Did you just get a spray tan, or apply self-tanner, and now you have spots all over you that look like freckles? Good news is, this is very common, the bad news is, there may not be much you can do about it right away.
In order to expand on these two points a bit though, we need to dive a bit deeper into how this happens, and how you can prevent it from happening in the future.
Why Is My Spray Tan Spotted?
There are actually a few reasons that this happens, and it’s not just limited to spray tans, but self-tanner as well. So let’s break down each one and talk about it a little bit. I sort of listed these in order of what I hear about often.
Shaving or Waxing Before Your Tan
This is almost always the number one culprit. So first, if you haven’t already read my complete guide on shaving before fake tanning, you should check it out.
To save you a little time if you don’t want to check out that guide, you really should avoid shaving or waxing your skin in the 24 hours before you go spray tanning. After you shave, your pores will be enlarged, and they need time to close up completely. If they don’t have adequate time to close, two things can happen:
- Bronzer from the spray tan can get stuck in your pores, clogging them and giving the appearance of spots or freckles on your skin. This will mostly come off with your first shower, but if they get lodged deep enough, it may not.
- The DHA in the spray tan can get stuck in the pores, and develop longer and faster than the rest, giving a lasting appearance of spots or freckles.
So the bottom line is, make sure that you shave at least 24 hours before your appointment so your skin has time to heal.
You Forgot To Exfoliate
Alright, if you think this may be the case, take a moment and go read my complete guide on exfoliating before fake tanning, it has a ton of great information in it. If you don’t want to go read that article, I’ll sum up some of the information int that is relevant here.
Spray tan and self-tanners contain a chemical called DHA. DHA reacts with the amino acids in the dead skin cells on your body, forming a type of pigment that looks just like a real tan. This tan then lives on the outer layer of your skin, which is why you have to reapply self-tanner so often.
So, the reason that exfoliation is so important before we go spray tanning, or apply self-tanner, is we need an even canvas for the DHA to develop. Exfoliating your skin beforehand removes excess dead skin cells that would absorb more DHA, and cause our tan to look blotchy or uneven.
This can also sometimes cause your skin to look freckles because you have small bits of dry skin that absorbed more DHA and appear darker than the rest of your skin. As we’ll talk about in a minute, you really want to exfoliate beforehand, because if this happens to you, the only real remedy is to exfoliate the tan entirely off your skin, wasting the spray tan appointment altogether.
This is one of the many reasons that so many people just use self-tanner at home, because it can be much simpler to control this. If you do get a spray tan, and you’re not happy with the color, I would try using a layer of my favorite self-tanner. The added layer of color will help minimize any freckling or unnatural look.
Issue With The Spray Tan Machine
Another possibility, and what some people would say is one of the most likely reasons, are faulty machines. Some salons do not do an adequate job cleaning the lines of their spray tan machines, causing them to build up a sticky solution in the lines. So, instead of getting a delicate even mist that will properly cover your skin, you’ll get a blotchy thick solution that results in something that can look identical to freckles.
Despite the way I described this, it can be really hard to notice, so can go unreported for a long time. I’ll give you a personal example.
Being the author of this site, I have a spot on pre-tan ritual. I am sure to wait at least 24 hours after waxing or shaving, I moisturize, I use correct products, etc. I tried out a new salon, and despite the fact that my routine was on point, I ended up with a tan that looked just like freckles.
I went back and talked with the salon, but was met with skepticism, that it must have been something I had done. Certain that I had done everything right, and having heard of this issue in the past, I asked them to inspect the lines of the machine that I used. After they did so, they apologized and admitted that they had not been properly cleaned.
I share this quick story just to demonstrate that although a spotty tan is usually the result of improper preparation, it can also be the machine or airbrush used. So if you end up with this kind of result, and are certain you did everything correctly. Don’t be afraid to talk to the salon about the machine they used. You Used An Oil-Based Product Before Your Spray Tan
Oil based soaps and other products, if not properly washed off, can form a bit of a barrier on your skin, stopping the DHA from developing. When this does happen, it usually looks more blotchy then spotty.
How To Avoid A Spray Tan That Looks Like Freckles
Let me sum this up for you a little bit.
- First, be sure that you shave or wax at least 24 hours before you go spray tanning.
- Make sure that your skin is well exfoliated, and well moisturized. This will help ensure that your tan looks even and non-blotchy.
- Make sure that as soon as your tan has had time to develop, that you take a shower. Use a simple soap that isn’t too harsh. If there is a little bit of bronzer or guide color stuck in your pores or on your skin, the shower should help rinse it off.
- If you’ve done all this, and you still have freckled looking skin, it could be the machine that was used is having some issues. Check with the salon if this is the case.
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