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Spray Tanning

Spray Tanning Explained

How Does It Work

All spray tan products contain the same active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone (DHA for short.) The DHA interacts with your skin’s amino acids, and gives you a tanned appearance over a period of a few hours. I’ve heard it likened to how apple slices oxidize and turn brown when they’re left out on the counter.

DHA is colorless, but tanning companies often add a cosmetic bronzer to the tanning solution so the spray tan artist can see how the tan will look when it develops.

The bronzer washes off and does not stain clothing or bedsheets, but I usually wear dark colored clothes while I’m waiting for the tan to set, just in case.

What to Wear

If you’re going to a spray tan artist for the first time, she will ask you about the type of results you want, and you can discuss any of your questions or concerns.

The benefit of going regularly to the same person is she learns your preferences and how your skin reacts to her tanning solutions. She has a lot of control over the depth of color and the placement.

Everyone always wants to know what to wear to get a spray tan. You can certainly wear a bathing suit, or you can wear underwear, or nothing. Just make sure whatever you wear gives you tan lines you don’t mind having.

She will take you into a private room, discuss the process and give you basic instructions, and then she will step out while you get undressed. You stand in a little booth and she manually sprays you down. She will direct you on how to stand and position your body for the best results. When she’s done, she should offer to apply some powder that helps it dry more naturally.

You can get dressed right away, but you do feel sticky for a few hours, and you want to wear loose clothing afterwards because anywhere there is friction can prevent the tan from developing nicely.

How To Prepare For My Visit

You want to lotion regularly on the days leading up to your spray tan, but not the morning of the spray tan. It’s very important to exfoliate and shave the day before your spray tan to prep the skin so it will absorb the spray tan solution evenly and deeply.

You don’t want to exfoliate and shave the day of the tan because it leaves your follicles open for the bronzer to settle into and create dark brown dots on your legs.

Do not apply any lotion or deodorant the morning of your tan. If you want, you can take a quick cold water rinse the morning of the tan to wash off sweat or residual lotions. (Lotions and oils act as a repellent to the tan.)

After Care

After a spray tan, I like to remain in loose-fitting clothing until time to shower, if I can. You usually have to wait 8 hours to shower, but they often have a rapid tanning formula they can use if you have somewhere to go.

When it’s time to shower, you can use soap (anything but Dove; there is something in it that counteracts the tan) but I don’t use a wash cloth or any type of exfoliating mitt or loofah because it will cause the tan to fade any faster. Be sure to rinse your whole body thoroughly, and gently pat dry (do not rub) with a bath towel.

The more you shower and use soap, the faster the tan will fade, so I always keep that in mind and try not to shower daily. When I do, I keep them short and sweet.

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