Spray Tan Tips: How to Achieve a Perfect Streak-Free Tan

 Spray tan is the way to go in Arizona, where it’s Summer all year.  Between spray tan sessions, I like products like Air Brush Legs (which is like makeup for your legs) and St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse for when I need a tan, but I can’t get an appointment.  Both products are great options for a nice DIY self tan.  Though the easiest option for me to have someone else apply my tan.  Having another person in charge of the application process eliminates the risk of streaking and missing the hard to reach places like the middle of my back.

The Bronze Bar Scottsdale

The Bronze Bar in Scottsdale has seventeen colors from which to choose for the perfect customized tan.  It only takes a few minutes and I get loads of compliments the next day.

I got first spray tan years ago when I lived in St. Louis and I payed upwards of $50 for each session, so I only did it for weddings and other important events.  The bronze bar is significantly more affordable, with tans as low as $20, and they have more color options.

What You Need to Know Before You Spray Tan:

  • For best results, exfoliate your skin and shave before your appointment using non oil-based products (avoid Dove soap, oil and salt scrub, shea butter shave cream, etc).   I usually exfoliate in the shower and go in without any lotion on my skin.  Lotion creates a barrier and results in uneven application of product.
  • Consider doing this treatment last on your checklist if you’re doing a variety of treatments within a few days.  Imagine having your eyebrows waxed after a tan; the wax will remove the tan.  Likewise the hair dye remover used around your hairline could affect your tan, the foot scrub for a pedicure could remove the tan.  It’s better to do all of your beauty prep treatments prior to your tan.
  • Be sure to remove makeup and any other products on your skin before your tan.  The bronze bar provides exfoliating wipes, but if you’re unsure of your salon’s supply, toss some in your bag before you go.
  • Wear loose fitting dark clothing.  Most of the time it washes out of dark clothing, but it’s not guaranteed.  Clothing needs to be loose because tight clothing creates friction and can pull the color off your skin, leaving you with an awkward tan line.
  • Don’t plan on doing anything fancy after your tan.  You will look very dark right after (maybe a little dirty) and you need to be careful not to get your tan wet for about 8 hours after the application.  This includes washing your hands.  I keep wet wipes and hand sanitizer in my bathroom to wipe my hands without running water over them.
Tips for the perfect air brush tan.
My airbrush tan dress.  It’s perfect because it doesn’t have a tight waistline or bust.
How to get a perfect air brush tan.
The lighter area on my stomach shows what happens from using my seatbelt for the short drive home. Light friction like that is ok. This will wash off later and look great, so don’t worry if this happens.
Tips for getting the perfect air brush tan.
After my shower, the seatbelt marks are gone.
How to get the perfect air brush tan.
My skin immediately following an air brush tan.

Don’t worry if you’re darker than you think you wanted right after the tan. When you shower, you’ll rinse much of the color down the drain and you’ll be left with an even streak free glow.

Tips for getting the perfect air brush tan.
After your shower, your skin will have a much more natural glow.

Spray Tan Maintenance:

  • You must wait 8 hours to shower or do anything that will wet your skin, this includes sweating, going out in the rain, swimming, etc.  Letting it set for 8 hours is the key to a lasting dark tan; remember that in the shower, the excess color will run down the drain, but that will only happen in the first shower, the color you’re left with will last 7-10 days.  After you’ve given your tan 8 hours to set in, you can resume all activities.

I will share with you that my first spray tan in St. Louis was on a rainy day and immediately when I stepped out, I was pelted rain.  Nearly in tears (because you  know I paid too much and had an event coming up), I went back into the salon and the girl didn’t really know what to do.  She sprayed me again and I looked absolutely ridiculous.  I was so worried, but trying not to allow tears to stream down my face (think about the white perma-tear tattoos).  Since only so much of the tan actually gets absorbed, it ended up turning out nicely.  I looked ridiculous until I showered and removed the excess, but spraying me again worked out because it fixed the rain drop speckles.  Keep calm, call the girls at the bronze bar if you run into a situation. They are knowledgeable and will try to make it right for you.

  • Sleep in dark loose clothing and if you sleep with your hands on your face or under your body, you’ll want to cover them because your palms can turn out too dark or leave a hand print on your body.  That happened to me one time and it was quite funny.  I slept with my hand on my chest and was left with dark fingers and perfectly pale fingerprints on my chest.  I definitely had to wear a different dress for the wedding, so as not to show the world I had a pale handprint on my chest.
  • For best results, use a mild soap and lotion that do not contain alpha hydroxy acid, oils or exfoliants.  These ingredients speed up cell turnover, which reduces the life of your tan.
  • Avoid using washcloths or loofahs when you wash- use your hands.  Make sure to moisturize liberally after showering. The healthier your skin is, the longer your color will last.

So basically, go easy on the scrubbing and moisturize like crazy.  That’s really all it takes to having the perfect vacation tan.

Tips for getting the perfect air brush tan.
I didn’t sleep with my hands covered this time because I don’t usually have an issue with it anymore. My left palm and fingers are a little orange because I did that. Oops, next time, I’ll cover them.


Tips for getting the perfect air brush tan.
Left: pre-tan, Middle: immediately after, Right: post-shower tan


Tips for getting the perfect air brush tan.
Before and After.

Now that you’ve seen the results would you try a spray tan?

Want to try it out at home?  This is my number one at home self tan line and a tutorial on how to do it.  One of you lovely readers recommended I try the darker St. Tropez tanner and it applied with the same process, but took less applications for the desired outcome, so thank you!  I love hearing from you guys.

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Kate Thakkar

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