How Long Does a Spray Tan Last?

How Long Does a Spray Tan Last?

Spray tanning is a perfect way to get glowing bronze skin without spending time in the sun. While the results of a professional spray tan can look amazing (and natural), they will eventually fade. 

The trick is learning how to prep your skin before a spray tan and what to do afterward. Other factors will also determine how long your spray tan lasts. We'll go over everything that influences how long your spray tan will last and help you learn what to do to extend the life of your tan. 

How Do Spray Tans Work?

Spray tans use a combination of chemicals to give the appearance of a natural tan by temporarily darkening your skin. You can customize how tanned you want your skin, from a subtle tint to a deeper color. 

Types of Spray Tans

There are two types of spray tans: airbrush tans and spray booth tans. A trained technician uses an airbrush machine to apply the tanning solution to your body. 

They can pick a formula that fits your skin type and make sure it is applied evenly over your skin. They can also avoid areas you don't want to be tanned, like your underarms or palms of your hands. 

Spray tan booths work by stepping into a booth that sprays you with the tanning solution. Your arms and legs must be positioned correctly to get an even tan. Spray tan booths can be the cheaper option, but they usually don't turn out better than an airbrush tan applied by a professional. 

Chemicals Used in Spray Tans

The main chemicals that make your skin dark in a spray tan are dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and erythrulose. DHA is a chemical that reacts with the amino acids on the surface of your skin to produce a brown pigment that looks like a tan. Erythrulose reacts with the skin similarly to DHA but develops more slowly, resulting in a longer-lasting tan. 

There are also moisturizers and fragrances in spray tans that can contain other bronzing agents. These ingredients can give you an immediate tan while the DHA solution develops. Moisturizers can also help hydrate your skin, while fragrances eliminate unpleasant odors from a spray tan. 

What Factors Affect How Long Spray Tans Last?

Several factors can affect how long your spray tan will last. Spray tans can last anywhere from seven to 10 days, but your skin type, the spray tan solution's quality, and pre-tan skin preparation all play a role. 

Skin Type

Your skin type significantly affects how long your spray tan will last. People with dry skin may notice their spray tan fades faster than others. When you have dry skin, it can flake off more quickly, taking your tan with it. Meanwhile, a spray tan can last longer on people with oily skin types because the extra moisture helps lock in the color. 

It also depends on how dark your natural skin tone is. A spray tan on fair skin tones may not last as long as it does on darker skin tones.

Quality of Spray Tan Solution

You want a high-quality spray tan solution to ensure a long-lasting tan. Cheap solutions can lack the ingredients necessary for binding the color to the skin. 

Your tan will be short-lived and may not look as even. A high-quality solution will look and smell nicer, last longer, and fade more naturally. 

Pre-Tan Skin Preparation 

Proper skin preparation before your spray tan will also go a long way in making it last. The most important part of your skin care routine pre-tan should be exfoliating. You want to make sure you remove all of the dead skin cells to create a smooth surface for the spray tan solution. 

If you don't exfoliate, you can end up with an uneven tan that may fade faster. The day before your spray tan, take a warm shower and shave the normal areas first. Next, use a buffer, like the Spongellé Burnt Sugar Confection buffer, to remove dead skin cells and dirt on your body. Use circular motions with the buffer where you will be spray-tanned. 

Rinse off your body and pat dry. Finish with an oil-free moisturizer to hydrate your skin. You want to stay away from any oil-based products before a spray tan because they can create a barrier between your skin and the solution. The spray tan won't be able to soak into your skin properly.

What Should You Avoid After a Spray Tan?

After you get a spray tan, there are several things you should try to avoid while your tan is developing.

Water and Sweat

It takes four to eight hours for the solution to set in, and you want to stay completely dry during that time. You should avoid sweating or water to ensure your tan lasts as long as possible.

Chlorine and Salt Water

Another important tip is to avoid chlorine and saltwater. Water with chemicals or salt can remove your tan. You'll have patchy areas and an uneven complexion. Once your tan has fully developed, you can swim in the pool, but it still may cause it to fade faster.

Tight Clothing 

Wear loose-fitting clothing to your spray tan appointment. Tight clothes can rub off your tan and give you a blotchy finish. You'll also end up with the tanning solution on your clothes, which may stain. 

Lotions and Oils 

Hydration is important, but you’ll want to avoid applying any lotions, creams, or oils right after a spray tan. Using these products can prevent the tan from developing. You should wait a minimum of 8 hours before applying a moisturizer and 24 hours if you want to stay on the safe side. 

Waxing and Shaving

You don't want to shave or wax for 24 to 48 hours after your spray tan. Both of these hair removal options can also remove the top layer of your skin. Your tan will no longer look as even. 

How Can You Maintain a Spray Tan?

There are ways you can get the most out of your spray tan. Here are some skin care tips to extend the life of your tan. 

Showering and Moisturizing 

When you shower, you want to use a moisturizing body wash and avoid exfoliating products. You want to keep it short and sweet and use warm water instead of hot. Taking a long, hot shower can remove the tanning solution. 

When you get out of the shower, pat dry and avoid rubbing your skin. You can end up with a splotchy-looking tan. You can start to exfoliate three days into your tan to keep your complexion even as the tan begins to fade. 

Hydrating your skin is also essential for maintaining your spray tan. After you shower, apply a lotion all over your body. Try one of Spongellé's pampering lotions. They are made with shea butter and vitamin E to hydrate and replenish your skin.

Self Tanner

You can extend the life of your tan by occasionally applying a tan extender or self-tanner. You can use several different products and formulations, including sprays, foams, lotions, and gels. Find an option that uses DHA and hydrating ingredients. 

Fix Streaking 

If you end up with a few streaks, don't panic. There are easy ways to remedy the situation. One of the quickest ways to fix streaking is to apply baby oil to the area and let it sit for 10 minutes. Next, exfoliate the area until you have an even-looking complexion. You can follow up with a self-tanner since exfoliating will remove some of the spray tan. 

How to Remove Your Spray Tan

No matter what you do, your spray tan will eventually fade. You'll have to remove the remaining tan to start fresh. Here are some tips for removing your spray tan. 

  • Soak: The first step is soaking in a nice bath of warm water for at least 15 to 20 minutes. The bath will help to loosen the top layer of the spray tan.
  • Exfoliate: Exfoliation is the main way you are going to remove your tan. Use a gentle scrub or a Spongellé exfoliating buffer to loosen and remove the top layer of the spray tan.
  • Tan Remover: You can use a tan removal product to help break down the spray tan on your skin. These products come in lotions, mousses, and sprays. 
  • Professional Removal: If you're having a hard time, consider visiting a professional spray tanning salon to have your tan removed.

Removing a spray tan can be tricky. You may have to try a few different methods before you find a process that works for you.

Final Thoughts

Spray tanning is a convenient way to get that sun-kissed look. The results will last seven to 10 days, depending on your skin type and skin care routine. Exfoliation and moisturizing are also key before and after your spray tan. Spongellé has all the products you need pre and post spray tan to keep it looking fresher for longer. 


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