Whether you’re hoping to save your skin from harmful UV rays, or just looking for a little more glow in your life, a spray tan is always a good idea. I used to be averse to the idea of a spray tan because I’m so pale. I worried I’d end up looking like a Dorito, but I’ve since learned that it’s all about the formula of the spray tan. Another important factor?Maintenance.
The first time I got a spray tan, I avoided even using moisturizer because I wanted it to last as long as possible—I know, such a rookie move. Don’t make the same mistakes as me. I spoke with Courtney Claghorn, founder of Sugared + Bronzed, as well as Joy Romano, owner and product developer behind Brazil Bronze Glow Bar, to explain just how to care for your faux tan to make it last.
What to do before your spray tan appointment:
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that exfoliation is key, but you may not realize that it’s best to exfoliate on the day before your tanning appointment.
“It’s ideal to do this the evening before your appointment rather than just a few hours beforehand,” said Claghorn. “My personal pre-tan prep steps include the S+B Prep Soap and the S+B Body Scrub, which is most effective when used with an exfoliating mitt.”
While products from Sugared + Bronzed are currently only available in their stores, try out another moisturizing, scent-free exfoliating body wash:
Exfoliating the day before also gives the pores on your skin time to fully close. “Exfoliating and moisturizing 24 hours before ensures that dead skin is removed, pores are closed and the skin is hydrated,” said Romano. “This is best to apply the spray tan.”
This is my favorite body exfoliant. It leaves the skin feeling so soft thanks to the coconut oil:
Another helpful skin prep step to take care of the night before is shaving. “Shaving the night before can be helpful, but getting sugared is even better,” said Claghorn. “The luxury of skipping a razor (while still staying smooth) removes yet another tan eraser.”
What to do on the day of your spray tan:
So you’ve shaved, exfoliated and moisturized—that’s enough, right? Well, sort of. There’s one more critical component to making sure your tan will stick and and last.
“Be sure to arrive to your tanning appointment without any oils on your skin so that the water-based spray doesn’t get blocked by an oil barrier,” said Romano. She specifies that this means no perfumes, deodorants or moisturizers.
Make sure you wear dark clothing—I personally always opt for a black t-shirt dress—to the salon on the day you get your tan. The next part is the most difficult: Avoid sweating or getting wet. While each salon will have different instructions about how long to wait until you shower, you shouldn’t be stuck for more than a few hours.
Next, make sure to shower with warm water and to only use soap where it’s absolutely necessary. Make sure that the water runs clear, and to dry off Romano suggests gently blotting off the water with a dry towel.
Don’t forget to moisturize:
Again, I used to avoid moisturizing and I’m going to go ahead and say it’s the reason that the first few spray tans I got were less than great. You should make sure to moisturize your body daily, but it’s important to focus on the specific type of moisturizers you’re using.
“Turn to [ingredients] such as fractionated coconut oil and jojoba oil,” said Claghorn. “Applying these products immediately post-shower, while your skin is still damp, is the ideal way to lock in moisture.”
Not only will non-greasy oils leave your skin feeling buttery smooth, but they will also keep your tan from fading too quickly. They will also keep your tan from fading in patches, which is everyone’s worst nightmare. In addition to the moisturizers, Claghorn recommends USING a moisturizing body wash.
For another moisturizing option, Romano recommends the Brazil Bronze moisturizer called Quench. It’s formulated specifically for spray tans and “it has hyaluronic acid and cacao, which helps the tan fade like a natural tan.”
Add a self-tanner for lasting results
Finally, make sure to supplement with a tan enhancer. Both Romano and Claghorn suggest looking for an extender that has DHA mixed in with a moisturizer.
“Alternate between a moisturizer and tan extender every other day,” said Romano. “A tan extender has a small amount of DHA mixed with a moisturizer that will add color back to your tan keeping it looking fresh.”
Claghorn notes that it’s totally common for your face to fade the fastest. One great tan-enhancing face mist is the Isle of Paradise tanning water, which I’ve used with great results.