6 Ways to Make Your Spray Tan Last Way Longer

Your skin and wallet will thank you.

We get it. If another person politely informed you about the importance of SPF you’d probably go ballistic on your tube of sunscreen. That said, we’re just going to assume you know the dangers of Mr. Sun’s rays and skip right to the good stuff: how to get the most out of your spray tans all summer long. For those new to the faux tan game, or for those who haven’t indulged in a while, the industry has made some sweeping improvements in terms of color, application, longevity, and even smell in recent years.

“Tanning solutions have really developed and been refined since they first came to market and getting that uber-natural color is very obtainable,” notes Peta Murgatroyd, the founder sunless tanning line South Seas Skincare. “By spray tanning you also eliminate being burnt, peeling, and seeing sun spots appear. People usually associate spray tanning with sticky, smelly, orange people. However, [our formula] has a beautiful, faint floral scent, that dries within minutes.”

Whether you opt for at-home sunless tanners or a professional spray down, here are six ways to make the most out of your bronzed investment.

Exfoliate Like You Mean It

Forget the subpar loofah action and exfoliate like a pro before your appointment or self-application session.

“To make your spray tan last longer, you need to exfoliate the dead skin off before you spray,” says Murgatroyd. “That way the tan won't grab in the dryer areas, such as the elbows, knees, wrists, ankles, and armpits.”

Massage a physical exfoliating scrub (one with sugar, salt, or powdered shells is great) all over your body, working each section for a minute or two with extra care given to the dry areas Murgatroyd mentioned. Don’t rub yourself raw, but make sure you’re truly nixing dead cell buildup. Your application will be much smoother and will last longer.

Time It Right

“If you have peeling skin from a sun burn, it’s not a good idea to get a tan. Your fresh spray tan will peel right off with the peeling skin,” says says Jennifer Materia, founder of GLOW Airbrush Tanning, who just launched a new NYC airbrush tanning experince, GLOW 212. “Same goes for waxing. You can’t wax after getting a spray tan — the wax will strip the tan right off.”

Hold off on the Gym, Shower, or Sauna

One of the biggest mistakes people make after getting a spray tan is not given the solution time to sink into the skin.

“You must allow time for your tan to develop, so no getting a spray tan and then heading off to Soul Cycle,” says Materia. “You can’t get wet during the development time. Otherwise the result won’t be good.”

That also means skipping the sauna, hot yoga, shower, and pool. Basically, if your skin is going to sweat or get wet, you need to wait. Typically, this waiting time is between six to eight hours, but given how frustrating that “don’t you dare even wash your hands!” interim can be, GLOW developed a rapid tan solution they’ve dubbed the “Glow and Go!”

“Instead of waiting the normal eight hours before you can shower, you can shower in two to four hours. Most people like the convenience of getting the spray tan and then showering off a few hours later. It’s perfect for right before a night out," says Materia. Reach out to your local salons to see if they provide a similar option.

Moisturize Daily

After your faux tan has rested for the recommended time, get thyself on a consistent moisturizing regimen. Both Murgatroyd and Materia recommended moisturizing with a non-abrasive lotion twice daily for best results. This will not only keep your skin hydrated and glowing, but will prevent patchy, dry areas from forming and keep your tan looking fresher for longer.

Try a Tan Extender

On that note, you can keep your tan alive even longer by incorporating a tan extending lotion into your regimen. You’ve got many options, including Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer ($3), Australian Gold Moisture Lock Tan Extender ($5), and St. Tropez Tan Optimiser Body Moisturiser ($18).

Be Shower-Smart

Materia says it’s ideal to avoid harsh soaps, including bar soaps or anything with physical or chemical exfoliating ingredients. Instead, stick to a mild body wash and very light “scrubbing” action while in the shower. In other words, be smart about the products you use and, of course, follow your tanning specialist's advice like as if it's religious text.

By following this advice, your wallet will be heftier, your skin healthier, and your spray tan definitely glowier.


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