Spray tanning is a gift from the gods. A nice tan works miracles like hiding away stretch marks, reducing any redness, evening out skin tone, obscuring cellulite and scars, and even helping to define your muscles while flattering your curves.

Oh, man, it all sounds nice, right?

But there’s a catch with spray tanning: Your beautiful carriage will someday turn back into a pumpkin. That is, spray tans are temporary, and you MUST find a way to get the most out of them.

And here’s just one more catch: Lotion is what makes your self-tan really glow … but the wrong lotion can also help wash away your spray tan before you’ve really enjoyed it.

So, what is the best lotion to use after spray tan sessions? We’re here with the authoritative answers for you. Read on to learn more about the best lotion to use after spray tanning, as well as other helpful tips for taking care of your precious spray tan.

Spray tanning is as much about timing as anything. You want to have your actual spray tan session two days before the event where you want to be perfectly glowing. For example, if you’re going to a wedding (or getting married yourself) on a Saturday, shoot for a Thursday tan session — preferably Thursday night. That will provide the optimal amount of time for your tan to settle in. Just don’t ruin it! More on this below.


How to Prepare for Your Spray Tan

Preparation for your spray tan begins three days before your actual session. That’s when you want to start exfoliating daily.

Get a coarse product like sugar scrub or sea salt, and get out your exfoliating mitt. It’s time to go to town. And here’s a pro tip for you: Mix a little bit of coarse sugar or sea salt into your regular shower gel. Why? Because most off-the-shelf scrubs have loads of oil, which can prevent the spray tan from clinging to your skin cells — which defeats the purpose in the first place.

So, you’re exfoliating every day. Then, no fewer than 24 hours before your spray tan session, take care of all waxing and trimming.

Shower and exfoliate for the final time 8 hours before your spray tanning session, which helps your skin settle in at the perfect pH level for achieving that beautiful, tanned glow that you so desperately want.


What to Wear Before (and After) Spray Tanning

You want to be as natural as possible on the day of your spray tan. When you show up to the salon, your attendant will most likely give you wipes to remove deodorant and foundation, which can greatly reduce the impact of your spray tan. So, skip the deodorant and foundation altogether on the day-of.

As for clothing, the answer is simple: Wear the loosest clothes you can find. Go for big T-shirts, baggy sweatpants and zero bra, if possible. Also, it’s best to go without shoes at all. The last thing you want are sandals or flip-flops leaving strap marks on your feet.

If they do, don’t panic. Gently exfoliate uneven areas to create better consistency. That’s “gently,” so don’t go back to using your coarse sugar or sea salt.

And remember that you’re wearing out of the tanning salon what you wore in. So get your loose, baggy clothes ready beforehand. The salon should give you some paper panties to wear out, and you should take advantage of them for as long as possible — at least a few hours after your session.

Failing to use the paper panties may have dire consequences, especially if you’re going to be wearing a bathing suit. Panties typically leave lines that sit outside of your bikini line, and you want to avoid those lines from developing in your spray tan.

One final tip on what to do on the day of your application: don’t sweat. It doesn’t matter if it’s August in Texas. Find a way to avoid sweating at all costs. Baby powder is your best option, so use it in places where sweating is most likely to originate: feet, armpits, etc.


Showering After a Spray Tan

Let your spray tan sit as long as possible before bathing. If you’re interesting in bingeing a new show, now is the time. It’s best to sit still and let your tan sink in for 8–10 hours.

Then, when it finally is time to shower, you need to be extra careful about how you do it. Here’s a look at how to bathe or shower after a spray tan:

  • Water: Go for luke water rather than hot water. Hot water is your enemy. So too is chlorine. So avoid hot tubs and swimming pools at all costs while you’re at it.
  • Body Wash: Use a natural product rather than anything that’s promoted as moisturizing. Moisturizing body washes can make your spray tan disappear.
  • Exfoliating: You may lightly (and I mean REALLY lightly) exfoliate any areas that need more consistency. But, it’s best to use a soft washcloth or just your hands to apply shower gel and body wash.
  • Drying Off: Drip dry if possible. If you need to use a towel, dab rather than rub, as rubbing can help rub your spray tan away.


Ahem, What About the Post-Spray Tan Lotion?

Ah, yes. This was our initial question: What is the best lotion to use after spray tan sessions? See, you need hydrated skin to let your spray tan really glow, and also to help your spray tan last as long as possible lotion helps slow down your skin’s natural exfoliation, which will also shed a spray tan.

So, you need to be applying lotion at least twice a day, but you can’t use just any old lotion. You need to be using a lotion that has no dye, no fragrance, no oil and no alcohol. Look for something that’s as basic and natural as you can find.

Here’s a look at your 3 best bets when searching for the best lotion to use after a spray tan:


1. All Good Coconut Oil Skin Food

Best Lotion to Use After Spray Tan

This is about as simple as it gets when you’re searching for a quality post-spray tan lotion. All Good Coconut Oil Skin Food is a vegan, gluten-free product that features a wonderful natural scent — which is nice when you’re stuck with only fragrance-free options.

Simply apply this while your skin is still wet right after a shower, and you’ll find that the coconut oil helps bring out that natural glow that you so desperately want after investing in a spray tan.

This is a particularly smart choice if you have naturally dry or even sensitive skin. You don’t need a lot of chemicals to get the job done — some simple coconut lotion works wonder for your skin.


2. Cetaphil for All Skin Types

Best Lotion to Use After a Spray Tan

Here’s one you should have no trouble finding. Cetaphil is readily available at grocery stores, pharmacies and even via two-day free shipping on Amazon if you’re a Prime customer.

Cetaphil is known as the gentle lotion that skin care professionals highly recommend. It’s easy on your skin, which means it also goes easy on your spray tan. You can apply to your skin without worry, and you can watch as Cetaphil brings out that natural glow that you’re looking for.

After all, no one wants to look like they’ve been spray-tanning. Cetaphil gives you that more natural look that is often elusive when artificially tanning.


3. Alba Botanica

One more outstanding option for you to consider as you search for the best lotion to use after a spray tan: Alba Botanica. This is a perfectly natural option for you to choose, and you can rest assured there’s nothing nasty like sulfates, phthalates or parabens included. In fact, Alba Botanica doesn’t even test on animals.

There are several different versions of Alba Botanica lotion, but I recommend the Alba Botanica Very Emollient, which is a nice balance between lighter lotions and creamier lotions. That is, I’ve found that it works well in all seasons.


Final Thoughts on the Best Lotion to Use After a Spray Tan

Your spray tan will begin to fade about 5 days after the initial application. You can help reduce the fading by using products like St. Tropez Gradual In-Shower, but you’re fighting a losing battle — it’s going to go away eventually.

All the tips mentioned above about caring for your spray tan still hold true, and your spray tan will last a little longer the cooler your showers and the looser your clothing.

Just make sure that you get your spray tan application far enough away from your big event that it will settle in and yet close enough that it won’t start to fade beforehand. You should be good to go!

Do you have a favorite post-spray tan lotion or any other spray tanning tips? Let us know in the comments section, or send a message using our contact form.