HOW TO PREP FOR A SPRAY TAN (4 MAJOR tips from a professional!). Watch this great video.

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Achieving a flawless and long-lasting spray tan is a beauty goal for many. A key component in this beauty ritual is understanding the interplay between moisturizing and tanning—specifically, "How long before a spray tan can you moisturize?" Below, we delve into a comprehensive guide to ensure your moisturizing routine aligns perfectly with your tanning schedule for the best results.

Get the Most Out of Your Spray Tan: 4 Pro Tips

This blog post summarizes a YouTube video by a spray tan professional on how to prepare for a spray tan to achieve the best results. Here are the key takeaways:

Exfoliate 24-48 hours before:

Why Exfoliate?

  • Smooth Canvas: Exfoliation removes the outermost layer of dull, dead skin cells. This creates a smooth and even surface for the spray tan solution to adhere to, preventing streaks, patches, and uneven fading.
  • Longer Lasting Tan: A spray tan applied to freshly exfoliated skin will penetrate deeper and last longer. This is because the tanning solution interacts with skin cells at a more consistent level.
  • Prevents Dark Spots: When spray tan solution mixes with excess dead skin cells, it can create darker spots, especially around hair follicles or dry patches. Exfoliation helps prevent this issue.

How to Exfoliate:

Sugar or Salt Scrubs: These provide gentle physical exfoliation. Choose a scrub with fine granules to avoid irritation. Apply in circular motions, focusing on areas prone to dryness (knees, elbows, ankles).

  • Exfoliating Mitt: This tool combined with a gentle body wash provides effective exfoliation without harsh abrasives. Move the mitt in circular motions over your skin.
  • Timing is Key: Exfoliating 24-48 hours before your tan is ideal. This allows your skin's natural oils and pH to rebalance, creating the perfect environment for the tan solution to settle evenly.

Important Note: While exfoliation is crucial, avoid overdoing it. Harsh scrubbing can cause irritation, making your skin more susceptible to an uneven tan.

A woman with an exfoliating spatula.
A woman with an exfoliating spatula.

Shave or wax 24-48 hours before:

Shaving or waxing is an important part of preparing for a spray tan, but timing is crucial to avoid compromising the results. Here's why:

Why Shave/Wax Before?

  • Smooth and Even Application: Removing hair allows the spray tan solution to reach the surface of your skin evenly, preventing splotches or patchy coverage around hair follicles.
  • Flawless Finish: By removing hair, you eliminate potential "tanning lines" that could occur if hair grows back during the tan's lifespan.

The Importance of Waiting:

  • Avoid Irritation: Shaving or waxing too close to your spray tan appointment can irritate the skin, making it more sensitive and prone to uneven tan development.
  • Prevent Uneven Tan: Irritated skin can absorb the spray tan solution differently, leading to patchy or uneven color. Additionally, open pores from shaving can trap the solution, creating unwanted dark spots.

Skip Moisturizing Strips: Shaving creams with moisturizing strips can create a barrier on your skin, preventing the spray tan solution from adhering properly. Opt for a simple shaving cream or gel.

The Perfect Timing:

  • 24-48 Hours Before: This timeframe allows your skin to recover from any potential irritation caused by shaving or waxing. It also gives your skin time to rebalance its natural oils, creating a better foundation for the spray tan solution.

Additional Tips:

  • Exfoliate Before Shaving/Waxing: Gently exfoliate the area before removing hair to remove dead skin cells and prevent ingrown hairs.
  • Use a Sharp Razor: A dull razor can cause irritation; opt for a sharp blade for a smoother shave.

Moisturize After: After shaving or waxing, use a  fragrance-free moisturizer to soothe your skin and prevent dryness.

By following these tips and ensuring proper timing for hair removal, you can contribute to a flawless and even spray tan application.

Shower 8-12 hours before:

Showering is essential for hygiene, but when it comes to spray tans, timing is crucial. Here's why showering 8-12 hours before your appointment is ideal:

Why Shower Before?

  • Clean Canvas: A clean base free of dirt, sweat, and oils allows the spray tan solution to adhere evenly, preventing streaks and patches.
  • Open Pores: A warm shower slightly opens your pores, allowing the tanning solution to penetrate deeper for a longer-lasting tan.

