If you’re anything like me, spray tans are an absolute necessity. Let me put this in perspective for you – You know when you go to the makeup aisle and see all the foundations in various shades of skin tone colors ranging from light to dark? You know the shade at the VERY far left, the lightest light shade that looks almost white? Yeah, that shade is usually too dark for my natural skin tone.
I have always loved being tan – everything looks better against sun kissed, radiant, glowing skin. As a model, I am required to be camera ready at all times of the year, which includes looking healthy and tan. Unfortunately, with all the dangers that come with regular tanning beds, I am in a fully committed relationship with my local spray tanning salon. I am there almost weekly, and have become a self-proclaimed professional spray tanner.
Over the years, I have learned many tricks to perfecting the spray tan. It’s definitely not an easy process, and requires a bit of TLC. However let’s be honest – it’s WAY better than getting skin cancer. Here are my top tips for getting a spray tan and making it last!
- Take Care of Your Skin Before Tanning
Before you even step into the tanning salon, you need to prep your skin for the spray tan. This includes exfoliating your skin in the shower (loofas or body wash scrubs work well), shaving, and making sure you are 100% clean. Do not add any lotion to your skin before visiting the salon. It will create a barrier between your skin and the tan, which is more likely to create streak lines. I even avoid wearing makeup, deodorant, and perfumes so there is nothing that could cause streaks on my skin.
The salon reps will usually try to sell you an “extender” lotion when you check in, and these lotions can range anywhere from $30 – $100 dollars for one bottle! Do not be fooled – these will not do anything for your tan. They are a gimmick, and will not help extend your tan. Trust me, I have tried them all and nothing has made my tan last longer than 5 or 6 days, which is what the tan lasts without it anyway. Save yourself some money – tanning is expensive enough as it is!
- Tanning Machine Choices: Versa or Mystic
Unless you want to look like Snooki from The Jersey Shore or Donald Trump, DO NOT use Mystic Tanning beds. They have a very orange undertone to their tanning solution, which will leave you looking like a flaming hot Cheeto. The Versa Spa solution has purple and brown undertones, which make you look like you actually got your tan from the sun – you know, kind of the whole point of tanning. They also have a wide range of shades and additional options. Which now leads me to my next tip….
- Choose the Correct Shade
There are several shades you can choose from with the Versa Spa. Light, Medium and Dark are the three main colors, but you can also choose from a variety of “extra” features including Clear, Bronze, and Catalina. My personal favorite is Medium with Bronzer, although I will also opt for Dark Bronze on special occasions such as vacations or photoshoots (I used Dark with Bronzer in the picture above). The bronzer will leave your skin just a touch warmer than the clear solution. Plus, you will get instant color rather than having to wait 8 hours for the rest of the solution to develop. The Catalina is another bronzer, however it is only available in the “pro” version of the Versa Spa, which is a bit more expensive. I got a Catalina tan one time, and was asked by my waitress if I had just been to Jamaica for a month. It is EXTREMEMLY dark with deep purple undertones. If you are pale like me, be aware that it will be a drastic change of your natural skin tone.
- Wear Loose Fitting Clothing To Get Your Tan – If Possible Wear Sandals
This is not the time to wear your skinniest, tightest jeans. Think about it – your tan takes 8 hours to develop and 1 hour to dry. If you get into super tight jeans immediately after your spray, chances are some of it will rub off your skin. I usually wear the lightest yoga/sweatpants I own, a very loose fitting shirt with no bra, and flip flops so the color doesn’t rub off my feet. This is not a fashion show people! Also, avoid wearing white or light colors as the solution tends to rub off a bit onto your clothes and dye them brown. It does wash out well in the laundry, but I recommend still trying to avoid it if at all possible.
- Don’t Shower or Sweat for 24 Hours
I know it sucks, especially because the spray tan solution is not the best smelling thing in the whole world. The tanning specialists usually say to wait about 8 hours before showering or sweating, but I like to try for 24 hours. I’ve noticed it helps the longevity of my tan if I wait. I usually tan at night so I can let it develop when I sleep.
- Wash Your Hands About 10 Minutes After Getting Your Tan
This one may seem counter intuitive; however, I highly recommend washing your hands about 10 minutes after you get the tan. Don’t scrub with soap, but rather run your hands under lukewarm water for a few seconds. Your knuckles tend to absorb solution more than the rest of your hand, which will make your hands look orange and splotchy. I promise, washing your hands won’t completely get rid of the solution, but it will soften the impact of the bronzer in your knuckle creases and wrists.
- Do Not Use Any Body Washes With Micro Beads or Loofas Until You’re Ready to Scrub the Tan Off
Do NOT use a loofa on your skin when you have a spray tan. That will almost always scrub it off, leaving your skin looking blotchy. Make sure that you avoid all exfoliators and go for gentle cleansers instead.
- Always Pat Dry
When you go to dry off after a dip in the pool or a shower, don’t rub your skin with your towel. That is a guarantee to make your tan rub off. Instead, pat yourself dry with a towel. Much more time consuming, but it will substantially help preserve the life of your tan.
- Apply Lotion Daily After You Shower
Rule of thumb – when your skin cracks, so will your tan! Use non-oil based lotions to keep your skin hydrated and prolong the life of your tan. It will lock in moisture and color on your skin, and will also help your skin fade evenly so it doesn’t look like you are a Dalmatian. Also, avoid getting burnt by the sun because once you start peeling, your tan will peel too.
- Make Sure You Have Scrubbed Off the Older Tan Before Re-Spraying
When your tan has mostly faded and it’s time to re-up, make sure you have scrubbed off the “loose” tanning solution on your body before getting a second tan. The parts that usually go first are under and between “the girls”, the stomach, and inner thighs. Make sure you have scrubbed off the old tan before getting a new one so it doesn’t overlap and give you multi colored skin.