The best lotion to use after a spray tan is one that is all-natural, organic, and contains skin-nourishing ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter, and coconut butter. Using a moisturizer that is free from harsh ingredients will help to extend your sunless tan. Avoid mineral oil, perfumes, and fruit acids that encourage skin cell turnover like AHAs, BHAs, and retinol as these will strip your color.

5 best lotions to use after your spray tan from sunspray by kathryn blog

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When a new client comes to see me at my spray tan studio, I spend a little time going over their skincare routine and the products they are using to ensure they are not getting into anything that could ruin their spray tan.

One of the things that we discuss at length is moisturizing after a spray tan.

  • What lotion are you currently using
  • How often are you moisturizing
  • Do you have any concerns about your skin

Moisturizing After A Spray Tan

Keeping a sunless tan smooth and beautiful means using a good quality skin nourishing lotion that can help your tan last longer. The added benefit is that my clients who are exfoliating and moisturizing regularly (read taking care of their skin) end up with healthier younger-looking skin.

When To Moisturize After Your Spray Tan

When you have your spray tan appointment or apply your self-tanner at home you will need to stay dry for 8-10 hours to let the tan fully develop. After that, you can shower off the sunless tanning solution and lotion your skin.

Most of my clients are sleeping in their fresh spray tan and then showering in the AM to start their day. After your first shower is the perfect time to start applying your moisturizer.

If you apply lotion before your shower you will disturb the sunless solution that has been evenly applied to your skin and cause streaks and smears. If your fresh tan has a bronzer in it this will also end up all over your hands.

I have a “hands off” policy till after your first shower so there are no sunless tanning accidents.


There are rapid tan products on the market that you will only need to keep the tanning product on your skin for 1-3 hours. If you choose to use one of these please know that they require a gentle water-only rinse with no soap or any other body products applied to your skin for the first 24 hours as your tan is still developing in your skin. So wait on the lotion until after that time.

Chloe Blue Layne Model Wearing a SunSpray Spray Tan

How Often To Apply Lotion After A Spray Tan

I am a less is more kinda girl when it comes to lotion. I really feel that if you are using a good quality natural lotion on your skin then applying it right after your shower should be all that is needed. This will lock in the water from your shower and keep you hydrated throughout the day.

That being said. If you are showering more than once a day then adding a sunless extending lotion can go a long way to keeping your spray tan longer.

Brooke Blue Layne Model Wearing A SunSpray Airbrush Tan

Events To Spray Tan For:

Chole Blue Layne Model Wearing A SunSpray Tan

Lotion Ingredients To Avoid After Spray Tan

Some lotions contain ingredients that don’t work well with sunless tanning products. They can cause a patchy fade or make your tan appear to be peeling. Some can even strip the color on your tan making it fade out quickly or dry out your skin causing your tan to flake.

Avoiding the common lotion ingredients listed below while wearing your sunless tan ensures that your pretty glow lasts as long as possible and fades smoothly. Both are good things.

  • Mineral oil
  • Alcohol
  • Fragrances
  • Dyes
  • Essential Oils
  • Anti-Aging Products- Retin-A, Glycolic, AHA’s
  • Anti-Acne Products- Salicylic Acid
  • General unpronounceables (is this a word?)

Lotions To Avoid After A Spray Tan

Heavily scented lotions such as Bath & Body Works or Victoria’s Secret are NOT spray tan friendly. Also, the “in shower” lotions and body oils will cause your spray tan to crack and fade into patchy weirdness.  Don’t use these.

Brooke Blue Layne Boutique Model Wearing a SunSpray Tan

Update for 2022: Essential oils applied to the skin for aromatherapy can cause your spray tan to break down in the areas that you are applying the oils and can also cause problems with the essential oil residue causing an unsightly color change when you GET your spray tan (read GREEN spray tan).  Please make sure that you have removed all essential oil residue completely. Baking soda mixed into your mild shower wash will help to remove all traces of the oils before you come to your spray tanning appointment. And stop using the oils for at least 72 hours before your appointment.

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Lotion Ingredients Safe After Your Spray Tan

All-natural ingredients that soak in and nourish your skin like shea butter, coconut butter/oil, and aloe vera help to keep your sunless tan fresh and beautiful.