Why Not Shower Right Before?

  • Disrupted pH: Freshly showered skin has a slightly altered pH balance. The spray tan solution is formulated to work best with your skin's natural pH, and showering right before disrupts this balance, potentially affecting the tan's development.
  • Excess Moisture Absorption: Skin that is overly saturated with moisture from a recent shower can absorb the spray tan solution unevenly, leading to a patchy or diluted tan.

The 8-12 Hour Window:

  • This timeframe allows you to cleanse your skin while giving it enough time to:
    • Rebalance its natural pH: This ensures optimal interaction between your skin and the tanning solution.
    • Regain its natural moisture level: Slightly damp skin is ideal for a flawless tan, while overly saturated skin can be detrimental.

Additional Tips:

  • Use lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser: Avoid harsh soaps or scrubs that can strip your skin's natural oils.
  • Pat dry instead of rubbing: This helps retain some moisture on your skin.
  • Moisturize lightly: Apply a fragrance-free moisturizer only to areas prone to dryness (hands, elbows, knees) at least an hour before your appointment. Avoid applying moisturizer to areas you want tanned.

By showering at the right time and following these simple tips, you can help ensure your spray tan develops evenly and lasts longer.

A woman exfoliating her skin.
A woman exfoliating her skin.

Arrive with clean, bare skin:

Achieving a beautiful, even spray tan is all about proper preparation, and one crucial step is ensuring your skin is clean and bare when you arrive for your appointment. Here's why:

Why Bare Skin is Key:

  • Optimal Absorption: Any product on your skin, like lotions, oils, deodorant, or makeup, can create a barrier that prevents the spray tan solution from adhering evenly. This can lead to patchiness, streaks, and uneven color development.

Flawless Finish: Deodorant , especially antiperspirants, can react with the spray tan solution, causing discoloration or a splotchy appearance. Makeup, particularly oil-based products, can also create uneven application and a less natural-looking tan.

  • Long-lasting Results: Having clean skin allows the spray tan solution to penetrate deeper and bond with your skin cells, resulting in a longer-lasting tan.

What to Avoid:

  • Lotions and Oils: These create a barrier on your skin, preventing the tanning solution from reaching the skin cells it needs to interact with.
  • Deodorant: Antiperspirants contain aluminum which can react with the spray tan solution, leading to discoloration and unevenness. Opt for a deodorant-free option on the day of your tan.
  • Makeup: Remove all makeup before your appointment, including foundation, concealer, and even lip products. Oil-based makeup can create a barrier and lead to uneven results.

What to Do:

  • Shower 8-12 hours before: This removes any dirt, sweat, and oils while allowing your skin's pH to return to its natural state, creating an optimal base for the tan.
  • Wear loose, dark clothing: This minimizes the risk of transferring any unwanted particles onto your freshly tanned skin.
  • Arrive barefaced: Skip all skincare products, makeup, and deodorant on the day of your spray tan.

Additional Tips:

  • Ask your spray tan technician: If you have any concerns about specific products or your skincare routine, consult your technician for personalized advice.
  • Bring a makeup wipe: If you need to freshen up before your appointment, use a makeup wipe to remove any residual products without applying additional cleansing products.

By following these tips, you can ensure your skin is properly prepped for a flawless and long-lasting spray tan.

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Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

How long before a spray tan can you moisturize?

It's recommended to moisturize 24 hours before your spray tan appointment to ensure your skin is hydrated but not overly oily, which can interfere with tan application.

Why is it important to moisturize before a spray tan?

Moisturizing helps to smooth out the skin's surface, providing a more even canvas for the spray tan to adhere to, resulting in a more uniform color.

What type of moisturizer should I use before a spray tan?

Use a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer that absorbs well into the skin without leaving residue that could act as a barrier to the tanning solution.


In essence, mastering the art of moisturizing before and after your spray tan is about establishing a routine that works in harmony with your skin's needs and the tanning process. By adhering to the pre-tan moisturizing cutoff at 24 hours, ensuring your skin is product-free on the day of, and moisturizing adequately post-tan, you'll set the stage for a radiant and enduring tan.