What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “tanning”? Sunbath? Tanning bed? Spray tan? Bronzer? Either of these ways are going to take time to settle down.
And you will not want it to wash in water because of a quick shower. This means it is not justified to take a shower right after you are done with tanning. But again, taking a shower is an essential step in the process of tanning.
Then what is the right time to take a shower after spray tanning? Well, it all depends on the type of tanning method you are using. You might need to wait for 2 to 48 hours before taking a shower since the tanning process takes this much time to settle and reflect changes.
Among tanning processes, Indoor tanning is quite popular amongst millennials, while teenagers incline towards spray tans and bronzers. A good chunk of adults still prefers the old school way of lying on the beach and sunbathing. For some, it is a form of relaxation. For some, it is an obsession to eliminate the paleness from the skin.
Getting that husky skin tone is time-consuming and requires patience. You cannot immediately wash up after the process. Applying sunscreen, moisturizer, tanning body lotion, etc., on your skin can feel sticky on your skin, especially if you are lying under the sun or UV light. The body gets sweaty, and the idea of a shower feels tempting.
However, to maximize the accuracy of the outcome, you need to let the chemicals stabilize your skin. Through the course of this article, we will be telling you all the critical pointers you need to keep in mind to keep your skin healthy post tanning. We will also be throwing light upon different tanning scenarios and the ideal time to take a shower to post that.
How Long Should You Wait to Shower After Tanning?
Some people feel icky and unclean after getting a tan and rush to take a shower. Stop! You are about to ruin all the hard work. The majority of folks do not know when to shower after tanning. If you have a bronzer or spray tan on your body and you immediately hop in the shower, you run the risk of forming streaks over your body.
If you are tanning the old-school way, i.e., sunbathing, you can shower within minutes of you stepping away from the sun. Avoid cold shower. Let your skin cool down and adjust to room temperature. Take a lukewarm bath and wash away the excessive sunscreen.
If you use indoor tanning methods, you should wait anywhere between two to ten hours, depending on the additional chemicals you apply and the tanning method’s nature.
Spray tans and bronzers take two to four hours to settle on your skin and bring out the tone’s darkness and evenness. Once the chemicals have settled in, you can hop in a warm bath. Ensure that the water is not excessively hot as it will damage your skin.
Despite the tanning method, do not wait beyond 24 hours. Use a mild cleanser and moisturize your skin to restore the glow.
Shower Before Tanning
While it is crucial to wait for some time post tanning, showering a few hours before a tanning session is ideal, it opens up pores and clears out any accumulated dirt. A mild exfoliant/ cleanser will help in prepping your skin.
However, it is advised to exfoliate your skin at most four hours before your session. Exfoliation opens up your pores. An open-pore will lead to excessive pigment accumulation in the skin, causing an uneven skin tone. Four hours is enough to let your pores close before the appointment.
Moisturize your skin post the shower. For a UV index above 3, you need to apply sunscreen. UV exposure in a confined space for a long duration is harmful. It becomes essential to avoid excessive damage.
Once you are done with the above, wait for some time. You can then apply the self-tanner of your choice and commemorate your tanning session. You can leave the tanning accelerator after your session as it helps in darkening the skin (check out our article on Best Tan Accelerators). It usually takes a few hours to settle in and deepen the tan completely.
If you plan for deep exfoliation, we advise you to do it a day or two before your tanning session. Waxing and shaving can be done four to five hours before. Finish it by splattering cold water on your body. Coldwater will help in the immediate closure of pores.
Showering before tanning will also help in retaining some moisture content in your skin. Tanning is exposing your skin to abnormal temperatures. It leads to loss of moisture and ultimately dries your skin. So, any moisture retention amount is good for the skin to avoid any flakiness and prevent excessive wrinkling.
Avoid applying any makeup or medication after a shower, before your tanning session.
Shower After Tanning
People sweat during and after tanning due to the immense heat. Many apply tanning accelerators to enhance the result further. The feel of excessive chemicals on the skin can be overwhelming to some people. The idea of a cold, long shower seems soothing, and the brain is constantly in conflict to rush for one.
