How to Keep a Natural Tan From Fading. Make Your Tan Last Longer!

Sunny Girl
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Summertime means plenty of sunshine, and that means sun tanning! A sun-kissed, bronzed body is seen as a symbol of beauty by many, and it feels amazing to be in the sun. The best way to get a tan in summer is to laze under the sunshine on the beach in a gorgeous bikini.

Compared to some other not-so-natural tanning options like tanning beds, natural tans are a better choice.

Getting a natural tan can be difficult. And once you’ve got a sun-kissed glow, maintaining it is a challenge! Tans can fade, and excess time in the sun can lead to unhealthy sunburns. To preserve your tan as long as possible, you need to understand that tanning is a process.

In this article, I’ll talk about how to keep a natural tan from fading. I’ll also discuss getting a base tan and keeping your tan for as long as possible.

how to keep a tan from fading


How Long Does a Tan Last?

The average time a natural tan lasts is around 7-15 days depending upon the weather, the type of tan, and the level of tan. Fake tans usually last for 7-10 days, but again, there are variations from brand to brand.

The average time a natural tan lasts is around 7-15 days depending upon the weather, the type of tan, and the level of tan.

The length of the tan can vary quite a bit from person to person. The skin sheds naturally and generates millions of new cells every day, which makes your tan go away.


To understand how this work, we need to go over the process of tanning. Scientifically, a tan occurs as a result of being exposed to the UV rays from the sun. The sun’s exposure causes the body to release a brown pigment called melanin.

This is released in the outermost layer of the skin called the epidermis.

UVA and UVB rays from the sun travel through the epidermis, and some get down into the dermis.

Skin Diagram

Coming to the main point, if you want to prolong your tan for as long as possible, then you can try the following steps:

How to Keep a Natural Tan from Fading

how to keep a tan from fading

Follow these tips to keep your gorgeous bronzed-body throughout the summer season:

1. Exfoliate Before You Tan

Exfoliate Skin

Before heading out to the beach to get tanned, you need to remember to exfoliate. Exfoliation can be viewed as prepping your body for a tan. Applying an exfoliant before you lay down for a tanning session will help dispose of any dead skin cells on your epidermis.

You can exfoliate your skin by using a body brush or a body scrub.

You might want to get rid of any unwanted hair through waxing or shaving before you get to the exfoliating part. The dead skin cells that rest on the surface of your body can be dulling your skin.

Waxing before exfoliating also helps get rid of dead skin to reveal your natural skin color. If you desperately want your tan to last for a long time, we can’t emphasize enough on the exfoliating factor.

2. Take Cool Showers And Baths

Once you have the tan you desire, the last thing you’d want is to ruin it with a shower after a tan. Choose cold showers rather than hot or warm ones. Hot baths are a bad idea, as well.

Considering you’re more likely to get a tan in summer, soaking under a cold shower should not be a very big problem. Take cold and quick showers to help keep your tan from fading. Hot water tends to get rid of any tan acceleration products fairly quickly, and it can dehydrate your skin faster by stripping off its natural oils.

3. Moisturize

After you have taken your cold shower, make sure to moisturize your skin.

Applying a moisturizing lotion or oil will make your skin smooth and prevent your skin from peeling. Chances are your face tan will fade sooner than your body’s tan. All the more reason to moisturize!

Applying a moisturizing lotion or oil will make your skin smooth and prevent your skin from peeling. Chances are your face tan will fade sooner than your body’s tan. All the more reason to moisturize!

The key is finding lotions and creams with rich textures and silky oils that will help keep your skin smooth.

4. Stay Hydrated

water with lime

It is extra important to keep yourself hydrated to maintain your tan for longer. The life of your skin cells expands when you drink the appropriate amount of water.

This leads to a delay in the natural exfoliation process of the body, which helps with your tan. Better yet, add cucumbers to your water for added hydration.

