Here’s *Exactly* What to Wear After Self Tanning
Main image – James Read Tan
Remember when everyone used to bake in the sun all day, carrot oil on, a book in hand, lapping up the midday UV rays at their strongest in pursuit of that golden tan?
Yup, we’re not doing that anymore. Skin cancer, sun spots and premature ageing have now made a natural tan pretty much a thing of the past.
Now all you need for a sun-kissed glow is access to a good self tanner, a tanning mitt (or possibly a tanning technician if you’re feeling less-than-secure about applying tan yourself), oh and some super great tips on the best way to make sure your colour remains streak-free.
That’s why we spoke to beauty experts Julie Koritko, founder of GlowPro Tans, celebrity aesthetician Ian Michael Crumm, and medical chief Dr Harikiran Chekuri to put together this guide to *exactly* what to wear after self tanning, including how to prep for your tanning appointment and the aftercare to keep you glowing.
Read on for our spray tan tips on the right clothes to wear to your appointment, what to wear to bed after self-tanning, how to avoid orange streaks, and how to keep your sun-free colour for as long as possible.
The quick answer
So what should you *really* be wearing after your fake tan appointment to keep your bronzed glow smudge and streak-free?
It’s important to carefully plan what you’re going to wear to your tanning appointment. You’ll need the right clothes, and this includes dark colours, loose fits, slip-on shoes or sliders – and avoid tight garments like the plague.
Once your spray tan technician has misted you with that sun-kissed glow, you’ll want to wait for it to dry and avoid wearing anything that will cause dreaded orange streaks and blotches – this will also help you to avoid transferring any of your tan onto items such as car seats.
What to wear to your tanning appointment
Live That Glow HQ spoke to Julie Koritko, a certified aesthetician and the founder of cult favourite self-tanner GlowPro Tans, who told us: “The most important thing is to wear loose-fitting clothing that won’t cling to your skin. Tight clothing can absorb the self-tanner and cause streaking.”
This means avoiding:
- Tight bras
- Clothes with lots of complicated straps
Instead, go for dark-coloured clothes (no one wants self tanner transfer streaks on their new white top) that are loose enough to avoid rubbing against skin.
Ideal choices include:
- Flowy dresses
- Loos jumpsuits
- Maxi dresses
- Loose jogging pants
- Long sleeves
- Oversized t-shirts
These will give the active ingredient in self-tans, Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a chance to develop on your skin without ruining your favourite clothes.
What to wear at your tanning appointment
During your appointment the most important thing is to feel comfortable, but you’ll also want to make sure your tan is as streak-free as possible.
It’s best to wear a thong (your beautician may give you a paper one similar to those you wear when getting a wax), to get the best overall results.
But when is it safe to put back on your clothes after?
We asked celebrity aesthetician Ian Michael Crumm about how long it will generally take for the product to dry after being applied.
He told us that “Drying times vary, typically taking 15-30 minutes, but always follow the instructions provided with your chosen self-tanning product.”
For professional tanning appointments, your beautician will give you time to let your tan dry before getting dressed.
What to wear to bed after self-tanning
So you’ve made it incident-free through your tanning appointment and trip home.
Now it’s time for the dreaded moment when you delicately inch your way between your bed sheets in the hope of ruining neither your fresh tan nor your bedding.
Fear of smudging self tanner and leaving streaks all over sheets haunts even the most seasoned pro. That’s why we asked the experts for their tips.
“When sleeping with self tanner on, you want to protect your sheets for colour transfer and you want to prevent sweating.
“I prefer loose, light-weight pants, and an oversized t-shirt for bedtime,” Julie tells us.
Ian agrees, “after self-tanning, it’s recommended to wear loose, dark-coloured clothing to bed. This helps prevent the self-tanner from noticeably staining your clothing and sheets,” Ian told us.
Sweats and a t-shirt it is then!
Preparing for your skin for self tanning
Now you know how to get the most even tan at your appointment, what else should you be doing to get the most out of your self tanner?
You’ll want to prepare your skin for your tan, getting rid of any dead skin and dry areas that will cause your tan to flake or fade quicker.
One of the most important preparation steps is to use an exfoliator or body brush around 24 hours before your tan and continue the prepping process by applying a moisturiser.
Make sure you shave at least 24 hours before your tanning appointment tan to ensure the hair follicles have closed back up, avoiding the speckled look.
How to apply your fake tan
If you’re going down the do-it-yourself route (and especially for any first-time self tanners), here are our tips for getting an even finish without a hint of orange in site.
1. Pick the right product.
In the pursuit of the perfect faux glow it’s easy to get carried away in the product aisle at the supermarket/on Amazon/buying the your favourite influencer’s recommendation.
But rather than rush your choice, take time to find a product that will suit your own skin tone and that contains ingredients that will condition your skin.