It takes few hours for the results to kick in. Therefore, it becomes essential to wait before getting into a shower. If you do not let the chemicals set achieve the desired tan tone, you will lose the bronze look before its time. It can also lead to unnecessary clogging of chemicals in the pores, leading to acne and pigmentation.
Once the tan has settled, it is preferable to have short showers for the initial few days. Long showers and excessive rubbing will fade the effect sooner. Avoid using strongly scented and essential oil-infused soaps. The chemicals in them can react with the tanning chemicals and cause harm to your skin.
If you are sunbathing, you can have a warm shower as soon as 20 minutes post your return. For any indoor and artificial ways, it is ideal to wait a minimum of two hours. However, waiting beyond a day is not healthy for the skin either.
Tips on How to Take a Shower After Tanning
Here are some of the crucial tips that you can follow to preserve your tan during showers:
Avoid Hot Showers
Tanning burns your skin; only then you achieve the darker shade that you desired. In a way, it is exposing your skin to temporary damage. It does not make sense to damage your skin by further exposing it to high temperatures. Cold showers are strictly prohibited; however, you can achieve balance by bathing with lukewarm water.
Do Not Use Soaps
For the very first shower, use only water to cleanse yourself post the tanning session. For the next three to four showers, you can use a mild cleaning agent. Most of the soaps have oils and dyes in them. Some even have a presence of alcohol.
The chemicals from the self-tanners do not gel well with soaps and can cause skin irritation to some people. If you have to use soap, opt for a paraben and sulfate-free soap with no dye trace.
It is normal to feel unclean after tanning. With the application of lotions and other self-tanners, the liquid product feels sticky on your skin. Combine it with sweat, and your brain cannot brush off the slimy feeling. However, it would help if you were very gentle and quick to avoid rubbing off the bronzer for your first shower.
Vigorously rubbing your body will cause an imbalance in your artificial skin-tone. Let the water rinse off your body and pat-dry yourself gently with the towel.
Tanning makes your skin dry. It is essential to moisturize your skin post the shower to restore hydration. Choose a moisturizer whose composition compliments the chemicals present in your bronzer/ self-tanners.
Sunless Tanning Lotions and Bronzers
With the addition of sunless tanning lotions and bronzers apart from your tanning bed sessions, the shower timing starts to vary. A tanning lotion accelerates and enhances the effect of tanning on your skin.
Sunless tanning lotions and bronzers help in achieving quicker results. You need to be mindful of the lotion that you use. The lotions used for/ during sunbathing is different from the indoor tanning lotions. The outdoor lotion is more of a protective agent from the excessive UV rays. In contrast, the sunless tanning lotions act as a skin-tone enhancer.
When you get into a shower or a pool after applying a bronzer, you will see brown water passing through your body. It is absolutely fine to observe the bronzer pigment coming off in the water. You need to understand that the bronzer has already set on your skin, provided you took the necessary precautions.
It is the excess chemical that is washing off. The excessive chemical can clog your pores; hence it is alright to let the pigment wash away. The brown/ golden pigmentation that you see running down is due to DHA. Once the DHA is done darkening your skin, exposure to water will not lose the skin’s bronze look.
The tanning lotions and bronzers continue to darken the skin-tone for a few hours post an indoor tanning session. Irrespective of an indoor or outdoor tanning, it would be helpful if you wait for at least two to three hours before getting into the water.
How to Take Care of Your Skin After Tanning
Whether you tan naturally or artificially, in either case, it becomes essential to take care of your skin post the process. Tanning involves exposure to heat for prolonged hours. It leads to loss of moisture from your skin, causing breakouts, rashes, and other skin irritation.
Excessive exposure to UV rays can lead to the development of cancer-causing cells in your body. While tanning can enhance your look, it is critical to safely and follow certain precautions to keep your skin healthy and glowing.
