If you’re new to self tanning or wondering if you’re prepping your skin the best way possible, this post will break down what to do and not do before getting a fake tan. Prepping your skin before a spray tan will help it last as long as possible and fade evenly. The same rules apply to an at home self tan as well!


How to prep your skin before a spray tan

If you’re prepping the night before (ideal routine)

Take a hot bath and soak for 10 minutes. Before exfoliating, go ahead and shave your legs. Then hop in the shower and direct the nozel away from your body to create a steamy environment. Use an exfoliating mitt to scrub away dead skin cells, old tan, and product from your skin. You’ll want to exfoliate everywhere, including under your arms where your deodorant can build up. After, use a mineral oil free body lotion. In the morning, you’re ready for your tan! Avoid applying deodorant if you can.

If you’re in a rush (the day of)

In a warm shower shave your legs then use an exfolating mitt to prep your skin. Avoid moisturizers and deodorant before your tan.

What to do before a spray tan


Exfoliate really well to remove dead skin, old tanner, and products left on your skin. I avoid moisturizing exfoliators and opt for an exfoliating mitt. I also scrub my skin with a towel to dry off to make sure I got as much old skin off as possible. This is the most important step to make sure your tan will last and fade evenly.

Shave at least 12 hours prior

If you shave too soon before a spray tan it can leave your skin looking dotted because the spray tan will actually fill into the holes. To avoid this, shave the night before you self tan. Some studios use a witchazel prep that will help decrease this issue.

Bring dark, loose-fitting clothing to wear after your tan

You don’t want to wear anything light and tight after tanning to avoid rubbing off the spray tan before it develops and staining your clothes. I opt for a loose fitting cotton black maxi dress and I take my sandals off once I get in the car. If you’re wearing a shorter dress or shorts, you may want to sit on a towel after you spray tan to avoid the back of your legs from rubbing off into the seat.

Tan at the right time

There are different solutions and development times based on your schedule. You have to avoid water for a certain amount of time to let the tan develop. This means you can’t wash your hands, do dishes, workout, etc while the tan is developing. I typically spray tan at the end of the day so I sleep while it develops. Although self tanning right before bed isn’t ideal either. Give it at least an hour before laying down and I usually wear loose fitted pants and a dark tee shirt to avoid excessively staining my sheets. There will be some color that transfers, but it has always washed out.

What not to do before a spray tan

Avoid oils, moisturizers, or bar soaps

Using moisturizing products or bar soaps (think Dove, Olay, etc) can interfere with the spray tan absorbing into your skin. Stick with an exfoliating scrub for your body when prepping for a tan. The only exception is you can moisturize the night before you tan! You want to avoid moisturizers with mineral oils in them.

Get the rest of your beauty appointments done the day before

If you have other beauty appointments that need to get done, be sure to get them at least a day before your tan. This means no mani/pedi, facials, hair appointments, waxings, etc the day of your tan.

No deodorant or makeup until the tan develops

I know this isn’t ideal, but neither is green skin. If you have on deodorant before a spray tan, it can turn your spray tan green when it reacts to the DHA in the tanner. If you’re getting a tan right after work, just be sure to wipe down your underarms as the last step to avoid spreading the deodorant around. Wearing makeup can also interfere with the spray tan so it’s best to have makeup free skin before your tan.

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Long story short, clean, exfoliated, product-free skin is the best way to prep for a spray tan. I hope that helps!

xo Amanda John



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