A good spray tan gives you that healthy glow without the risk of those harmful UV rays from the sun (too much UV can cause premature skin aging!). It’s also one of the best ways to de-stress!
The dream is to keep your spray tan lasting as long as it can so you can enjoy a gorgeous glow that only spray tan can deliver.
But like all good things, nothing lasts forever — including your tan.
So that begs the question, “How long does a spray tan last?” and “How can I make it last longer?”
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How Long Does a Spray Tan Last?
Typically, a spray tan can last you up to 10 days, but that depends on your skin tone.
For example, if you have lighter skin, expect your spray tan to last for five days. If your skin tone hovers over the “medium shades” category, your tan will last between seven to eight days. People with darker skin tones can expect their spray tan to last up to 10 days.
Apart from your skin tone, an active ingredient in the tanning solution (dihydroxyacetone aka DHA) causes the differences in spray tan duration. Darker tanning spray solutions contain more DHA. The more DHA, the longer your spray tan will last.
For anyone who has enjoyed a good tan, a longer spray tan episode would be appreciated. But what if you have a lighter skin tone and only have five days? Or what if the 10 days are not enough for you?
Fortunately, there are things you can do before, during and after a spray tan to make sure your glowing tan lasts longer.
How Can My Spray Tan Last Longer? Before-During-After
Get the most out of your spray tan by following these tips before, during and after you’ve been in a spray tan booth or spent some time with a spray tan machine.
What to Do Before Getting a Spray Tan
Most people think that getting their spray tan to last longer starts when they walk into the studio or step into the spray tan booth. That’s not the case. Your pre-appointment care is an important factor that affects how long your spray tan will last.
Here’s how to prepare before your appointment.
Spray Tan a Week Before Your Period
It’s weird, but it’s best to schedule your appointment around your period. Your period might affect the duration of your spray tan. While there’s no scientific evidence backing up this claim, a spray tan expert swears by this tip in their interview with Marie Claire.
Avoid Waxing a Day Before Your Appointment
Smooth skin is a plus when tanning, but waxing the day before your appointment could leave you with an uneven tint. This is because waxing opens your pores, causing them to be larger than before.
Exfoliate Every Day
Three days before your appointment, exfoliate daily to remove dead skin cells. You can use a loofah or body scrub or consider dry brushing to keep your skin clean and smooth. If you don’t have any of these options, use a washcloth.
When exfoliating your skin, avoid using oil-based products or chemical exfoliants. These products usually contain glycolic acid or retinol, which can keep your skin from absorbing the tanning solution. Oil-based products create a barrier that prevents absorption.
Shower Before Your Appointment
To get the best results, take a shower eight hours before your appointment. By doing this, you’re giving your skin the time to restore its post-shower PH balance while still enjoying exfoliated skin.
Remove Your Deodorant and Makeup Once You Arrive
To make sure the spray tan sticks, remove your deodorant and makeup with oil-free wipes! Let your skin dry before the technician sprays your skin.
What to Do During a Spray Tan
So you’re prepped and ready for your spray tan session. Next, get ready for the session.
Typical spray tan appointments can last up to 30 minutes, but each spray takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
When you come in:
- Wear loose-fitting clothes so you can easily change after your spray tan.
- If possible, avoid wearing undergarments. If you need to wear a bra, wear a bandeau or a strapless bra to not mess up your tan.
- Bring sandals and flip-flops after your tan.
- Strictly no yoga pants or denim jeans. Wear a long black t-shirt instead.
- Bring an umbrella just in case it rains. Raindrops can cause streaking.
What to Do After a Spray Tan
After your session, your spray technician will brief you on what you can expect over the next 24 hours. This includes how you can prolong your spray tan.
Preserve your shade by following these guidelines:
Wear Loose-Fitting Clothes for the Next 24 Hours
If possible, wear loose clothes 24 hours after your appointment. Tight clothing causes friction that results in indentation and streaks.
Apply Baby Powder to Avoid Streaking
If you’re a religious deodorant user, you’ll have to say goodbye to this trusty hygiene product 24 hours after your appointment. Sprays and sticks contain ingredients that may compromise the tanning solution, leading to patches of uneven skin tone.
Sweating can also cause spots and streaks, so what can you do? Baby powder! Avoid sweating without ruining your spray tan by applying baby powder on your underarms, at the back of your knees or under your butt.
Exfoliate Lightly for the Next Few Days
Exfoliation was good for your skin a few days BEFORE your appointment but after your spray tan, you need to be light with the exfoliation. Harsh exfoliation scuffs the surface of your skin, so keep the exfoliation minimal.
If you have to shave, do it gently. Press down lightly and use slow, even strokes to prevent causing streaks.
Avoid Showering for at Least Six Hours
Do you shower after a spray tan appointment? Not immediately.
You have to wait at least six hours after your session to take a shower. Doing so gives your skin enough time to absorb the solution, ensuring you get an even tan. There are newer shower products that let you take a bath sooner and still keep the results. Ask your tanning technician if they have it!
Avoid Using Oil-Based Products
Avoid using oil-based fragrances and products, even after your tan has faded. These products prevent your skin from absorbing the tanning solution, as well as retaining it.
The Bottom Line
A regular spray tan can last up to 10 days, but there are ways you can prolong your tanned glow. With proper maintenance, you enjoy your gorgeous tan longer.