Spray Tan Guide: How long spray tans last, how to prep your skin, and how to get rid of spray tan stains (2023)

I remember when spray tans made their big debut in my high school. It was shortly after everyone acknowledged just how dangerous tanning beds really are. The spray-tan concept seemed totally foreign, and the fear of leaving the salon completely orange and splotchy before prom night was real. I remember seeing the mishaps, too.

Since 2005, spray tans have gotten much, much better, but it's still a category that is filled with a lot of confusion. For example, if you don't prep your skin for a spray tan the right way, even the best spray tan won't last very long.

From prep to aftercare, I talked to two beauty professionals to get the rundown on everything you need to know about spray tans.

What's In a Spray Tan Formula?

If the sun's rays aren't doing any of the work, what is making your skin appear tanner? The main ingredient in spray-tan formulas is DHA, according to Jules Von Hep, a celebrity spray tanner and co-founder of self-tanning brand Isle of Paradise. "This reacts with your amino acids to give the illusion of a tan. DHA is like milk. It can come in many different formats — think whole, skim, 1%, organic. From my experience, organic DHA gives the best results."

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Should You Moisturize Before a Spray Tan?

Be careful with body lotion before your spray tan. "You want to avoid heavy body lotions on the day of your spray tan, as this can interfere with the tan development," says Sophie Evans, the St. Tropez skin-finishing expert. However, you should make sure that commonly dry areas, like your elbows, knees, hands, wrists, feet, and back of the heels, are well moisturized. Evans explains that this will prevent an uneven spray tan.

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Should You Remove Body Hair Before Getting a Spray Tan?

If you want to remove your body hair, you should do it prior to your appointment. If you wax, this should be done a full 24 hours prior, explains Evans. "This will ensure the hair follicles have settled and that you'll get a perfect finish," she says. You should also exfoliate a few days before your spray tan.

What happens if you forgot to shave? You can shave right before, but Von Hep says to avoid using a shaving oil, as it can form a film on the skin and the tan won't penetrate properly. Shave and then splash the skin with cold water to calm the skin.

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Can You Wear Makeup or Deodorant?

Before your spray tan, you should cleanse your skin of any makeup, fragrance, or product. This will help your spray tan apply in an even, flawless finish.

What Should You Wear to Get a Spray Tan?

Sometimes product transfer occurs right after your spray tan is applied. To avoid this, wear dark clothes. Be sure they are loose to prevent straps or tight clothes from causing indentations or streaks in the tan.

How Long Do Spray Tans Last?

Expect your tan to last five to ten days, but its lifespan is dependent on a few factors. "The longevity of the tan varies due to someone's lifestyle, beauty/skincare routine, and the pre-and post-tan care," says Alexandra DiMarchi, global tanning expert for Tan-Luxe. "The shade you chose also determines this. For example: if someone wants a light skin finish, it may fade off quicker due to a lighter application" (More information on aftercare later.)

Hormones can also come into play. Von Hep says he's noticed that some of his clients' skin doesn't take to the tan as well if they're getting it done the week before they're due to start their period or on their period.

How Long After Your Spray Tan Do You Have to Wait to Shower?

How quickly you can shower after depends on what type of spray tan you have received. However, according to Von Hep, the general rule is to wait four to six hours before getting in the shower. You should also avoid sweating, getting wet, or applying body products. Another key is staying hydrated — that means drinking water and regularly moisturizing. "Happy, hydrated skin won't shed and will hold onto the color for longer," says Von Hep. "If you're on a long-haul flight, try to not drink alcohol as this encourages the tan to fade due to the dehydration on the skin. Avoid hot showers and baths with oils as well as chlorinated water if you can."

How Can You Maintain Your Spray Tan At Home?

"I maintain a glow by applying self-tan to my entire body, followed by two consecutive days of rich moisturizer. Then, I apply a hit of Isle of Paradise Happy Tan to my body to lift the color back up. Two days after, I begin the scrub process, lightly exfoliating the top coat of tan off, and then apply my next coat of self-tan," says Von Hep.

Von Hep notes that your tan will fade on your face faster than the rest of your body because of the skincare products you use. He recommends adding Isle of Paradise's Self Tan Drops to your moisturizer or serum to help revive your sun-kissed glow.