Names like St Tropez, James Read and Isle of Paradise have attracted thousands of positive reviews for years. But if you don’t want to go for a named brand, always look online for reviews and before and after photos first to get an idea of the colour finish you can expect.
Consider the result you want. Are you looking for a natural-looking tan or a dark tan? When you know what sort of result you want, choose the relevant product from the brand’s range.
Also look out for ingredients like hyaluronic acid which will keep skin moisturised and help the tan last longer.
For those who like their products on the natural side, you might want to go down the route of looking for an organic fake tan or spray tan artist. (And for more on how to build a sustainable beauty routine check out our guide here).
Finally, have a think about the type of product you’re most likely to want to to work with. Are you more comfortable with a lotion or a mousse? A product with a bronzer in (so you can see where you’re put it), or a gradual tan solution?
Look out for a fake tan that you´ll find easiest to apply.
2. Do a patch test
This is really the same for any beauty product going directly on your skin.
Make sure to test our your fake tan on an inconspicuous patch of skin at least 24 to 48 hours before applying over your whole body.
If you get any skin reaction at all, don’t go there.
3. Use a tanning mitt
Fake tan is made up of an active ingredient (dihydroxyacetone or DHA) that reacts with the amino acids in your skin cells to create a golden colour.
That means that your self-tanning products will react to literally any type of skin it comes into contact with, whether you want it to or not (think orange palms and patchy elbows).
To avoid any fake tan fails by applying product with a tanning mitt which will help to protect your hands, apply fake tan evenly for for a streak-free tan, and allow you to apply less product to difficult areas like elbows and knees.
4. Circular motions
After applying your product to your tanning mitt, sweep across your skin in circular motions. This will help to avoid streaks and tan lines.
For more on how to do this, take a look at these great fake tan hacks below.
5. Stay cool
Fake tan does not take long to dry (because otherwise we’d all have to stand around like statues for 8 hours), but in the 30 ish minutes it does take to apply and dry you *really* need to avoid getting wet.
That means avoiding rain, washing hands, and heavy sweating. Crank up the air conditioner to the max for optimal results.
Post-self tan aftercare
As well as picking the right clothes to wear after your tan, you’ll also want to follow some hard and fast aftercare rules when it comes to getting the best result from your colour.
Showering after your self-tan application is not the time for harsh scrubbing or exfoliating. If you really want to use products, gently use the back of your hand with an oil-free body wash to rinse the surface solution off.
Avoid bar soaps or soaps that contain harsh chemicals, especially soaps that have sulphates which will strip your skin and remove your tan.
You can buy soaps specifically designed for use after self-tanning but natural products without harsh chemicals or exfoliating properties will be safe.
Julie tells us, “avoid hot/humid weather, sweaty workouts, and tight clothing for at least 6 hours after you tan.
“DHA can develop for up to 24 hours, but most solutions can be rinsed off within 8 hours. I recommend rinsing only, instead of a soap/body wash, for your first shower to maximise colour development.
“Defer to the directions on the bottle for rapid tans. Leaving self-tanner on for over 24 hours can dry out the skin and produce orange tones.”
Remember, if you do end up with a patchy tan or tan marks, a tan eraser will get rid of those from skin. And your washing machine will do a pretty good job of getting rid of tan stains from clothes too.
Dr Harikiran Chekuri adds, “it’s also important to stay hydrated and moisturise regularly after self-tanning.
“Keeping your skin moisturised helps to lock in the tan and keep it looking natural. Look for a body lotion that is specifically formulated for self-tanners with ingredients such as aloe vera or vitamin E, which will help nourish the skin.
“Apply this lotion twice daily, once in the morning and once again at night before bed.”
He explains, “in between applications, it’s important to maintain your tan by moisturising regularly and avoiding activities like swimming or sweating.
“Also, make sure to exfoliate regularly as this will help remove any dead skin cells that can cause uneven fading or patchiness of the tan. By following these simple steps, you can keep your self-tan looking natural and radiant all year round.”
And there we have it! For best tanning results, always make sure to prep skin properly before applying, stick to loose clothing, and protect your fresh tan by avoiding harsh chemicals.
Now you know all of the tips and tricks from the experts, it’s time to get bronzed.
Meet the experts
Julie Koritko is a certified aesthetician and the founder of cult favourite self-tanner GlowPro Tans, famed for its professional strength formulas and natural finish
Celebrity aesthetician and beauty expert Ian Michael Crumm is co-host of the BeautyCurious podcast with Dr. Elyse Love
Ian is known for his passion for skincare and sun safety and is actively involved in philanthropic efforts to promote skin cancer awareness, and believes that #ProtectedSkinWins
Dr Harikiran Chekuri is the medical Head at ClinicSpots and the founder of ReDefine Skin and Hair Transplant Center