How to Shower After a Spray Tan – Preparation & Tips

How to Shower After a Spray Tan
The first shower after a tan is very important. To keep your spray tan safe, you should learn how to shower after a spray tan.

Spray tans are a wonderful way to get a tanned look on your body without exposing yourself to the harmful UV rays from the sun. It is even better to get a spray tan instead of using a tanning bed because the concentrated UV rays in the bed can cause you more harm! The safer spray tan option seems like the more obvious choice for a fake tan. But many people wonder, how to shower after a spray tan?

People ask this because they want to wash their bodies afterward without ruining the tan that is developing on their bodies. Everyone at the tanning salon might have suggested that you do not tan for a certain period after getting the tan which might have confused you even more! They are correct in giving you a lot of hints and tips about showering but they may have not mentioned how to shower exactly. That is what I will be explaining to you in order for you to get the best results from your spray tan!

How Spray Tans Work?

How spray tans work

There are many chemicals that make up a spray tan, but all you have to worry about is two ingredients: DHA and bronzers. DHA or dihydroxyacetone is a colorless liquid that is present in spray tans and you will be surprised that this ingredient is a derivative of sugar! Even though it is colorless, DHA reacts with the amino acids on your skin in a unique way. When in contact with the skin, the DHA reacts to form something known as melanoidin. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because melanoidin is very closely related to melanin, though only in terms of color. The melanin present on your skin produces a darker color of the skin. The melanoidin works in much the same way where the DHA reacts with an amino acid to create a dark tan color.

The other ingredient is more natural called a bronzer, made from plant parts. This bronzer gives an instant dark color to your skin because it already is a darker color. They are made from darker dyes that leave behind on your skin to give the dark tan color. Where the DHA works in a reaction, the bronzer just stays on your skin and gives an instant color. The DHA needs time, often somewhere between 4 to 12 hours to properly give the tan you are looking for. When you are showering, the thing that you want to wash away is actually the bronzer while the DHA leaves behind the tanned skin!

Showering After a Spray Tan: Guides

The first thing that you have to know about showering right after getting a spray tan is that you have to wait. This is because you want the DHA present in the spray tan to react with the skin and it takes a while. That is why people at a spray tanning salon will tell you to wait at least 8 hours before showering.

For the showering part, here are the things that you need to know. Do note that this is mainly for the first shower after you get the spray tan. After 48 hours of the spray tan, you can use take a normal shower.

Cold to lukewarm water

What you want to avoid during your shower is to use cold to lukewarm water. The DHA has already entered your skin meaning that it is reacting with your skin to form the dark tan look. With warm water, the pores of your skin will and this will cause the DHA to wash away. This is a problem because you want the DHA to be present in your skin even after the shower to let it react. With cold to lukewarm water, your pores will remain relatively closed and allow the DHA to work its best.

Cold to lukewarm water

Short shower

The longer you shower, the more likely it will be that your skin’s pores will open up. To avoid that, you should limit your shower to no more than 10 minutes. After the 10-minute mark, your pores will start to open up and cause the DHA to be washed away. This will make you end up with a streaky or patchy tan on your skin which will produce an uneven tan on your skin. A couple of minutes is probably the best time that you should allocate for your shower to help your tan.

Short shower

Washing with hands

The other thing that you want to do is only wash your hands. That means you are to avoid loofahs, scrubbers, or exfoliating mitts. These will scrap your body and cause the tan to be stripped away from your skin causing you to again have the streaky or patch tan on your body. Washing with your hands will only clear away the bronzer that is on top of your body. And you should do this gently and not rub your skin too hard or else you will take away the DHA from your skin.

Washing with hands

Avoiding soaps and shampoos

You should be avoiding any soaps and shampoo when you shower, at least for the initial shower that you take after the spray tan. Harsh chemicals such as parabens and sulfates are to be exclusively avoided after the spray tan because they will take away the DHA from your skin even after it has been set on your skin! For the showers after that, you can use gentle soaps and body wash for your skin and sulfate-free shampoos for your hair.

Avoiding soaps and shampoos

Washing the bronzer off your skin

If you notice a golden brown liquid going down the drain as you are showering, then don’t worry about your actual tan! This is the bronzer that has been placed on top of your skin that is being washed away. The bronzer’s job is to give the instant tan and to indicate how the tan is supposed to look, where the main tan on your skin is produced by the DHA. Washing away the bronzer is important because you don’t want it to be on your skin for more than 24 hours. After that, the bronzer will take on an orange-tan color that will not look natural at all.

Washing the bronzer off your skin

Right out of the shower

After the shower is done, here comes the part that most people often ignore that can ruin the tan. Remember to pat dry your skin with a dark-colored towel. This is because the bronzer left on your skin will stain any light-colored towels and if you rub too hard you risk taking away some of the tan on your skin. For the initial shower, you will want to avoid any lotions or moisturizers for at least the first 48 hours so that the DHA can work its magic. For any subsequent showers, use a tan extender lotion so that your tan remains protected and stays for a long time afterward.