When you reach day five of your spray tan, DiMarchi suggests switching your body lotion for a gradual self-tanning lotion. She likes Tan-Luxe's The Gradual Tan. "[This is] amazing to touch up with especially during the warmer months because it's a lightweight formula that absorbs into your skin," she says. "This product will be your best friend if you live in an area with lots of humidity."

How Do You Avoid or Fix Streaks?

To avoid streaks, especially when self-tanning at home, Evans says you need to apply generously. Streaks and patches are typically caused by not using enough product and over-rubbing the skin. She recommends using enough so the lotion or oil glides easily over your skin.

"If you need to fix a mistake fast, like dark marks or streaks, the quickest way is to apply baby oil to the darker area and leave for 10 minutes. This allows the exfoliation to be more effective," says Evans. "Scrub the skin with an exfoliator, then use a hot, damp washcloth to buff the skin." She also says you can try hair removal cream. Apply it with a Q-tip on the darker area and leave it on for only half of the recommended time.

How Do You Remove a Spray Tan?

For the most part, the best option is really letting it fade. If you want to expedite the process, Evans recommends using an astringent toning product or micellar water to remove the self-tan from the face. "For sensitive skin, cleanse first, lightly exfoliate with a facial scrub, then apply astringent with a cotton ball and sweep over dark areas of self-tan. Finish with your favorite moisturizer to hydrate."

How Do You Get Spray Tan Off of Your Hands?

The key to making sure your hands don't get over-tanned? Moisturize before getting a spray tan. "Remember, immediately after you have your tan applied you need to wipe your palms and in-between your fingers using a cloth soaked in micellar water. Buff your knuckles on a dry towel to remove excess tanning solution," says Von Hep.

For a quick fix, there's a pre-made tan eraser. Isle of Paradise's Tan Eraser and Tan-Luxe Glyco Water are two effective options. DiMarchi says to take a warm shower and exfoliate your hands afterward for the best results.

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How Can You Get Rid of Spray Tan Stains?

Products with guide colors are prone to leaving stains on clothes, bedding, and your couch. That's why DiMarchi recommends using a tanner that's made without colors or bronzers. "DHA in its pure form is clear and develops when it hits your skin. This is the only way to ensure no mess," she says.

If you do end up with orange streaks on your sheets, a stain remover may be able to get them out, but there's no guarantee. To avoid stains on your clothing, follow the aforementioned guidelines on what to wear to your spray tan appointment.

How Much Does a Spray Tan Cost?

The price of a spray tan will vary based on where you live, the salon, and whether the tanning expert is coming to your house to do it. That being said, $50 to $75 is the typical going rate for a temporary head-to-toe sun-kissed glow.


Spray Tan Guide: How long spray tans last, how to prep your skin, and how to get rid of spray tan stains? ›

Avoid shaving, waxing, or use of depilatory creams for at least 24 hours prior to your session. Skip the lotion and makeup. While moisturizing your skin in the days following your tanning session can make it last longer, applying moisturizers and lotions can interfere with the bronzing spray absorbing into your skin.

What is the best way to prep your skin for a spray tan? ›

Avoid shaving, waxing, or use of depilatory creams for at least 24 hours prior to your session. Skip the lotion and makeup. While moisturizing your skin in the days following your tanning session can make it last longer, applying moisturizers and lotions can interfere with the bronzing spray absorbing into your skin.

How do you remove spray tan from skin? ›

Mix lemon juice with a little baking soda or baby oil. Saturate the skin with the mixture, then let it sit for about five minutes before removing with a cleansing wipe—this will erase the tan entirely,” she says. Her other favorite method: “A hair removal cream like Veet.

What are the do's and don'ts after a spray tan? ›

DON'T sweat heavily, shower, bathe or swim for at least 4 hours afterward. Note that chlorine will break down a spray tan quickly and so we suggest avoiding it entirely, if possible. DON'T use pore strips or bandages that will take off your tan. DON'T use an exfoliant until you're preparing to spray again.

How do you prepare spray before a spray tan? ›

Spray tan prep
  1. If you have time, start exfoliating every 2-3 days & moisturizing daily before to ensure skin is super hydrated.
  2. Exfoliate with St.Tropez Tan Enhancing Body Polish or Tan Remover Mitt the day before for a fresh base.
  3. Make sure that any hair removal is done 24 hours before your spray tan.
Jan 31, 2022

What is the best Moisturiser to use before a spray tan? ›

Good choices would be Shea Moisture, CeraVe, or Hempz, and some people prefer pure Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Sweet Almond Oil, or Cocoa Butter. Some spray tanning establishments advise against Aveeno, but I have people who swear by it and have used it for years.

