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21 Spray-Tanning Tips to Follow — to Avoid Looking a Bright-Orange Mess

Helene Sheehan

Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by a spray tan?

Mean Girls victimized GIF
Image: Caged Bird Magazine


So you know exactly how embarrassing it is to have those telltale orange-y palms that look like they’ve been rubbed with dirt, right? All these years of walking away from a spray session looking a hot, streaky, blotchy, bright-orange mess has us asking: Are there spray tanning tips we’ve should have known by now? The answer is a definite yes.

For anyone who wants to rekindle their relationship with spray tans, follow these expert tips to avoid future disasters — because spray tans should be our allies, not our enemies.

More: 10 Things You Absolutely Need to Know Before Getting a Spray Tan

Before you head in

1. Don’t wing it: Discuss your tan color options with your spray tan professional to get the best results. Also, inform whoever is spraying you of any dry skin areas, broken or abraded skin, wounds and allergies.

2. Try to make your spray tan appointment for a time that allows you to shower before your appointment.

3. Avoid using deodorant before your spray tan appointment as it will provide a barrier to the spray tan’s absorption. However, if you’re coming to an appointment after work, bring along some baby wipes or wet towelettes to remove deodorant or moisturizers.

4. Try not to apply moisturizer prior to having a spray tan as it will interrupt the absorption of the spray tan.

5. Remove all jewelry prior to a spray tan and leave them off for at least 8 hours after.

6. When possible, try to wear dark, loose clothing to and from a spray tan appointment to avoid staining lighter-colored clothes. That said, wear underwear that you don’t mind getting stained.

More: 5 Skin Care Goals You Can Easily Achieve This Year

7. Where possible, always shave or wax at least 24 hours prior to a spray tan appointment, as hair removal after a spray tan will remove the tan. Exfoliate from head to toe preferably the day prior to a spray tan, paying particular attention to areas such as your knees, elbows and ankles. Moisturize after exfoliation.

8. When possible, try to wear thong flip-flops home from your spray tan appointment to avoid boots/socks/stockings which may rub off the tan solution.

Next: What to do after your spray tan

A version of this article was originally published in July 2013.

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