Here are few ways in which you can take care of your skin after tanning:
While you wait for the tanning chemicals to develop the finished look on your skin, grab a water bottle and hydrate yourself. Excessive heat during any sort of tanning procedure causes skin dehydration. It is natural to feel dry and light-headed after an extended duration of heat exposure. Quench your thirst and balance the internal moisture.
Wear Loose Clothes
Loose-fitting clothes can offer protection from direct and excessive exposure to the sun. While sunbathing is a conventional way of attaining a tan, you need to be mindful of UV rays’ exposure. Also, wearing body-hugging garments immediately after a tanning session will cause friction on your skin. It can lead to peeling and rashes.
To restore moisture, you need to apply a moisturizer externally to minimize the burning effect. It will help in cooling and rehydrating your skin post the session. Of course, depending on the tanning procedure, you will have to wait accordingly before you slather yourself with lotions and creams.
Eating Dark Chocolates
Dark chocolates contain flavanols. These are antioxidants that help in protecting your skin from damages caused due to UV rays. The cocoa flavonoids hydrate the skin and help in maintaining a soft texture. Dark chocolates also help in building collagen and reducing pigmentation.
Sunless Tanning Lotions
For sunless tanning, you should opt for lotions meant for indoor tanning only. The lotions used for sunbathing have a different chemical composition. Due to high-temperature exposure, the skin loses its moisture content. Applying lotions will help in hydration. It will also keep the skin soft and plump.
Should I take Shower After Sunbathing
If you like the conventional and old-school way of getting tanned, sunbathing is the right alternative for you. The idea of relaxing on the beach under a warm, soothing sun sounds tempting. However, should be immediately jumping into the shower after sunbathing? Well, it depends.
If you are using a tanning lotion or a bronzer in addition to sunbathing, then you need to wait few hours (2 – 3) for the chemicals to settle down. In the absence of any tanning accelerator, you can jump into the water and soothe yourself. Ensure that the water is lukewarm. It will let your pores open well to flush out toxins from perspiration.
It is always good to drink enough water before and after sunbathing. Exposure to the sun causes your skin to dry out. While you may not be able to hydrate externally during the process, it is best to restore the balance internally.
It would be best to try sunbath during the early morning hours when the sun rays are less harmful to minimize skin damage. In the process, you can even absorb the beneficial Vitamin D. Sunrays during mornings have many disease-fighting properties. Apply a suitable after-sun body lotion to help cool your skin from sunburn.
Shower After Tanning Bed
A tanning bed is an indoor setup that imitates sun exposure by emitting UV radiation to produce a tan on your skin. Based on your skin type and tanning goals, there are UVA and UVB emitting beds.
Sometimes people use a tanning accelerator like bronzers and lotions immediately after the tanning bed session. In such cases, it is ideal to wait a couple of hours before the shower. Else, a 20 – 30 minutes wait is sufficient after tanning via a tanning bed.
A tanning bed exposes your skin to UV radiation. It makes your skin sweat because of the soaring temperature. Once you are out of bed, your skin needs some time to adjust to the surrounding temperature. Hopping immediately into the shower can cause rashes and boils.
Because most people use bronzers and lotions, it becomes imperative to let the chemicals settle down ultimately. Suppose you immediately expose yourself to excessive moisture. In that case, the chemicals will end up clogging your pores, resulting in acne and thus causing harm to your skin.
However, post your shower, you need to moisturize your skin thoroughly. Exposure to high temperature inside the tanning bed results in your skin losing its natural moisture. It will lead to cracked and irritated skin. While a shower will hydrate you, but having a moisturizer will be more helpful.
Showering After Self Tanner and Sunless Tanning
Some of the most common self-tanners are in the form of lotions, sprays, creams, professional spray-on, etc. One of the most common ingredients in these sunless tanning products is the DHA. The DHA reacts with the cells on your skin’s surface to temporarily replicate a tan.
A significant wait of 4 to 8 hours can give you the best outcome post a sunless tanning routine. An immediate shower will cause patches and streaks. It will wash off the tanning solution before it gets absorbed into the skin.