What not to put on skin after spray tan? ›

Products to Avoid After your Airbrush Spray Tan
  • Products containing mineral oil, petroleum or parabins.
  • Aerosol sunscreens.
  • AHA products (Alpha Hydroxy Acids: Glycolic, Lactic, Malic, Citric, and Tartaric acids)
  • Anti-acne products that exfoliate or dry the skin, such as Accutane and Salicylic acid.

Does moisturizer remove spray tan? ›

Moisturized skin will absorb the spray tan solution better and help you maintain your glow, but some lotions will actually strip your spray tan and cause more harm than good.

Will moisturizer take off spray tan? ›

Moisturize Every Day After Spray Tanning

After your first shower, start moisturizing daily to maintain your tan. Just be sure to stay away from oil-based moisturizers, as they can strip away your tan and leave you looking blotchy.

Does vinegar remove spray tan? ›

Vinegar or lemon juice is great and easy way on how to remove spray tan. However, because it is the gentlest way it only works on lighter stains. The acid in vinegar or lemons will gently remove some of the colour, but there will be no change in the hard stains.

What will ruin a spray tan? ›

Makeup remover, cleaning preparation or oils can fade a tan (avoid mineral oils). Rough wash implement for daily washing (loofah, scrub mitts or scrub gloves, etc.) Insect repellent. Anti-acne products can cause faster fading, peeling, and blotchiness.

What do I wear to bed after a spray tan? ›

If you sleep with your airbrush tan still developing: it is crucial to sleep in a long sleeve shirt and long pants that are loose fitting clothing after your tan. If you do not do this, you run the risk of too much smudging or having the tan absorb into your hands or other parts of your body incorrectly.

What should you not do the night before a spray tan? ›

That's why we turned to the spray tan pros to find out what you should resist doing in the days and hours leading up to your appointment.
  • Don't use self-tanner. ...
  • Don't take a hot shower. ...
  • Don't wax or shave. ...
  • Don't get a facial. ...
  • Don't wear tight clothing. ...
  • Don't get a laser treatment.
Dec 10, 2018

Do you spray tan your face? ›

Spray-tanning the face may not be for everyone, but it's a simple way to keep the bronze glow going all year long. And with these quick tips for how to tan your face, like choosing a self-tanner, prepping your skin, applying the product, and post-care, you're sure to feel confident every time you walk out the door.

Is it better to get a spray tan the day before? ›

Since spray tans usually last between seven to nine days, it's actually best to get a spray tan 2-3 days before your big event. This allows time for your tan to fully develop and gives you time to have one rinse-off in between the tan application and the event.

How do you shower after your first spray tan? ›

When showering after a spray tan, you should only use warm water, oil-free body wash, and ideally, you'd make it quick. Another tip when showering after your spray tan is to not scrub your body too harshly.

What happens if you don't moisturize before a spray tan? ›

The reason we would recommend moisturization is because dry or dehydrated skin, or unhealthy skin, will fade a sunless tan faster, and more unevenly, then moist skin. Skin with an intact protective barrier layer, that holds moisture, will also hold a tan better.

What is the best body wash to use after spray tan? ›

When it comes to taking care of your skin after tanning in a spray, an excellent choice is Aveeno's moisturizing body wash. This body washes not only cleans but also hydrates and nourishes the skin. In addition, it is especially suitable for people with dry, sensitive, or eczema-prone skin.

How do you wash your face after a spray tan? ›

You can wash your face as normal after a spray tan. It's always good to note that seeing as you wash and touch your face more frequently the tan will always fade faster on your face. To maintain the tan on your face you can use tanning drops, tanning mousse, or gradual tanning lotions/sprays.

Is Dove soap bad for spray tans? ›

Dove: Dove soap and lotion can cause streaking and fading, but it'll most likely turn you orange! Dove changes the pH level of your skin throws off the whole spray tanning process!

What not to do in the shower after a spray tan? ›

Think of it as more of a rinse-off than your normal shower. You don't want to wash your hair, shave, or scrub your body. Using soap will stop the tan from developing, and you won't get the best results. You can use your hands to rub your body down, but don't use a buffer, loofa, or washcloth.