5. Prevent Peeling

Peeling usually occurs with sunburns, but not so much with suntans. But if you go overboard and your skin burns, there’s a good chance it will peel and look terrible.

Peeling won’t help your tan at all, and will probably take it backward.

Again, use sunscreen.

6. Use Illuminators

If you feel like your suntan is losing its glow, you can use an illuminator to add life back to it! Illuminating body butters and body lotions will give your suntan an instant boost of radiance. Illuminators smell pretty fantastic and make your body glow.

7. Enjoy the Sun

It’s a good idea to go out in the sun once you’ve built up your base tan. Each day you give your body more sun exposure, your base tan will either be maintained or will potentially get even darker. But remember that a natural base tan only provides protection equivalent to an SPF3.

That’s a 3, not a 30. Not much protection.

This doesn’t mean you should just go outside all day with no protection…

8. Protect Your Skin

Not only does sunscreen help protect your skin from harmful UV rays, but it also extends the life of your suntan.

You might be wondering, “why should you apply sunscreen even after getting a tan?” A base tan only provides an SPF of maybe 3, which is very low.

You really need to supplement it with sunscreen or clothing that will protect your skin.

It’s important to remember that your skin can go from bronze to lobster really fast if you fail to use proper protection.

9. Avoid Waxing

Waxing is recommended only when you’re exfoliating— that is before you go sunbathing. It isn’t recommended after getting your suntan. If waxing is your preferred method of hair removal, then just opt for a different option. Waxing removes the upper layer of your skin.

This leads to the removal of your tan and any tan chemicals you’ve applied.

A better hair removal option is shaving. Shaving may dry out your skin but you can easily moisturize it.

10. Eat Food that Contains Tyrosine

Eating foods that contain tyrosine can help make your tan last for longer periods. Tyrosine is an amino acid that is present in many healthy foods, especially cheese. This ingredient aids your production of melanin – a pigment that gives your eyes, hair, and skin their color.

Some foods that contain tyrosine are turkey, cottage cheese, avocado, egg whites, almonds, and salmon.

11. Use a Tan Extender

A tan extender will help maintain your tan longer if you incorporate it into your daily routine. They are to be used once you are tanned. These products prevent you from losing your desired tan color by preserving it and make you look more tan than before.

We’ll look at a few tan extenders here.

After Tan Extenders

Here are three of our favorites:

Australian Gold Moisture Lock Tan Extender

Australian Gold Moisture Lock Tan Extender

Aussie Gold is an extremely reliable company when it comes to sun products, whether they be tanning lotions, sunscreens, bronzers, etc. This tan extender works great to moisturize skin and keep that sun-dappled glow going for as long as possible. There are no bronzers in this extender lotion, and it does not darken skin on its own.

Australian Gold Moisture Lock Tan Extender Lotion, Enriched with Vitamin E & Aloe Vera, Cocoa Dreams Fragrance, 16 Fl oz​

Golden Star Beauty Tan Extender

Golden Star Beauty Tan Extender

This stuff primarily works to extend the effectiveness of any self-tanners, tanning oils, bronzers, and the like you’ve put on your skin. The tan extender lotion helps moisturize skin. It fights tan fading but does not add more bronzers or DHA to your skin than you already have.

Tan Extender Daily Moisturizer - Best After Tanning Lotion w/Organic Oils and Hyaluronic Acid to Extend Your Tan from Sunless Tanner, Spray Tan, Sun or Tanning Bed 8.0 fl.oz.- Booklet included
  • Get A Radiant Tan Guilt-free! Our Blend...
  • Enhance Your Beauty With Our...
  • The Proper Gift For Her Awaits! Impress...
  • Essential For Frequent Tanners! Ensure...
  • Suitable For All Skin Types, Including...

California Tan Extender with Bronzers

Golden Star Beauty Tan Extender

This California Tan product extends sunless tans and UV tans, though it does so with the aid of bronzers. Unlike the Golden Star extender above, California Tan’s extender uses bronzers to further darken the skin, which helps keep the tan color going as long as possible.