The first shower becomes critical. At first, you will see golden/ brown water washing down the drain. It is perfectly normal for a bit of product to wash down. Hence, to avoid losing a maximum of the product, you need to wait. Longer the wait, the better the result. But don’t wait beyond 24 hours.
However, staying just away from the shower won’t help. It would be best if you stayed away from moisture. It will include avoiding workouts, immediate moisturization, makeup, or anything that will end us as H2O on your skin.
The initial wait lets your artificial tan develop. Excessive moisture will degrade the effect and spoil your desired look.
Tips of Washing Your Body After a Spray Tan
Spray tans are one of the most popular go-to options for teenagers and young adults. It gives evenness to the skin tone and hassle-free ways to get that beautiful golden look.
The chemicals from the procedure may feel uncomfortable initially. But, under no circumstance should you come in immediate contact with water. It will leave streaks on your skin, a dent in your pocket, and regret in your mind.
Here are some crucial tips that you can follow to stay tanned for a longer duration without compromising your skin’s health.
Avoid Too Hot Water
It is advisable to take a quick warm bath while showering for the first time post the tanning session. However, avoid extra hot water. Remember, your skin goes through a certain temperature exposure, and you need to avoid further boiling it. It is important to keep your skin healthy. Avoid cold showers, though.
Keep Your Showers Short
Wait for a few hours before you hop into the water. Focus on rinsing rather than deep-cleansing. Avoid long showers for the initial three days. Let the fake tan settle in. long exposure to water will lead to tanning agents coming off your skin prematurely.
No Harsh Soaps
Avoid using any sort of soap/ body-wash during your first shower post the spray tan. Use paraben, sulfate, dye, and alcohol-free products if you have to. Scented cleaners are a strict no. The chemicals in them will mess with the chemicals in your bronzer/ spray tan, resulting in an uneven and artificial skin tone.
Do not scrub your skin before the appointment. It will widen your pores and result in patchy aftermath. Wax/shave your skin, or get any beauty treatments 24 hours before your appointment. It gives ample time for your pores to close. It also helps the tanning chemicals to gel with your skin evenly. Do not exfoliate immediately after the process too. It might remove the tanner before sinking in completely.
Post your first shower after the tan, do not rub the towel aggressively on your wet skin. Take a moment and stand in the shower after turning off the water. Let the water drive off your skin on its own as much as possible. Pat yourself the dry post that. Try sticking to this method for a few days.
After the shower, moisturize immediately to lock in the tan shade. It will also help in keeping your pores shut. Moisturize your skin twice a day for at least three days after getting the tan. Try using a tinted moisturizer complimenting the color of your tan to yield a rich result.
It is always advisable to wait for a few hours after any nature of the tanning procedure. The stickiness bothers, and the comfort of a nice shower looks tempting. Look at the bigger picture. You do not want to ruin the glow you spent a considerable amount of time achieving. A minimum wait of 2-3 hours is good enough to let the process settle on your skin.
Especially with bronzers and spray tans, let the chemicals set in. Otherwise, you will have different shades of tan on you. In the case of sunbathing and tanning beds, let your skin cool off first. Sometimes a brief wait of 20 – 30 minutes can enhance the tanning effect. Although the natural melanin production is not hampered much after showering, it would be helpful if you wait a while.
Take necessary precautions if you are opting for indoor tanning. Do not harm your skin by overdoing any procedure. Follow the guidelines, and we hope you achieve the perfect summer skin that you so wish for!
Do check out our article on the best indoor tanning lotions
I am Emma Smith a freelance beauty and wellness writer. I graduated from New York University, where I studied English Literature and Creative Writing. After working in the beauty industry for several years, I decided to pursue my passion for writing about things related to beauty and health – from skincare tips to makeup tutorials to interviews with leading experts on the field. I have also done dermatology course ‘Dermatology: Trip to skin’ from Novosibirsk State University (NSU).
I love staying healthy by doing working out and yoga. I am mother of a beautiful baby girl, I spend most of my time caring for her while still managing work obligations.