By now you’ll know good prep is an essential part of fake tanning for an even, lasting glow. But we’re here to tell you post-tan care is equally important – starting with the very first shower you take after bronzing your bod!
From the ideal water temp to the time you should wait before bathing, this article answers all your queries around how and when to shower after a fake tan. We’ve also provided important after-care advice on hair removal, tan-sabotaging ingredients to avoid, and the best way to stop your face from fading faster than the rest of you. Read on.
How soon after fake tanning should I shower?
The time you should wait before showering will depend on the type of tan you’ve used, or the spray tan applied. Today, there are loads of quick-developing formulas that can be washed off after as little as 2 hours (if you want a lighter tan), as well as traditional formulas designed to stay on the skin for 8 hours.
Whichever you choose, it’s important to time your application so you’ll be free to shower instead of stuck on a Zoom call. No good at maths? We often apply our Sunny Honey right before bed so we can rinse off upon waking after 8 hours, give or take.
What are the golden rules for the first shower after tanning?
So, you’ve left your tan to start developing for the recommended 2 to 8 hours, and it’s time to rinse off that excess bronzer. The first rule of that first post-tan shower is to keep it short and sweet, as in a couple of minutes only. Leave your shampooing for another day (as some ingredients can lead to streaking) – and obviously avoid shaving or exfoliating the skin this time round!
Don’t use a washer or sponge, just use your hands and lukewarm water to rinse your body until the water runs clear. Ideally, you want to avoid using a body wash during this first shower. But if you can’t resist, make sure it’s a hydrating formula that’s free from drying, colour-stripping sulfates and other chemicals – such as our deliciously scented, pH-balancing Smoothie Shower Gels!
Packed with natural hydrators like coconut water and aloe, they’re also bursting with prebiotics to support a healthy, balanced skin microbiome and glowing, hydrated skin.
And for your face? If you feel in need of a proper cleanse after tanning, keep it simple with a gentle face wash that’s free from exfoliating ingredients or acids that can break down your tan.
I’m clean. What should I do now?
Once out of the shower, gently pat your body dry with a soft towel. Avoid rubbing, which will essentially exfoliate away your tan and lead to a patchy, uneven finish. Many fake tans can be drying, so be sure to lock in moisturise with a super-hydrating body lotion or cream (more on this later). Avoid anything with anti-acne or anti-ageing ingredients like salicylic acid or retinol and apply your moisturiser to the skin while still slightly damp.
Help! I’m still pasty…
If you showered after just a few hours, you might notice your skin is not as tanned as you’d expected. Don’t fret! Your colour will continue to develop and darken for a few hours (and a spray tan takes up to 24 hours to develop fully).
That brown water disappearing down the drain? It wasn’t your tan washing away, it was simply the cosmetic bronzer tanning formulators use to help guide you when applying your tan. Clever, huh?
What else can I do to prolong my tan?
Because fake tan clings to our dead skin cells and our skin naturally sheds, a fake tan typically lasts around 5-7 days. To keep your skin looking tantastic for as long as possible, it’s crucial to keep skin hydrated. To do this, stick with showering once a day if possible, keep showers short and not-too-hot, use a sulfate-free body wash, and don’t forget to moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!For a rich but non-greasy formula, try our Glow Figure Body Moisture Whip. Packed with antioxidant-rich fruit extracts and hydration-enhancing amino acids, it also boasts CelluShape™️ Technology to promote firmer, smoother, more supple skin.
Can I still shave and exfoliate?
Hair removal should be part of your tanning prep, but you’ll often still need to shave in the week after fake tanning. As shaving is essentially exfoliating, there’s no getting around the fact it will remove some of your colour. However, this can be minimised by waiting to defuzz for a minimum of 24 hours after applying fake tan. Using a fresh razor will also help, as will applying a moisturiser and using gentle pressure as you shave.
But what about scrubbing or sloughing the skin? Believe it or not, light exfoliation isn’t a bad idea. While you don’t want to be too aggressive, gentle exfoliation can help your tan fade out evenly. Meaning? There’ll be less streaking or patchiness as you fade – and less prep work involved when you’re ready for your next self-tanning sesh.
Take a few days’ break after tanning to enjoy your glow, then you can start gently exfoliating every three days using an exfoliating mitt or non-drying body scrub.
(Want your tan to last even longer? Check out our previous article for more tips for prolonging your fake tan.)
Help! How can I stop my face from fading faster than my body?
If you’re a regular fake tanner, you’ll know that your face tends to fade out faster than your body, especially if you’re using exfoliating skincare ingredients such as alpha or beta-hydroxy acids. To avoid this, try adding 1-3 facial tanning drops to your night cream to extend your colour. Enriched with hyaluronic acid, our dermatologist-approved, alcohol-free Bronzing Face Drops are just the ticket to keep skin healthy, hydrated and with a glow that goes on and on.
Written By: Pip Jarvis
Edited by: Vidhya