Spray Tan Before Vacation and Weddings! Beautiful Color Before Travel.

Car on Beach
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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 Insta. Plan a spray tan before vacation so your skin will look perfect.

You could choose to book a few sessions in a tanning bed before your trip or event. But tanning beds are dangerous, and many dermatologists classify tanning beds as 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 a 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!


Should You Get a Spray Tan Before Vacation?

spray tan before vacation

Why spray tan before your vacation? There are several great reasons to get that spray tan 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. You’ll be looking good when you arrive!
  • Free up vacation time to go on adventures, rather than spending all your time getting your look dialed in.

By getting your spray tan before going on vacation, you’ll have your glow all set before you even arrive.

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, mojito in hand.

Who doesn’t love that?

But this will be less important if you’ve already got tanned skin. And all that UV exposure is quite harmful if you’re not careful, and don’t use proper tanning techniques. And your spray tan doesn’t offer any protection from the sun.

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 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, and you won’t be blasting your skin with UV the way you would if you were just sitting outside tanning all day.

Kayaking in the Sun

After a few days of vacation, you may find that your spray tan is starting to fade a bit. UV light will fade your spray tan. But your new natural tan should start to come through underneath.

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 important to your overall look.

Spray Tan Before Beach Vacation

Hot Rays

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.

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?

Rinse Off After Tanning

If you got a spray tan before a beach vacation, you’ll be wondering about ocean swimming.

Salt water is pretty friendly to spray tan products, so you can feel free to play in the waves pretty much as you like. The salt water will exfoliate the skin and 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.

It’s possible it will get a little blotchy in some spots, and you can supplement with a bit of body bronzer. This will help balance out any areas that look a bit awkward.

Over time, your natural tan will 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. The high temperatures of a hot tub, often up to 104’F, coupled with the agitation of the bubbles against your skin and the heavily chlorinated water will rapidly decrease the life of your 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.

Spray Tan Before a Wedding

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.

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 suntan with a spray tan on your skin, but the sun will make your spray tan fade more quickly. You can even use tanning lotions and bronzers to 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.

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 or exposed to lots of UV rays, 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.

A fragrance-free moisturizer like Puracy Organic Moisturizing Lotion is an excellent choice to help maintain that spray tan.

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How Many Days Before Vacation Should You Spray Tan?

Understanding when to get a spray tan before vacation is important.

Ideally, you’ll schedule your spray tan appointment two days before you arrive on your tropical vacation. This will give some time for the spray tan to set in and get balanced before you travel. You will get a pretty solid 5 days of darkened skin after 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 natural color. And if you’ve been using self-tanners or bronzers, you’ll keep that tan look for longer.

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).