Tickets booked. Bags packed. Sunshine, Oceans, and Sunsets ahead!
You’ll want to look your best for your trip and those photos you’ll be splashing all over Instagram. Be sure to plan a spray tan before vacation so your skin will look perfect.
Sure, you could choose to book a few sessions in a tanning bed before your trip or event, but we all know that tanning beds are not the healthiest option when it comes to skin darkening. Many dermatologists and medical organizations such as the World Health Organization consider tanning beds to be class 1 carcinogens, up there with cigarettes and asbestos.
Spray tans, on the other hand, are safe, easy, and beautiful. Spray tans are the best choice to get the body looking fabulous prior to heading to the beach, to a wedding, or on grand getaway.
I know that I don’t want to look like a pasty ghost in a bathing suit that first day of vacation and a spray tan is the ideal solution!
Spray Tan Before Vacation
Why spray tan before vacation? There are several great reasons to get that spray tan in place prior to hopping on the plane to someplace gorgeous.
- You’ll already have your tan in place when you step off the plane.
- Less temptation to bake in the sun, potentially harming your body.
- The spray tan technician can sculpt the body a bit. De-emphasizing the spots you don’t love, and accentuating the lovely areas.
- Free up vacation time to go on adventures, rather than spending all your time getting your look dialed in.
By getting your spray tan done before you head to someplace exotic and exciting, you’ll ensure that your body is looking great and that you’ll have your tan all set before you even arrive. A skilled technician can use the spray tan to bring the eye to the areas that look best, and keep the gaze away from the spots that aren’t quite so nice.
You’ll be ready to rock it in that swimsuit before you even get on the plane.
Additionally, you won’t have to spend so much time baking in the sun in order to get the base tan in place. Of course, I understand the appeal of relaxing on a chaise lounge with a mojito in hand, soaking up the rays. Who doesn’t love that? But this will be less of a necessity if you’ve already got tanned skin. And all that soaking is quite harmful if you’re not careful, and don’t use proper tanning techniques.
Spray Tan Transition To Sun Tan
As I’ve written elsewhere, there are clear benefits to tanning and sun exposure, and I’m very much not anti-sunlight. But you need to be careful, and to be sensible with your sun exposure.
With a spray tan in place, you can substitute all that time you would have spent getting a base tan with adventure! Snorkeling, hikes, kayaking, bar crawls, etc. You’ll still get plenty of sun doing these activities, so you’ll definitely need sunscreen. But you can get a modest amount of real UV exposure in order to get those health benefits, but you won’t be blasting your skin with UV the way you would if you were just sitting outside tanning all day.
After a few days of vacation, you may find that your spray tan is starting to fade a bit. You can extend that spray tan a bit by supplementing with a sunless tanner, but hopefully, after a few days of vacation, you’ll start to get some natural color as well.
See this article on how to tan outside in order to get some natural color on your skin as safely as possible. Check the UV Index Forecast for the area where you’ll be vacationing. Cover up and protect yourself with sunscreen if you’re going to be outside for any significant period of time while the UV Index is higher than 3.
After a few days in paradise, you’ll start to get some natural color. The fading spray tan will not be so critical to your overall look.
Spray Tan Before Beach Vacation
A lot of vacations end up being beach vacations. If you’re not going to spend much time swimming in the ocean, you may have a plan to spend a lot of time in the swimming pool.
There’s just something magical about vacations involving water. Even if you don’t actually go into the ocean, just the presence, rhythm, beauty, and power of the water is so calming.
But what does all that water do to the spray tan? If I step into the water, will my beautifully-tanned leg come out pasty white?
Let’s look at how spray tans react to salt water, chlorinated swimming pool water, and hot tub water.
Do Spray Tans Come Off in Salt Water?
Salt water is pretty friendly to spray tan products, so you can feel free to frolic in the waves pretty much as you like. The salt water will likely increase the speed at which the spray tan fades away, but it won’t remove the tan altogether.
If you plan on spending a lot of time in the water, you may find that the tan start to fade in a few spots. Commonly the hands, the feet, the elbows, under the arms, along the lines of the face — these areas tend to fade pretty quickly.
It’s a great idea to supplement with a self-tanner three or four days into the spray tan duration in order to extend the length of the tan. This will help balance out any areas that look a bit awkward. Over time, your natural tan will start to shine through.
Do Spray Tans Come Off in a Swimming a Pool?
