It can be incredibly tempting to rush to the showers after having a spray tan. Your skin probably looks bronzed and beautiful, and you might think you have given yourself enough time for the tan to develop.
However, this common mistake, of washing off a tan too early, is mainly due to the bronzers contained in the spray tan. The bronzers make your skin look perfectly tanned, but this color is washed away during the first shower, the actual spray tanning product needs much longer to develop.
What happens if you wash your spray tan off too early, and can you fix it? Washing the spray tan off too early will stop the development of color, and your tan will not be as dark as you would want. The first few hours after a spray tan is for the color to develop, and interfering with this can lead to a flat, light and streaky tan.
Luckily, there are a few ways to fix a spray tan that has been washed off too early. Here is all you need to know about what happens if you wash your tan off early, and what you can do to fix it.
How Early Is Too Early?
After your spray tan, your technician will tell you how long to wait before washing your spray tan off. Most of us, however, don’t listen really well and are just excited about our new tan.
Spray tans contain DHA, which reacts with the skin’s outer layer, mostly dead skin cells, to develop a darker color. This chemical reaction usually takes around 2 hours to occur. If you wash your spray tan off before this, there might be no color development at all.
After 2 hours, you can wash the spray tan away and the development will still happen, but the longer you leave the spray tan on for, the darker your skin will be.
If you are wanting a rich, deep tan, avoid washing it off before 4 hours. Anything before this will be a lighter tan. If you are in a rush, the earliest you should wash a spray tan off is 4 hours.
Many people fall for the bronzer trick as well. Most spray tans contain a bronzer that instantly tans the skin, making it seem like the tan has developed instantly. This color might have been what you had hoped for, but it is only temporary. It will wash off in your first shower.
What Happens If You Washing Your Spray Tan Off Too Early?
What happens when you wash your spray tan off too early will depend on how early you actually washed it off. Washing it off after 2 hours should still give you a decent, albeit light, tan, however anything before this will probably land up destroying any chance your skin had at developing a darker color.
Washing off your spray tan too early could also decrease the longevity of the tan. The product would have not been given enough time to react with the skin, so the results will not be as long-lasting.
Those who are new to spray tanning might not know to avoid using normal body products in the shower. Harsh body products and foams, mixed in with showering too early, can either completely strip the tan from your body, or leave you with unsightly patches and streaks.
Not washing the tan off correctly in the shower can lead to dark patches and streaks, something that really cannot be corrected too easily.
How To Fix A Spray Tan Which Is Washed Off Too Early
Knowing how to fix a spray tan that has been washed off too early will give you some assurance that it is a mistake that can be fixed.
Here are a few steps you can take to fix your tanning mistake:
1. Call Your Spray Tan Specialist
No matter how embarrassed you might be, your first step should be to phone your spray tan technician. Let them know that you washed your tan off too early, let them know how long you actually waited, and let them know what color your skin is.
They might ask you to wait 24 hours to see if the color develops anymore, to determine whether or not you will need to come in for a touch-up or not.
2. Use Self-Tanning Products To Cover Up
If you don’t have time to make it back to the spray tan salon for touch-ups, you can use a self-tanning product, such as a tinted moisturizer or self-tanning lotion to darken your skin. These will help to highlight all the right areas, and some contain bronzers that give an instant tan.
However, much like a spray tan, self-tanning products contain DHA, which need a certain amount of time to react with the skin, so do not wash the self-tanning product off too early either.
3. Go For A Touch-Up
The best solution would be to go for a touch up at your spray tanning salon. The spray tan technicians will know exactly how to fix your mistake and have probably helped many clients through the same issue.
They will more than likely spray over your existing spray tan to uplift it. Some salons might offer this for free, but if you did wash it off too early and didn’t listen to their recommendations, you will probably have to pay for the touch-up.
4. Renew Your Tan
If you are going to have a spray tan done to cover the one that was washed off early, you will have to remove the old spray tan. Spraying over an existing tan, especially one which is blotchy and streaky, might lead to those areas being more noticeable.
To remove the old tan, shower multiple times and use an exfoliator to remove the product. Baby oil, left on the skin for a few minutes can also help to remove the spray tan.
This is the best way to ensure your next spray tan will be even and smooth, but only if you leave it to develop for a good few hours!
Showering After A Spray Tan
Now that you are aware of what might happen if you wash your spray tan off too early, it is a good time to learn what to do during your first shower.
Avoid spending too long in the shower, and only shower in lukewarm water. Hot water can interfere with the chemical reaction between the DHA and your skin, which could lead to it not working or the tan being patchy. Spending too long in the shower might also affect this reaction.
Avoid using harsh chemicals such as body washes, foams, and bars of soap. There are some great spray tan friendly soaps to purchase, which can be used on freshly spray-tanned skin, protecting the tan against being stripped away.
If you don’t have a spray tan friendly body wash, you can use a natural and mild body wash or bar of soap. This won’t strip away the tan but will be enough to wash away the bronzer and any residual product left on your skin.
How long should I wait for different tan shades?
If you are only wanting a lighter spray tan, you can wait up to 3 hours to shower. For a natural tan, you can wait up to 6 hours, for a darker spray tan, wait for up to 8 hours before heading into the shower.
The tan will continue to develop after you shower, but the longer you leave the product on, the darker the resultant tan will be, and the longer the tan will last.
Does a spray tan rub off when you sweat?
A fresh spray tan can be ruined by sweat, so if you are having your spray tan done on a particularly hot day, be careful. The best way to combat a spray tan rubbing off due to sweat is to use baby powder.
Dust baby powder under your arms, knees, and anywhere else you usually sweat. This will prevent the sweat from running and causing streaks and patches on your newly spray-tanned skin.
How do you stop a spray tan transferring onto your clothes?
The best option is to wear loose-fitting clothing. This will prevent the clothes rubbing against your spray tan, which can ruin both the clothes and your tan.
Choose older clothes that you will not mind getting stained. You can also lightly dust baby powder over your body to prevent the tan from transferring onto your clothes and other linen.
Washing Off A Spray Tan Too Early
Everyone who has ever gone for a spray tan or who is self-tanned at home has made at least one mistake along the way. If you find that you have showered too early after having your spray tan done, there are ways to fix it.
Enjoy your spray tan, leave it to rest for a couple of hours and then jump into a lukewarm, short shower, and watch as your skin further develops a bronzed, sun-kissed tone.