Get A Great Spray Tan – Avoid These Common Mistakes

More and more people are now using spray tan as a way to get a year round bronze color. As the summer gets closer, people begin to consider what activities they will enjoy in the sun and what summer clothes they will don. For many people this also means trying to get ahead of the game by applying a spray tan so that they already have a base color to work with. It is difficult to find the time to simply lay in the sun and catch a natural tan these days and people have many responsibilities including work, homework, chores and projects. Some people may find that laying in the sun causes their skin to blemish and can get lots of freckles or easily burn instead of achieving a beautiful tan. This is the reason that so many people opt to use fake or spray tan in order to achieve the desired effect. The issue with spray tans is that they can be quite tricky to apply and can also be very messy. Some people are left with skin that is orange, yellow or brown after incorrectly applying spray tan. The tan can also easily stain clothes or bed sheets and become a very stressful experience of not done properly.  
By: Ged Carroll
    Before applying spray tan be sure to gather the following items which can help you ensure you get an even and great tan:
  1. The right spray tan for you – It is important to choose the correct spray tan that will achieve the results you desire and work with your skin type
  2. Exfoliating Scrub – If you use an exfoliator to remove dead skin cells prior to using a spray tan it will help to achieve a more beautiful and even tan
  3. Latex Gloves – These are widely available and very cheap. They work the best when applying a spray tan lotion
  4. Hair Tie – Use this to keep tie your hair up and ensure it doesn’t get in the way
  5. Vaseline – A nice trick is to put some Vaseline on your eyebrows to protect them from the tanning spray
  6. Tissue – Make sure it is a good strong tissue and doesn’t easily fall apart
  7. Sponge or Brush – This is to help even the spray tan in those hard to reach places
  8. Mirror – Helps you see what you are doing!
  9. Blow Dryer – Using a blow dryer can help speed up the drying time of the spray tan
  10. Time – It is best to ensure you have plenty of time when applying a spray tan. Make sure you leave yourself at least an hour so you can concentrate on the task at hand and achieve the best results. Trying to rush a spray tan will lead to an uneven and ugly tan

Let’s take a look at the most common mistakes made by people who use spray tan and what can be done to avoid them:


Applying Moisturizer Before Spray Tan

Many people believe they should prepare their skin before applying spray tan and the product of choice is usually a moisturizer. This would usually involve thoroughly cleaning the skin with warm water and soap before gently exfoliating the dry skin with a moisturizer or scrub. People can also believe that it is a good idea to apply the moisturizer to the face and body directly before the application of spray tan. The issue with this is that the moisturizer can create a thin protection over the skin and block the spray tan when it is being applied. This can interfere with the spray tan while it is trying to stick to your skin and create unseemly streaks on your body. A good alternative is if you mix the spray tan and moisturizer together and apply both at the same time it should create a beautiful color and moisturize at the same time without causing streaks.  

Not Tying Up Hair

The face is the most important part that you will apply spray tan to as it is always in view. It is extremely important that when you are applying the spray tan to your face that you move your hair out the way. For people with shorter hair, some hair clips can be used to remove any loose hairs from the face. People with longer hair would be advised to put their hair in a ponytail or tie it up in a bun to ensure there are no rogue hairs that will get in the way. Forgetting to pull back your hair can lead to some hairs getting caught in the crossfire of the application of the tan and cause the areas of the face they were covering to remain untouched by the tanning lotion. When applying the tan to your neck and ears ensure the hair is firmly in place and won’t get touched by the tanning lotion.  

Forgetting To Apply Cream Underneath Your Eyes

When spray tan is applied evenly over the face the tan can become much darker underneath the eyes and may make you look older and more tired than you actually are. By applying a small amount of moisturizer or cream underneath both eyes before applying the tan you will find that the end result of the tan will be much fresher and more even.  

Applying Too Much On The Face

If you followed the step regarding mixing the moisturizer with the tan before applying you will be applying a lighter tan on yourself. It is recommended that you only tan one shade darker than your natural skin complexion and don’t overdo it. A common mistake is when people want to go from light skin to very dark skin instantly and apply too much tan only to look unnatural and fake.  

Forgetting The Knees And Elbows

When applying an exfoliating scrub before tanning it is essential to pay attention to your knees and elbows. These areas of your body contain the driest and roughest skin and need extra attention. When the tan is applied to these parts they will absorb the solution much speedier than the rest of your body and if not properly cared for they can turn very dark and look quite odd.  

