Spray Tanning Questions

Why Does Spray Tan Cause Body Odour? (With Tips For The Smell)

Written by: Anastasija

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Going to get a spray tan, or applying one yourself, can make a dramatic difference to how you look and how you feel in such a short space of time. But, have you ever heard of the ‘fake tan smell’? Well, here’s everything you need to know about it and does it cause body odour.

Does spray tan smell?

In short, yes, a spray tan does usually smell a bit funky, due to something which we’ll talk about later. However, not all spray tans will smell as bad as others, and some won’t even smell at all if they contain odour-neutralising ingredients or other fragrances which overcome it. The smell produced also depends on your individual skin, but there’s more on that later.

If you are tanning at home, it can be useful to find some spray tanning solutions which you can buy with confidence knowing that they will either not have a very strong stink or won’t smell at all. Below is a list of some solutions worth trying out if you’re looking for something with a pleasant smell!

  • Norvell Premium Sunless Tanning Solution – Venetian – If you’ve been in the tanning game for a while, you’ll have heard of Norvell, who specialise in spray tanning solutions and this one has the fresh scent of ‘paradise breeze’.
Norvell Premium Sunless Tanning Solution - Venetian, 1 Liter
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Norvell Premium Sunless Tanning Solution - Venetian, 1 Liter
  • SUNLESS TAN SOLUTION – Indulge yourself in bold, beautiful color with Norvell Venetian Tanning Solution. It gives a deep, rich color with a unique combination of cool violet and brown tone bronzers. Dispense the tanning solution in a spray tan gun to use.
  • BOLD, BEAUTIFUL COLOR – The tanning spray solution formula blends with all skin tones to produce a bold, radiant tan. Our sunless tanning spray solution features Vio7 technology, a unique blend of pigments that counters orange undertone for natural glow.

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  • Bondi Sands Liquid Gold Professional Spray Tan Solution – perhaps one of the best things about using Bondi Sands tanning products is the pleasant smell, being enriched with tropical coconut scents. Not to mention, these tanning solutions never leave you orange, just a flattering golden glow!

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  • SJOLIE Spray Tan Solution No.9 Medium Blend – this luxury tanning brand’s solution comes in an array of shades and they all provide a natural, smell-free experience!
SJOLIE Spray Tan Solution - No. 9 - Medium Hydrating Tanning Spray | Sunless Tanner for Long Lasting, All Natural Glow (32oz)
377 Reviews
SJOLIE Spray Tan Solution - No. 9 - Medium Hydrating Tanning Spray | Sunless Tanner for Long Lasting, All Natural Glow (32oz)
  • QUICK TAN HANDHELD SOLUTION: Each formulation within our SJOLIE collection is meticulously crafted for effortless application. It sprays on evenly with minimal overspray, giving you a loving tan of golden color all year round.
  • SKINCARE MEETS SELF TANNING SOLUTION: We've harnessed the skincare benefits of Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera deeply moisturizes the skin, while the DHA actively develops your new self tan. Aloe vera also extends your tan’s life by up to three days! While it might feel slightly thicker on the skin during tan development, the results are well worth it, as you'll enjoy a radiant glow for days!

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Why does spray tan cause body odour?

So, we’ve mentioned that spray tan does, in fact, have a smell, but what exactly causes it? If you’re worried about whether it’s something that you’re doing wrong, don’t – the spray tan smell is completely normal and you don’t need to worry about it, unless it bothers you, of course.

If you aren’t already aware, both spray tanners and self-tanners include an ingredient called dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is responsible for the colour you go and its lasting powers. DHA isn’t like any ordinary pigment, as its job is to bind with the upper layer of skin cells and then react with them, which is what releases the colour. This is why spray tans have that time after the application for the tan to develop before you can shower.

