Sunless Tanning and Spray Tan Tips

Updated on November 16, 2019
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Megan has been writing on all kinds of topics since 2012. Her main interests include alternative medicine, running, gardening, and her kids.

Learn how to have golden skin without relying on the sunshine.
Learn how to have golden skin without relying on the sunshine. | Source

Why Sunless Tan?

Almost everyone will find a tan person more attractive that a pasty white person. It's just the way society is. The problem is, there have been so many new discoveries in cancer research, and it's more difficult to maintain that sexy tan complexion when you're worried about your health.

The best alternative to tanning outside or in a tanning bed (which can both be dangerous) is getting a spray tan or applying self-tanning lotion at home. In this article, you'll learn:

  1. how to get the best sunless tan
  2. what to look for in a product or lotion
  3. steps to follow before your tan
  4. what to do during your tanning process
  5. how to care for and maintain your tan afterwards

Tan just looks better than pale skin: Here I am nice and tan after my spray tan.
Tan just looks better than pale skin: Here I am nice and tan after my spray tan. | Source
Scary and pale naturally.
Scary and pale naturally. | Source

How Do I Get the Best-Looking Sunless Tan?

Whether you go to a professional to get your tan sprayed on or you slave away at it in the privacy of your own home, these tans are not permanent. Being tan takes a certain amount of upkeep. You need to know the proper ways to treat your skin before, during and after sunless tanning application to make it look the best and last the longest.

Warning: Not following these tips could result in uneven, orange colored skin. If you are going to take the time to get a sunless tan, take the time to do it right. You don't want to end up looking worse than you did to start with.

Find the Best Sunless Tanning Lotions and Products

You may have to try quite a few different sunless tanning lotions or salons before you find the best match for you. Not everyone will have the same success with every product.

Some things to look for when picking a sunless tanner:

  • Ease of application
  • The smell of the product
  • Drying time
  • Cost
  • Reviews

Before Sunless Tanning Tips

  • Do not shave within 3 hours of applying sunless tanner to avoid uncomfortable burning
  • If you wax your body hair, be sure to do it 1 or 2 days before applying sunless tanner
  • Shower around 4 or 5 hours before and exfoliate your entire body. Focus on feet, knees, elbows and anywhere else you have rough skin. The reason for exfoliating is to get rid of any dead skin to get the smoothest and most even color.
  • Use a cotton washcloth while exfoliating and avoid using nylon or loofah scrubbers because they can cause streaking
  • Do not apply any makeup before sunless tanning
  • If you have dry skin, apply a water based lotion to dry spots after your shower and at least 2 hours before your sunless tan

During Sunless Tanning Tips

  • If you are applying sunless tanning lotion yourself, make sure to go a little lighter on the dryer areas of your skin. Your dry skin will suck up the lotion so fast that these areas sometimes turn orange. These areas include knees, elbows, wrists and ankles.
  • If you are going to apply sunless tanning lotion to your face, make sure that you use a kind that is specially formulated for application on the face. The skin on your face is much different than the skin on the rest of your body. If you decide to use the same product on your face that you use on your body, apply a thin layer of lotion to your face and neck and let dry first. This will help you to avoid having the tan color collect in any tiny wrinkles.
  • Whether you are spray tanning or applying self tanning lotion, wear the same thing every time if you are not applying tanner nude. Wearing a snug and dark colored bikini will work the best if you are not comfortable going without clothes.
  • If you do not plan to invest in a sprayer or other more expensive device for at home self tanning, you can purchase a cheap roller paintbrush. This is the simplest and cheapest ways to make sure your back gets properly and evenly covered. Make sure to clean, rinse and let dry before use. Make sure to use the sponge roller and not the thicker and fluffier ones.
  • Wash your hands about every 5 minutes while applying self tanning lotion so your hands don't turn orange by mistake. You can also just wear medical gloves to avoid the issue all together.
  • Don't avoid applying self tanner to your armpits, just wipe lightly with a damp washrag or baby wipe after application to give a lighter, more realistic look.
  • Dip a cotton ball in lotion and rub the inside of your belly button to avoid too much of the sunless tanning solution from collecting there.

After Sunless Tanning Tips

  • For best results, wait at least 8 hours before you shower. This will give the tanning product time to fully react with the skin and develop.
  • If you see that your spray tan is getting too dark for your preference, you can take a shower after 5 hours for a little lighter color
  • Do not exercise or do any strenuous activity within 8 hours of sunless tanning. Your sweat can cause an uneven and streaky tan
  • Do not apply any lotion or moisturizer until after you have shower so that it does not interfere with the sunless tanning solution. If you do, it can cause streaking.
  • After the initial 8 hours, you will want to moisturize 2-3 times per day to maintain your sunless tan. Do this with a water based product to avoid the blotchiness cause by oil based products.
  • If you just can't handle the sticky feeling of sunless tanners, wait about 30 minutes to an hour and then lightly apply baby powder. Do not rub it in and try to use a powder that is corn starch based.
  • After your tan has fully developed, you may want to touch up some of the spots that are too dark. You can do this by wetting a Q-tip with hydrogen peroxide and rubbing the dark spots to lighten them. Make sure to wash the peroxide off after you are done.

Do you sunless tan?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Will the self tanning not wash off

    • profile image

      Big Daddy O 

      6 years ago

      Is it possible to spray tan your skin black? That would be awesome.


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