Once beach (or spring break) season rolls around, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to get that summertime glow going. And for most of us, that means spray tans. Don’t let that one bad (and we mean streaky, orange) experience stop you from giving these bad boys another chance. If done right, they can make you look like a bronzed goddess. We’re big believers in faking a tan, but before you step into that booth, get yourself airbrushed by a pro or try a product on your own, make sure you read up on all the rules, ahead.
1. It’s all about the prep. If you want your spray tan to come out right (and last longer) you actually have to put in some work. Don’t just show up unprepared — you’ve got some homework to do. Shower the day before your session and give yourself a good scrub and a smooth shave. Exfoliating is the key to an even spray tan, as dead or flaky skin can leave you with patches and streaks. Try the Kiehl’s Gently Exfoliating Body Scrub to prepare your skin (focusing on rougher areas like knees and elbows) and shave at the end of your shower, once your hair follicles have softened. Remember that shaving after your spray session will only strip away the color quicker.
2. But don’t shower right before your session. This is because your pores are larger after a warm shower or bath, so the tanning solution sits in your pores and creates dark spots. As your pores seal, the solution gets trapped and you end up with visible tanning marks. Showering the same day is fine, just be sure to do it at least four hours before your appointment.
3. Fresh-faced is the way to go. Yes, we love makeup. But you should not be wearing makeup during your spray session if you plan on tanning your face as well. Your foundation will act as a barrier and once you go home to cleanse your face, the solution will go right down the drain too. Most places will offer makeup-removing wipes or you can bring some with you (like the CeraVe Makeup Removing Cleanser Cloths) if you’re heading to your appointment after work.
4. You shouldn’t wear deodorant to your spray session. Deodorant can also act as a barrier to the spray tan solution (and in some cases, can even turn colors), which will result in patchy underarms. You can forget sleeveless tops and bathing suits if you forget to wipe your deodorant off.
5. Spray tans get waaaay darker before they get lighter. Don’t freak out, the solution continues to develop over the next eight hours, so if you think your tan is too tan, it will lighten up. We just don’t recommend wearing your favorite white dress that day.
6. The best color comes after your first shower. Wait at least six to eight hours before your first shower. Once you do wash up, you’re going to notice that the water looks muddy — this is just the cosmetic bronzing solution used in the tan that allows the technician to know where they are spraying. No scrubbing, shaving or exfoliating! Only use body wash to gently clean up and let the water run until it turns clear. Now is when you really start to look like that bronzed goddess.
7. Moisturize every day after spray tanning. After your first shower, start moisturizing daily to maintain your tan. Just be sure to stay away from oil-based moisturizers, as they can strip away your tan and leave you looking blotchy.
8. The quickest way to wash one off? Go swimming. There are several tricks to removing tanner gone wrong, but the easiest one? Take a dip in the pool — it’s not just the water that really strips your tan away, but also the chlorine. A swimming session or two will make that spray tan dissolve like it was never there.