E!: What are some of the biggest mistakes people make preparing to self-tan or spray tan?
IA: I think one of the biggest mistake people make is that they exfoliate right before their appointments or they’ll take a shower with lots of soaps. You should be exfoliating and preparing your skin 24 to 48 hours in advance and that also includes shaving. The number one cause for streaks in any spray tan or self-tanning application is the razor residue that was leftover from shaving right beforehand. You shouldn’t shave right before tanning.
You need to do all your skin preparation the day before because if you do not, your pores are wide open. Sometimes, if you shower and exfoliate right before your spray tanning or self-tanning appointment, the chances are the self-tan or spray tan will not achieve its dark color because your pores are wide open.
E!: Is part of that because showering changes your pH levels?
IA: Yes because it takes several hours for your pH levels to get back to its normal range after a shower. The amino acids and your pH are softening the skin when you shower in warm water. Applying tanner or spray tanning right after a shower is really going to reduce the darkness that could be achieved compared to if you showered the night before instead.
E!: What about that first shower post-tan? What are some things to keep in mind so we don’t mess up our tans?
IA: It needs to be warm water and you should really take your time in there, especially if you are using a tanner that has a cosmetic bronzer, which is usually the brown stuff that you see come off in the shower. You aren’t taking off the tanner, you are taking off that bronzer when you shower. You really want to take your time and lather yourself with your hands (no soap) and just make sure there are no watermarks.
A lot of people say “my tan is so streaky” and that’s often because they didn’t take the time to fully wash that bronzer off in the shower. Rinse until that water trickling down is clear and free of bronzer. That’s how you know you’ve fully rinsed.
Your tan will continue to develop for 24 hours, which is why we encourage people to not use soap for that first shower.