What You Need to Know Before Getting Your First Spray Tan

You've been thinking about getting a spray tan for awhile now, but aren't quite sure what to expect for your first time. We get it! The idea of receiving a full tan for the first time can be intimidating. But trust us, your first spray tanning experience doesn't have to be scary. In fact, it can actually become a normal process that you look forward to.

This article will walk you through everything you need to know before your first spray tan so you can walk away feeling calm, confident, and sun-kissed. We'll cover what to wear, how to prep your skin, what to expect during the actual session, and tips for taking care of your color afterward. By the time you're done reading, that apprehension will be gone and you'll be ready to get your first professional spray tan!

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Preparing for Your First Spray Tan

Let’s begin with the preparation steps. There are a few things you’ll need to consider beforehand to make the process smooth and keep the longevity of your tan. Here are our best tips:

  • Exfoliating the day before your appointment is key for an even tan. Use a scrub to buff away dead skin cells, especially on rough areas like knees and elbows. Shower and shave, then moisturize with a light, oil-free lotion.
  • Skip the deodorant, perfume, and makeup. These products can create barriers preventing an even tan. Go fragrance-free.
  • Wear a swim suit under easy-to-remove clothing. This is so the skin is accessible for tanning. Flip flops or sandals are best for feet.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. This keeps your skin in optimal condition to accept the spray tan solution.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. The key to a flawless tan is good communication with your technician.
  • Relax and enjoy your experience! The technician will walk you through each step and ensure you get the results you want.

While it may not seem like a big deal, these tips can make a difference in the quality of the tan so they’re important to follow. We also recommend adhering to your technician’s aftercare instructions carefully. These usually include avoiding activities that cause sweating for 8-12 hours, showering gently and patting yourself dry, and moisturizing daily.

What to Expect During Your Spray Tan Session

When the big day comes, there are a few things you can expect. When you arrive for your appointment, you'll strip down to minimal, loose clothing, your swimsuit, or your birthday suit if you’re feeling bold. The tanning technician will have you stand in a booth or tent and spray you with an even coat of tanning solution using an airbrush gun.

The solution is applied in thin layers, allowing each coat to dry for a few minutes before the next is spritzed on. The technician will direct you to turn, lift your arms, bend forward or backward to ensure even coverage. They pay extra attention to tricky spots like behind your knees, between your fingers and toes, and your hairline.

After the final coat, you'll be instructed to stay still for a few minutes while the solution sets in. Then you can get dressed, but avoid tight-fitting clothes, excessive sweating or getting wet for the next 4 to 12 hours. This allows the tan to fully develop, resulting in a natural, streak-free glow. Initially, your color may seem too dark or uneven, but it will fade to a more realistic, gradual tan over the next couple of days.

With the proper prep, expert application and aftercare, you'll leave with a gorgeous, natural-looking tan to complement your skin tone. All without the sun damage!

Caring for Your Skin Post-Tan

Congratulations, you made it through your first spray tan! Now the real work begins. For the next 12 hours, avoid getting wet or sweaty at all costs. That means:

  • No showering
  • No swimming or bathing
  • No strenuous exercise

Tight-fitting clothes are also a no-go right now. Stick to loose, breathable fabrics like cotton to avoid irritation.

After those initial 12 hours, you can shower but continue to moisturize daily. Use a glycerin-based lotion to hydrate your skin and extend the life of your tan. Exfoliate 1-2 times a week to remove dead skin cells and focus on areas where your tan tends to fade quickest, like your hands, feet, and face.

Within 3-5 days, your tan will reach its peak color. To keep your glow going strong for over a week, reapply self-tanner or get a spray tan touch up. Fading and patchiness are normal, especially on high-friction areas, but you can use a damp washcloth to gently buff away any streaks or uneven spots.

To get the most out of your new bronze, drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. Limit sun exposure when possible and always wear SPF to protect your skin. With the proper aftercare, you'll maintain a tan that looks straight from the Bahamas!


Have some questions about your first spray tan experience? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions to help put your mind at ease.

It’s best to wear loose, dark clothing after your spray tan. The solution can stain fabrics, especially silk and wool. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after your appointment and avoid touching things until you’ve showered.

A spray tan typically lasts 5 to 7 days. Exfoliating before your appointment and keeping your skin hydrated will help maximize the life of your tan. Limit activities that can fade your tan like swimming or excessive sweating for the first few days.

A professional spray tan technician is trained to provide a natural-looking glow, not an orange tint. Be sure to choose a shade slightly darker than your natural skin tone for the most realistic results. An experienced technician will do a test spray to ensure the perfect color before proceeding with your full tan.

There may be a slight cosmetic odor immediately after your spray tan, but it should fade significantly after you shower. Some people report the smell reminds them of cocoa or vanilla. The odor comes from the reaction of the DHA in the solution with the amino acids in your skin.

Yes, you will need to shower after a certain period of time to remove excess solution and reveal your tan. Your technician will provide specific instructions for when to shower based on the solution used. It’s typically 4 to 6 hours after your spray tan. Showering washes away excess dye and reveals your natural-looking tan underneath.

Get Your First Professional Spray Tan at Skylar Grace

For your first spray tan, going to a professional salon is highly recommended. Skylar Grace specializes in providing customized tanning with top-quality solutions and experienced technicians. We offer a range of shades to suit every skin tone and help guide you to the perfect glow.

At your appointment, a technician will consult with you to determine the right formula and shade for your skin type and desired tan color. We’ll carefully spray the solution over your entire body using a specialized airbrush applicator. At Skylar Grace, we use high-quality solutions enriched with botanicals and antioxidants to moisturize skin and provide a natural-looking tan.

With the right preparation and a skilled technician, a professional spray tan at Skylar Grace will leave you with an even, natural-looking glow. Call or book online today for your first sunless tan!