Caring for your spray tan starts as soon as you leave the tanning salon. Not following the right guidelines on how to maintain or care for a new spray tan is a sure way to ruin your developing tan, leaving you with patches and streaks.
One of the most common mistakes made after a spray tan is showering too soon. The first shower after your spray tan sets the tone for how long your spray tan will last, and how even the tone will be.
What do you need to do during your first shower after a spray tan? Your first shower should be a short, brief shower. Rinse gently under the warm water for 3 minutes at the most. Plan before your spray tan to only need to wash your hair after 2 days, as shampoo and condition can prevent the tan from developing. Only stay in the shower until the bronze color washes away and the water runs clear. Any longer in the shower can mean that your tan will become affected and you will land up with streaks and blotches.
While that’s a detailed explanation of how long to stay in the shower for, there’s so much more you need to know, so I encourage you to keep reading my detailed instructions.
How to Shower After A Spray Tan
Here is a step-by-step guide on everything you need to do before, during and after your spray tan, along with everything else you might need to know to make the most out of your newly spray-tanned skin.
Before Your First Shower
You will not be able to see full-color development happen before you take your first shower. This is because spray tans can take up to 24 hours to develop full color. There is not much you need to do when preparing for your first shower.
Remember to wear loose clothing after your spray tan appointment, to avoid tight clothing disturbing the tan and causing tan lines. You can also use baby powder under your armpits and other sweat-prone areas to avoid excess sweat causing streaks and patches.
Make sure you wait the full recommended time for development before heading into the shower. Showering too soon will cause your tan to wash away and it will not as dark as you would want.
During Your First Shower
Many spray tans contain bronzer, which instantly turns the skin a tanned, bronze color before the actual spray tan ingredients develop on the skin. This bronze tone will wash off during your first shower.
So if you notice that your skin lightens during the first shower, don’t panic, it is just the bronzer washing away, and the product will still develop on your skin over the next few hours.
You cannot have a long, hot, soapy shower. This will tear away the tan from the skin. You should only use warm water, and an oil-free body wash which is suited to be used on spray-tanned skin.
Do not scrub your skin too harshly. There is no need to exfoliate or scrub your skin.
Instead, gently use the back of your hand with an oil-free wash to rinse the surface bronzer and solution off. If there is a bronzer in the spray tan, let the water run over your skin until it runs clear. Avoid using any bar soaps or other body washes that contain harsh chemicals.
Now, this might sound a bit gross but avoid peeing in the shower. The ammonia in your urine can cause the reaction of the spray tan to be interrupted, and this could lead to streaks down your leg.
After Your First Shower
Once you have finished your first shower, you should dry your skin. Be careful not to rub your skin with a towel, as once again this could cause the tan to be removed from your skin, and not develop as dark as it should. Instead, use a soft towel to gently pat your skin dry.
It is best to use an old and dark towel, in case there is any bronzer left on your skin which could stain a light-colored towel.
After your shower, avoid any oil-based lotions or harsh moisturizers which could cause damage to the tan. If you have to moisturize, use a lotion that has been designed specifically for spray-tanned skin. Use a light lotion to avoid clogging pores and creating blemishes or breakouts.
How Long Should You Wait Before Your First Shower?
Some products work faster than others, but if your spray tanning technician does not tell you otherwise, wait at least 8 hours before your first shower. This allows the product enough time to develop a darker tone and showering before this can stop the reaction.
If you want a deep and dark tan, you can wait 12 hours before showering. This allows more time for the darker color to develop, and remember that the color will continue to develop after your shower as well.
Which Products To Use And Which To Avoid
Using the wrong product during your first shower can ruin your spray tan. Use products that are gentle, mild and preferably natural. The best option would be to use a body wash that was designed to be used for spray tans, but if you do not have this, then the next best option is a soap which is as gentle and natural as possible.
The products to avoid are those with harsh chemicals, heavy scents or which contain exfoliating beads. These will strip your spray tan and just ruin it overall.
Even bar soaps can contain ingredients that are detrimental to a spray tan, so this is something you should prepare for even before your spray tan, ensuring you have the right products at home for when your first shower is due to happen.
Washing Your Face After A Spray Tan
You should avoid wearing makeup and other products in the first 12 hours after a spray tan, but you might feel desperate to wash your face.
It is fine to wash your face after a spray tan, as long as you avoid the following:
- Acne face wash
- Anti-aging face wash
- Harsh gel face wash
- Face wash containing AHA’s, Retinols and Glycolic
- Makeup removing wipes
Use a gentle, natural soap to wash your face after the spray tan, the same as what you would use when showering for the first time.
You can use lotion on your skin after washing your face, but once again make sure that it is an oil-free, light lotion that will not clog pores or interfere with the development of the product. Avoid face masks, scrubs, and peels.
What To Wash With Before Your Spray Tan
Just as you need to use the right products before your spray tan, you should be conscious of the product you use during your shower before your spray tan.
However, you should avoid using products that contain perfume or oil, as these could remain on the skin and create a barrier between the spray tan and the skin. The goal of the shower before your spray tan is to remove any excess products, makeup, oil, and dead skin cells.
Will my spray tan continue to develop after my first shower?
Your tan will develop the fastest in the 2 hours after your spray tan, but that does not mean it stops there. Once you have showered after your spray tan, the tan will continue to develop and darken over the next couple of hours.
Wait at least 24 hours to determine how dark your tan is, before deciding whether or not you want to head back for a second session.
Does spray tan rub off if you sweat?
Sweat is the number one enemy of a fresh spray tan, especially if the spray tan has not dried properly yet. Sweat can cause the spray tan to become streaky, or even turn a horrid green color.
The best way to combat this is to apply baby powder to your skin, where you sweat most, such as under the arms and elbows, to prevent the sweat streaking across the spray tan.
How do I stop my spray tan from going patchy?
The best way to prevent a spray tan from going patchy is to keep it well moisturized. Moisturize daily with a light lotion, and look into purchasing a tan extender which helps to keep the tan radiant and glowing, and help it to fade evenly over time.
Showering After A Spray Tan
Your first shower after spray tanning can make or break your tan. Shower too soon and the tan will not be as dark as you had hoped, and shower using the wrong products and the tan can be patchy, streaky and unsightly.
Following these guidelines for the first shower after your spray tan is the best way to ensure your tan is as even and dark as possible, all while keeping your skin healthy and glowing.