I recently got my first spray tan, which I had put off for way too long. I always had an irrational fear of not going to the right person, not doing it right, or not being tan enough before hand and then turning out like a carrot, an orange, or Donald Trump. But honestly, when done right, spray tans can look just as natural as a regular tan.
Before and after my first spray tan, I did a few things wrong that led to a not-so-flawless glow. The mistakes were nothing major, but that even annoyed me more. They were super simple things, like not going to get a spray tan right after it rains or not using a loofah afterward, that I would have done differently had I known to.
Even so, I loved my first spray tan and recommend it over harmful tanning beds any day. You just have to know what you're doing. So for all you rookie spray tanners, here are some helpful preparation and aftercare tips I learned from tanning professionals or through unfortunate trial and error myself:
1. You will smell like a spray tan even after you shower multiple times.
The smell will fade significantly after your first shower but will definitely overstay its welcome. Deodorant and perfume will be your new BFFs. Sidenote: Despite the smell, don't shower until at least eight hours after your spray tan. I would go get a spray in the very early morning then shower late at night before bed to avoid staining your bed sheets and pillowcase.
2. You'll look better if you go get your spray on a cold day.
Heat = bigger pores = clogged pores = a less smooth and more spotty tan.
3. DO NOT GET A SPRAY TAN IF YOU'RE HAVING AN EMOTIONAL DAY AND DO NOT FORGET YOUR UMBRELLA IF IT IS RAINING.
4. Bend your limbs while getting spray tanned.
While you're getting sprayed you should bend your knees and elbows, keep your fingers spread apart and slightly bent, and squat a bit. Awkward? Yes. But, unless you want to have even more awkward untanned spots in those creases, I'd do it.
5. If any spots of your skin look like they are extra dark or have extra bronzer on them, JUST IGNORE THEM.
DO NOT TOUCH THEM UNTIL YOUR FIRST SHOWER. You'll only end up looking like you took a Magic Eraser to your newly tanned skin, making things worse.
6. Your feet and elbows will always look a little dirtier, blotchier, and more Cheeto-esque, no matter what you do.
Try using pre-spray lotion if provided, wearing flip flops or, even better, staying barefoot as much as possible. But honestly... you're just going to have to deal with the fact that your feet and elbows will not look as great as the rest of your body.
7. Your nose will look so tan and cute right after your spray, you're not going to want to wash it off or cover it with makeup.
Sadly, you definitely should wash it off during your first shower. When you do, the color you see running down the drain is NOT your tan, it's just the excess bronzer. This goes for the shower too! Don't worry if you see the water changing color and don't stop rinsing until it runs clear.
8. Don't moisturize the day-of but DO moisturize all day every day after your first shower.
Moisturizing frequently after your spray tan will help your tan not to come off due to dry skin, rubbing during regular body movements, shaving, or sunburn.
9. If you're treating yourself to a pampering spree, the spray tan comes LAST or, even better, the day after.
Any facials, pedicures, etc. that involve scrubbing will rub your tan off almost entirely if you do them right after your spray tan, and slightly still if you do them a day or two after (so don't use a loofah in the shower either). If you are going to get a facial, pedicure, etc. the same day, make sure you do that BEFORE the spray tan and that no oils or lotions are used.
10. If you have big boobs they will rub together and consequently rub your tan off underneath and between them... without fail.
Lotion, lotion, lotion. Lotion every day all day after your first shower.
11. The more you go to the gym the faster your tan will disappear.
Sweat is no good when it comes to spray tans. I'd give it a few days before going hard at the gym— Good thing being tan makes you feel toned.
12. The tan on your hands and face will fade much faster than the rest of your body. It's inevitable.
I mean... unless you stop washing them. Considering the fact that it's ~vom~ worthy, I'd recommend getting a tan extending moisturizer instead.
13. Your tan will develop more over time.
During those eight or more hours before your first shower, your tan will darken. Some will even continue to darken after your first shower. So don't be disappointed if you're not as tan as you want to be right away and start lathering on tanning lotions or anything. Just give it time to set in.
14. Having someone spray you (as long as they know what they're doing) will almost always look better than having a machine spray you.
This way, the spray is more personalized to your body, the person spraying you can go light on your feet and elbows, and you can have them fix any spots they might miss.
If you're in the Pittsburgh or Morgantown area, check out Spray Tans by Alexa for an experienced spray tan technician who will come to you for free if you have a group of five or more!