Forgetting To Shave

Shaving before you tan is extremely important as hairs can get in the way of the tanning process. At least an hour before you are going to apply the tan, hop in the shower or bath and shave all areas that you are planning to use the tanning lotion on. A good tip is to use some body oil when shaving, by doing this rather than using shaving cream your skin will be silky and smooth in preparation for the application of the tan. If you shave directly before applying the tan your skin will become irritable and may react poorly with the spray tan.  

Look After Your Hands And Feet

For most people a real problem when it comes to spray tanning is the dark and horrible color that your hands and feet can turn. The feet contain a lot of dry skin compared to other body parts and as such require more attention. The hands are constantly getting spray back from the tan while you are applying it and therefore receive much more of the lotion than other body parts. The best way to avoid this is if you combine some lotion with the spray tan and use this solution on the hands and feet. The perfect outcome would be to have the hands and feet matching the color of the rest of your body but in some cases using this method may result in the hands and feet being slightly lighter in color. The result is better than the alternative of having dark and dirty looking feet and hands.  

Sweating To Early

There is a drying time for the tan in order for it to fully work and during this period it is essential that you do not sweat. Check the label of the spray tan you are using and wait at least 10 minutes extra before putting on clothes and doing any activities. It is recommended to avoid activities that cause you to sweat as this can make the tan run and create nasty streaks which can also damage your clothing.  


Although swimming is OK for people who have used tanning lotion you should not swim for at least ten hours after application. The tans generally only last one week and the more you shower and get the tan wet the quicker it will fade. Public swimming pools contain a lot of chemicals that can react with the tan causing it to leak whether it has fully set or not.  

Uneven Spraying

The biggest problem of all is an uneven tan. Tanning lotions generally carry guidance of the best way to apply the tan, how far the bottle should be away from the body etc. It is very important to follow these instructions and try to spray with a steady hand as sudden movements of shaking can cause spots, streaks and an unsightly uneven tan.   These are the most common mistakes made when applying spray tan but you should also be aware of the following:
  • Using beauty products such as lip balms, lipstick, Vaseline or mascaras are fine to have on during and after your tan. Anything that goes on your facial area around the eyes or lips does not cause interference with the tan.
  • Do not sweat, get wet, swim or exercise until you have had your first shower after your spray tan. If you do get wet it may cause you to streak.
  • When you do take a shower, the bronzer is going to wash off. You don’t need to work at getting the bronzer off, just let the water from the shower remove it.
  • It is advised that instead of wiping yourself dry after you get out of the shower, to pat yourself dry instead.
  • The tan is not going to just disappear, you are going to notice it fading. You can start exfoliating when you notice it is starting to fade or in preparation for your next tan.
  • Mascara and lip treatment such as Vaseline, lip gloss or lipstick do not cause any problems with the tan.
  • Medical treatments for acne are also not advisable to use during the week your spray tan is on.
  • It is best that you have any facial or body waxing done prior to using a spray on tan. DO NOT get waxed after you have finished your spray tan and before you shower.
  • You are allowed to go in the sun after your tan is done, however it is best that you wait at least one day before doing so. Applying SPF while out in the sun is always highly recommended.
  • Going in the sea or a pool after your tan is okay. It is advisable that you wait at least one day before doing this also. Chlorine may make your tan fade faster, however it is not going to remove the tan immediately.
  • Face washes containing substances such as salicylic acid are not recommended to use, this is because they can eat away at your spray tan.
  • Go easy around water the day you get sprayed – this includes everything from doing dishes to brushing your teeth. While you can still do these things, it is advised that you use caution when you are near water to ensure you do not mess up your spray tan.
  • If you have small children, it is best practice if you bathe them prior to applying your spray tan.
  • If you wear eye shadow, blush or face makeup, sleep with your makeup on that night.
  • Your face is going to fade faster since you wash it more frequently.
  • It is also best advised that you get a pedicure before you come in for your tan. DO NOT get one after your spray tan and before you shower. If you get one before you come in, make sure they wipe off any lotion. It is okay, however, to get a DRY pedicure after your spray tan.
  • Threading and waxing of eyebrows and lips should be done prior to your tan.
If you follow the above instructions you will have a beautiful spray tan in no time. Be sure to look after your tan properly and you will be a Bronze Goddess!

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