Should You Shower Before or After Tanning in a Tanning Bed?

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If you love that bronzed glow, then you also know that maintaining your golden tone does take some effort!

This is especially when you don’t live in a consistently sunny climate.

Given that, you probably use a combination of spray tans, self-tanners, tanning waters, tanning accelerators, and indoor tanning beds to keep your sun-kissed glow.

You may go to the tanning bed at the gym — maybe Planet Fitness or Gold’s Gym Tanning? So should you shower before or after tanning in a tanning bed?

The short answer is that it doesn’t matter that much either way. But showering too early may cause tanning accelerators to stop working.

We’ll explain it all below!


Should You Shower Before or After Tanning in a Tanning Bed?

It’s not an easy verdict — the jury is still out on this one.

Whether you choose to shower before or after tanning in a tanning bed comes down to your personal preference.

Showering either before or after tanning in a tanning bed is completely fine. Some people prefer to do it beforehand. Others would rather do it immediately after — or even later on in the day.

Let’s run through the scenarios.

Showering Before Using a Tanning Bed

The choice is yours if you want to shower before using a tanning bed, but know that it is not usually necessary.

But if you have any makeup on, then you will probably want to wash it off beforehand. If you don’t, you’ll be left with a blotchy tan on your face.

Also if you have any oil-based product on your skin, then you’ll want to take a shower before your tanning bed session. This is because these chemicals have the potential of irritating your skin under the UV tanning bed bulbs.

But they can also ruin the acrylic of the bed itself!

Showering After Using a Tanning Bed

As long as you haven’t used a tanning lotion, tanning accelerator, tingle tanner, etc. before your tanning bed session, you can hop straight into the shower afterward (Note that you don’t have to use anything in a tanning bed, but lotions definitely speed the process)

If you had any of these treatments before your tanning bed session, then you should wait at least four hours before your shower. This is to allow the product(s) to develop on your skin.

Of course, all the chemicals included in these products can irritate your skin and can lead to tanning bed rash. They can also clog your pores if you are a heavy sweater.

If either of these scenarios happens, then you should have a rinse in the shower immediately.

And lets face it, many people like having clean-feeling skin. This is especially true when any sweat gets mixed with the lotions or oils.

It’s not the same as the feeling of being at the beach all day.

So if you feel icky after your tanning bed session, then by all means enjoy your aprés shower.

Reasons Not to Shower After Tanning

The main reason why you might not want to shower after a tanning bed session is if you’ve overexposed your skin by accident.

This is something to be aware of. This is especially so if you have sensitive skin. Getting the timing wrong on your tanning bed session can cause redness and irritation of your skin (which you should not do!).

Even though it’s tempting, you shouldn’t hop right in the shower if this occurs. That’s because UV burned skin causes blood vessels to rise up into the skin’s surface layers. And water from a shower, even if it’s lukewarm, can feel uncomfortable on burned skin. And then there’s the irritation caused by rubbing yourself with a towel while drying off.

Apply some natural Aloe Vera gel to calm your skin down and soothe the redness before taking a shower later.

Water from a shower, even if it’s lukewarm, can feel uncomfortable on burned skin. And then there’s the irritation caused by rubbing yourself with a towel while drying off.

If you think about your favorite day at the beach and how great your skin and body felt after you had a shower at the end of the day, you get the idea.

Your skin, in its natural state, will make more vitamin D on its surface to be absorbed later. So if you prefer a more prolonged and natural-looking tan, it is best to shower after tanning.

If You Want to Shower After Tanning

If you prefer a fresh shower after your indoor tanning session, know that there are a few things you should keep in mind.

These factors need to be considered to keep your skin healthy and moisturized after your indoor tanning session. Because it causes UV damage.

Lukewarm Water

The first thing to do is make sure that your shower is lukewarm. Hot water will irritate your skin’s pores and put the skin under unnecessary duress. Your skin will have already had enough after UV exposure, so no hot showers.

Also make sure that you shower, not take a bath, and limit the time you’d normally spend in the shower.

No Chemical Shower Gels

During your short lukewarm shower, make sure that you just use the time to rinse off. Don’t use any soaps or chemically-laden shower gels. They have the potential of irritating your skin. These types of products will also strip the oil from your skin’s surface, which will make it dry and more irritated.

Pat Not Rub

After your shower, don’t rub your skin dry. This will cause friction and rob the surface of its natural oils and moisture. So make sure that you pat your skin dry with a clean and fluffy towel.

Once your skin is dry, then you’ll need to moisturize it immediately while it’s still damp. This will be the best way to reduce any skin irritation caused by the indoor tanning process.

After your shower, don’t rub your skin dry, which will cause friction and rob the surface of its natural oils and moisture.

If you applied a tanning accelerator treatment before your session, then you’ll need to wait at least four hours before showering. Else, you risk washing the product off of your skin before the surface cells are able to activate it.

Recommended After Tanning Skin Care

Tanning in a tanning bed isn’t the best way to tan, but everything in life has risks. Everybody knows the risks of cancer and wrinkles associated with tanning, but has anyone quantified the risks of sitting home and playing video games while eating pizza? Didn’t think so.

Now let’s look at how to take care of your skin after tanning to minimize the damage.

NOW Solutions Coconut Oil  can be used on your skin when it’s in need of more moisturizing and conditioning after your shower. Coconut oil is excellent after a tan. It contains skin-friendly saturated fats.

NOW Solutions, Coconut Oil, Naturally Revitalizing for Skin and Hair, Conditioning Moisturizer, 7-Ounce
  • CONVENIENT TRAVEL SIZE: This unique oil...
  • VEGAN: It serves as a great alternative...
  • GMP Quality Assured: NPA A-rated GMP...
  • Packaged in the USA by a family owned...

This unique oil is an overall skin food that feels indulgent.

It will leave your newly tanned skin glowing and feeling nourished.

This natural alternative to chemically laden moisturizers and lotions is safe enough to use on sensitive skins. It contains no fragrances or chemical preservatives. And no chemical solvents were used in the extraction process.

Focussing on the face, TruSkin’s Vitamin C Cleanser and Vitamin C Serum  is a cruelty free powerhouse duo of formulated ingredients. It helps to enhance your skin and promote its natural health.

TruSkin Naturals, Vitamin C Brightening Duo with Vitamin C Serum and Vitamin C Facial Cleanser
  • VITAMIN C SERUM: Loaded with potent...
  • VITAMIN C CLEANSER: Bubbling with...
  • CERTIFIED CRUELTY FREE by Leaping Bunny,...

The cleanser’s anti-aging antioxidants and nutrients from vitamin C, rosehip, and tea tree oil boost your skin’s tone and texture to leave it feeling clean and moisturized.

This Vitamin C Serum also includes MSM, aloe vera and gotu kola, which helps blend dark spots. It also refine the skin’s texture and create a radiant and hydrated complexion.

The illuminating ingredient of vitamin C in the cleanser and serum also works to reduce fine lines. And this can make your skin appear brighter.


You can choose to tan before or after using a tanning bed, it doesn’t really matter. Showering before helps ensure you don’t have any makeup or oils on your skin.

And if you’re using a tanning lotion or accelerator product, you’ll want to wait approximately four hours after tanning to shower.

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).