Swimming pools are sanitized using chemicals like chlorine or bromine. These chemicals keep the water clean, which is great, but they’re basically bleach. The bleach will beat up your skin, and your spray tan will suffer. Chlorine from a pool won’t strip off your spray tan like paint thinner, but it will increase the rate at which it fades and will shorten the duration of your spray tan.
It’s best to try to limit your sessions in a chlorinated pool as much as you can while you have a spray tan or sunless tanner on. If you have a choice, choose the ocean instead.
Your skin gets beaten up by chlorine and pool chemicals, so you absolutely want to amp up that moisturization in order to keep your skin supple, and keep that spray tan in place. Like ocean-swimming, you should plan to supplement your spray tan with a bronzer or sunless tanner.
Swimming with a spray tan can be a little complicated. That article breaks it down for you in detail.
Do Spray Tans Come Off in a Hot Tub?
Stay as far away from a hot tub as you can if you have a spray tan. If there’s a hot tub where you’re vacationing, plan to take those dips toward the end of your trip. Your spray tan will have faded somewhat, and you’ll hopefully have built up some natural color at that point that won’t be removed by chlorinated hot tub water.
The high temperatures of a hot tub, often up to 104’F, coupled by the agitation of the bubbles against your skin and the heavily chlorinated water will rapidly decrease the life of your spray tan.
There are some who say that applying a waterproof sunscreen on your skin before you get in the hot tub will help preserve the spray tan, but I don’t know if that’s true, and have not verified it.
Regardless, the best solution is to not go in the hot tub while your spray tan is in its prime.
Spray Tan Before Cruise
Getting a spray tan is a great idea before going on a cruise vacation. Cruises almost always have some sort of spa area on the ship, and some cruise ships may even have spray tanning areas.
Having a spa on board means you’ll have no trouble patching any bits of skin where the spray tan starts to fade awkwardly, and you’ll need to bring fewer products on your trip with you to maintain the look. Chances are the spa will have everything you need already stocked.
And who doesn’t love a trip to the spa during a cruise, anyway?
Spray Tan Before Wedding
If you’re headed to a wedding (whether it’s your own or as a guest!), a spray tan will make you look and feel great. Often destination weddings are short visits, so it can be difficult to get the color you desire before the wedding takes place.
For this reason, it’s a great idea to get a spray tan and get your look set perfectly, a couple of days before you travel to your wedding event.
You can go to a spray tan salon, have a mobile spray tan technician visit you before you head off, or purchase a spray tan machine and start spray tanning at home. Just keep in mind that you’ll need a partner to spray you. You can’t spray yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions About Spray Tanning and Vacations
In this section, we’ll look at some of the questions commonly asked about spray tans when it comes to vacations and travel.
Is a spray tan the same thing as a base tan?
No, a spray tan is not a base tan. While they may look similar, a spray tan produces the tanned look by the chemical reaction of DHA (dihydroxyacetone) on the skin. This reason turns the skin bronze/brown, but does not actually tan the skin the way UV light does. Spray tanned skin is no different than completely pale skin when it comes to sun, and you can and will get a sunburn with a spray tan if you’re not careful. You get 0 SPF from a spray tan.
A base tan, on the other hand, is produced with the melanin in the skin is darkened by the impact of UVA and UVB light. Over time, the skin will darken with repeated, careful exposure to UVA and UVB light. Be cautious, and after a short period of time each day, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
This base tan will provide a very small amount of protection from the sun (like an SPF-3). That’s a 3, not 30 like what most sunscreens provide.
For your skin, your looks, and your health: avoid sunburns. Sunburn is the most significant cause of deadly melanoma, as well as pain and that terrible lobster look. Tan gradually, over a period of days, and use sunscreen for safety.
Can you Suntan with a Spray Tan?
Yes, you can absolutely suntan with a spray tan on your skin. You can even use tanning lotions and bronzers to more quickly darken the skin’s natural color.
You just have to remember that even though spray-tanned skin looks bronze, it’s not really tan. It’s easy to forget this and damage the skin with a sunburn. Be careful, and use sunscreen!
See our article on outdoor tanning tips for more info.
Does Sunscreen Ruin a Spray Tan?
Based on what I just wrote above, you can probably guess the answer to this. No, sunscreen doesn’t ruin a spray tan. In fact, sunscreen may extend the life of the spray tan by protecting and moisturizing the skin.
