Self Tanning Questions

Does Self-Tanning Lotion Wash Off? (Shower and Pool)

Written by: Anastasija

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Amongst the various self-tanning options available, self-tanning lotion is a good option for a more natural-looking or deeply nourishing tan. It’s not talked about as often as mousse, so there are some things which people don’t know about it, so read on to find out if it washes off.

Does self-tanning lotion wash off in the shower after you apply it?

If you’ve ever used a self-tanning foam or mousse, you’ll know that the application process involves actually applying the product itself, with a mitt or something similar, and then waiting for a certain amount of time while the colour develops before stepping in the shower and rinsing it off. For the majority of self-tanning lotions, this is also the case.

So, the entire process for applying a self-tanning lotion starts with you preparing the skin for the tan, which you should definitely find out how to do if you have never done so before. Once the preparation stage is over, you can apply the actual lotion itself. Now, even though this isn’t a mousse or foam, the self-tanning lotion is not immune to streaks or patchiness, so you should probably use an application mitt if possible.

Tanning_Mitt
My tanning mitt

On your product’s packaging (or on the website or product description if you no longer have the original packaging), there should be some instructions for applying the lotion, and somewhere on here, it will say how long you need to wait after applying the product to let it develop, which is normally around 4-8 hours. During this time, you must not come into contact with any water or sweat at all, as this can cause patches or streaks in the product.

Once this time is over, however, you can jump in the shower to rinse your skin. Don’t be alarmed if you see some of the product rinse off with the water the first time you shower, this is just the excess which your skin doesn’t need and therefore hasn’t absorbed. Any showers you take after that shouldn’t cause your tanning lotion to rub off, but certain body washes or similar products might, so you could always look for a tan-safe body wash.

If you are using a gradual tanning lotion, the process is different, and generally just involves an application, like a regular moisturising lotion, of rubbing into your skin and letting it develop. It’s ideal to wait at least 8 hours before taking a shower, but you re-apply the lotion every day, so there’s not much difference if you wash it off. Unlike a regular tanning lotion, you don’t need to shower to rinse off the product for a gradual tanning lotion.

Does it wash off quicker compared to a self-tanning mousse?

It can be difficult to decide between the various methods and products used for self-tanning, as there’s so much out there. The product you use depends mainly on your lifestyle, and what suits it best. One of the biggest factors for choosing your self-tanning method or product is its lasting time, and how quickly it washes off, so does a lotion wash of faster than a mousse or foam?

In terms of general lasting times, a good, regular self-tanning lotion could last up to 2-3 days before beginning to fade and turning potentially patchy, whereas a mousse or foam can be stretched to around 4-5 days, when cared for appropriately. So, to begin with, a mousse already lasts longer than a lotion under the right conditions.

Generally, I find that mousses tend to hold up better in the water than lotions do. This is because washing your skin, or during any activity when your skin is submerged in water, they lose their moisture, and this causes the tan to fade faster than usual. Lotions work purely through their moisturizing properties and losing moisture is more dramatic for a tanning lotion than it is fore a mousse.

Also, tanning lotions are just more prone to fading than mousses are, which is something you should take into account.

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Does self-tanning lotion wash off in the pool?

If you are getting your self-tanner to bronze your body pre-vacation, you may be wondering how it will hold up in the swimming pool. In actual fact, you may be disappointed to hear that time in the swimming pool can make your self-tanning lotion fade quicker than usual.

self tanning and water

There are two elements of a swimming pool that can dry out your skin – the water and the chlorine. When these dry out your skin, they can also make your tan fade faster as dry skin equals less nourished skin and this makes you lose your tan.

It’s okay to spend a little time every day in the swimming pool, but just be aware that the longer you spend, the faster your tan will fade.

What about in saltwater?

A swimming pool isn’t the only option for a lot of summer vacations, as the sea and the beach are very popular places to spend your time, too. Unfortunately, the saltwater in the sea can make your tan fade faster as well.

However, in the sea, the absence of chlorine means that your tan is probably less likely to fade as quickly, but it will still fade, nonetheless. If, however, you are spending time at the beach, taking some time to cool off in the sea and then spending some time in the Sun may balance this all out by topping up your fake tan with some real tan. Just be careful that you don’t get burned.

How do you make self-tanning lotion stay longer on the skin?

As self-tanning lotions are known to last for a shorter period of time than their mousse counterparts, you may be looking for ways to extend the life of your lotion on the skin, and you’ll be happy to hear that there are ways you can do this.

If you are looking for some quick fixes you can do to make your self-tanning lotion last, here are some:

  • Prepare the skin properly: as mentioned earlier, you should follow the appropriate preparation steps before applying your self-tanning lotion to ensure it stays on for the longest time possible. Ensure you take a look at what these steps are and follow them thoroughly.
  • Keep your skin moisturised: even though your tanning product itself is a lotion, it’s not enough moisture to keep your skin nourished for the entire time you are using it. Every day, at least, you’ll need to apply a moisturising body lotion or butter, as well as after every time you shower or get your skin wet.
  • Use tanning drops: there are certain areas on your body which lose their tan the fastest, such as the face and the hands, as they are washed more frequently than the rest of the body. The best fix for this is to find some self-tanning drops which work for you and top up these faded areas with the tanning drops, to save you removing the tan and re-applying it for your entire body when you don’t need them to.
  • Use an SPF: self-tanning products sometimes claim to have sun protection properties built-in, but this is rarely the case and these ingredients which protect your skin are usually canceled out by the other ingredients in the self-tanner, when various chemical reactions occur. Keep your skin protected from the Sun all the time, to prevent any peeling or sun damage.
  • Go swimming as little as possible: as talked about earlier, swimming in both the pool and the sea can make your tan fade faster, so avoid staying in the water for too long if you want to keep your tan for longer.
  • Take showers instead of baths: for the same reason as avoiding swimming when you can, avoiding baths will reduce tan fade, as your entire body won’t be submerged in water for a long time, which would cause tan fade. Taking showers instead is faster and means your skin is in contact with the water for a shorter time.
  • Use specific body lotions and washes: Your body wash or lotion can also be the culprit of your quickly fading self-tan. If you think this is the case, switch some of your body products to ones which are tan-safe, so the ingredients won’t interfere with those in your tanning lotion and the colour will stay deeper for longer.


Does Self-Tanning Lotion Wash Off pin by thirstyfortan

Final thoughts

Self-tanning lotion isn’t really much different to self-tanning mousse, except for how you apply it, and the processes are very similar. If you’re considering using a tanning lotion, there are so many options available out there, and now you know some more information about wearing it and whether it washes off in different settings!

About Anastasija

Welcome to my website! I'm Anastasija, and as a redhead with a sensitivity to the sun, I embarked on a quest to find the perfect sunless tanner six years ago.

After extensive research and four years of personal experience, I'm here to share my wealth of tips and tricks for achieving a beautiful, sun-kissed glow.

Whether you're interested in self-tanners, spray tans, or safe sun exposure, this website covers it all.

Join me as I provide valuable insights and guidance for various methods of getting that desired tan.

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