How To Prep Your Skin for a Spray Tan


Exfoliating Products // Coffee Scrub: Frank Body Scrub; Exfoliating Mitt: Million Dollar Tan; Face Scrub: M-61; Face Peels: M-61

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If there’s one thing I love more than anything, it’s being tan.

But if there’s one thing I absolutely hate, it’s dry, splotchy tanning mishaps.

About 5 years ago, during a routine physical, my mother was informed that she had a form a skin cancer known as “basal cell carcinoma.” She was told by her doctor that a large, quarter-sized portion of her nose was covered in with these cells, & that she would have to have them removed. Following the procedure, a plastic surgeon would have to reconstruct her nose. Not only was this terrifying & unsettling, but it was upsetting to think that this ALL COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED by staying out of the sun.

Ever since that moment, I have become a complete vampire. Yes, I will go in the sun, but only with SPF 50 slathered all over my body (See my favorite sunscreen HERE). So a perfect solution to looking tan (& feeling immediately thinner, lol!) is getting weekly spray tans. This is a process that is carved into my weekly schedule, & yes, although it may seem somewhat ridiculous, its one of those things that just makes me feel more confident!

But heading into a spray tan unprepared is quite possibly the worst thing you could do! Your unprepared skin could result in a MAJOR SPRAY TAN FAIL…& if you’ve been through that before, you know how awful that can be!

Here are some of my personal fail-proof tips for prepping your skin for the big day:

  • First of all, do your research. Ask around for a good airbrush referral & ask the technician to see pics of their clients. You’ll get a feel for what their work looks like after the fact. As for me, I use Simply Glowing in Dallas/Fort Worth (Contact Kari here: 570.499.2507)
  • Exfoliation is KEY. In addition to using a good scrub, like Frank Original Coffee Scrub, make sure you combine the scrub with a mitt to ensure your really getting all the dry skin (or last week’s spray tan, in my case) off your skin. If your skin is red, you’ve probably scrubbed sufficiently. If it’s not, then you’re asking for splotches. Also, make sure you are using an organic exfoliant & body wash. Not only do the chemicals in non-organic products dry out your skin (yep, asking for more splotchiness!) but they also eat away at your spray tan while you’re trying to maintain it! So if you’re of those gals who says, “My spray tan never lasts” well, it might, in fact, be your soap to blame.
  • Not only should you exfoliate your body, but don’t forget your face & neck! My neck is the place that always use to get the blotchiest the quickest….but since switching to M-61 products to prep with, I have noticed a big difference! And no one wants that dirty, rugged tan face….SO. NOT. CUTE.
  • And as far as showers are concerned: Shower 4 hours before your spray tan & hold off till about 12 hours after your spray tan to rinse. Waiting 4 hours before lets your pores close prior to the application….& waiting 12 hours after lets the color really soak in.
  • NO LOTIONS! Do not apply anything to your skin before your spray tan….and afterwards, make sure, like your body wash, that the moisturizer you’re applying is ORGANIC. I’ve preached and preached about oils versus lotions….and this is one of the main reasons I made the switch….& also noticed how oils assisted in maintaining the life of my color!
  • And, the obvious: DO NOT WEAR WHITE to the salon. You’re asking for a big problem. All black….head to toe. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE.

Do you have any tips that I could learn from when it comes to your pre-spray-tan rituals?! Let me know in the comments below!

Photos by David Spector

  • Stella

    What color nail polish are you wearing? Thanks

  • Hilary

    What kind of oil do you recommend