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Washing Off Spray Tan Too Early? – When Is the Right Time?

Written by Lexi Carlson
Medically Reviewed by Denise Christine Bries, MD
Washing Off Spray Tan Too Early

You just got your spray tan done at your local tanning salon and you just can’t wait to FLAUNT the new tan on your skin.

The tan seems set already, so you decide to wash your spray tan. Next thing you know, OOPS! Your beautiful tan is fading away because you washed too early.

Washing off spray tan earlier than you should is a common mistake, so don’t worry, we’ve all been there at some point in our lives.

Here are some tips on how to prevent washing off spray tan TOO EARLY and what to do if you do mess up your spray tan.

What Happens If I Wash My Spray Tan Too Early?

If you’re tanning for the first time, then it’s EXTREMELY IMPORTANT for you to know that showering after a spray tan too soon can mess up your tan.

First, if you don’t let the tan fully develop on your body, the tan on your skin will most likely not last as long as it should.

Taking a shower too early can also lead to TANNING STREAKS. The soapy washes will help you look like a tiger with ugly stripes on your body.

Apart from this, you will also most likely develop DARKER SPOTS on your skin instead of a smooth, gorgeous bronzed tan.

When is the Right Time to Wash Off My Spray Tan?

When is the Right Time

It usually takes at least 2 hours for the spray tan to have some effect on your skin. If you wash your spray tan before this time, your skin will have NO TAN at all.

After 2 hours, you can already shower and wash the spray tan away and a bit of tanning will already occur.

However, it will just be a lighter tan, so if you’re looking for a DARKER result, then you should leave the spray tan longer. An airbrush tan should also be left to settle longer than a spray tan.

So In That Case, How Long?

If you want a significantly dark tan, you should wait for at least 4 hours before you shower. That is the earliest you can wash your body.

However, for darker results, you should leave the spray tan on and wait for much longer. You should also wait at least 6-8 hours before putting on makeup after your tan.

A common MISTAKE people also fall for are bronzers. Many spray tans contain a bronzer in them that instantly gives you tanned skin.

This gives you the ILLUSION that your spray tan has already taken effect. This may be the ideal tan or brown skin for you, but it will EASILY wash off after showering.

How Does Spray Tanning Work?

How Does It Work

To get a spray tan, go to a small booth where you get sprayed with fine mist that contains chemicals that give you a darker skin color.

These still vary depending on the kind of spray tan you’re getting.

The mist contains substances such as a bronzer, aloe vera, and DHA.

  • bronzer is responsible for those INSTANT TAN results you get right after the procedure.
  • On the other hand, aloe vera is a MOISTURIZER and protects the skin from irritation.
  • The KEY TANNING INGREDIENT here though, is the DHA, or dihydroxyacetone.

DHA undergoes a CHEMICAL REACTION with the dead skin cells on the outermost layer of your skin – that dark tan you’ve been wanting. This chemical reaction helps to keep the tan on your skin longer.

The whole spray tanning process takes only around 15 minutes and can even take LESS.

The process is also SIMPLE: Enter the tanning booth almost naked (or naked if you hate tan lines).

Do remember though that any clothes you’re wearing on your tanning session will get stained no matter what you do, so it’s best that you don’t wear new and bright clothes.

The tanning product has a liquid bronzer that washes off when you shower, but it isn’t what gives you a tan as this is caused by the DHA in the tanning and bronzing liquid.

What Should I Do After Getting a Spray Tan?

What Should I Do After

After going to the tanning salon to complete your spray tan session, your spray tan technician will advise you on what to wear, what to expect, what type of products you can use, and even when to take a shower.

It would be such a waste to accidentally smear off your tan considering how much spray tan costs.

1. Don’t Shower for the First Few Hours After Your Spray Tan

Don’t forget to wait for at least a few hours after your tanning session to take a shower. This gives your skin enough time to ABSORB the tanning products for an even shade.

You can also try other tanning products that give you a tan QUICKER.

How long should you wait exactly? Well, it depends on what your salon says. But as a rule of thumb you can use the following:

  • At least 2 HOURS for a light tan
  • At least 4 HOURS for a natural tan
  • At least 6 HOURS for a darker tan

Don’t leave the spray tan for too long though, because STREAKING can occur. Observe results and adjust accordingly. What works for one person, might not work for the other.

