just a girl living her best life in the upper lefthand corner

Skin Prep Guide for Faux Tanning

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I don’t know about you, but I enjoy getting spray tans for special occasions when I know that the photos are going to last for a lifetime (read: I don’t want to be immortalized looking like a ghost). When it came to preparing for our 2018 wedding, I was concerned about my naturally fair skin being too similar to the color of my ivory wedding dress (#PNWlife – am I right, ladies?). Thank goodness for my hair and makeup artist Yessie Libby who gave me a recommendation for a mobile spray tan service here in Seattle (Yessie is super talented so I trust every one of her suggestions). The best part about it is that you don’t have to go to a tanning salon — it comes to you!

I set up a trial with Yessie’s suggestion, Divine Sunless Tanning (run by Wendy Smith), ahead of our wedding to see if I liked the overall look and if I did like it, whether or not we needed to adjust the color to be lighter/darker, etc. for the big day!

I had a phone consultation with Wendy ahead of my trial and she was explicit with her directions in order to prepare for my skin for the spray tan. If you are thinking about getting a spray tan (whether it is sprayed on by a machine or done by hand) or even if you’re applying self tanner at home, keep these insider tips and tricks handy so that you get the most even color and glow!


Two / Three Days Ahead of Faux Tanning:

– Before bed, take your typical shower (you can use a facial scrub as well as a body scrub at this point if you like; I always do), followed by a hot bath soak — adding enhanced Epsom salts, a few drops of soothing essential oils, or a luxurious bath bomb, etc. is highly encouraged. I like to turn the bath soak into a spa-like experience by lighting a candle and putting on soothing music / white noise sounds (i.e. rain falling, a thunderstorm, ocean waves crashing on the shore, etc.).

– At the end of your soak, use water and exfoliating gloves / loofah ONLY (no scrub products at this point) to thoroughly slough off dead skin all over! Be sure to remember the fronts and backs of your armpits, behind your knees, your elbows, in between fingers and toes, behind your ears, etc.

– While your skin is still damp, apply a decadent moisturizer (such as shea butter or coconut oil) all over your body, including all of those little nooks and crannies that you just scrubbed. I recommend using a lighter facial moisturizer if you are like me and are prone to breakouts.

The Night Before Faux Tanning:

– Before bed take your typical shower (but NO body scrubs this time), followed by a hot bath soak — adding pure Epsom salt is okay, but NO OILS! Make sure to shave your legs, bikini line, etc. too.

– At the end of your soak, use water and exfoliating glovesloofah ONLY to thoroughly slough off dead skin. Be sure to remember the fronts and backs of your armpits, between fingers and toes, behind your ears, etc.

– Do not apply any lotions, oils or creams to your skin before bed and do not rub your towel on your skin to dry off — gently pat yourself dry instead!

Spray Tan After Care:

– Wear loose-fitting clothing while you wait for an ~hour to pass as the color develops (*note: If you are using self-tanner, the time is typically longer before you can get your body wet –> like 4-6 hours!). I usually use this ~hour to catch up on emails, e-shop, or watch a movie. I also try to keep my body temperature cool to avoid sweating and potentially messing with the color(!!!).

– Once the proper amount of time has passed, I rinse my body in the shower to get the excess product off from a spray tan… do NOT use hot water!! Lukewarm is fine, but it’s better to err on the cooler side. Also, you don’t want to use any soaps or other products at this point — you are JUST rinsing off the excess bronzer (*note: make sure to thoroughly scrub and rinse the bottom of your tub / shower floor because that excess bronzer can stain!).

– You may take a normal shower 12 hours after your spray tan (or self-tanning) application because the color will have set by then. Wendy also recommends using lotion to moisturize after each shower (the cooler the water temp, the better) to help maintain your tan for as long as possible. I love using this moisturizer on my body to avoid a greasy feel and clogging my pores; my favorite facial moisturizer is this one.



If you follow these guidelines, your spray tan can last for up to two weeks with an even, gradual fade. *Note: I use this same method to prep my skin before using self-tanning products at home as well. I obviously prefer to get my tans done professionally instead of doing it myself, but sometimes you gotta do whatchya gotta do! (I’ll also share all about my favorite self-tanner soon!).

Have you ever gotten a professional spray tan before? Tell me about your experience in the comments section below!

xx, Natalie



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