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 the color starts to FADE and you are left wondering HOW do I keep my color going????

Tips and Tricks to Extend the Life of your Spray Tan

Within this post there may be affiliate links to products I am referring to. If you purchase a product through one of my links it will NOT cost you anything but I will receive compensation that goes towards supporting this website. Thanks for helping!

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.

FIRST is the what to do BEFORE your spray tan routine:

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 the remains of beauty products that are hanging out on your skin! Left over product residue creates a barrier NOT letting your sunless tan soak in evenly, blocking your tan.

What kind of beauty products am I talking about? Lotion, deodorant, perfume, makeup, body spray, exfoliating scrubs, extra moisturizing body wash, left over massage oil or waxing products.

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 beauty product residue 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.

SECOND have your spray tan applied by a professional:

This is the best way to ensure that your sunless tan will be even.

  • 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.

THIRD your AFTER spray tan routine:

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:

To extend the life of your tan stay away from these products:

  • No Bath/Body or Victoria Secret shower washes please, 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. No exfoliating scrubs or exfoliating shower washes. No loofas or exfoliating mitts

(looking for Kathryn approved safe for your spray tan soaps and shower gels check out my article here)

  • 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 exjoy your color.  In a week or two do it all over again.  This creates healthy skin and a beautiful tan!

Ok so you’ve told us all what NOT to use/do after our spray tans.  What beauty products SHOULD we use?

  • 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.

Are there any other products that can extend the life of my spray tan?

Absolutely! 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 products.  Some I have at the shop and others you can order on Amazon.  I made it easy and did the shopping for you.

Norvell Mousse is a great option for medium to darker skin tones.  It’s easy to work with, blends nicely, the smell is lite 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 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!

Hi, I’m Kathryn! I’m here to help you have the best spray tanning experience possible. When I’m not creating beautiful sunless tans, I am working with my students or writing for my blog sharing everything I know about how to get the perfect spray tan, how to give the perfect spray tan, and how to build a boutique spray tan business.

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