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Get Ready for Summer

Spray Tanning: All Your Questions Answered

By Michelle Murphey| July 7, 2023

I’ve been doing some research about spray tanning, so I thought I’d compile all the information in one place. For years, I have enjoyed getting a spray tan before warm weather vacations, but I never did them regularly until this spring. When my skin returned to its pale winter state after a long winter in New England, I decided to start getting weekly spray tans until I was able to tan naturally. Regular spray tanning definitely takes a bit of extra maintenance, but with consistent results and no chance of sun damage on my skin.

What Type Of Spray Tan Is Best?

There are a few different options if you want to get a spray tan. You can go to one of the spray tanning booths where the machine sprays you, or you can go to a salon where a real live human administers the spray tan. The human version is far superior because they can customize the tan to accommodate your unique skin and desired result. A good spray tan artist knows how to apply the tan to look natural – heavier to areas that tend to get darker, and lighter to the areas that don’t always see as much sun.

How Does Spray Tanning Work?

All spray tan products contain the same active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone (DHA for short). The DHA interacts with your skin’s amino acids and gives you a tanned appearance over a period of a few hours. I’ve heard it likened to how apple slices oxidize and turn brown when they’re left out on the counter. DHA is colorless, but tanning companies often add a cosmetic bronzer to the tanning solution so the spray tan artist can see how the tan will look when it develops. The bronzer washes off and does not stain clothing or bedsheets, but I usually wear dark-colored clothes while I’m waiting for the tan to set, just in case. My spa also has a tanning formula without the bronzer if I don’t want to look like an Oompa-Loompa all afternoon, but they prefer to use the one with bronzer because it’s easier to get an idea of the end result.

How Long Does a Spray Tan Last?

A spray tan lasts up to two weeks, but it starts looking grungy after 5-7 days, so going weekly has been working well for me. You can use a tan extender or self-tanning lotion to prolong it a bit.

How Do You Prep for a Spray Tan?

  1. Lotion Regularly: On the days leading up to your spray tan, lotion your skin regularly. However, avoid applying lotion the morning of the spray tan.

  2. Exfoliate and Shave: Exfoliate and shave the day before your spray tan to prep the skin so it will absorb the spray tan solution evenly and deeply. Avoid exfoliating and shaving the day of the tan to prevent dark brown dots on your legs.

Remember, spray tanning is a great way to achieve that sun-kissed glow without the harmful effects of UV rays. Enjoy your summer vacation with confidence! 🌞


Feel free to take this information and share it with others who might find it helpful! 😊🌴👙

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