35 First Time Spray Tan Tips From An Expert

Let me walk you through the process of getting your first spray tan so you have all the important tips and tricks and you feel confident before you call to make your appointment.

Wondering what to expect when getting your first spray tan? Are you a little nervous and you have heard ALL sorts of crazy stories from your friends?

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click and purchase, I may make a commission. Read my full disclosure here.

Getting Your First Spray Tan

Getting a professionally applied spray tan is amazing! Instant color, blended tan lines, pretty glow, tan legs, feeling slimmer, no skin cancer risks! It’s a game-changer when you do it right.

Check Out The Business Reviews

Before you decide where to make your spray tan appointment make sure you check out the reviews on FB or Google. And ask around for who the go-to spray tan artist is in your area.

Make Your Spray Tan Appointment 1-2 Days Before Your Event Or Trip

Never get your tan the day of your event or trip. You want to give your tan 8-10 hours to develop and have time for a shower, so plan ahead and book your appointment 1-2 days before.

Book Your Tanning Appointment After All Other Beauty Treatments

Get your nails, waxing, facials, and massages done BEFORE your spray tan appointment so that nothing messes up after it is applied.

Spray Tans Last About A Week

I tell new clients to plan on their first spray tan lasting approximately a week. Some people will keep their color longer with proper care and body product use. Some less if they work out, get sweaty, take several showers a day, or are in a pool or hot tub frequently.

Airbrush Spray Tans Look Better Than A Booth Spray

A hand-applied airbrush spray tan is going to look more natural and real than a booth spray.  I explain the difference like this….the booth spray is like an automated car wash. The airbrush spray tan is like having your car detailed. If you have the option, then get a hand-applied custom spray tan.

Shower/Shave/Exfoliate Before Your Spray Tan Appointment

I need clean dry skin to apply your tan and have it be smooth and even. So hop in the shower and scrub all the dry skin and body product residue off.  Use a mild soap or shower wash. Sulfate-Free and unscented.

NO Oil Based Exfoliators

The salt and oil or sugar scrubs leave a residue on your skin blocking the sunless tanning solution from soaking in. Grab your dry brush, loofa, or exfoliating mitt to exfoliate using your mild sulfate-free shower wash.

NO Lotion

Skip the lotion after your shower. Again the lotion will leave a coating on your skin blocking your sunless tan from soaking in and developing evenly.

NO Deodorant

You are gonna have to go all natural before your tan.  Deodorant can turn some really strange shades of green when your spray tan is applied.  And it can also block the tan from developing creating the dreaded “white armpit”

NO Makeup

We need a nice clean face before your spray tan.  If you have a Clarisonic facial brush this is the perfect makeup remover and gentle exfoliator.

Arrive To Your Appointment On Time

Spray days are busy at the shop.  So do your best to get there on time so I can spend your full appointment time pampering you and creating your perfect bronze color.  Also, I love you and want to be able to spend a little time hanging out and catching up.

Get Undressed To Your Comfort Level

How naked you get is up to you. I know it can feel strange to stand there in your birthday suit in front of someone you hardly know but I promise I am only concerned with making your tan look amazing and not creating any tan lines where they may show in an outfit that you have planned to wear.

During Your Spray Tan Wear An Older Bra/Panty Set

Most of my clients wear only a thong and go topless and others wear a tank and shorts. We can always tuck straps and work around any tan lines that we need to consider. Just make sure that if you are going to be wearing your bra and undies that it is older and dark-colored so we don’t ruin your favorite cream bra.

There Are Different Spray Tan Formulas

I always say time of year and event appropriate for choosing how deep to make your tan.  Attending a formal event in winter? Then a moisturizing formula with a pretty glow.  Headed to the beach for spring break? Then we can have a little fun and go for the vacation tan.

The Spray Routine

All spray tan artists have a different routine when it comes to the order they apply your color.  My routine is arms and chest first, then front and legs. We then go to the back of the body and work down. Finishing with hands, feet, and all the little details– face and contouring is last.

Keep Hands Out Of The Way While I Am Spraying You

I ask you to position your body the way I do to keep your hands out of the way and smooth out skin folds and creases. When we spray your hands really bend your fingers and spread out your fingers so the solution can mist in between each finger. Please don’t touch your skin while I am spraying you.  The solution is still wet and you will mess up your spray tan before I am done applying it and can get you dry.

Play Simon Says With Your Spray Tan Artist

Your airbrush professional will tell you what to do and when to do it. I just need you to hold still while I get bossy and ask you to move to the next position.

Blending And Contouring Are The Final Details

After your base tan is applied some spray tan artists will go back in and blend and contour for a perfect finish. A little sunkissed highlight on the face brings out those cheekbones!

Spray Tan Solution Doesn’t Stain Hair Or Nail Polish

But we keep it clean in the spray room! If you just got your hair colored or a fresh blow out then we can pop a hair cover on to protect it.  If your nails are done— We will wipe your nails down so there is no bronzer on your polish.

Get Dry

I will make sure your skin is dry before you check your tan out and get dressed.

Wear Loose Dark Clothes After Your Spray Tan

Loose soft dark clothes are the best thing to wear after your tan to protect it while it is developing.

Your Spray Tan Gets Darker Over Time

As your sunless tan is developing it is going to get darker.  There is a bronzer that you can see initially (think makeup) and the sunless solution takes some time to develop in your skin.  As this process is happing you eventually end up with a fully developed spray tan with the bronzer sitting on top. It’s a little too much but won’t stay that way.

