Having a gorgeous, even tan is not as easy as it sounds, but many of us wouldn’t be able to get through the summer season without one. Possibly, the least desirable way to give yourself a bronze tan is to do it naturally, sitting out in the sun for hours on end. Not only is this incredibly dangerous for your skin, but not all of us have the time, have the right skin type, and live in a sunny area.
The answer to this, if you are wanting to avoid the infamous self-tanning horror stories at home, is to go for a spray tan.
To keep up a gorgeous glow throughout the year, how often should you spray tan? For most skin types, spray tanning should be done 2-3 times a month, or every 9-12 days. With proper maintenance and preparation, your spray tan will look even and radiant between appointments.
Scheduling your spray tan will help you keep up with appointments, but how often you spray tan will also depend on how well you look after your tan, and your skin type as well.
How Long Spray Tans Last In Different Shades
Understanding how spray tans work will help you decide how often to have one done. Spray tans are a sunless tanning solution.
A product is spread onto the skin in a fine mist, evenly, to create a smooth tan. The product which is sprayed onto the skin contains DHA. DHA reacts with the outer layer of skin cells to darken the skin, with a color developing over a few hours.
Most spray tans are done by professionals, either at a salon or a mobile spray tanning business. However, with the right equipment and experience, you can spray tan yourself at home.
The shade of the spray tan will determine how long it will last as well. Stronger products are used for darker tones, and sometimes a second fine mist is applied to the body to ensure the tan is as dark as the client wants.
The shade definitely plays a role in how long the spray tan stays even and apparent.
Most spray tans are advertised to last 10 days, but this is not always true for all shades.
- Lighter shades – Lighter shades can last up to 5 days. Light shades are achieved using a mild spray tan product, so the chances of it lasting are not great.
- Medium shades – Medium shades can last up to 8 days at most. These require more product, and often a stronger product than lighter shade, so the color development is stronger, which means it will take longer for the color to fade.
- Dark shades – Darker shades last the longest, up to 10 days. These are strong products, with a deep, rich color, which takes longer to fade compared to light and medium shades.
The reason for the difference in staying time is down to the DHA content. The darker solutions contain more DHA, and the more DHA contained in the product, the longer the color will remain on the skin.
For the best spray tan schedule, watch this video by The Skinny Confidential on YouTube. She offers many of the same tips that I offer below, so remember to keep reading after you watch!
What To Do Before Your Spray Tan
The right preparation before a spray tan is essential in ensuring it lasts as long as it should. Unprepared skin will not hold a spray tan for long at all, and by not ensuring your skin is ready to receive a spray tan, it will be patchy, uneven, and fade faster, wasting both your time and money.
Here is what you should do the days before to make the most of your spray tan:
Exfoliate the day before
Exfoliation is possibly the most important step to ensure your spray tan lasts. Make sure to exfoliate within 24 hours leading up to your spray tan. Using a body scrub, dry brush or loofah helps to remove dead skin cells from the skin.
Having a build-up of dead skin cells during a spray tan will cause blotches, streaks, and dark patches, and if these are older dead skin cells are left on the skin, they will slough away during a natural process, meaning your tan will fade quickly.
Don’t use chemicals or oil-based lotions
You should avoid using chemical exfoliants, or oil-based products on your skin. These should be avoided up to 24 hours before your spray tan.
The chemical exfoliants might cause the skin to become too sensitive, and oil-based products can cause a barrier between the skin and the spray tan, which once again could lead to patches and streaks.
With that said, you will still want to make sure that your skin is adequately hydrated. So how do you maintain supple skin without using an oil-based lotion? A chemical-free, water-based moisturizer like this one is your best bet.
Wax, but not the day before
It is a good idea to wax two days before your spray tan appointment, but you should avoid waxing the day before.
Waxing temporarily opens up the pores, leaving them larger than normal, which means some areas could absorb more product than others, turning those areas darker and patchy.
Wear loose-fitting clothing and shoes
The ideal spray tan should have no tan lines, so you should avoid wearing a tight bra, strappy shirt, or other tight clothing and shoes. Use a loose-fitting dress or and slip-on shoes to prevent any friction.
For more tips on what to wear to your spray tan appointment, read this article.
Avoid makeup and deodorant
You should try your best to avoid makeup and deodorant the day of your appointment, but if you can’t, take a pack of unscented wipes to remove all makeup and deodorant from your skin. Allow your skin to dry before the spray tan is applied.
What To Do After Your Spray Tan
While your spray tan technician will tell you what to do to maintain your spray tan over the next 24 hours, but it helps to know some extra guidelines to further preserve your tan.
The baby powder trick
Baby powder is one of your best tools to help prevent streaking after your spray tan. Sweating can cause streaks and spots to the skin while the spray tan product is still drying.
You can’t apply deodorant to your skin, as it might contain ingredients that may interact with the tanning solution and cause the reaction to slow or stop.
Baby powder can be applied to the underarms, inner elbows, back of the knees and under the bum, to prevent sweating and therefore streaks and patches.
Don’t shower for six hours
Showering too soon after your spray tan might wash off the product, and prevent the solution from reaching its darkest potential.
Waiting for 6 hours before showering means that your skin will have enough time to absorb the product and ensure your skin has an even, complete tone.
While you should exfoliate every two to three days after your tan, make sure to do so lightly. Exfoliating will still scuff away the surface of your skin, so make sure it is gentle.
Not exfoliating can lead to a build-up of dead skin cells, which will make the tan appear uneven as it fades away.
Will swimming affect my spray tan?
Swimming in salt or chlorinated water can cause your spray tan to fade quicker. It can also cause possible streaking, and make your tan last for a short period.
However, showering, bathing, and physical activity should not affect the quality of the tan.
Why is my spray tan not darkening?
Products such as moisturizes, deodorants and oil-based lotions can cause the spray tan product to not set properly, and therefore not develop as it should.
An oil-free moisturizer should be applied to the skin only after the spray tan has set or developed into the desired tone, otherwise, it will not be able to go through the correct chemical process to darken.
What should I do if my spray tan isn’t dark enough?
If your spray tan has not gone to the dark tone you desire, leave it on the skin for a few more hours before rinsing it off. This allows more time for the product to develop on your skin.
Remember that your skin will still darken over the next 24 hours, even after rinsing, so give it some time to develop into the right tone before heading back to the spray tanning salon.
Find Your Schedule
Every person’s skin will react differently to a spray tan, so you will need to find the schedule that suits you best, whether it is spray tanning two or three times a month. Never over-do it, allow the tan to fade gently before going in for your next appointment.
The best way to ensure your tan stays around for longer is to practice proper preparation and maintenance. Not doing so will be a waste of a spray tan, and instead of walking around with golden glowing skin, you will have blotches, streaks, and dark patches.
Give your skin a healthy glow, without having to step a foot into the sun. Avoid having to go through bad self-tanning experiences at home, and instead, start a healthy spray tanning schedule at your favorite salon. Your color will be even, long-lasting, and you can leave it up to a professional to do all the work for you!