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How Long Does A Spray Tan Last?

by Nova CS August 16, 2021 6 min read


How long does a spray tan last


Soon the crisp autumn air will begin to roll in, and the glow of your sun-kissed skin will start to fade; therefore, you may be contemplating taking a plunge into the spray tan world. Suddenly, you have a list of questions,“How long does a spray tan last?”

Will it be worth the money?

Will it fade blotchy?

Can I wax with a spray tan?

All excellent and crucial questions to ask before we go down the spray tan route. 

Now, ladies, we’re not discussing the tanning lotions you can buy at your local drugstore or even the tan in a bottle you can buy there either. We’re specifically talking about the professional spray tans you go to a tanning salon to get. 

Let’s examine the number one question overall.


image of a woman having a professional spray tan done

How Long Do Professional Spray Tans Last? 

Professional spray tans claim to last ten days; however, if you read the fine print it will usually state UP TO 10 days. The reality is much depends upon the shade of tan you choose. 

Why is that the case? 

Spray tans have an active ingredient called dihydroxyacetone (also abbreviated as DHA for short). DHA interacts with your skin’s surface cells to create the darker color you want from a spray tan.

The darker shade you choose for your spray tan, the more DHA will be inside of it. More DHA causes your tan to last longer. So really, a darker shade spray tan will last around ten days, a medium tan roughly around seven days or so, and a light tan only lasting about five days. 

The darkening of your skin from the DHA only affects the outer layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum,  that is why spray tans are so temporary. As your skin naturally sheds the dead outer layer of cells, the spray tan also goes with it, leaving a fading tan. 

In order to help your tan have the fullest “shelf-life” and stick around for longer, there are some actions you can implement before and after your spray tan to help.

exfoliation graphic


How Can I Make My Spray Tan Last Longer?

Before your spray tan appointment, to help your tan last longer, exfoliate about two days beforehand, wax about two days earlier, and avoid any oily products, oily cleansers, and chemical exfoliants at least 24 hours beforehand too. 

anti fungal anti bacterial exfoliation mitt

The Supracor Stimulite Exfoliating Bath Mitt is our top choice for your pre-tan exfoliation. The unique design of honeycomb cells is naturally anti-fungal and antibacterial, dries quickly, and is non-abrasive on the skin. It will leave your skin fresh, polished, and ready for that spray-tan glow! 

To additionally help your spray tan last longer, after your appointment and for the duration of your tan, avoid shaving, waxing, and excessive exfoliation. It’s also helpful to wear loose-fitting clothing for 24 hours post spray tan and keep your skin moisturized. Lastly, don’t shower for at least 6 hours after your tan. 

Before you tan, if you use oily products or heavy moisturizers, your tan may not absorb into the skin well, which could create a blotchy tan. And the last time we checked, tiger stripes were not a trend, so here’s how to avoid that from happening to you.

Chemical exfoliants slough off dead skin cells over time. Keep in mind DHA only affects the stratum corneum, so if you use a chemical exfoliant a few days before your spray tan, it will continue to work and end up sloughing off that fresh spray tan you received! 

Afterward, you don’t want the tan to rub off or create tan lines, so wear loose-fitting clothing all day long, including your pajamas that night! Don’t shower for 6 to 10 hours to allow ample time for the spray tan to absorb into your skin thoroughly.

Avoid hair removal for the duration of your spray tan to avoid unnecessary exfoliation that will end up sloughing off that outer layer of skin cells holding that beautiful tan.

Don’t take for granted tinted moisturizer! Moisturizing (oil-free moisturizers, please!) is essential to prevent any peeling. Peeling will reduce the amount of time your tan lasts for. 

You can take it a step further and use a tinted moisturizer to keep that radiating glow and tan looking gorgeous and lasting much longer. 

Do Spray Tans Fade Evenly?

No spray tan is permanent, and eventually, they all fade; depending on the steps you take prior to and post spray tan will determine if your spray tan will fade evenly. Some do, some don’t. 

