely, but we don’t want to wash away that perfect color, now do we? Try to avoid showering right after your tan.
  • Swimming. Avoid this, especially in chlorinated water.
  • Working out. This will make you wash away that tan you look so cute in. Wait for a few hours, then we can reconsider.

11. Baby Powder: Your New Boo

The number one weapon against sweat is talc-free baby powder.

The biggest enemy after you get your spray tan will be sweat, and baby powder is the godsend that can prevent it.

Another boo for you: Oil-free moisturizer, to keep your skin hydrated but full of the tan glow.

Avoid: Exfoliating and using harsh soaps.

12. Consider Self-Tanners

This is an extra step to ensure your amazing tan stays for longer.

Self-tanner normally has a moisture-locking formula. 

self-tanner will help your tan to fade more evenly while giving you those extra beauty points for longer.

Spray Away!

Spray Away!

When sunless tanning comes to mind, we have to remember that it’s a whole process.

Spray tan beauty doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s an experience of skincare days before and loads of powder days after.

Remember all our tan tips, and you’ll have the greatest spray tan ever. You can even get a spray tan for your wedding!

Plus, even though you’re only getting a spray tan, make sure to still wear your sunscreen! You can never have enough protection.