Spray Tan Cracking? Fake Tan Fixes!

LuxeLuminous is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Flawlessly tanned skin. That’s what we aim for when we get a spray tan. However, sometimes unexpected things can happen. Things like cracking spray tan.

When you have tanned skin but it looks like fractured scales due to the cracking effect, you want to hide behind eight sweaters. Sigh.

Why does my fake tan crack?

The bad news is that there is no single solution to a spray tan cracking. You have to figure out what is causing it first. From there, you can figure out how to fix it or prevent it from happening in the first place, or you can remove the fake tan completely. 


Why is My Spray Tan Cracking?

MaxiMist Allure Spray Tan Machine

Spray tan cracking can happen to anyone who gets a spray tan from a spray tan machine. It is described as an appearance of scales when you look at the skin from afar.

However, the skin isn’t raised, like what you see when you have dry and scaly skin. There are tanned areas surrounded by paler areas.

Spray Tans work by causing a chemical reaction between the spray tan chemical DHA and the already-dead skin cells on the outermost layer of your skin, the layer known as the stratum corneum.

Skin Diagram Source: Wikipedia

That reaction causes the dead skin cells to darken. If they fall off prematurely, you’ll have the appearance of your skin cracking.

There are multiple causes of spray tan cracking. They are as follows:

High DHA Concentration

Higher DHA concentrations in darker spray tan formulas can get you that luscious deep tan that you want to achieve. However, it is more common to see spray tan cracking with higher DHA concentrations. 

You are likely to see the cracking on places like your shins, where the skin is stretched.

Our skin cells naturally fall off. Those skin cells that have been affected by the spray tan solution will eventually fall off. 

If you aim for a deeper tan and have some dead skin cells fall off, your newly-revealed untanned will have a high contrast between the tanned skin. This is what causes you to see a cracking spray tan.

Skin Is Shedding Off

The topmost layers of our skin naturally shed off and get replaced with newer layers underneath. That is why you may not see the cracking effect of your tan until after 4 to 7 days.

That simply means that the effect of the spray tan is fading. However, unlike what we want, it isn’t a gradual fade.

Dry Skin 

Natural shedding of the skin layers happens at different rates. It will vary from one person to another. Additionally, it can also vary from one area of the body to another. 

That may be the reason why you only observe cracking in some areas of the body but not all of it.

The drier your skin, the faster the rate of exfoliation.

Sweating After The Spray Tan

After the spray tan, it is best to keep away from moisture as much as you can so that the product can efficiently work. That would also include your sweat

Even if you don’t work out right after spray tanning, there are still areas in the body that can be prone to sweating. You may observe cracking in such areas. 

Creasing Of The Skin

Another cause could be the natural creases of the skin. If the solution isn’t completely dry and the skin creases, the solution can’t dry evenly. That results in pale lines which could also look like cracks. 

Products Used Before The Spray Tan

Before having a spray tan, you are advised to exfoliate and thoroughly clean the skin. This is super important.

Even if you did that, you might still have spray tan cracks. That is because of the products you used before the procedure. 

Exfoliating is great and it helps you achieve an even tan. However, you should check the ingredients in the exfoliant you use. 

Oils can be moisturizing but they can prevent the spray tan solution from properly reacting to the skin. If you don’t rinse the oils off completely, they can linger in the skin and affect the spray tan results. 

Similarly, shower gels or bath soaps may also contain high concentrations of oil that could remain on the skin. If they stay on the skin, they could prevent you from getting an even tan. 

What To Do About Spray Tan Cracking

The best ways to deal with spray tan cracks are to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Let’s look at prevention, then we’ll discuss touch-ups.


To prevent spray tan cracking in the first place, you need to exfoliate the skin. This is critical.

Exfoliation helps the tan last longer and makes it so that the tan fades evenly.

Additionally, you should moisturize the skin after the spray tan to prevent the faster shedding off of your skin. 

Exfoliating after a spray tan, before going for a touch-up, is also a great solution. Make sure you only do a light exfoliation to help the fading process. The touch-up will help bring back the beautiful tan and correct the cracking. 

Choose a Lighter Spray Tan Solution

Even if you want deep chocolate mocha tan color, maybe you should choose island kiss or a lighter shade of spray tan solution. This is particularly true if your skin is naturally fair.

Lighter colors will have lower DHA concentrations. Your skin may be too pale for a very high concentration. Those differences will accentuate any cracking.

Try Baby Powder

Another thing you could do is apply baby powder after the spray tan has dried up. This helps prevent moisture from sweat or other sources from greatly affecting your tan. It is also very helpful in areas where your body naturally creases. 

Blend with Bronzers

You can attempt to blend the areas that are cracking with a . By applying a light coating of bronzer, you will soften the color difference between the tanned skin and the untanned skin.

This can be a good temporary solution if you’re only cracking in a few areas.

How To Get Rid of Cracked Spray Tan

If the cracking is really bad, it may be time to remove the spray tan altogether. We have a few articles on removing fake tan to get you fixed up:


Spray tan cracking is something that you don’t want to experience. However, it can happen due to the following:

  • Natural shedding of the skin
  • Dry skin
  • Sweaty skin
  • Creases on the skin
  • High DHA concentration
  • Products you use before spray tanning

To prevent and remedy spray tan cracking it is best to exfoliate the skin before and then lightly, a few days after the spray tan procedure that uses a lower concentration of DHA. Use baby powder right after the procedure and keep the skin moisturized. 

Follow the plan carefully from the outset (including aftercare) and you shouldn’t end up with spray tan cracks. Good luck!

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).