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What To Do Before Getting A Spray Tan

From poor representation in shows like Jersey Shore and that one time on Friends, spray tanning has become something many are afraid to try. Many fear turning orange, or having splotchy patches of white when the tan wears away. As a self-proclaimed expert in the field, I’m here to tell you exactly what’s up with spray tanning and how to get the most natural glow before spring break. 

Pick a spray tan method

There are so many options for getting a spray tan, especially living in New York City. Your first (and best) option is getting an airbrush tan. This is when you go into a booth, and a professional tans you. They use a mix that is selected for your skin tone, and you can either go totally nude, or wear underwear that you don’t mind getting stained. A similar option to this is going to a tanning salon that offers automated spray tan booths. The perk of this is having total privacy, but definitely has the drawback of the color not being professionally mixed. You run the risk of it looking orange, whereas airbrush is almost never going to fail. Your other options for spray tanning are at-home tans. You can have a friend spray you, or you can use a number of lotions or wipes. Personally, I have found that the wipes (which we received in our Spring Break Survival Kits), are easiest to control, and have the best fade. They are super-easy to use, and rarely leave streaks like many lotions do. 

Of all the options, airbrush tanning is going to be what makes you look the most natural. The technicians are trained to make sure there aren’t white splotches, and the mix is made to bring out the best glow with your skin tone instead of just being a coating of a color that is supposed to look tan. It is the most expensive, so keep the other options in mind if you are on a budget, or short for time. They’ll all do the trick, so you can’t really go wrong. 

Prepare for your tan

Before spray tanning, whether it is in a booth or at home, there are a number of things you should do to get the best possible results. You’re going to want to exfoliate–everything. Get a scrub and really just go to town all over your body to get rid of any dead skin that might flake off and take the tan with it. You also want to shave, as this is another form of exfoliation. Obviously your legs will be smoother, but it also will reveal a fresher layer of skin for the tan to take hold to. After you shower, don’t put on any moisturizers or makeup, this will repel the tan. If you are prepping for a wedding or a vacation, get waxed and your nails done before spray tanning as well. Doing these after the tan would encourage those parts to fade faster than the rest of your body. 

After-care is key

If you are going to salon, wear a pair of dark, loose pants like sweatpants or yoga pants and a loose-fitting top. Plan to get spray tanned at night when you can just go home for the rest of the night, or on a day that you don’t have anywhere to be. You can get tanned, throw on your loose-fitting clothes, and head home without fear of the tan transferring onto your clothes. If you do your tan at home, try not to get dressed for a while or again, wear loose-fitting clothes. This will prevent the tan from smudging while it sets. Be cautious for 30 minute or so, and then you should be good to go about your day. Depending on the product, it can be sticky, so doing it at night is your best bet at feeling comfortable. You can just go to bed and the tan will have developed by morning. 

Both in-home and salon tans take between four and eight hours to develop. Depending on the salon, they will give you instructions on aftercare. Typically, you wait the given number of hours, and take a lukewarm shower with no soap to just rinse the ‘dye’ of the tanning solution off. It is always darker than it is going to be so the technician can see where they have tanned as they go. When you shower, it will all run down the drain, and leave you with a perfectly even tan. 

After this period as well you should start moisturizing. If you keep your skin hydrated, the tan will last longer, and it will not flake off. Tans usually last from 10-14 days, depending on the product you use and how well you take care of it afterwards. As it starts to fade, certain areas do tend to flake. When this happens, take a loofah and scrub to it to speed up the process. 


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Christina is a member of the class of 2018 at Fordham University, pursuing a major in Communications and Media Studies. Some of her favorite things include Sex and the City re-runs, dogs and pretending Zayn is still a member of One Direction. 
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