You want to pick up a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF30+. This type will ensure you’re protected from both UVA and UVB rays.
Over the last couple of years, there has been growing concern about the health effects of exposure to sunscreen through the skin. The FDA is currently in the process of re-examining many types of sunscreen on the market. The general consensus is that Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide sunscreens are the ones to choose.
EltaMD’s UV Sport Sunscreen is a great choice. Avoid the aerosol sprays in general. You don’t really see them as they go on, so they provide splotchy uneven coverage. Much better to stick to a lotion.
How Long Will a Spray Tan Last While Traveling?
A spray tan will usually last about one week after application. This time can be extended or shortened, depending on what you do while you have the spray tan on. As mentioned above, if you’re swimming in a pool a lot, you’ll shorten your tan. If you shave, rub your skin vigorously with a towel, etc., you can shorten your tan.
Conversely, if you use bronzers and self-tanners, and moisturize regularly, you can extend the life of the spray tan.
Treat your skin gently, and hopefully by the time the spray tan fades, you’ll have built up a bit of a natural tan.
How to Extend A Spray Tan
A spray tan works because DHA changes the color of the dead skin cells in the outermost layer of the skin. This is great! But those cells are dead, and will gradually detach from the body.
And your spray tan will go away with those cells.
You can extend the length of your spray tan by treating your skin as gently as possible. If you need to shave, wax, or otherwise treat your skin, be as gentle as possible. When you shower, pat yourself dry with the towel as opposed to rubbing with vigor. The more gently you can treat those dead skin cells, the longer they will stay attached to the body. The longer your spray tan will last.
And of course, you can always supplement your spray tan by using a sunless tanner.
Personally, I find the Loving Tan Sunless Tanning Products to be fantastic. Loving Tan’s sunless tanners aren’t cheap, but they work really well. They’re ideal for supplementing a pre-existing spray tan.
You can easily pack a bottle of Loving Tan in your suitcase along with a mitt, and reapply a few days into your vacation. You’ll be able to stay bronzed and beautiful for the duration of your trip (assuming you’re not going on a super-long trip!).
Also, keep in mind that salt water will dry out the skin, so you’ll absolutely want to moisturize your skin continuously if you’re doing a lot of ocean-going. A fragrance-free moisturizer like Puracy Organic Moisturizing Lotion is an excellent choice to help maintain that spray tan.
How Many Days in Advance Should You Spray Tan?
Ideally, you’ll get your spray tan two days before you arrive at your destination. This will give some time for the spray tan to set in and get balanced before you travel and will give you a pretty solid 5 days or so of spray tan when you arrive at your destination.
After that, the spray tan will start to fade.
But hopefully, during that time, you’ll have had a chance to acquire some luscious natural color. And if you’ve been using self-tanners or bronzers, you’ll keep that tan look for longer.
Pre-Spray Tan Tips
- Try to start with a blank canvas before you do your spray tan. Give your skin a rest from bronzers and other coloring products for about a week, so that your skin is clean and clear.
- Exfoliate like mad the day before your spray tan session. Go to town with a powerful exfoliator like St. Tropez Prep and Maintain Tan Enhancing Polish. Apply with a mitt applicator, and when you feel like you’ve got a sunburn, you’re almost done.
- Shave or wax your skin after exfoliation, so that your skin has time to recover after the hair removal.
- Keep your skin as natural as possible the day of the spray tan. Try to avoid any perfumes, deodorants, makeup, etc. If you simply cannot do that, take a shower and clean those products off a couple of hours before your spray tan session.
- After your spray tan, wear loose-fitting clothes. Skip the bra, and treat your skin as gently as possible for the rest of the day.
- Leave the spray-tan on for at least 6 hours before showering, but you can wait for as long as 12 hours to shower.
- The spray tan smell can be… intense. See our article on how to get rid of spray tan smell for info on how to deal with it.
Conclusion: Spray Tan Before Travel
By getting a spray tan before you go on vacation, to a wedding, on a cruise, etc. you’ll arrive looking great day one. By choosing a spray tan, you won’t harm your skin the way you would if you chose a tanning bed. And you’ll look great for several days with the spray tan.
As the spray tan starts to fade, hopefully, you will have had enough time to built up a bit of a natural tan. Just be sure to use sunscreen, and avoid sunburn.
Have an amazing, happy, and safe trip!