What To Do Before a Spray Tan: The Ultimate Guide

What To Do Before a Spray Tan: The Ultimate Guide

Summer is here, and that means you may be looking for that sun-kissed glow. A spray tan is one of the safest and most effective ways to get a bronzed complexion. You don't have to expose yourself to sun damage or harmful UV rays from a tanning bed. These other forms of tanning can lead to premature aging, dark spots, and other skin issues. 

Spray tanning allows you to customize your tan, and it won’t damage your skin. However, there are a few steps you'll want to follow to prepare your skin for a sunless tan. We have everything you need to know about getting ready for a spray tan. 

What Is Spray Tanning? 

You may think a spray tan will turn you into a smelly orange, but thankfully, they’ve come a long way since the early 2000s. Spray tans today can be subtle, natural-looking, and odorless. 

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is the active ingredient that makes spray tan formulations work. It has a harmless chemical reaction with your skin, leaving it temporarily tan. The words chemical reaction may set off alarm bells, but there's no need to worry. Think about how an apple will quickly turn brown after being cut. A spray tan is a very similar process to an apple’s oxidation. 

The concentration of DHA in a tanning solution will determine how dark you will get. Depending on your unique skin chemistry, you will be somewhere between DHA-sensitive and DHA-resistant. No matter where you fall, a spray-tan artist can make the necessary adjustments to give you the perfect level of tan that you desire. For more high-detail customization like six-pack abs, you may want an airbrush tanning appointment instead.

Your specific spray tan mixture is placed into a machine that applies it as a fine mist. You can choose to go completely nude or wear underwear. It's totally up to you! Just make sure your undergarments are even and adjusted. Otherwise, you'll end up with wonky tan lines. 

The cost of your spray tan appointment will depend on several factors. On average, it costs about $40. However, sessions can range anywhere from $18 to $100. It all depends on the location, quality of the tanning salon, and type of spray tan. Many salons offer discounted packages to help you get more bang for your buck. 

Start By Showering and Exfoliating 

Showering before you get a spray tan is a must. You don't want sweat, dirt, or oil on your skin because it can hinder the effectiveness of your spray tan. It may not be able to absorb evenly onto your skin, and the results can be patchy. 

You should also exfoliate your body a few days before getting a spray tan. Dry skin or dead skin cells can create an uneven tan. The solution can collect on dry patches and look unsightly. Pay extra close attention to places like your elbows or knees, which commonly experience dryness. 

If you struggle with dry skin, try prepping 3-5 days before your appointment. You’ll want to be thoroughly exfoliated and moisturized. Try exfoliating in the shower using an exfoliating mitt or buffer, like a Spongellé Body Buffer. It’s infused with body wash and will help you remove dead skin cells to reveal new fresh skin.

Before you exfoliate, let your skin steam in the shower for a few minutes. Then, move your buffer in gentle circles to remove dead skin. You don't want to scrub too hard because it can inflame your skin. You can also cover your body in baby oil and allow it to sit for five to 10 minutes before you shower to help you exfoliate.

Once you get out of the shower, make sure you are lathering on the cream or lotion. You want to moisturize your skin as much as possible. Try a Spongellé Body Lotion, like Bulgarian Rose. The formula includes shea butter, jojoba oil, and vitamin E, which can all help nourish dry skin.

Make sure you're drinking plenty of water as well. Dry skin may be the result of dehydration. While you may not see a difference in your skin overnight, over time, you’ll notice a major improvement if you haven't been drinking enough. 

Wax and Shave

Whether you wax, shave, or do both, you should have all hair removal done before your spray tan. You want to complete waxing at least 24 hours in advance to give your hair follicles a chance to shrink back. The spray tan will gather and leave brown spots behind if the follicles are wide open. 

You can shave up to four hours before you spray tan. The hair follicles aren't as exposed since the root of the hair stays behind when you shave. 

Afterward, you'll want to keep hair removal to a minimum, so getting it done before a spray tan is ideal. Shaving can cause your tan to fade prematurely, and waxing can result in a patchy tan. 

Skip Body Products

While proper hydration is crucial, you'll want to avoid your lotion and other products 12 hours before your spray tan. Lotions, serums, oils, and other skincare products can repel the tanning solution. They create a residue over the skin, which prevents the DHA from reacting with the amino acids in the skin to create the tan. You'll even want to skip your deodorant before your tanning session. 

After Your Spray Tan

You know what to do before your tan. Now let's go over some aftercare spray tan tips. Some things may seem obvious, even if it's your first time, and others you might not have thought about before. 


You'll want to wear loose-fitting clothes home from your appointment. Tight clothes can cause smudging, and you might not have a tan anymore when you get home. 

Dark Clothing: 

Tanning solutions can stain clothes. You’ll want to wear darker clothes to your appointment as well as afterward.


Hydration is crucial post tan. Applying moisturizer will ensure your tan stays nice and even. 

Showering and Water: 

The first shower you take should be more of a rinse-off 8-10 hours after your appointment. Avoid any harsh soaps or scrubbing. Luckily, Spongellé products are made with gentle ingredients that won't remove your tan. 

You should try to abstain from most water activities besides a quick shower. Things like swimming and saunas can shorten the life of your tan. 

Top Off: 

Using a gradual self-tanner, top off your spray tan three days after your session to make it last longer. 


You can add tanning drops to your face serum, moisturizer, or foundation to tan your face. You can also use bronzer and highlighter to perfect a glowy tan look. If you had your face spray-tanned, wait 6-8 hours before applying makeup.


Wear long pajamas to sleep to keep your tan from rubbing off onto your sheets. It will also prevent skin-to-skin contact, creating sweating and smudging overnight. 


Your spray tan isn't going to protect you from the sun's harmful rays. You'll still need to apply sunblock when you're outside. 

Removing Your Tanner

A spray tan generally only lasts about a week, and then it will be time to remove it. You'll need fresh skin to prepare for your next session if you go back to back. You can help break down the tan on your skin by applying oil all over your body for several minutes before getting in the shower. 

Once you're in the shower, use a body scrub to help remove the tanner. Finish by using your exfoliating buffer in circular motions all over your body. The tanner should wash away, and your skin will look as it did before. 

Spray Tan Ready 

It will become easier once you've had a few spray tans and are going to a salon you trust. You'll find the exact routine before and after your appointment that works for you to have the best spray tan. 

You can take a few notes to remember what you liked, from your skincare to the DHA percentage. Spongellé products can help you keep your tan looking great and remove it when you're ready. 


DHA-Spray and Sunless Tanning Booths | Medicine Net

How to Exfoliate Safely by Skin Type | Healthline

Dermatologists' top tips for relieving dry skin | AAD