Most of us take for granted how difficult it is to not get our skin wet for the hours needed for a spray tan to develop. Even the smallest splash of water on your fresh spray tan can result in a light spot or streaky appearance, something that you will really want to avoid.
If a water spot happens on a fresh spray tan, how do you fix it?
Luckily, it is fairly simple to fix water spots on your spray tan, and you can do it at home without having to pop back into the spray tan salon.
What Causes Water Spots?
It might seem obvious that water causes water spots, but how exactly does it cause such a drastic change in a spray tan?
Water washes away DHA on the skin. DHA is an ingredient in the spray tan formula that is responsible for darkening the upper dead skin cells.
If the skin comes in contact with water, such as from rain or from washing the dishes, the DHA will wash off from the skin and not be able to darken the skin like it would all over your body.
Your skin has to stay completely dry for 8 hours after the spray tan has been applied, or you run the risk of water spots from contact with water any time before this.
If you do want a lighter tan, you can wash your spray tan off sooner than 8 hours, but you will need to make sure you wash it off evenly in the shower, and from all areas, to make sure there is no DHA left to cause darker patches in certain places where it was not washed off properly.
So, avoiding water after your spray tan for 8 hours is super important to be sure you have an even, natural-looking tan!
Another way water spots appear is if somebody sweats excessively after a spray tan. This could be due to hot weather, or tight clothing (which is not advised) worn after a spray tan. These beads or drops of sweat can also wash away the DHA, and cause patches and lighter areas of the spray tan.
When you leave the spray tan salon, avoid sitting on leather seats, do not do any strenuous activity, do not wear tight-fitting clothes, and definitely use cooling!
How To Fix Water Spots on A Spray Tan
The damage done to your spray tan will obviously vary, and so will the different ways to deal with it. Here are a few suggestions on how you can fix a splotchy tan.
- Touch-ups – If you have a few small water spots, you can use a self-tanning lotion (either one sitting in your cupboard, or you will have to go out and buy one). Using a small paintbrush, dip the paintbrush into the self-tanner, and wipe off some of the product on the bottle itself, and carefully paint in the water spots. Try and keep the tan light and let it develop until the white spots blend in with the rest of your skin.
- Bronzer – Bronzer is a great option if you do not want to commit to more self-tanner to cover up water spots. Use a tinted bronzing cream to cover up the water spots, but note that this is only a good solution for smaller water spots.
Choose a bronzer that closely matches your tanned skin color. Rub it evenly into the affected areas until it is all blended it. You will have to do this daily or whenever you go out until the tan fades away.
- Lemon and baking soda – Lemon and baking soda, two simple ingredients, can help you fix water spots at home. Mix a few drops of lemon juice with enough baking soda to make a paste. Jump into the shower and use this mixture to scrub away at the water spots. The mixture of the two ingredients will help to lighten the area around the water spots, blending them in more with the rest of your skin.
- Reapplication – If you are unfortunate enough to come into contact with quite a bit of water, which leaves you with lots of small water spots or large patches of lighter areas, it might be better to just strip your skin of your tan and go for a new spray tan. To do this, you can make an exfoliating scrub using lemon juice and sugar.
This body scrub will remove much of the tan from your skin, giving you a fresh canvas to go back for a new spray tan. Be sure to keep your skin hydrated though. Apply a light moisturizing cream after exfoliation, and wait a day before heading back to the tanning salon. This will give your skin a chance to heal after the exfoliation, and gives you a chance to feed it with some much-needed hydration.
As annoying and unfortunate as water spots might be, they can be a great lesson to learn. Next time you go for a spray tan, you will be sure to stay away from any water, knowing the damage it can do to your tan, and how tricky it might be to even out water spots once the damage is done!
When your spray tan salons give you tips on how to care for your developing tan after a session, listen!
How To Keep A New Spray Tan Safe
Other than all the preparation needed to ensure your skin is in the best condition for a spray tan, there are certain things you should do and avoid doing once you have had your spray tan done, at least for the 8 hours it takes for the spray tan to properly develop.
- Give your tan at least 7 or 8 hours to develop if you want a deep, rich tone.
- Do not wear socks or shoes after your tanning session, and if you must, choose loose-fitting flip flops to wear home.
- Do not apply any moisturizers or deodorants to your skin, these, much like water, will stop the DHA from properly reacting with your skin and can cause dark patches and streaks.
- Do not wear tight-fitting clothing for at least 6 hours. This includes bras, spandex, workout clothes, tight-fitting jeans, tight shirts, and socks.
- Do not swim, exercise, sit in a sauna or do any activity that could cause you to sweat. These will all leave you with streaks and patches.
- Avoid shaving for at least a day after a spray tan. Shaving can strip the color off of your skin, and it really should be avoided for as long as possible.
- If you have leather seats in your car, put down a towel before sitting. The leather can disrupt the tan, can make you sweat, and your tan could damage the leather.
How do I know when to shower after a spray tan?
The spray tan specialist at the salon will give you a guideline on how long you should wait to shower after your spray tan, but as a rule of thumb, the below should be followed:
- For a light tan, shower 1-3 hours after a spray tan
- For a medium tan, shower 3-5 hours after a spray tan
- For a darker tan, shower 5-8 hours after a spray tan
Some spray tans do contain bronzer, which will make the tan appear darker than it is, but this bronzer will wash off in the shower. Be sure to keep this in mind and check with the salon as to whether or not their spray tans contain bronzer.
Can I wash my hair after a spray tan?
You should avoid washing your hair after a spray tan, even if you have no intention of wetting the rest of your body. There is too much risk that the hair might drip and wet your developing tan.
Along with this, shampoo and conditioner can also act as a barrier to the spray tan reacting with the skin and should be avoided along with soaps, scrubbing and shaving for at least 12 hours after a spray tan.
Will my spray tan fade evenly?
This will depend on your skin and how evenly the spray tan was applied, but the maintenance of your spray tan will also depend on how evenly the tan fades. It is important to keep your skin hydrated in the days after your spray tan, as hydrated skin helps a tan fade more evenly.
Water Spots and Spray Tans
Do not fear water spots, they are unfortunate and a pain when they happen, but they are fixable. However, the best way to deal with water spots is to stop them from happening in the first place. Listen to the guidelines given to you by the salon, and follow the sacred rules of spray tanning to ensure that your tan stays even, glowing and completely natural looking.
It might be difficult to avoid water for 8 hours, but you will thank yourself that you did!