Spray Tanning Questions

How to Prepare for A Spray Tan? (Step-by-Step)

Written by: Anastasija

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Spray tans are an exciting treatment to enhance your natural beauty and give you a flattering summer glow, but they’re not always as easy as they may seem. In fact, spray tans take quite a bit of consideration and preparation, so here’s everything you need to know about preparing for and maintaining your spray tan.

How to Prepare Skin for a Spray Tan

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If you’ve ever seen a spray tan before, you’ll notice that the skin always looks smooth, flawless, and airbrushed when performed properly, and this is the result you want. However, achieving this finish isn’t always simple, and there are a few tips you’ll have to keep in mind before you go to have your spray tan.

ExfoliateGently exfoliate the skin to remove dead cells and smooth the surface
Shave or WaxRemove unwanted hair at least 24 hours before the spray tan
Avoid MoisturizersAvoid applying moisturizers, oils, or lotions before the session
Remove MakeupRemove all makeup before the spray tan application
Wear Loose ClothingChoose loose, dark-colored clothing to wear after the spray tan
Table 1: Preparations Before Spray Tan

As you discover these tips, you’ll notice that a few of them must be done around a day before the application, so it’s important that you leave yourself plenty of time for this to take place. And remember, it’s never worth skimping on preparational measures, as they’ll pay off when you get your tan!

Shaving and hair removal

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For many of us, hair removal can feel like a necessity and, if this is the case for you, you probably won’t want to skip it for your spray tan. Luckily, it is possible to shave, wax or undergo any sort of hair removal before your spray tanning appointment.

If you’re waxing your face or body hair, this should take place at least one or two days before the appointment. Doing so will leave some time for the skin to recover before the spray tan is applied.

If you don’t leave enough time after waxing before you get your spray tan, the pores on the freshly waxed skin will be open, and the bronzer from your spray tan will settle in them, leaving lots of small brown spots across your skin.

For shaving, it’s recommended that you do so around 24 hours before your spray tanning appointment, as this will allow plenty of time for the pores to close naturally. However, if you are tight for time, the shortest amount of time you can shave before a spray tan is four hours, and you’ll have to finish this by taking a cold shower to close all your pores afterwards.

Also read: When to Shave Before a Spray Tan? (Before or After?)


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Many people underestimate the powers of a good exfoliation before they have a spray tan, but it’s something that you definitely shouldn’t skip. There are lots of benefits that come with exfoliating before your appointment, so you should make sure you’re doing it right, too.

There are two types of exfoliation of the skin: chemical and physical. When you’re removing large areas of dry skin and smoothing out the texture ready for a spray tan, physical exfoliation tends to be the chosen method. That means an exfoliating body scrub, loofah or similar product is what you should be looking for.

When you come to exfoliating your body in preparation for your spray tan, it’s important that you’re thorough to ensure all areas have been treated. If you’re using a scrub, take some into the palms of your hand and gently massage it into your skin. If you’re using an exfoliating mitt or loofah, apply some soap to your skin and scrub over this.

All of this should take place around 24 hours before the appointment. This leaves enough time for your skin to heal and pores to close, but also ensures that no more dead skin cells will develop before the spray tan.

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Also read: What is the Best Body Exfoliator for Spray Tan? (Explained)


We all love to have soft, hydrated skin, but where do we stand with moisturisers and spray tans? Of course, you’ll want to skin to be as smooth and soft as possible, but it’s clear to see that we have to make a few adjustments in the days leading up to the appointment. The same goes for moisturisation.

Within the few days before your appointment, you’ll need to be moisturising your skin consistently in order to build up a smooth texture. When your skin has been moisturised plenty, it’s much more likely to hold the tan, as there is a much lower risk of the skin flaking and peeling, which removes the tan.

However, you shouldn’t be moisturising your skin immediately before the appointment, as this can interfere with the spray tan sticking to your skin, and the bronzers may not penetrate the cells as they should.

There are certain ingredients in a spray tan formula, such as something called DHA, which are designed to bind with the skin cells, and react with them to result in a colour that stays for a longer time. However, if there is any moisturising product on your skin prior to your spray, these ingredients won’t be able to make it to the skin, so they won’t stick.

Of course, you don’t want to forfeit your spray tan due to the fact that you were wearing moisturiser beforehand, so just avoid applying any immediately before the appointment.

Also read: Best Lotions To Use After A Spray Tan (Recommended Products)

Lash extensions, pedicures, and other treatments

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If you’re a fan of these sort of treatments, such as lash extensions and nail treatments, it’s generally best to let these take place before your spray tan. For your specific treatment, it’s worth checking with your salonists, but this is something you should definitely consider pre tanning, as some of these procedures can remove your spray tan if they’re done afterwards.