The lotions listed below contain ingredients that are spray tan safe and nourish your skin.

Kathryn’s Top 5 Best Lotions To Use After Your Spray Tan

Best Body Lotion For Sensitive Skin

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For my super sensitive skin clients, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream Body and Face Moisturizer for Dry Skin is definitely my go-to gentle lotion! Recommended by dermatologists with hyaluronic acid and ceramides this fragrance-free lotion is safe for your spray tan without ingredients that can irritate. 

Best Body Butter

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This super-rich and creamy Body Shop Shea Body Butter is a treat for your skin. It melts straight in to leave the skin feeling soft and smooth. It contains Community Fair Trade shea butter and has a delicious nutty scent. This moisturizer contains one of my favorite after-tan moisturizing ingredients shea butter. A rich and creamy body butter keeps skin intensely hydrated for up to 48 hours.

Best Face And Body Lotion

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La Roche-Posay Lipikar Balm AP+ Body Lotion with Shea Butter and Niacinamide is perfect to keep your spray tan smooth on your body, face, and hands. This moisturizer contains niacinamide, shea butter & glycerin to hydrate, repair & soothe dry skin. Both dermatologist & pediatrician tested. Allergy tested. Non-greasy formula.

Best Coconut Oil For Skin

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I’m a nature girl and Shea Moisture 100% Xtra-Virgin Coconut Oil is my number one simple moisturizer for dry skin.  Only 1 ingredient! (this makes me happy.) Having a super dry and sensitive skin type many lotions leave me feeling itchy, coconut oil soothes my dry flakey’s and settles my skin without feeling heavy or sticky.  It’s the perfect after shower choice to smooth on when your skin is still wet for silky smooth legs.  One of my top recommendations in the spray room especially during our dry Midwest winters. Apply this lightly to shower damp skin – you don’t need much, just a dime size scoop will cover your whole body.

Best Shea Butter Lotion

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The Shea Moisture line of products is one of my all-time favorites! Natural, organic and delicious.  Yummy scents that are all spray tan friendly and none of the crazy ingredients that can ruin a tan.  Just soft glowing skin.  These products LIVE in my bathroom. Check out the whole line for some gentle and amazing shower gels, soaps, shampoos, and conditioners.  The Shea Moisture Promise:  We leave out these harmful ingredients: No Parabens, No Phthalates, No Paraffin, No Mineral Oil, No DEA, No Petroleum, No Formaldehyde, No Propylene.

The baby line smells delicious too, I wash my little Lilly dog in it 😉 I know, I know, crazy dog momma here.

Best Drugstore Lotion For Spray Tan

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Hempz is doing the lotion scene right with a line that contains SPF 30.  If you are moisturizing you might as well protect from the harmful rays at the same time. And who doesn’t like simplifying your summer beauty routine by only needing one product and not two to apply every morning?  Throw in that there is also a glow cream and a sunless tanning option to extend your spray tan (that I am in LOVE with) and I think this option is a win/win! Spray tan safe, paraben-free.

Best Vegetarian Body Lotion

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Alba Botanica has a wonderful line of moisturizers with different levels of hydration for different skin types.  From a lite lotion, perfect for the warm weather to a heavy crème when the air turns dry leaving our skin and our spray tans parched.  There is even a body moisturizer with an SPF option! No parabens, no sulfates, vegetarian, and never tested on animals.  They also have a wonderful sunscreen that I talk about over here.

Best Face Moisturizer After Spray Tan

There are so many facial lotions on the market that there is no way for me to ever create an exhaustive list of brands.

The same rules apply for ingredients to avoid in a face lotion as in a body lotion.

Stay away from anything that is a “treatment” type of product. Anti-aging, anti-acne, skin fading, fine line minimizing, etc. Choose a basic hydration type of face cream and it will be just fine for your sunless tan.

Choosing any of these amazing lotions to use after your spray tan will ensure that your skin stays hydrated and your sunless tan stays smooth and fades softly away until it’s time to come in and get a fresh airbrush tan.

I hope you find a favorite in this list of best lotions to keep your sunless tan glowing!

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