What is the best face cream after a spray tan? ›

Shop The Best Lotions To Use After A Spray Tan
  • Best Body Butter: The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter.
  • Best Face Lotion: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer.
  • Best Prestige Body Lotion: Drunk Elephant Sili Body Lotion.
  • Best French Pharmacy Body Lotion: Embryolisse Lait Crème Fluid Daily Face And Body Lotion.
Jun 26, 2022

Will my spray tan look better after I shower? ›

Once you have showered, you will notice the bronzer washing away, leaving you looking tanned and glowing underneath. From this point on hydration is the key! Please note: the tan will continue to develop even after the shower, so do not be alarmed if you're not as tanned as you expect to be.

Can I moisturize my face the day of a spray tan? ›

DAY OF YOUR APPOINTMENT: Do not apply any lotions, oils, deodorant, perfumes, or makeup. All of these can create a barrier on your skin that the tan may not adhere to. If you have the time, take a cool water shower with soap immediately before you come to make sure all products are washed off of your skin.

Why is my spray tan coming off my face? ›

Hands and face fading much faster than rest of the spray tan. The reason for this one is pretty simple: you wash your hands and face more than any other part of your body. Double that with the fact that your hands and your face are the most exposed parts of your body and you've got a recipe for a faster-fading tan.

Can I use Bath and Body Works lotion after a spray tan? ›

Please AVOID using DOVE, Bath & Body Works or Victoria Secret products as they tend to leave a film on the skin and can interfere with your spray tan results.

Does hydrogen peroxide remove spray tan? ›

Use hydrogen peroxide to remove fake tan that has accumulated on the hands, heels, or underarms. This harsh chemical should not be used entirely over the body, but just on over-browned or patchy areas of the body.

What soap removes spray tan? ›

Our Pro Secret: Use Dove Soap

We don't know how the magicians at Dove did it, but their bar soaps and body washes are a dream at removing a spray tan you're ready to be done with. Grab a bar of Dove soap or a Dove body wash and lather up. You'll be rinsing your tan away in no time.

How do you get rid of black pores after spray tan? ›

Apply something cold to the skin

As the warm water and exfoliation process has opened up your pores, cold water can actually help close them. When you're finished showering, switch your water from hot to cold and have a quick cold shower to help close them up!

What ingredients to avoid in lotion after a spray tan? ›

You must avoid the following ingredients when using a moisturizer: Mineral Oil, Petroleum, Paraffins, Paraffinum Liquidum, Ceresine. Curel lotions will fade a tan faster, on some people. Avoid lotions with a high alcohol content such as CeraVe.

How soon after a spray tan can I go to bed? ›

Traditional spray tans will need about eight to twelve hours to develop (it's best to sleep in these and then shower in the morning), while certain express solutions will allow you to shower after one to three hours.

How long do you have to wear baggy clothes after a spray tan? ›

One of our key tips for your spray tan preparation was to wear loose fitting clothing to the salon, and we recommend staying in this outfit for the remainder of the day.

Should you moisturize after first shower after spray tan? ›

Because it takes up to 8 hours for your tan to be fully developed, regardless on when you wash the bronzer off, we suggest after your spray tan you don't moisturise until you reach the 8 hour mark. This ensures your tan to brown up nicely without any barrier inhibiting it working to its fullest potential.

How long does a spray tan last if you shower everyday? ›

A spray tan on lighter skin tones might last for about 5 days, medium shades can last between 7-8 days, and darker shades can last up to 10 days. To be safe, we say that your spray tan will last anywhere between 5-7 days, depending on your spray tan care routine.

Can I shave the day of a spray tan? ›

In conclusion, shaving on the same day as a spray tan is not recommended, as it can cause patchiness, irritation, and redness. It is best to wait at least 24 hours after getting a spray tan to shave, to ensure that the tan is fully developed and has had time to settle into the skin.

Do you wear a bra for spray tan? ›

When deciding what to wear to a spray tan session, always choose loose clothing that won't rub on your skin. Flowy dresses and skirts, or loose-fitting jumpsuits without elastic are ideal. If you're comfortable, avoid wearing a bra or underwear, which tends to cling to skin and may cause discoloration.

Are there different shades of spray tan? ›

Spray Tan Shade Options

Usually, the colour options range from Extra light, light, medium, medium to dark, dark and extra dark (or double dark). Depending on your skin tone, it is advised that you ask your therapist what colour is best in their professional opinion.

