Preparing for your tan

One of the most common things for a tanning artist to be asked is how long an airbrush tan will last. There are a lot of factors involved in the longevity of a tan, but outside of natural tone, the skin preparation is by far the biggest indicator of how long it will last.

In order to explain why certain parts of the skin preparation are so important, I like to explain how it works. The color produced as a result of a spray tan is actually a chemical reaction in your dead skin cells! Once you shower, the solution itself actually washes away. What is left is the dead skin cells that have changed their pigment. Therefore, the important thing is to keep these from shedding too fast!

Let’s Go!

1) EXFOLIATE!! This is the most important part of prepping for a tan. You will want to remove any dead skin cells that are ready to slough off in the next few days. If you don’t remove them, they’ll still slough off, and they’ll take your tan with them – remember, they ARE the tan!

Don’t forget your “rough spots”—Neck, knees, elbows, underarms, ankles, and feet! It’s best to exfoliate as close to your tan time as possible.

2) Come to your tan as clean and fresh as possible. Sweat is acidic, which can create orange tones in the skin. Lotions and makeup can hinder absorption, and deodorant can sometimes have an interesting color reaction. Do not use shower products on the skin, especially Dove, before a tan!

3) Do any hair removal (shaving, waxing, etc) the day before your tan. Some people have more sensitive skin, which can mean hair follicles stay open longer. We don’t want solution to deposit and develop inside of those open follicles – you’ll have speckles!

4) Bring loose clothing to your appointment, and make sure you’re dry before putting them on. Your tan artist should be able to let you know when it’s safe. Whenever possible, forego the bra to avoid pressure points.

5) Plan accordingly. Do not tan before you work out or within an hour or two of sleeping. Tan when you can avoid getting sweaty or wet.

Caring for your tan

Once you have your gorgeous glow, you’re going to want to keep it for as long as possible! This gets a little more intuitive once you have a good grasp of how the solution works and you think about what will cause your skin to slough off faster.

Things that will cause your airbrush tan to fade faster:

Salt water & sand


Jacuzzis and tubs

Epsom salt baths

Things that will just wreck your tan:


Body Scrubs

Drunk dialing your ex

One of those things might not be true but I’m not going to tell you which one because they’re all bad when you have a gorgeous airbrush tan. Now, some people will fade faster than others – whether due to natural tone, dry skin, intense daily workouts, surfing, etc. We’re all different. If you want to prolong the “glory days” portion of your tan, an extender lotion is the way to go. Extender lotions have the same active ingredient as your original airbrush tan, so they boost the color and even out the tone with the new skin coming though. Please stay tuned for fabulous Afterglow extender lotions coming your way!