Making Fake Tans Last: How to Keep Your Glow Longer
The summer season may be almost over, but your sun-kissed glow can last all year long. Whether you favor a session in a tanning bed or a few applications of your favorite self-tanner, you can make your artificial bronze last as long as possible.
There are steps you can take to extend the life of your tan both before and after your application of indoor tanning lotion. With the right mix of products and additions to your routine, you'll stay glowing throughout even the dreariest winter season.
what to do Before using indoor tanning lotion
- Exfoliation: Most people know to exfoliate before they take their next trip to the tanning bed. However, exfoliating too close to your tanning procedure can have a negative impact on your tan's staying power. Believe it or not, your indoor tanning lotion needs a few dead skin cells to cling to. Exfoliating 12 to 24 hours before your tanning application is ideal. This cleans and preps the skin for the product application, but gives your pores enough time to close before you apply. (This keeps tanning solution from sticking to your pores, making obvious clumps or over-darkened areas.)
- Moisturizing: Keeping your skin soft and supple is key to an even, dewy tan application. However, moisturizer can act as a barrier between your skin and the tan if it's applied too close to the tanner. With that in mind, moisturize right after you exfoliate—about 12 to 24 hours before you plan to tan. (Pro tip: A light last-minute application of moisturizer on your palms, elbows, knees, and feet can keep lighter areas from turning "orange" during the application process. Just make sure your moisturizer has had time to dry everywhere else on your body!)
- Shaving and waxing: These are both important steps to take before your tan. Smooth, clean skin gives your tan solution more to stick to. However, both waxing and shaving can prompt your pores to stay open, and tanning solution can sit in those open spaces. To that end, waxing at least 24 hours before your appointment (or 12 if you're shaving) is a good marker to use.
what to do right after using indoor tanning lotion
- Solution removal: Right after you apply your self-tanner or receive your spray tan, it's a good idea to remove any excess solution with a clean cloth. Then, air-dry or use a hairdryer or standing blower on the coolest setting to help your tan dry more quickly. Follow all product or spa technician instructions when it comes to staying dry—at the very least, you'll want to avoid getting sweaty or showering for at least a few hours.
- Bedtime: The first night of sleep after a tan is often where we find more of our tanning solution on our sheets than on our bodies. A good way to avoid this is to sleep with light sheets instead of a comforter and to position a fan over you so you don't sweat too much in your sleep. If you tend to sleep with your hands on your face, wear lightweight gloves to bed so you don't wipe off any tan in the night.
Upkeep for the next few weeks: how to make your tan last
- Bathing: Your first shower after your tan is going to take off all that remaining tan solution. After that, stick to quick, cool showers and avoid long bathtub soaks or steamy sauna-style showers. To stay clean, use a lightweight, sulfate-free shower gel (and skip the exfoliating body wash and sugar scrub).
- Skincare: A solid skincare routine will keep your tan fresh and glowing for as long as possible. Moisturizer is key (more on that in a moment), but it's also important to avoid any cleansers or makeup wipes that contain abrasive ingredients like AHAs and sulfates. Gentle, foaming cleansers are your best bet to beat grime without removing that beautiful tan too soon.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! This step in your skincare routine is so important, it got its own section! Many self-tanning newbies think that applying anything to the skin is a surefire way to remove all that hard work. However, skipping your moisturizer actually makes it much easier for an artificial tan to wash off. Stick to an oil-free moisturizer (or one that includes only natural oils, like coconut or avocado oil) that won't smear or slough off your tan, but make sure you keep your skin hydrated and fresh.
- Apply a self-tanner: You can touch-up a spray tan or a self-tan application with touch-ups from your favorite bottled product. You can mix tan enhancers into your moisturizer or alternate days between moisturizing and applying a self-tan. Your face is most likely to fade the fastest, so you may also consider applying a tanning mist or powder as part of your daily skincare routine.
For the best results, follow all instructions on your product packaging or any notes given by your spa technician. With a few adjustments to your routine, you'll keep that summer glow through any season!