Remove all makeup and other products

Makeup is another part of our routines that many people feel like they can’t live without, but you will have to make a small compromise when it comes to your tan. Wearing makeup during the application process is a no-no, as it’ll get really messy, and the makeup can also cause a barrier between your skin and the bronzing products.

Most salons will allow you to remove your makeup there and provide facilities to do so.

Speaking of barriers, barrier creams are another step in the preparation process that can come in very handy. If you are visiting a salon, they’ll walk you through the process of protecting areas that can’t be tanned. But, if you’re doing so from home, it’s good to know how you can create barriers for the spray tan.

Usually, a barrier cream, which is somewhat like a moisturising lotion, will be applied to areas such as the hairline, and a moisturiser can be applied to drier areas, such as the hands and the elbows, as these areas tend to absorb more tanning product otherwise.

You may also be given a hair cap to put on which will protect your hair from the tan and prevent it causing any patches around your hair area.

Also read: How Do You Remove Makeup After A Spray Tan? (Guide)

Skin Aftercare

Now that you’re completely prepared for your tan, what do you do once it has been applied? It’s great to know how to get your skin ready for a spray tan, but all of that preparation will only be wasted if you don’t know how to properly maintain and take care of it.

Avoid water or sweating for the recommended development time
Moisturize the skin regularly to maintain the tan and prevent dryness
Pat dry the skin after showering, avoid rubbing or excessive scrubbing
Avoid exfoliation or using harsh soaps that can fade the tan
Extend the tan with gradual tanning lotions or tan extenders
Table 2: Post-Spray Tan Care Instructions

There aftercare for your spray tan isn’t too demanding, and you don’t need to spend too much time focused on it. However, just like spray tan preparation, there are some products swaps, routine adjustments, and general tricks you should keep in mind to make your tan last longer. Because, let’s be honest, spray tans aren’t cheap, and you want to get your money’s worth.

Washing your face and body

Washing your face and body is something you do every day, and so it’s important that you know exactly how to do it when you’ve got a spray tan, as you’ll want to do everything you can to prolong the colour.

As soon as your spray tan is finished, the technician will let you know about some of the aftercare tips, but this is something you may not remember, and you won’t be told if you’re spray tanning yourself at home. However, it’s important that you wait at least six hours after the spray tan before you come into contact with any water.

This means you’ll have to wait at least six hours after your tanning application before you can take a shower or wash your face. Doing so before the time is up can interfere with your tan and leave patches or streaks where the tan hasn’t had enough time to absorb.

The colour of your tan relies on the ingredients in the solution reacting with your skin and penetrating the cells, so they stick around for up to a week. However, if you don’t leave enough time for the ingredients to do their job, your tan won’t last very long, and you probably won’t get the same colour you were going for.

When it comes to showering after your spray tan, it’s generally recommended that you use a tan-safe body wash or find one that’s gentle and won’t strip your kin of its tan. There are plenty of options out there, and one of the main ingredients you should avoid is sulphates, as these ingredients are overly stripping and will cause a fast fade of your bronze.

With washing your face, you can generally use your normal face wash, as long as it’s sulphate-free, but you should avoid using anything exfoliating. Face cleansers with exfoliating properties will speed up cell turnover in the skin and this will make your spray tan fade faster than it should.


So, you’ve taken your first shower, and now you’re wondering what else you should know. Most of us will use a body moisturiser on a daily basis, and this is particularly important when you’ve gotten a spray tan.

When your skin becomes too dry, it starts to flake and crack, both of which can contribute to your tan fading and becoming patchy faster than it should. The best way to prevent a loss of tan from these circumstances is to keep up your moisture levels and prevent water loos from inside the skin.

You can usually use any moisturiser on your spray tanned skin, as long as it’s gentle and doesn’t cause a reaction. However, you can also purchase moisturiser made specifically for maintaining a spray tan, which will work to prolong the colour and enhance the shade.


Finally, you can start to remove your spray tan after around 7-10 days. While a spray tan will eventually fade on its own, it’s generally best to remove it yourself, and speed the process up, as this prevents any patchiness.

The best way to remove a spray tan is through exfoliation, and it’s best to avoid any exfoliation when you have your spray tan on, until you’re prepared to remove it. When you exfoliate, any dead skin cells on the surface of your body are removed and, after around 7-10, these dead skin cells are the ones which have been saturated in tanning solution.

So, when you exfoliate your body, you can gently remove the colour and your skin is ready for its next round of spray tan!

Final thoughts

As you can see, spray tans do require lots of preparation and maintenance if you want the best results but keeping up with it isn’t as difficult as it may seem. While it can appear like a lot of information when written down like this, the actual process doesn’t invade into your life too much, and you won’t be giving away all your free time to your tan. Plus, all the work is completely worth it once you get to see the results!

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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