Right out of the shower

8 Spray Tan Aftercare Tips

It is important that you take your first shower between the 8-hour and 24-hour mark. This is to ensure that your tan remains healthy and looks as natural as possible. Along with that, here are some aftercare tips that you should follow to help your tan remain on as long as possible.

Spray tan aftercare tips
  1. Tie up your hair: tie your hair in a bun to avoid getting your skin wet or when you are conditioning in the shower as it can strip away the tan.
  2. Shave every other day: instead of shaving every day, you can opt to shave every other day to help extend your tan.
  3. Tan extender lotion: tan extenders are great to keep the tan on for longer and even out places where the tan is fading.
  4. Avoid soaking: swimming and soaking in bathtubs will make your tan fade faster so avoid doing so.
  5. Ingredients to avoid: mineral oils, sulfates, parabens, alcohol, fragrances, and dyes should be strictly avoided because they will take away the tan from your body.
  6. Oil-free unscented moisturizer: keeping your skin hydrated will make sure that your skin doesn’t become dry and start flaking. Flaking skin is problematic because it will take with it the tan on your skin. Use it twice daily after 48 hours of spray tan.
  7. Delay exfoliation: exfoliation will take away the dead cells from your body but it will also take away the skin that has the tan. So delay the exfoliation at least up to 48 hours to best care for your tan.
  8. Avoid sweating: you should be avoiding activities that involve sweating for up to 72 hours after getting a spray tan. Sweat contains urea which exfoliates the top layer of your skin which contains the tanned skin.

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Preparing for Spray Tan

While showering after a spray tan is important, it is more important to know how to best prepare your skin for a spray tan. This will ensure that the tan sticks to your skin as best as possible. So if you have any beauty services like waxing, getting your nails done, or massage you should get it done before the spray tan.

Exfoliating the skin is a good idea to do before the spray tan so that your skin remains smooth for the spray tan application. This will help to extend the time that the spray tan stays on your skin. So if you want to do some exfoliating before the spray tanning, do so about 4 to 6 hours before the spray tan. This also applies to shaving your body hair to best allow the spray to stick to your skin.

For waxing, make sure it is done at least 24 to 48 hours in advance. This gives you enough time to wash away any residual wax on your skin that might have interfered with the spray tan and given you an uneven tan on your skin. And lastly, make sure that you have no makeup or lotion on yourself before the spray tan as these will interfere with the spray tan itself!

With all of this, you can help ensure that your tan is applied evenly and you can help extend it past the 1 week it is supposed to stay on!


1. Does face tan fade faster than the body?

The tan on your face will go away faster than your body because the face is thinner skin and will naturally exfoliate faster than the body.

2. Will my spray tan develop after a shower?

Yes, your spray tan will continue to develop for the first 48 hours after the spray tan. Just note that during the shower you are not rubbing your skin or using products that might take away the tan from your skin.

3. Can I wash my hair after a spray tan?

You can wash your hair after spray tan but it should be done only after the first 24 hours. Wet hair might soak your tan for too long and strip it away.

4. Can I shower 2 hours after a spray tan?

You can shower after only 2 hours but it will only leave behind a light tan instead of a dark tan. For a darker tan, shower after 8 hours after getting the spray tan on your body.

5. Can I use facewash after a spray tan?

You should avoid using facewash that contains salicylic acids and other exfoliating properties as it will take away the tan. Use a natural, unscented, oil-free face wash to keep the tan on your face safe.

Final Thoughts

Spray tans are only supposed to last a week at most but with the proper aftercare and tips, you can help extend the tan for at least a few days longer than that. The first shower after the spray tan is important because you want to wash away any bronzer left on the skin or else it will start to look like an unnatural tan on your body. That is why the first shower within the first 8 to 24 hours is important to help care for your tan as long as possible. As long as you follow the guide mentioned, not only will you help your tan but also make sure that your tan remains even throughout. The most important part is that you let the DHA work its magic for the first 48 hours so that it develops your tan nicely!

Key Points

  • The main ingredients in spray tan are bronzers and DHA where the DHA gives the tanned look on your body and the bronzer helps to show where the tan was applied.
  • The guide for showering after spray tan is important so that you can keep your tan looking as natural as possible while not stripping away the DHA from the skin.
  • Remember to keep your showers short and brief, using only your hands to wash your body with cold to lukewarm water for the best effect.
  • After the shower, you should be following the aftercare tips to ensure that your looks good. Make sure to not sweat for the first 48 hours as it will ruin your tan!
  • Preparing for the spray tan is just as important as the first shower so make sure to shave and exfoliate your skin 4 hours before your spray tan.

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