California Tan Extender with Bronzers, 6 Ounce | Enhances & Protects Tan for Both Sunless and UV Results | Cruelty Free
  • Extend and perfect bronze color
  • Lavish Skin: Hydrated with aloe vera,...
  • Bronzextend Blend: Combines DHA and...
  • Breakthrough: Fragrance technology...
  • Extends: Both sunless and UV results

How to Get the Perfect Natural Tan

Before you lay down that beach mat and stay under the sun for a while, read this:

1. Use a Good Tanning Lotion

There are tons of good outdoor tanning lotions out there that will help make your skin dark, speed your tan, and amp up your look. Many of these lotions will include bronzers and self-tanners that will work in conjunction with the tanning oil to further darken your skin more quickly. These products can be a big help getting a jump start on your color.

And some of the outdoor tanning lotions even include sunscreen in the mix, so you can get color and protection in one bottle.

Another natural option is to use coconut oil for tanning. There won’t be any bronzers or DHA or anything like that in coconut oil, but it still works pretty well. Just be sure to add sunscreen.

Tanning at the Pool

2. Lie Directly Under the Sun

Find a good spot to lie at the beach and make sure the sun is directly over you. You can change your stop as the sun moves across the sky. If you don’t want to keep lying down constantly, then you can look for other activities to do such as beach-ball or volleyball.

After you’ve been in the sun for a long enough time for that day, cover-up, put on sunscreen, and get some protection going.

Just make sure you wear little clothing, depending on what areas of your body you want to get tanned.

3. Turn Over Frequently

To make sure you have an even tan, you need to constantly change your position. The rule is to change your position every 10-15 minutes. First, lie on your back, then on your stomach, your right side and lastly, your left side. Be sure you apply sunscreen everywhere, though.

Sunburns on the backs of your knees are ouch painful!

4. Ideal Hours to Suntan

10 am to 4 pm are considered the peak hours of the day. Dermatologists usually suggest avoiding sunlight between these hours without protection.

There is some evidence that suntanning is best done in the morning. You can also do the late afternoon. But regardless, you shouldn’t be spending a ton of time during the peak hours getting blasted by sunlight without sunscreen. This will usually lead to sunburn.

Relaxing in the San

5. Re-apply Lotion or Oil

Substances containing SPF, such as lotion or oil, need to be re-applied every 2 hours. This needs to be repeated, especially after any contact with water.

Even if a tanning lotion or sunscreen states that it is water-resistant, that doesn’t mean it’s ocean-wave resistant, chlorine pool resistant, or beach towel-rub resistant. Reapply after a dip in the water.

6. Use Sunscreen!

Yes, you should still be using sunscreen when you tan. Be sure you check the UV Index Forecast for your area, and if the UV Index will be 3 or higher while you’re out in the sun for any significant amount of time, plan to use sunscreen. Broad-spectrum, at least SPF30. Blue lizard makes a good one.

If you have a solid base tan, you can wait a little longer before you apply sunscreen. If you are extremely fair-skinned, you should be applying sunscreen essentially immediately.

Don’t mess around with trying to go unprotected in strong sun for a long period. Sunburns are not suntans, and are dangerous.

Don’t mess around with trying to go unprotected in strong sun for a long period. Sunburns are not suntans, and are dangerous.

Also, apply a lip balm containing SPF 15 to avoid getting chapped lips.

7. Moisturizing After Tanning

Even after tanning, your skin needs to be moisturized and replenished. To keep your skin hydrated and to seal your bronze look, apply lotion or a soothing moisturizer after getting tanned.

Final Thoughts

Prolonging your suntan can be difficult, but it’s worth keeping the glow! Your tan will last for maybe a week unless you keep getting more sun. But using the above tips will keep your skin glowing bronze for as long as possible.

You worked for it, keep it going as long as you can!

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).