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Spray tan tips from a pro

Updated: Jan 22

Want to get bronzed up for summer, a holiday or special occasion? Don't fancy looking as though you're about to self-combust after being dipped in Bisto or want to avoid risks associated with sunbeds? A spray tan is your best bet.

Quick and affordable, you can achieve a custom sunkissed look that is safe and will last for days. But, before you strip off and step inside a tanning booth, you may want to get clued up first.

Qualified spray tan artist Fern Brock says many people looking to achieve a fast golden glow are not aware of even the most basic safety and protocol requirements.

"Anyone offering a spray tanning service should be qualified and insured. They should also carry out a patch test on clients 24 hours before the scheduled tan," she said.

"I know that many people don't want to wait or find the pre-tanning appointment a bit of a hassle, but it is really important. Tanning products cover most of the body during a spray and any reaction could be quite widespread. A patch test is also important to determine the correct shade of tan for each individual.

"If you are not offered a patch test, go elsewhere."

building a gradual tan

Minimising potential spray tan problems

Fern says anyone booking a tan for a special event should ideally choose a time a few days in advance. "Even professional tanning products take up to 48 hours to look their best. Before that, the colour can appear sallow or over-pigmented. So, if someone wants to look great, they should give the tan a day or two to settle."

They should also tell the spray tan artist about any dry or broken skin, and discuss depth of colour options.

"Managing people's expectations of a spray tan is important," she said. "For example, a tan will generally look good for around a week and then start to fade. It doesn't last as long as many people think."

There are also 'dos' and 'don'ts' for the periods leading up to and straight after a tan.

'I love the sun but don't have the time to get a good tan and keep it year-round, so I am a huge fan of tanning products. Kim Kardashian

woman getting a spray tan

Before a spray tan

If you don't want to mess up your tan, here are Fern's top tips for preparing the skin:

  • Don't shave or use any other form of hair removal system for at least 24 hours beforehand

  • Avoid using solid soaps, high PH face and body wash products, and in-shower moisturisers immediately before a tan

  • Do not wear make up

  • Tie your hair up

  • Exfoliate the skin 24 hours beforehand

  • Do not wear deodorant

  • Loose-fitting clothes that are dark in colour are a must - to avoid stains

  • Take a pair of sandals or flip flops with you to wear home - so the tanning solution does not rub off in shoes

Fern (pictured below) says some common toiletry products can stop tan solutions from penetrating the skin and developing. "For an even tan, it is best to prepare the body a day or two before the spray," she added. "Exfoliation is really important as it removes dead skin cells and any dry, rough patches."

Fern, a qualified spray tan artist, with her qualification certificate

After a tanning session

You're not quite there yet! You should be advised not to wash for a period that may exceed 12 hours. Avoid baths, showers, swimming pools, hot tubs... You get the gist.

Then, after you've given the tan a chance to develop, you can have a quick wash with water only.

"If you can't tolerate a cold wash, just use warm water," Fern said: " And gently pat yourself dry after to avoid creating streaks. Some product will run off in water but it will not impact the overall result. This is very common."

Other dos and don'ts...

  • Don't use harsh products on your skin, including exfoliants and advanced skincare products designed for mature skin

  • Keep the skin hydrated by moisturising several times a day

  • Use a PH balanced body wash or soap

A spray tan is a great investment if you want to boost your self-esteem. It is also safe and quick. Just remember to follow the advice above and you will have a goddess glow in no time.

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