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Will My Spray Tan Darken Overnight?

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If you’ve never gotten a spray tan before, then you may have a range of questions about how it will compare to a natural tan. Once you’re past the worry of having too much spray tan on your hands and feet, or that a spot was missed during your spray tanning session, you may divert your attention to how the tan itself will end up looking.

Many spray tanners wonder to themselves, “Will my spray tan darken overnight?” Most of the time, this worry is caused by a spray tan being too light. Today, we’re going to explore whether or not you can expect your spray tan to darken, and alternative methods you can use to get a darker tan if you’re unsatisfied.


Will My Spray Tan Darken Overnight?

bikini by pool

How dark you get with a spray tan is up to a few different factors, including the shade that you select before tanning and the amount of time you leave your tan on.

So yes, your spray tan can get darker overnight. But this is also dependent on when you get your spray tan and the formulation of the sunless tanner that you used.

The DHA Content of Your Spray Tan

The first thing that you’ll want to consider when determining how dark your spray tan will get is the amount of DHA that’s in the sunless tanner. DHA (dihydroxyacetone) is the active ingredient in spray tanners, and it uses the Maillard Reaction to brown your skin when it comes into contact with it. It’s also responsible for that spray tan smell.

While most self-tanners won’t be marketed based on the concentration of DHA in them, you can typically get an idea of how dark the tan will make you based on what it says on the bottle.

Keep in mind that the kind of tan you’ll get will also be based on your skin color before you get started.

How Long Should I Keep My Spray Tan on My Skin?

The amount of DHA in your spray tan solution will affect how long you’ll have to keep it on your skin. But since DHA reacts with human skin at varying rates, it’s also up to your skin type.

Newer spray tan formulations can get about 50% of the color on your skin within the first two hours after being applied.

This is a stark contrast to older spray tanks that would take up to eight hours to start affecting your skin color. Since it used to take so long for spray tan to start changing your skin color, people have started asking, “Will my spray tan get darker over night?”

If you’re using a cheaper spray tan solution that doesn’t use the latest ingredients, then it may be a good idea to wait a night before taking a shower and washing the remaining spray tan off of your skin and hair.

For those that are getting spray tans applied in a professional environment or using a spray tan machine and tent at home, be sure to ask your beauty technician about the details or check them out yourself.

The professionals that you’re working with will likely have the best idea of how long you’ll have to keep the solution on your skin for the greatest possible effect.

On the other hand, when you’re applying a self-tanner on your own, pay close attention to the instructions on the bottle. Most self-tan solutions will give you an idea of how long you’ll have to wait for the greatest possible effect.

As a rule of thumb, the longer you keep the instant bronzer on your skin, the darker you can expect your skin to get. If you’re not satisfied with the color of your skin after keeping your tanning solution on for over eight hours or even over night, you have a few options at your disposal.


What Do I Do if my Spray Tan isn’t Dark Enough?

Waiting at Salon

Schedule a Follow-up Appointment

When you get a spray tan done professionally, you have a few more options at your disposal than when you do it at home. If you’re not satisfied with the color of your skin, set up a follow-up appointment at the business where you had it done and see if they can help deepen the color of your skin.

Whether your beauty specialist goes back over your skin with a darker shade or helps exfoliate to even out the shading around some lighter spots, there’s plenty that can be done to deepen the shade of your tan.

Lightening your spray tan is a little more complicated!

Apply a Darker Self-Tanner at Home

If you performed your own self-tan and you’re not happy with how it turned out, you can also reapply the tanning solution yourself. You can either opt for the same color that you used in larger amounts to maintain a uniform shade or you can go back over your skin with a darker color.

The better option depends on how satisfied you are with your current color and how much darker you want to get. If you’re not at all satisfied with how your spray tan has turned out, then we’d recommend using the same self-tanning brand but in a darker shade, as you will at least be using somewhat similar ingredients.

You could also apply some tanning wipes if you’re only looking to even out shades in certain areas.

Gradual Tan Moisturizer

If you’d rather improve the look of your tan over time while still keeping your skin healthy, gradual tan moisturizer is a great option. These moisturizers include ingredients that will darken the tone of your skin over time instead of doing it within a day like a spray tan would.

The benefit to these moisturizers is that they can replace the skin moisturizer that you currently use. This will allow you to keep your beauty routine relatively intact by replacing just a single product.

Use the Right Prep Routine

If you want better results out of your next spray tan, you’ll want to be sure to use the right routine to prepare for it. Make sure that you shave or wax your skin just before the spray tan appointment so you can minimize the amount of work you’ll have to do after the spray tan.

You should also exfoliate your skin before you get your tanning treatment, as this will make the skin more likely to darken.

Wear loose-fitting clothes after a spray tan, and try to avoid sweating or exercising too much.

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