How to Prepare for a Spray Tan

What is Spray Tanning?

Spray tanning is a technique where a self-tanning solution is applied to the body in a fine mist. Tanning solutions are formulated from dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and other non-active ingredients to help the product bind to the skin, moisturize, and allow the solution to flow evenly through the spray nozzle.

Depending on the brand, the ingredients could include:

  • DHA
  • Dimethyl, a colorless, odorless gas that acts as a propellant
  • Glycerin
  • Aloe
  • Witch hazel
  • Preservatives, such as phenoxyetano, methylparaben, or propylparaben
  • Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, which is a stabilizer

Some self-tanning solutions also sometimes add citric acid to keep the PH at optimal levels, a solvent like ethoxydiglycol to break down the ingredients and prevent clogging the nozzle, and dipropylene glycol to help the DHA penetrate the skin.

All of these ingredients are FDA approved for sunless tanning and other uses, and they’re combined in formulations that are least likely to cause skin irritation or other problems. However, respiratory problems could occur if too much of the solution is inhaled.

Don’t worry. The process doesn’t take long at all, so you don’t have to worry about holding your breath or anything. Just keep your eyes closed and relaxed while your tanning technician works their magic. Besides, most day spas provide nose filters and other spray tanning accessories to clients before they step into the tanning area.

In order to get the best result, there are some things you should do before, during, and after your spray tanning session.

spray tan parkerPreparing for Your Spray Tanning Session

Before you get a spray tan, you want your skin to be a perfectly smooth canvas. The formulation temporarily darken skin cells, and it only slightly penetrates the surface layer. Most of your preparation takes place 24 hours before your appointment, but there are a few things you should do just before stepping into the tanning area.

What to do Before Your Appointment

In order to present the smoothest possible surface, wax or shave and exfoliate at least 24 hours before your appointment. This will enable even coverage while reducing the chances of skin irritation from newly waxed or shaved skin. Exfoliation is especially essential before a spray tan to remove dead cells and prolong your results.

On the day of your sunless tanning appointment, avoid wearing lotion or moisturizer except those that are approved for use with sunless tanners. You should also skip the makeup, perfume, and deodorants, as these products can interfere with the tanning solution. You can take a shower to make sure your skin is clean, but avoid harsh soaps and products that contain oils or other moisturizers.

Clean, exfoliated skin is the ideal foundation for an even, lasting tan.

The only exception is areas of the body that tend to have thicker, slightly darker skin, such as knees, elbows, and the knuckles of fingers or toes. Self-tanner compatible barrier creams will protect these areas and prevent excessive discoloration.

What You Should Wear to Your Spray Tanning Session?

The first rule of self-tanning is not to wear anything you don’t want stained! This includes undergarments. So, if you’re a little shy and you don’t mind tan lines, wear a bikini, bikini briefs, or a bra and panties that are expendable.

Other than that, some loose-fitting, darker clothing and flip slops are all you need to wear. You can put your hair up or wear a disposable shower cap to protect your hair from the tanning solution. It’s also a good idea to put a coat of polish on your finger and toenails to avoid discoloration. Save the expensive mani-pedi for after.

The Spray Tan Process

The process itself is pretty quick and easy. Just strip down as bare as you dare, apply barrier cream to problem areas, put on any protective accessories like goggles or a nose filter, and stand in a relaxed pose with arms and legs slightly apart.

Your technician will help you choose the best shade for your complexion or desired results and provide any additional instructions, such as if you need to turn or raise your arms.

Once the session is over, they’ll wipe down your palms and other areas to remove any excess product.

spray tan parkerHow Long Before I See Results?

It will take anywhere from eight to 12 hours for the solution to fully develop. During that time, avoid any tight or light colored clothing. It’s also important that you don’t shower, shave, wax for at least four hours. If you notice tinted water flowing down your shower drain, don’t worry. That’s perfectly normal.

After the full development period, you can go back to your normal routine with a few exceptions.

Spray Tan After Care

Because self-tanners work by temporarily darkening dead skin cells on the surface, your sunless tan will only last as long as those darkened cells are there. Spray tans that are properly applied using quality products can last for up to 10 days as long as you practice proper aftercare.


  • Moisturize daily with a product that’s compatible with sunless tanner
  • Maintain your tan between sessions
  • Avoid chlorinated pools and products that react with sunless tanners or minimize their effects.


  • Use soaps, shampoos, or shower products that are harsh or contain certain oils. Grapeseed, coconut, and mineral oils will strip the color right off of your skin.
  • Exfoliate unless you’re preparing for a new tanning session
  • Rub or scrub your skin. Use a gentle product in the shower, such as a microfiber washcloth, soft brush, or silicone bath scrunchy. Pat yourself dry.

How to Book an Appointment for Your Spray Tan

You can still keep your sun-kissed look and protect your skin at the same time. Anti-aging and tanning aren’t mutually exclusive when you use a healthy alternative like spray tanning. You can ensure a natural, lasting effect by having a professional application with a high-quality product.

Booking an appointment for spray tanning in Parker, CO, is as easy as making a phone call to (720) 499-6460.