EXTRA TIP: It is also helpful to wax BEFORE your spray tan for it to last longer!

2. Wear Loose Clothes for 24 hours

If you wear tight clothes for the first 24 hours after a spray tan, you will most likely DEVELOP STREAKS on your skin as the bronzers will stick to your clothes instead of drying out naturally.

After your spray tan, you should WEAR LARGE CLOTHES that loosely fit you for at least 24 hours.

3. Look Out for Visible Panty Lines

Majority of tanning salons will provide you with UNDERWEAR made out of PAPER. You are meant to wear them after your spray tan for until the end of the day.

They may not look pretty, but tanning salons only want the best result for their clients. Paper panties help in preventing visible panty lines and prevent your underwear from getting stained.

4. Apply Baby Powder

If you’re a BIG sweater, or you’re spray tanning around the summer season(just in time for pool parties!), then sweat can be a SERIOUS concern you should be looking at.

Sweating causes uneven spots and streaks on your spray tan.

To avoid this, you can APPLY BABY POWDER on areas of your body that are sweat-prone like armpits, inner elbows, and the back of your knees.

5. Avoid Deodorants and Perfumes

Different products may cause a chemical reaction with the tanning product, which can cause an UNEVEN spray tan.

Products like certain deodorants and perfumes are some of these, so avoid using them as much as possible while you still have your spray tan on.

If you can’t avoid them, then it’s best to ASK YOUR TANNING SALON or TAN SPECIALIST what kind of deodorant or perfume is okay for use.

6. Shower Gently

For your first shower, it’s important to shower and wash with care so you don’t get PATCHES on your skin. So how do you shower gently?

Well, for starters, you could do the following:

  • Use lukewarm water when washing
  • Don’t take too long in washing
  • Don’t use harsh products like soap or body wash. These often have harsh chemicals that mess up your spray tan.
  • When washing your hair, make sure the products you use don’t touch your skin. They could also cause a chemical reaction.

I Washed My Spray Tan Too Early. How Do I Fix This?

I Washed Too Early

Of course, it’s best if you take precautions and prevent washing off your spray tan too early. However, you might have seen this article TOO LATE and you’re looking for remedies for your tanning mistake.

Don’t worry because here are a few steps you can take to find a SOLUTION for your spray tan!

1. Call Your Local Salon

Yes, this might be embarrassing, but your technician knows BEST. I’m also sure they’ve encountered all sorts of mistakes done by their clients after their session.

Let them know you washed off your spray tan too early and inform them of the following:

  • How long you waited before washing
  • The current color of your skin

In most cases, you may be asked by your technician to WAIT for 24 hours to see if any tan will develop. That will decide whether or not you will still need a touch-up.

2. Use Self-Tanning Products to Cover Up

If you’re too BUSY to come back for a touch-up, then you can use self-tanning products, which you can buy basically everywhere.

They may come in the form of tinted moisturizers or self-tanning lotions. Just make sure the products have DHA so you know they’re effective with your uneven patches of skin.

You can also ask your technician for their recommended self-tanning products for the best tanning effect. And if you have delicate skin, then you can try some of the best self-tanner formulas for sensitive skin.

Just like a spray tan, a self-tanning product needs TIME to react with your skin, so don’t mess up and wash it too early again!

3. Prepare for Your Touch-up

If your technician determines you do have to come in for a touch-up, then you will have to REMOVE the old spray tan.

Spraying over an existing tan that is uneven will most likely lead to your SPOTS and PATCHES to be more noticeable.

To prepare for your next spray tan, take a bath several times to EXFOLIATE and remove your old tan. You can leave baby oil for a few minutes and then scrub using exfoliating soaps and body wash.

Preparation may take a few hours, but it’s definitely worth it!

Final Words

Final Words

The bottom line is…

Now that you know how to get a spray tan properly, you can now go to the beach to flaunt that beautifully tanned body.

Just make sure that you follow all the right aftercare tipsHow long your beautiful spray tan lasts depends on how you care for your skin after the session.

Here are some more useful spray tan tips you need to know!

And don’t forget to wear SUNSCREEN!

FINAL TIP: It is best to shave BEFORE your spray tan. Read more about it in this guide!