How To Make Your Spray Tan Work

In theory, getting a spray tan may seem a lot like painting a wall. You apply the solution to the surface and get it to change color. When you apply paint to the wall without preparing it, you aren’t going to get good, even results. The same is true when it comes to preparing your skin for tanning solution. The steps you take before your tanning appointment will determine how good the finished results are and how long they last.


Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface to leave a smoother surface below. The dead skin cells on the surface of your skin are dry and they will absorb more of the tanning solution than the rest of the skin, resulting in uneven patches of color.

There are a number of ways to exfoliate your skin including using a loofah or body scrub that is made with tiny particles of salt, sugar, nut shells, or other abrasive ingredients that will remove the dry skin.

Exfoliating before your spray tan appointment will prepare your skin to accept the tanning solution evenly. When choosing your method of exfoliation products, avoid those that have oils or moisturizers in them. These ingredients will coat the skin block absorption of the tanning solution.

How Tanning Solutions Work

Most tanning solutions rely on the active ingredient dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, to tan skin. It doesn’t color or dye skin but causes a chemical reaction that causes the color change. The more DHA there is in the solution, the darker the color will be. You will undergo an initial drying period in the salon, after which you will wear loose clothing to prevent rubbing any of the solution off. You will be instructed on how long to wait before showering the excess solution off. Do not shower before the time has passed. If you have limited time to let your spray tan process, opt for a lighter tan that doesn’t require as much time.

Tamar Vezirian tells clients that their new express tan at Gotham Glow allows you to achieve any level of glow when you rinse in just one to four hours for times when you are on the go.

Before and After You Tan

It is easy to forget your other appointments when you are getting a tan for a special event. If you will be getting waxed, or have plans for a pedicure or manicure, these are all things you should do before you tan. Any process that involves the use of chemicals or which removes skin cells from the surface can cause damage to the tan. This also includes chlorine in swimming pools which can bleach or dry out your top layer of skin, causing your tan to flake off unevenly.

Although your goal is to get a spray tan that looks natural, it is important to remember that even the darkest spray-on tan doesn’t provide any protection from the sun. Always use sunscreen or sunblock the same as you would without a tan. Taking these steps will help you get professional, long-lasting results.