How To Keep Your Spray Tan From Fading

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How To Keep Your Spray Tan From Fading

This is a summer like no other. While many may spend the summer months at the beach, pool, or on a tropical vacation, they are now spending a lot more time at home due to social distancing amid coronavirus.

It's depressing and disappointing, but a lack of normal summer time in the sun doesn't mean your skin can't look sunkissed. Sunless tanning can give the look of a suntan, without the sun exposure.

If you've never tanned before, a professional tan is a great idea. But it's not really an option for many parts of the country right now.

People have found creative ways to tan safely (and sunlessly) at home. There are also several ways a professional or self-sunless tan can happen.

"The most popular is a spray tan," said René Serbon, an international skin expert. 

What is a spray tan?

RELATED: 20 Best Self-Tanning Spray Tans To Use At Home For A Perfect Glow

This is the kind of tan where you strip down except for your underwear. At a salon, you get to put a disposable g-string on. Adds Serbon, at a salon, "Once ready the operator will use a machine similar to an airbrush machine to spray you evenly with the tan."

After the tan application, it's common for salons to have a drying system to dry the tan (similar to a hairdryer), after which you can get dressed and are finished.

But at home, you'll be spraying yourself, so it's a bit more difficult to get those hard-to-reach areas. If you're quarantining with a friend or relative, you may want to ask them to spray the spots you can't reach so you don't miss any areas.

How long does a spray tan last?

Well, it really depends on what you use, and how you use it.

Says Serbon, "Most tans last about 2 weeks (age and lifestyle dependent)." That's because the cell that's "tanned" has a lifecycle that turns over by then. You won't wake up with no tan, but your skin will get progressively lighter over that time. It's sort of like how hair color may wash out over time.

Evenness is the way of the game and the most important part of the tanning process. Adds Serbon, "If you choose to do it yourself, the key is to get the tan on evenly and everywhere." It isn't unusual for people to tan targeted areas like legs only. "Just keep in mind where you stop applying the tan, is where the tan will also stop!"

Another caution to remember when you doing it yourself? Wash your hands after applying the tan!

"Tanned palms are unusual," Serbon notes. "I remember making that mistake when giving my mom a foot massage when I was around 8 years old with self-tanner instead of cream. Her feet felt great but looked 'questionable' along with my hands!"

Ready to give it a try?

Here's how to keep your spray tan from fading, whether from a salon or at home.

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1. Prep before applying any tanner.

The truth is that a sunless tan starts before you actually apply the tan. “The better condition the skin is to start with, the better the tan will look, and the better it will last,” Serbon adds. So, make sure your skin is smooth and well-hydrated. 

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2. Hydrate your skin.

Hydration is important for our health in so many ways, but it's also important for healthy skin. Hydrated skin will hold the tan better. So, start by moisturizing daily, and paying attention to the areas that are typically dryer (like knees and elbows).

Dry skin is a tanning no-no, especially if you want to have that silky smooth skin show up on social media!

RELATED: The 4 Types Of Sunscreens You Must Use (Unless You Want Skin Cancer)

3. Keep your skin smooth for the best possible tan.

Speaking of smooth skin, that starts with the prep. Pre-tan steps are as important as the post-tan steps.

“To ensure a good start, always start off with clean, exfoliated skin,” recommends Silver Goodwin, Executive Education Manager of Beauty for Vita Liberata. 

This will create an even deeper tan. You’ll (again) want to focus on the rougher spots like knees, elbows, and even heels.  

“If you're applying the tan yourself, don’t start on these trouble spots. It's better to just be fast and even over them, as tan has a tendency ‘grab on’ to those spots. So, focus on the areas first where the sun would naturally hit your skin and spread the tan from there,” Serbon adds.

To increase your tan color, reapply a few days later. This won’t be necessary if you're having a tan done professionally, however. Remember that the skin naturally sheds, and with that shedding, so will your tan. 

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4. Moisturize — again.

After your tan has developed, Goodwin says to replace your daily body lotion with one that has DHA agents, adding, “Avoid heavy oils or too many emollients. And, of course, try to wait on anybody exfoliation while enjoying your tan!”

Moisturizing is key to keeping skin in prime condition, and making that tan last longer. You want to be glowing all summer long, right?

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5. Refrain from exfoliating right after applying the tan.

Exfoliating before a tan is important to give you a smooth surface for application. However, exfoliating after your tan means you will end up rubbing the color right off. And what's the point of that?

Ease up on exfoliating while your tan is on, but dry brush when you can do so again. That means you may have to wait up to 2 weeks.

Dry brushing is so good for your skin and lymphatic system. Plus, dry brushing is known to increase blood flow and circulation to the area it brushes, which helps give the area a bit of a glow.

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Sometimes, "faking it" is a good thing, and that’s absolutely true with sunless tanning. But times are tough, so make those products last longer and you won't have to use them as often!

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her.