The allure of a radiant, out-of-the-sun tan has seen a beautiful renaissance, and the spray tan is now a popular choice for those seeking a golden glow without the harmful effects of UV rays. If you want to get your glow on, knowing what to do before a spray tan is essential in achieving a long-lasting, even, natural-looking tan. This comprehensive guide walks you through the essential steps to prep for your spray tan, ensuring you step out confidently with a beachy hue just right for you.

What to Do Before a Spray Tan for a Sun-Kissed, Safe Glow

Getting ready for your spray tan might seem simple, but there are some specific tips to follow to make your tanning experience even better.

Five Days to 8 Hours Before Your Spray Tan

Exfoliate Your Skin

Well-prepped skin will take to a spray tan like a duck to water. Begin by exfoliating your entire body using an oil-free scrub. This will slough off dead skin cells, smoothing your skin’s texture and creating an ideal canvas for your tan. Pay particular attention to typically dry or rough areas, such as the knees, elbows, and ankles.

Shave or Wax

To avoid any possible skin irritation, shaving or waxing at least a day before your spray tan is best. This ensures that your skin is smooth and minimizes the risk of any unevenness in your tan due to hair removal post-tan.


In the days leading up to your appointment, keep your skin well-hydrated with a non-greasy, oil-free moisturizer. This will help your skin be in its best condition to absorb the spray tan solution and maintain the tan afterward.

Manicure and Pedicure

If you plan on having any nail services, do so before your tan to avoid any scrubbing motions that can potentially rub off your fresh tan prematurely.

Twenty-Four to 12 Hours Before Your Appointment

As the clock winds down to your session, there are a few more steps to be mindful of before a spray tan to achieve a flawless spray tan.

Skip the Gym

Avoid excessive sweating or exercise in the 24 hours before your appointment. Exertion can open your pores and make them more susceptible to absorbing the tanning solution unevenly.

Avoid Skincare Products

Steer clear of all perfumes, deodorants, makeup, and even hand and body lotions. These products can act as a barrier, preventing the tanning solution from fully penetrating your skin.

Plan Your Attire

Decide what you’ll wear to your appointment. Opt for loose-fitting, dark-colored clothing to minimize the risk of any staining from the tan. A pair of flip-flops or sandals is also a good choice to avoid smudging the tan with closed-toe shoes.

Day of Spray Tan

Day of Spray Tan

The big day is here, and with the right preparation on what to do before a spray tan, your session should be a breeze.

Cleanse Your Skin

Take a quick, lukewarm shower and use a gentle, oil-free body wash to remove leftover products. Avoid bar soaps, as these can leave a film on your skin.

Fresh Face

If you prefer, tan with a fresh, makeup-free face to ensure an even application. If you choose to wear makeup, ask your technician for a makeup wipe during your session.

What to Expect During Your Tan

You’re on the brink of that beautiful glow, and knowing what to expect during your session can help you relax and enjoy the process.

Application Process

The tanning technician will guide you through the sequence of movements to achieve the best results. They’ll likely begin with your legs and work upwards, ensuring each section is fully covered with an even amount of solution.

Drying Process

Once your tan is applied, you’ll move to a well-ventilated area to allow the solution to air dry. This typically takes 10-15 minutes, and it’s important to avoid touching your skin during this time to avoid unevenness.

Post-Tan Powder

Some salons may apply a finishing powder to ensure you are completely dry and help prevent any rubbing off of your tan.

After Your Spray Tan

The next steps are crucial in maintaining your spray tan for the longest time possible.

Wait Before Rinsing

Wait at least 8 hours before rinsing off the bronzer to achieve the best results. This gives the tanning solution enough time to develop fully on your skin.

Pat Dry

When you do shower, use lukewarm water and pat your skin dry. Avoid rubbing or using any harsh soaps. You’ll likely see some color washing away, but don’t worry – this is just the bronzing agent, not your tan. Your technician will advise when to use soap in your initial rinse to maintain the best results.

Post-Tan Care

After your shower, moisturize once a day with a tan-extending lotion. This will prolong the life of your tan and keep your skin hydrated, helping your tan to fade naturally.

What To Wear to a Spray Tan

Your clothing choice can affect the outcome of your tan. Here are some tips on what to do before a spray tan & what to wear and bring to your spray tan appointment.

Loose-Fitting Dark Clothes

Wear loose, dark-colored clothing to prevent any rubbing off of the tan and to minimize the risk of staining lighter clothing.

Bring a Change of Clothes

If you have an event to attend or need to look your best right after your tan, bring a change of clothes to slip into post-session.


Wear flip-flops or sandals to your appointment to avoid closed-toe shoes that can rub off your tan.


With this knowledge of what to do before a spray tan, you’re ready to face the tanning booth! Remember, the key to a perfect spray tan is in the hands of the technician and your pre- and post-tan care. Your efforts leading up to and following your spray tan will make all the difference in the longevity and quality of your glow. Step confidently into your session, soak in the radiance, and enjoy your safe, sun-kissed look!