Best Practices to Extend Your Spray Tan

You just got an amazing spray tan and you are obsessed with how the color makes your eyes pop and your teeth pearly white.  But after a few days your spray starts to FADE and you are left wondering HOW do I extend the life of my spray tan????

Learn what products can extend your spray tan.
Extending your sunless tan is easy with these tips.

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Two things come into play to effectively extend the life of your sunless tan: your BEFORE spray tan prep and your AFTER spray tan care.

Your BEFORE Spray Tan Routine To Extend Your Tan:

To extend the life of your spray tan you really need to be sure that your skin is prepped properly to allow the spray tan solution to soak in and develop evenly.  If you don’t prepare properly then the tan is going to be sitting in the dry patchy layer of your skin that is ready to slough off in the next couple of days taking your tan with it and shortening the life of your tan.

You also need to be sure that you are exfoliating and washing away all of the beauty products residue that is hanging out on your skin! Left over lotion or a film of soap or perfume creates a barrier blocking your tan or making is uneven.

Related Articles:

What beauty products can ruin your spray tan?

  • Lotion
  • Deodorant
  • Perfume
  • Makeup
  • Body spray
  • Exfoliating scrubs
  • Extra moisturizing body wash
  • Left over massage oil
  • Waxing residue

Oh boy, that is a lot of stuff that us girls get into!

To be sure that you have removed all of the excess beauty products and dry/patchy skin and prepared your skin properly, try the following steps:

  • In the shower gently remove dry patchy skin with an exfoliating towel or loofah.
  • Use a mild soap or shower gel so you are removing the old lotion and perfume and not re-coating your skin.
  • Shave using a fresh razor–make sure that you remove ALL of the residue from the razor’s moisturizing strip that is left on your skin with soap.
  • Have any waxing done 48 hours before you plan on getting your spray tan.

This starts off the process with a fresh even canvas to have your skin airbrush tanned into golden brown perfection.

Check out my spray tan safe beauty product shopping guide for safe choices.

Events To Spray Tan For:

Have Your Spray Tan Applied By A Professional:

The best way to ensure that your sunless tan will be even is with a professional application.

  • Let the spray tan dry and soak into your skin before getting dressed, then leave it alone for the recommended period of time.  For my girls at my shop that time period is 8-10 hours.
  • If you are self tanning at home apply your tanning product after your shower while your skin is still hydrated from your shower, using a mitt to protect your hands.  This helps to ensure that any areas of your skin that tend to be dryer are not grabbing and absorbing too much sunless tanning lotion or mousse.
  • Don’t get sweaty or wet or spray perfume or go get a pedicure or go to hot yoga or get rained on or…….well you get the idea, leave that tan alone!!
  • Wear loose fitting clothing.  No jeans, tight leggings or tight tops.  Soft, loose, and cotton will make sure that you are not rubbing lines or marks into your tan as it is developing.

Your AFTER Spray Tan Routine To Extend Your Tan:

How you care for your spray tan AFTER you get it is just as important (if not more) to extending the life of your sunless tan.

The beauty products that you are rubbing into your skin and into your tan, spraying and spritzing all over your body can fade your tan prematurely.  We want to keep your pretty tan as long as possible so try these tips for extending your sunless tan after your get it:

Don’t ruin your spray tan with these products:

  • Bath/Body or Victoria Secret shower wash. I know they smell good but they just are super harsh and drying to your tan <–read stripping your color and we really don’t want that happening
  • Exfoliating scrubs or exfoliating shower washes
  • Loofas or exfoliating mitts
  • Anti-acne products. Facial washes, lotions, masks and spot treatments. Salicylic acid and Benzoyl Peroxide are the active ingredients in many of anti-acne products and they will take your tan off in a very unceremonious way (read NOT cute).
  • Anti-aging products. Facial washes, lotions, serums and retin-A or glycolic. These products contain ingredients designed to hurry your bodies natural exfoliation to address the symptoms of aging skin.  This also hurries the exfoliation of your tan
  • Clairsonic facial brush (or others similar) I LOVE my Clairsonic but it does have a tendency to take my tan off my face quicker than I would like.
  • Fragranced soaps and bath gels. These contain heavy detergents and sulfates that can strip your color right OFF
  • Perfumed lotions can contain mineral oil and dyes that will make your sunless tan fade off blotchy and patchy.
  • Swimming pools and hot tubs contain chlorine which is bleach and will shorten the life of your tan.
  • Waxing after your sunless tan will create blotchy areas and pull your tan off. Always wax 48 hours BEFORE your sunless tan.
  • Shaving cream is heavy with detergents that can strip your tan as you shave so skip the shaving cream.

I know this sounds like a lot of products to watch out for when maintaining your sunless tan. Actually you can work this into a really nice routine of pre-tan beauty treatments, a lovely spa exfoliation and prep session and then head on over to get your sunless tan and then relax and enjoy your color.  In a week or two do it all over again.  This creates healthy skin and a beautiful tan!

Beauty Products That Are Safe For Spray Tan

  • Warm NOT hot water in the shower.  This will keep your skin from drying out and keep your tan alive longer.
  • Sensitive skin soap or shower wash.  Products that are labeled for sensitive skin usually have less chemicals, dyes and fragrances in them that can mess with your sunless tan.
  • Organic products. If you want to take your skin care routine to the next level and extend the life of your spray tan than look into organic soaps, shower washes and lotions.  The more natural you are keeping your product line the longer your spray tan will last.
  • Cocoanut Oil.  This is my all time favorite!!!!  Cocoanut oil is the perfect moisturizer to pair with your spray tan.  All natural and nourishing to your skin, will not harm your sunless tan and keeps you glowing.

Spray Tan Extenders

Ok so you’ve told us all what NOT to use/do after our spray tans.   Are there products that can help extend the life of my tan?


There are many AFTER spray tan products on the market that can help to extend the life of your spray tan.  From sunless glow cremes to self tanner lotions, mousses, aerosol sprays and sunless tanning milks keeping your color going is easy and fun!

Below are a few of my favorite sunless tan extending products.  Some I have at the studio and others you can order on Amazon.

Norvell Mousse is a great option for medium to darker skin tones.  It’s easy to work with, blends nicely, the smell is light and it drys well.

Jergen’s Glow works well on fair skin. It’s also a great for extending your spray tan by keeping just a touch of color added daily.

Malibu Golden Glow Sunless Moisturizer is another one of my favorites.  It has a dual pump with a moisturizing lotion on one side and a sunless tanner with bronzers on the other side. It’s a soft natural color, smells nice, and drys well.

Hope this article was helpful to you learning how to extend your spray tan and keep that color going.

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.  Shopping through my links is greatly appreciated and helps me continue to spread my message of skin safety!

Spray Tan Business Pros:

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

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