If done correctly and you followed the steps above, yes, your spray tan can fade evenly. A strong recommendation is to LIGHTLY exfoliate every three days or so after your spray tan with a very gentle exfoliant to help shed dead skin and allow your spray tan to fade evenly, not just on excessive dry spots. 

WARNING: If you go swimming, sit in saunas or steam rooms, take really hot showers, or vigorously dry yourself off with your towel, you could create blotchy areas that do not allow for an even fade. 

Think of when you have gotten a sunburn (yes, we’ve all done it. A little too much sleep and not enough SPF), and your skin started to peel. Some areas still kept a tan. Others were now revealing fresh, lightened skin. If you forget to moisturize or moisturize with oil-based moisturizers that don’t properly absorb into the skin, you may end up peeling, all contributing to an uneven fade. 

Do your due diligence and always get recommendations from the tanning salon on essential details to ensure an even fading spray tan. 

Waxing And A Spray Tan

Now, no one wants to have a stunning tan and hairy legs! Since waxing does provide some exfoliation, if you wax while you have your spray tan, you can end up removing some of your precious tan early. In other words, waxing could then leave you with a tan that fades sooner and an uneven fading tan. Wherever you wax will now be hairless but potentially a shade lighter than the rest of your body...Not what we want! 

It also is ill-advised to wax 24 hours before your appointment since any wax or post-waxing lotion residue can prevent the spray tan from adequately absorbing. Another cause for concern with waxing too close to your spray tan appointment is potential blotchy areas post waxing. Since waxing does open your pores a bit more, the spray tan could alternatively absorb too much in areas showing as blotchy and uneven afterward.

So, where is our happy medium? 

Wax about 2-3 days before your spray tan appointment. This will allow time for your skin to soothe, pores to close up, and leave you with the best application of your spray tan. 

And considering we love that waxing lasts so long, you’ll now be hairless, or virtually close to it, the entire duration of your spray tan! This is yet another reason to choosewaxing over shaving, as if you needed another one. 

Win, win, win! 

Ok, you’re ready to leap into a spray tan, but realistically, how much does one cost? 

How Much Does A Spray Tan Cost?

A single spray tan can cost an average of $25-$50 per tan. 

What are the variables in cost?

It goes without saying that your location, whether in major cities, the suburbs, or rural communities, significantly impacts service costs. Different areas of the country also impact whether spray tans will be on the higher side of things. 

Moreover, the shade you choose for your spray tan can also greatly affect the price, with darker shades generally costing more. 

You will also notice that the type of equipment used at the salon affects the price of the spray tan. Higher quality machinery provides you with a more even tan but generally costs you a bit more. 

Take these matters into consideration when debating whether your salon is charging you a reasonable price for the spray tan you are so eager to get. 

Be smart about getting your spray tans too! Don’t pay a considerable expense to get a spray tan right before a big day- like your wedding- only for your skin to be darker than you prefer or have a potentially bad experience and uneven spray tan from a salon you’ve never been to before. 

Always do your research! You will then be much more satisfied with the cost of your spray tan when you feel like you’ve been provided with a service you are pleased with. 

In Summary

Professional spray tans are a nice way to keep that bronzed glow even during the months where the sun may be hard to find, or frankly, you’ve just been too busy to find it! 

DHA, the active ingredient in a spray tan, targets the stratum corneum of the epidermis and gives you the tan you are looking for. Darker shades of a tan have more DHA, lighter shades of a tan have less. 

To help your tan last the longest, avoid waxing 24 hours before, chemical exfoliants, and any oily moisturizers and cleansers before your spray tan. This can prevent the spray tan from absorbing properly or leave blotchy, uneven areas with your tan. 

Afterward, moisturize thoroughly every day to keep that tan hydrated! Consider using a tinted moisturizer to keep the glow longer and gently exfoliate every three days or so to help your tan fade evenly. 

You are now fully equipped to no longer ask, “How long does a spray tan last?” but rather, “I know how to keep my spray tan lasting the longest!” 

Nova CS
Nova CS