Here are the spray-tan tips I wish someone had given me before my first spray tan….
Schedule smartly. Evening appointments are the most logical, since you can go after work, then scurry home and promptly seal yourself into your private chambers. After the session, you’re forbidden from getting wet for 8 to 10 hours while your tan is developing, so you’ll have to wait until the morning to shower. Morning appointments, however, are best if clients need to shower that evening. If you are getting spray-tanned for a special occasion, make the appointment for two days before, but consider a trial a month in advance before a big event, like a wedding.
Prep your skin, part one. Always exfoliate with a non-oil-based scrub before a spray tan. It is best to do this the day of your scheduled appointment, but the day before is fine, too. Acceptable forms of exfoliation: scrubbing gently with a creamy formula, shaving the day before (always use new razor blades to avoid a situation where your tan fades unevenly), or waxing a few days before.
Dress down. Pack some scrubby, loose-fitting clothes to wear home from your appointment. (Don’t breeze in wearing nothing but your dry-clean-only career-girl clothes). No wiggling into leggings, tights, skinny jeans, or any formfitting clothes (you should even try not to put your bra back on), or your bronze will look like a remnant from your vacation to Streak City. For footwear, wear loose sneakers with no socks, ballet flats, or any kind of slide-on shoes. Prior to your session, anything is fine; just remember any clothing that indents your skin beforehand will indent your tan afterward.
Prepare your skin, part two. Wash your face before your appointment, and wipe your body down with a cleansing towelette. You want to come in with clean, fresh skin, so no moisturizers, deodorants, sunscreens, makeup, or oils of any kind. And since you won’t be showering—or washing your face—after, taking off all your makeup just makes good sense. (And check the weather, because if an unexpected rainstorm hits and you are not fully equipped with protective covering, you should reschedule the appointment.)
Shower time! Once your 10 hours are up, shower with lukewarm to cool water, never hot. Wait until the water runs clear, then pat dry and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
Maintain. The more hydrated your skin is, the longer the tan will last. I suggest moisturizing morning and evening with an oil-free moisturizing formula. You should avoid getting full-on manicures or pedicures, as they’ll break down the tan. Polish changes are OK, but “no scrubbing, bubbles, soaks, massages, or hot water.” Working out is fine, but it’s best to wait at least two days before exercising, as heavy sweating removes the color sooner. If workouts can be avoided, they should be (I guess that’s why they say if you can’t tone it, tan it).