Will Spray Tan Ruin My Manicure?

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There are plenty of ways to achieve that glowing tan. There are sunbathing and tanning beds that use good ol’ UV rays. And then there are sunless tanners that use chemicals. These self-tanners can come in various forms like lotions, creams, foams, or spray solutions.

Spray tanning is loved due to the deep, even tan that it produces. If spray tanning can create a dramatic change to your skin, you might wonder what it does to your nails.

Does spray tan stain your nails? Will spray tan ruin my manicure?

The answer to that is yes, spray tan solution can stain the nails. But it usually doesn’t. 

That answer is kinda vague, we know. That’s because spray tans may or may not stain the nails. We’ve put together this article to explain the situation.


How Do Spray Tans Work?

MaxiMist Spray Tan Machine

To help us understand the possibility of spray tan solutions such as Norvell Spray Tan solution  tanning your nails, let us first go over how spray tans work.

This tanning procedure works by spraying a mist of the tanning solution on the areas of the body where you want to tan. 

The spray tan solution works due to the chemical called DHA or dihydroxyacetone. It reacts to the amino acids that your skin cells naturally have.

When that happens, it turns the skin darker.


Will Spray Tan Ruin My Manicure?

The target of spray tan solutions is the skin cells, specifically dead skin cells on the outermost layer of skin. They are meant to darken the shade of the skin to produce that bronze color.

Some manufacturers explain that spray tan solution isn’t supposed to stain the nails or hair because those have different protein components from those found on the skin. 

The DHA isn’t supposed to react with your nails and skin. However, there are still ways solutions may stain the nails.

Skin Around the Nails

First of all, there is skin around the nails — particularly the cuticles. It is possible that the solution could accumulate there so those areas can appear darker than the other areas of the body. 

Bronzers in the Solution

Another way for the spray tan to stain the nails is if they contain bronzers. Spray tan solutions mostly use DHA to give you that tan.

However, that tan doesn’t show up instantly. It needs time for the DHA to react to the skin.

To give instant gratification, many manufacturers add bronzers to their formulations. Bronzers can instantly give a darker shade of color to the areas of the body that it reaches. 

Spray tan manufacturers add bronzers to their solutions to help their clients feel satisfied with their products. Some people need to instantly see results. Bronzers provide this. Bronzers can instantly darken the skin as the DHA works on developing a darker shade that will stay for a week or so

Bronzers also help with a more even spray tan application. With bronzers, the person spraying the tanning solution can clearly see which areas have already been done. Bronzers can also work as a guide to identify how much spray tan solution an area already has. 

How to Protect Nails from Spray Tan

Although you want your skin to look tan, a dead giveaway that you’ve used fake tan is your hands and feet. If the tan is poorly done, there is often streaking in these areas.

Improper application on your hands can lead to the color of your nails changing. Tanning under the sun won’t change the color of your nails. However, the bronzers from spray tans could.

We can avoid that problem by either of these methods.

1. Use A Barrier Cream

Norvell Pro Blending DHA Barrier Cream For Spray Tanning, 32 Fl. Oz.
  • PROFESSIONAL TIP: Apply liberally to...

One of the most common things a professional will do to your nails to avoid it from staining is to use a barrier cream .

This product will prevent the spray tan and bronzers from darkening areas of your body that you don’t want to darken. This is often applied to the hands and feet, and could be applied to your nails.

2. Try Some Vaseline

Vaseline will work as a barrier cream as well — and you probably already have it somewhere in your house! You can apply it to your nails, and to the hands themselves, to prevent excess self-tanner from ruining your hands.

3. Use Nail Varnish

essie Salon-Quality Nail Polish, 8-Free Vegan, Sheer Pale Pink, Ballet Slippers, 0.46 fl oz
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Another alternative you can use is a regular nail varnish. Use any color that you want. You may just stick to the transparent color or you can opt for other colors. Nevertheless, this will protect your nails from the exposure to the spray tan.

If you are using a regular nail polish , you first have to allow the spray tan to develop the color within the designated time before washing it off.

Once you washed the spray tan off, you can now remove the nail polish that you used to protect your nails from the spray tan solution.

Spray Tan Before or After Manicure?

Because spray tan does not typically impact manicures, you should book your spray tan after your manicure.

You’ll need to be careful to wipe off any spray tan that gets on your nails and look for any pooling of solution on the skin adjacent to your nails. But if you use a barrier cream and thoroughly clean your nails, your manicure will look amazing, even after your spray tan!

Will Fake Tan Stain My Acrylic Nails?

It doesn’t matter what the nail finish is, as long as you’re careful wiping things down after your spray tan. Acrylic, gel, shellac — all should be safe if you’re good with your nail prep and aftercare!

Final Thoughts

A spray tan is a fantastic way to get luscious, glowing skin with relatively few dangers and side effects. However, it can also cause your nails to have an unsightly color due to the reaction of the spray tan.

Use a barrier cream or nail varnish, and you should be able to keep your nails looking just as good as your skin!

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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).