How long does spray tan last on face? ›

How Long Does It Last? Because your skin is constantly creating new skin cells on the epidermis level, any skin treatment will fade over time. Spray tans generally last for 7-10 days, depending on the coverage you requested; if you wanted a lighter color, your tan could fade more quickly.

What day does a spray tan look best? ›

Ideally, you should come at least three days prior to the event that is scheduled. This is due to the fact that sunless tanning is not an instant process. Generally, the tan that is achieved during the sunless tanning session will darken over the next several days, usually reaching its peak on the third day.

Should I do my nails before or after spray tan? ›


It is better if you have nail polish on before your tan, even if it is just a clear coat. Your nails and toenails will be wiped down at the end of your spray tan, and it prevents your nails from staining.

What day of the week is best to spray tan? ›

If you schedule an appointment for a sunless spray tanning session on Wednesday you can count on seeing the best results on Thursday, or Friday depending if you tan early on Tuesday. If you had to choose an appointment Wednesday vs a Friday, I would recommend spray tanning on Wednesday for any Saturday event.

Can I sleep in my spray tan? ›

Can I Sleep in my spray tan? A. It is recommended that you do not leave your spray tan on longer than 4 hours.

Will my spray tan get darker overnight? ›

As soon as you are done with your spray tan, you have a beautiful glow. As the day or night goes on, your spray tan gets darker and darker. The reason it gets darker, is because the DHA is reacting to the skins amino acids.

What not to do before spray tan? ›

That's why we turned to the spray tan pros to find out what you should resist doing in the days and hours leading up to your appointment.
  1. Don't use self-tanner. ...
  2. Don't take a hot shower. ...
  3. Don't wax or shave. ...
  4. Don't get a facial. ...
  5. Don't wear tight clothing. ...
  6. Don't get a laser treatment.
Dec 10, 2018

Do you exfoliate and moisturise before a spray tan? ›

Before Your Spray Tan

Before your appointment, make sure to: Exfoliate at least 4 hours before your appointment. Shower and shave at least 4 hours before your appointment. Don't moisturize right before your appointment.

Is it OK to not shave before a spray tan? ›

When it comes to shaving before your spray tan, ideally you should shave at least 24 hours before your tan. The soonest you should shave before your tan is four hours, and make sure to end your shower with a nice cold rinse to close up your pores.

Should you shower right before spray tan? ›

Showering before you get a spray tan is a must. You don't want sweat, dirt, or oil on your skin because it can hinder the effectiveness of your spray tan. It may not be able to absorb evenly onto your skin, and the results can be patchy. You should also exfoliate your body a few days before getting a spray tan.

How long should you not shower after spray tan? ›

You must wait at least six hours after your appointment to take a shower. This gives your skin ample time to absorb the solution and ensure an even shade. There are some newer products on the market that allow you to shower sooner with the same great results (ask your salon if they carry it).

What should I wear to bed after a spray tan? ›

So again, you want dark, loose clothing. Even though the spray tan solution does usually come out of everything, you want dark, loose clothing just because you don't want to mess up any of your clothes or sheets. If you're doing an eight-hour solution, you want to put a towel underneath your body when you sleep.

What happens if I don't exfoliate before a spray tan? ›

Another important preparation step is head-to-toe exfoliation, which can make or break your spray tan. Over time, dead skin cells can build up on your skin, so if you skip exfoliating prior to your spray tan, you'll more than likely end up with a patchy, uneven tan.

Can I spray tan with hairy legs? ›

Unless you have dark, coarse hair that grows at an accelerated rate, your legs should still be smooth when you get your spray tan. If you do have hair that grows quickly, then consider waxing a few days prior to the spray tan. Keep in mind, waxing can also irritate your skin.

Will shaving my legs ruin my spray tan? ›

Yes, you can shave after spray tanning, but be aware that some of your colour may come off, especially if you soak in the bath or shower for long periods of time prior to shaving. Shaving is less likely to affect your tan if you: have prepped well for your tan (See spray tan preparation)

What soaps to avoid after spray tan? ›

Dove: Dove soap and lotion can cause streaking and fading, but it'll most likely turn you orange! Dove changes the pH level of your skin throws off the whole spray tanning process!

What is the first rinse after a spray tan? ›

The very first shower you should take after your spray tanning session should always be a simple warm water rinse! Yup, that's right, no soap, body wash, hair washing, shaving or scrubbing. If you use soap before the 24-hour mark, you will stop the development of the spray tan, and will not achieve the best results.


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