14 Tips To Make Sure You Get The Perfect Spray Tan


It’s getting to that time of year again, and you simply don’t look tan anymore, why not get a spray tan? If you’re a college student like me, you are going to be going home for the holidays, and you need every bit of confidence boost as you can. You know, to show all the high school friends, going to college has transformed you into a hotter, more smart version of yourself, since the last time you saw them. A tan is the perfect solution for this, and can be a quick fix. Going in a tanning bed can take a few times to build up even a base for first timers, and even for regular bed users it takes a few visits to get a color. I don’t know about you, but nobody’s got time for that. Keep reading for a 10 step guide to getting the perfect spray tan.

This is a collaborative piece by: Nadine Jessup and Destiny Donahue

1. Schedule smart!

A spray tan needs time to react with your skin and fully develop its color. The base turns its true tone after about 24 hours, so you’ll want to give yourself a cushion. Scheduling at night is usually the best option because you can relax without your tight pants on ruining the spray’s evenness. And scheduling two days prior to large events, i.e. formals, halloweekend, weddings etc. is a way to ensure your skin will glow its brightest.

2. Talk to the salon prior.

Call a few local salons and ask about their spray tans! Ask how much they cost, if they airbrush or have a 360 machine, if they can avoid/isolate certain body parts from spray (if you want), what their base juice is made from- walnut pigments or carrot, if they have any special instructions prior, if they have hair nets, if they have barrier cream for your tough spots, how long it will take, blah, blah. You will want to get the right information so you can choose exactly where you want to go, and how to come prepared.

3. 24 to 48 hours prior to receiving your tan…EXFOLIATE!

Exfoliate…exfoliate…exfoliate… I cannot stress the importance of this step. I like to scrub with exfoliating mittens (you can pick them up at a local drugstore) and a pH balance soap. Avoid bar soaps, Dove is the only bar soap I allow and it works well for pH Balancing. Do not use Dial, Irish Spring Ivory…it will throw off the PH Balance of your skin and you will turn orange. Do not use any soap that has moisturizers or oil because it will impede the uptake and saturation of the tan, in regular people language, your tan won’t stick.

4. Before you tan: remove any hair via shave/wax.

Hair removal~ shave, wax or Nair everything before your tan…do not wax then go to get a tan because the wax has oil in it and will again impede the uptake of the tanner. Tame your bush. Do not shave, wax or Nair after because it will exfoliate your tan right off. You have been warned.

Personally, I prefer to wax before spray tans. Waxing lasts longer than shaving and has lots of other benefits (to save for another article). If you decide to wax, you won’t have to worry about compromising your furry legs or the way your tan looks after a couple of days. Crucial: If you chose to wax you must get it done at least 2 days in advance so your pores have time to fully close.

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5. Get your pedi and mani done before.

Getting your nails before is major key if this tan is for a special event. Again, the scrubbing and massaging part will rub your tan right off, if you try to get them done after a tan. Use your heads kids…

6. Day of session…do not create any barriers on the skin.

Barriers like moisturizer, lotions, acne cream, makeup, deodorant. If you’re like me, you feel like a naked mole rat without makeup on, but be brave and go into the tanning salon bare face. If you really can’t do that, bring a makeup remover wipe with you.

7. Day of session… wear the baggiest clothes you own.

After getting a spray tan, regardless of the fans you stand in front of, you will be slightly sticky and jeans are not going to feel good putting on. More importantly your tan could smear. Wearing the baggiest and darkest clothes there and home that you can find will help you avoid the clothes sticking to you and messing up your new tan. For me, that’s the classy groufit (Gray sweatpants outfit) Sorry fashion police! Oh and no Bra, No undies! You are more than welcome to wear them to me but do not dare to put them on afterwards…let it all be free!

8. Right before you start your tan, put your hair up, and rock a hairnet!

Most salons provide a hair net, so you should be safe there. If you care about your hair, grab that hair net and place it on, making sure it rests on your actual hair line. Once, I put on a hair net a little bit off my hairline, on my skin and it left me with an obvious line across the top of my forehead…

9. Put lotion on the bottom of your feet, hands, elbows and ankles.

I know I said not to put any on but this step is different as these areas need some barrier to promote even coverage. Ever seen someone with orange knuckles or orange in the creases of their elbows? It’s because they skipped this step.

10. Don’t shower after and avoid excessive sweating for 24 hours.

Your spray tan is the most vulnerable in the first few hours after application, and exposure to water can easily wash it off before it has a chance to develop. For me, I am an athlete and have practice every day, so not sweating for 24 hours wasn’t going to happen. What I did was get the spray tan after practice, after a shower, then I went to sleep and showered the next morning.

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11. Warm water, not hot.

After waiting the 24 hours post-tan, it’s crucial that your first shower involves warm water not hot. This step helps seal in the shade and prevent run-off color the most. Showering after getting a spray tan should go not involve tons of exfoliation, but your normal routine can resume. Always pat dry post-spray tan!!

12. Moisturize every day following.

This is one of the best tips I can tell you to keep up your tan. These days, tans cost way more than they need to so you want to get every penny’s worth. Doing this each day will keep your skin hydrated and healthy.

13. Add gradual tanners to your daily beauty routine.

The tan will tan eventually. When it starts to fade, just replace the regular moisturizer with a gradual tanning lotion. Yes, these exist. You can find these lotions at the tanning salon.

14. Consider rescheduling or buying a package.

If you love the way your tan turned out or if you didn’t, you may want to consider rescheduling for another appointment either in the same salon or different one (don’t let one bad spray tan ruin your perception). Salons usually have deals if you buy x amount or packages where you pay a monthly price and get x in that time frame.

Featured photo source: weheartit.com and theshadespa.com
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