By Anne Bauso
(Photo: David Stesner)
Working in an environment where the spritzing of new perfumes, facial mists, and dry shampoos fills the air on a daily basis, I often feel like I’m simply absorbing an all-encompassing, cross-category store of beauty knowledge. Which is why I nonchalantly waltzed into my first spray-tan appointment recently without giving the session a moment’s prior thought. Anything I needed to know, I already magically knew, right? Nope. Here are the spray-tan tips I wish someone had given me.
Schedule smartly. Evening appointments are the most logical, since you can go after work, then scurry home and promptly seal yourself into your private chambers. After the session, you’re forbidden from getting wet for six to eight hours while your tan is developing, so you’ll have to wait until the morning to shower. Morning appointments, however, are “best if clients need to shower that evening,” says Natalie Cupid-Riley, the owner of Glow the Spray Bar in New York City. If you are getting spray-tanned for a special occasion, make the appointment for two days before, but consider “a trial a month in advance before a big event, like a wedding,” says Cupid-Riley.
Prep your skin, part one. “Always exfoliate with a non-oil-based scrub before a spray tan,” advises bicoastal spray-tan pro (and bronzer to the Angels in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show) Kristyn Pradas. “It is best to do this a day before your scheduled appointment, but the day of is fine, too.” Acceptable forms of exfoliation: scrubbing gently with a creamy formula, shaving the day before (“always use new razor blades to avoid a situation where your tan fades unevenly,” says Pradas), or waxing a few days before.
Dress down. Pack some scrubby, loose-fitting clothes to wear home from your appointment. (Don’t breeze in wearing nothing but your dry-clean-only career-girl clothes, like I did.) No wiggling into leggings, tights, skinny jeans, or any formfitting clothes (you should even try not to put your bra back on), or your bronze will look like a remnant from your vacation to Streak City. For footwear, wear “sneakers with no socks, ballet flats, or any kind of slide-on,” says Cupid-Riley, who adds, “Prior to your session, anything is fine, just remember any clothing that indents your skin beforehand will indent your tan afterward.”
Prepare your skin, part two. Wash your face at the salon before your appointment, and wipe your body down with a cleansing towelette. “You want to come in with clean, fresh skin, so no moisturizers, deodorants, sunscreens, makeup, or oils of any kind,” says Cupid-Riley. And since you won’t be showering—or washing your face—after, taking off all your makeup just makes good sense. (And check the weather, because if an unexpected rainstorm hits and you are not fully equipped with protective covering, you should reschedule the appointment.)
Shower time! Once your eight hours are up, shower with “lukewarm to cool water, never hot. Wait until the water runs clear, then pat dry and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize,” says Cupid-Riley.
Maintain. "The more hydrated your skin is, the longer the tan will last. I suggest moisturizing morning and evening with a pH-balanced formula," says Pradas. She also recommends steering clear of retinols, anything with alcohol or witch hazel, scrubs, masks, strips, microdermabrasion, or "any products containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, malic or lactic acids." You should also avoid getting full-on manis or pedis, as they’ll break down the tan. Cupid-Riley says polish changes are OK, but "no scrubbing, bubbles, soaks, massages, or hot water." (So no point.) Working out’s fine, but "it’s best to wait at least two days before exercising, as heavy sweating removes the color sooner. If workouts can be avoided, they should be," she says. (I guess that’s why they say if you can’t tone it, tan it.)
This week, book a $40-plus spray tan at participating salons on allure.com, like New York City’s Gotham Glow (above) and get $15 off with the promo code Tan15 (you must book by next Monday, March 23, but the appointment can be scheduled for any day or time).
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