Don’t Touch Your Sunless Tan While It’s Developing

Everyone wants to rub their hands over their pretty tan after I put it on.  I get it. It looks amazing and you can’t believe you are tan in just a few minutes BUT if you keep touching it you are going to get spray tan solution on the palms of your hands and possibly mess up your tan on your skin.  So hands off while it’s processing.

Plan To Go Home After Your Tan

I recommend you get all of your running around done for the day and THEN get your spray tan and head home.  We never know what the weather is going to do and I wouldn’t want you to need to make 6 more stops in the rain. So organize your day so you can head home after your spray tan appointment.

Stay Dry After Your Airbrush Tan Appointment

Your challenge for the evening! Don’t get sweaty, don’t get wet, no puppy kisses, keep your small kiddos off your skin, and keep your hands out of the sink. I know it’s hard but water is not your friend till after your first shower.

Careful With The Sheets

Wear long-sleeve t-shirt and long pajama pants to protect your tan and your bed.

Sunless Tan Smell

Not everyone smells like spray tan it depends on your body chemistry. Most high-quality spray tan solutions have an odor inhibitor in them. If you do smell a little like “spray tan” it will wash off when you shower.

Keep Your Spray Tan Dry For 8-10 Hours

Your spray tan artist will tell you how long to keep the solution on until you can shower. Normal processing time is 8-10 hours unless you used an express formula.

Your Spray Tan Will Keep Getting Darker For 8-10 Hours

With a regular spray tan solution after 8-10 hours, it will stop processing and just sit on your skin until you shower.  It’s NOT going to keep getting darker forever.  So if you are sleeping no worries just take your shower when you get up!

The Bronzer Will Wash Off In The Shower

When you hop in the shower you will see the bronzer get streaky and uneven when the water hits your skin.  Don’t panic this is completely normal and you are not messing up your tan. Your sunless tan is underneath the temporary bronzer and will last approximately a week. Once the bronzer is off you can wear normal clothes again.

Use Unscented Body Care Products

Heavily scented body washes, deodorant soaps, and scented lotions can break down your tan. Look for products that say unscented, gentle, for sensitive skin, or sulfate-free. For a list of my spray tan safe beauty products click here.

Pat Dry Don’t Rub When Drying Your Sunless Tan

After your shower be gentle with your fresh spray tan and pat dry.  We want it to stay on as long as possible.

Sweat Will Fade A Spray Tan

Getting sweaty and taking several showers a day will fade your spray tan faster.  To help I recommend a little baby powder in areas you know you sweat more.

The Color On Your Hands & Face Will Fade Faster

We wash our hands throughout the day and if we wear makeup then there is a makeup remover and face washes that are also washing the tan away in these areas faster.

A Gradual Sunless Tanner Will Extend Your Spray Tan

A good quality buildable mousse or gradual tanner will help to extend the life of your spray tan by adding a small amount of sunless tan back daily when you moisturize.

Related Articles:

Choosing The Best Spray Tan Artist

Here are three things to look for when you are searching for an amazing spray tan artist near you.
1. How long have they been spraying
2. Are they certified
3. Can you see their work

Spray Tan Artist Experience

How long a spray tan artist has been spraying is VERY important.

Experience and artistic talent don’t happen overnight.  Practicing your craft and continuing to educate yourself on technique only comes with TIME.  I’ve been spraying for 20 amazing years, and I have learned a whole bunch about what to do and NOT to do in that period of time.

I have also experienced special skin conditions, scars from cancer, and spent thousands of hours dealing with women’s body images.  I GET it!

Now that being said I do want to encourage us to support our friends who are new to the business and are perfecting their craft. When they do a call for models to practice on and you don’t have an important event on your calendar then by all means take them up on it!!

And now I also get to add sunless product developer to my resume! Over the past 4 years, my business partner and I have been working directly with a chemist and our lab to develop our own custom line of self-tanning products for our clients.

It’s been very exciting and VERY educational learning about all the ingredients used in beauty products and what they do. Why didn’t anyone tell me I could have been a cosmetic chemist when I was in college? LOL

Spray Tan Artist Certificate

Spray tan certificates and licenses are important as they let you know that the business owner invested in formal sunless education and that they are serious about their business.

Yes, I am certified!!  My spray tan certificate is on the wall in my studio.

I have also invested in additional training over the years to continue to educate myself and learn the latest techniques as well as stay up to date with the newest products on the market.

Mostly because it’s FUN and I love learning new skills.

Events To Spray Tan For:

Spray Tan Pictures

Before and after spray tan pictures, and client photos of an artist’s work are a really great way to see their skills.

You can see my work here on this website….all the photos used on this site are of my amazing and beautiful clients, wearing their beautiful tans! Click here to view the gallery of my beautiful clients.

If you don’t live in the Toledo Perrysburg, Ohio area and can’t make it into the SunSpray studio for a visit then I hope this post helps you when you are deciding on a sunless tanning artist in your area.


As a small business owner, I can’t stock all the amazing products that are available in the world of sunless tanning but I can give you my professional opinion.

Spray Tan Business Pros:

Do you have a mobile spray tanning business, a home-based spray tan business, or are you looking for information on HOW to start a spray tan business? Then check out my tools of the trade area of this website for help in setting up your own airbrush spray tanning business.

Love the article you just read? Think your spray tan clients would like to read it too?? Share my HOW TO’S and sunless tanning information with your clients on YOUR webpage or social media accounts by DIRECTLY LINKING to my webpage. Please don’t change or otherwise alter any content or claim as your own. No one likes a copycat.