Because the DHA is actually bound to the skin cells and has essentially caused a chemical reaction between the two, it lasts longer than, say, a foundation or a concealer, which is just applied to the top of the skin in a pre-pigmented colour. Although a chemical reaction sounds harsh and scary for your skin, don’t worry, as this isn’t damaging at all – the top layer of skin cells is already dead which is why the DHA binds to them so easily. This is also why you can remove a spray tan or self-tanner using an exfoliant, which takes of this top layer of dead skin cells.

Now you know a bit about the role of dihydroxyacetone, but what does it have to do with that funky smell?

Well, when the DHA reacts with your skin, that chemical reaction, like a lot of other chemical reactions, produces a smell, and this is where it comes in. When you smell a bottle of spray tan on its own, you probably won’t smell anything unusual, or at least not the same smell as you do afterwards, because it’s the reaction that releases it.

Everyone’s skin is slightly different, so the chemical reaction will also vary slightly from person to person, meaning what smells horrible on one person’s skin may not smell as bad on yours. Nevertheless, it’s easy to get a general idea of how smelly the product will be for you based on others’ experiences.

How long does the spray tan smell last?

So, you’ve got your spray tan, and feeling great, but you can smell that odour, lingering around you ever so slightly, and it probably is bothering you. I mean, that’s probably why you’re here in the first place!

Usually, the smell should only stick around for the period of time when the spray tan is developing, as the chemical reaction is still taking place, while the DHA is working into your skin and your skin is reacting with as much of it as possible. The longer you leave the colour to develop during this time, the longer it will most likely last, and it may also be a deeper colour.

Remember that, as tempting as it may be, you can’t use a shower gel during your first shower, and it is advised that you wait for around 24-48 hours after application before using a shower gel in the shower (but you can still shower using just water during this time). Because of this, you may find that the smell still lingers until you have used a shower gel to get rid of it completely, but this should only be 24-48 hours.

In other words, the smell should go when you wash off the tan during the initial shower and, if this isn’t the case, it should be completely gone after you have washed with a shower gel for the first time, after 24-48 hours.

How can you get rid of the spray tan smell?

As mentioned earlier, the spray tan smell should only last up to 24-48 hours maximum (depending on when you decide to first use a shower gel) but could even go after the first rinse, only 4-8 hours after application. However, this isn’t always the case and sometimes, especially if a cheaper tanning solution is being used, the smell seems to just linger anyway. If this is the case for you, there are ways you can get rid of the spray tan smell (hurrah!).

  • Find the right tanning solution for you: above, we mentioned some of the best tanning solutions if you’re looking to avoid a horrible stench, so definitely check those out for somewhere to start you smell-free tanning journey. Otherwise, you can ask around at different salons, or look at their reviews, to see whether the product they use smells good or not. Preventing the problem (the smell) is always an easier and more effective solution than curing it.
  • Use a strong-smelling shower gel: obviously, this one can’t be used until you get onto the ‘shower gel using’ stage, but, if you find that the smell still hasn’t gone, consider finding a scented shower gel which is strong a potent, so it will layer over the top of the stench and maybe even get rid of it. Keep in mind that it will have to be a scent which is stronger than the spray tan itself, but not also so harsh that it takes of your tan.
  • Balance it out with fragrance: the most obvious option here is to use a perfume or body spray to conceal the smell, but if you’ve tried that before, you’ll probably know that not all fragrances have the power to get rid of the smell. This option works best if you only have a minimal smell but find notes and scents which counteract those of the spray tan, so they eventually override and balance it out.
  • Use a scented body lotion: this one is something a lot of people probably haven’t thought about, but the smell is coming from your skin, correct? So, starting at the root of the problem by using a body lotion or similar which has a strong scent can be more effective as it covers up the smell entirely.

Final thoughts

Spray tanning solution does have a bit of an unfortunate smell, but there are many products out there which are targeting this and finding ways to neutralize or even overcome it completely using different fragrances. Luckily, there are also ways you can minimalize spray tan odour at home, and now you know all about this, you can be confident next time you get a spray tan!

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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