The idea of a spray-on bronze complexion may be daunting, but don’t worry, our spray tanning tips will help you get through it like a pro! Here’s everything you need to know to walk into your first time spray tan session confident and ready. What do you need to do before the session? What can you expect upon entering the salon? What can you do to ensure that the tan stays on for as long as possible? Keep reading to find out.
Spray Tanning Tips | Pre, During, and After
1. Pre-Session Care
- Exfoliate. Never underestimate the value of this advice. Spray tanning colors the topmost layer of the skin, the same layer that sloughs off after a week or so. Exfoliation allows the color to be applied to the new skin, allowing it to stay on longer. It also evens out the skin (especially in the knee and elbow area), preventing a streaky and patchy turnout.
- Prime your skin. Spray tan primers are designed to help even out the color application. It’s not advised to apply moisturizers before the session, so some primers are designed to moisturize without blocking off color. Primers also help the color stay on longer.
- Shave and wax. Stray hairs, especially on the legs, may result in a polka-dot effect: color accumulating around each follicle. It doesn’t look pretty, so don’t forget to shave or get waxed at least 5 hours before the appointment. Getting rid of hair post-appointment is a no-no, as it would remove the color from your skin.
- Be careful with the products! Avoid using deodorants, moisturizers, perfumes, oil-based products, and soap bars before the session. The ingredients in these products might coat the skin and affect absorption.
2. Choose Your Color Wisely
- Research. Orange tans are the product of unwise color decisions. It’s important to decide based on your natural skin color, and only a trained tanning technician can do this right the first time.
- Start with mild. It’s hard to achieve a perfect dark look from the get-go, it’s a matter of finding the hue that works well with your complexion. Find that shade, and go darker the next session.
- Choose quality. Some shops try to save a few bucks by using cheaper products. The sad part is you never know if a shop will do a good job until it’s done. The key to finding a good tanning salon? The technicians. If the technicians take time to thoroughly discuss the process and describe a realistic outcome (e.g., a bit lighter today, but darker on the next session), you know they’re invested in the results and not just the profit. If a trusted friend has a recommendation, you could go off that, too.
3. Lotion and Shower Caps
- Lotion up! Every spray tanning salon offers a barrier cream. Apply it liberally to your hands (in between the fingers), and the soles of your feet. Apply it on your elbows, knees, and ankles, as well.
- Put your hair up. Use the shower cap provided by the tanning salon to prevent stray hairs from leaving a mark on your forehead and face.
- Naked or no? It depends on you, actually. Some salons offer disposable underwear, but you can wear a dark-colored bikini or bathing suit if you want a nice tan line.
4. Post-Session Care
- Clothing matters. Work around your spray tanning appointment. Bring an extra set of comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that you could wear on your way home.
- Things to avoid. Avoid wearing stockings, leggings, boots, socks, shoes, bras and other tight articles of clothing that could strip the color off.
- When you get home. Put on Netflix, and get ready to chill out. Wait at least 8 – 12 hours for the tan to develop, and then shower. Avoid perspiration and water. If you need to clean your hands, use wet wipes instead of washing with soap and water. Use a tan-friendly moisturizer after showering.
5. Prolong Your Tan!
- Products matter. Invest in tan-friendly cosmetics, shower gels, and skin care products. Perfumes and bug sprays are generally not tan-friendly, so instead of spraying them directly on your skin, spray them on to the air, and walk through the mist.
- Protect your skin. One of the most important spray tanning tips is this: love your skin, use SPF! Don’t forget that a spray tan does not actually contain melanin, and won’t protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Healthy skin = beautiful, long-lasting tan!
- Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize. Need we say more? Don’t forget to use tan-friendly moisturizers!
- Pat-dry. After showering, don’t rub the towel on your skin. “The tugging of a towel can cause irritation, plus years of tugging at your skin can make it lose elasticity,” according to Stylecaster. Pat drying will also help prolong your tan!
6. Tanning for a Special Occasion
- Give it time. Special occasions such as weddings, proms, and debuts require ample prep time. Perfection is the key. Don’t get your first-ever tan a few days before the big day. Try it out a few weeks, even 2 months before the event. Think of them as practice sessions to ensure you’re working with a trusted salon to get the shade you absolutely love, and to get the pre-tanning rituals to a T.
- Let it sink in. Jessica Bringas of Oasis Day Spa New York tells PopSugar: “I would definitely suggest doing it two days before your wedding so you will have already washed off the first layer of the tan, it will have settled into your skin, and you can add your own moisturizer.” This also works for other occasions.
- Work with the attire. Again, it’s important to allot ample prep time. Find a color that works not only with your skin but also with your chosen attire.
7. Other Reminders
- Don’t panic! The first shower after your session will look like the color itself is washing off. Don’t worry, the tan is still developing. It’s also normal for the tan on your face to fade first, just use a bronzer.
- Ask questions. It’s important to ask your tan specialist everything. No question is too silly. Discuss everything with your tan technician prior to the appointment.
Know the must do’s and don’ts of spray tanning on this video:
If you want to get a little color on your skin but have no time to go to the beach, spray tanning is the way to go. Do it like a pro, and expect amazing results!
How did your first spray tanning session go? Share your experiences in the comments section below.