Spray tanning is a popular beauty treatment, and it is convenient to get it done at the salon. It is fast, convenient, vacuumed, and doesn’t leave a sticky residue afterward; all you have to do is walk out looking bronzed for your next fashion show or going-out night.

Many women make it a point to have their hands on a spray tan before they leave their homes. As it has become a part of our daily beauty regimen, there is always the debate about whether we should wash our faces after applying the product or not. So many people ask if washing face after spray tan is right or wrong.

It is not right to wash your face after getting a spray tan, at least not right away. Washing your face after getting a spray tan can cause more harm than good. If possible, avoid washing your face for at least 3-6 hours after getting a spray tan. This will allow some of the color to absorb into your skin before coming off when you wash it off later on.

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Let’s Get into Details

A lady washing her face

When you’re getting a spray tan, the beautician will often tell you not to shower for at least eight hours after your treatment. The bronzer you spray on your body needs time to set in and dry. If you shower before that, you could wash off all that lovely color and have no tan.

So what about washing your face after getting a spray tan? Is it bad for your skin if you do so? The answer is no, but it depends on what kind of product was used:

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Self-tanning lotion

If it was self-tanning lotion or gel, then absolutely yes; it isn’t good for your skin. You need to allow this type of product to dry completely before washing your face as they can react badly with each other and cause redness or irritation in some cases (although this is rare).

Airbrush tanning system

If you are using a basic airbrush tanning system, there is no reason to worry about washing your face after getting your spray tan. Most professionals recommend that you wash your hands after getting an airbrush-applied spray.

A good airbrush tanner should use the pre-tanned solution and not mix fresh solutions for every client. The solution will have been prepped beforehand, so it doesn’t stain or discolor when applied to your body. This means that no dye shouldn’t be left on your skin to wash off.

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Standard spray tan

If you’re getting a standard spray tan, it’s best to wait at least 12 hours before washing your face. This is because the pigment has to oxidize and set into your skin before it washes off. If you wash it off too soon, it won’t have time to soak in properly, and you’ll end up with streaks or blotches instead of a beautiful, natural-looking tan.

If you’ve already washed your face after getting a standard spray tan, don’t worry! It probably won’t cause any damage or discoloration unless you scrubbed hard enough to irritate your skin (which we don’t recommend).

However, if you’re getting a “glow” or “gloss” type of spray tan, it’s OK to wash your face after getting sprayed. These tans are often more like a moisturizer than anything else (hence the name), so they won’t stain your skin as regular tans do. You can wash or wipe them off right away without worrying about ruining your tan or leaving the salon looking orange instead of bronze.

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How Long Should You Wait Before Washing Your Face After a Spray Tan?

The answer depends on the type of spray tanning system you use. Some systems allow you to wash your face immediately after your session. Others require you to wait several hours or even overnight before washing your face so the color can develop properly.

If you have time, it’s always best to wait until your spray tan has fully developed before washing your face or touching anything with your hands. This is especially important if you want an even color that lasts longer than one day.

Things You Can Do if You Don’t Want to Wait

If you don’t have time to wait before washing your face, try these tips:

Use a clean towel when wiping off excess lotion

Wipe away any excess lotion with a clean towel as soon as possible after leaving the booth. A clean towel will help prevent smearing any lotion onto other areas of your body or clothing. This is especially important if you wear clothes that will be exposed to sunlight or water (such as white cotton pants).

Wipe gently

You want to wipe off as much lotion as possible without rubbing too hard or scrubbing your skin. This will help reduce streaking from accidentally wiping off too much lotion in one area or rubbing too much at once.

Wear dark-colored clothing

Dark colors hide areas the spray tanning solution hasn’t completely covered, so if you see any streaks, it will be easier to spot them. Also, wear dark colors so any stains will blend in with the garment instead of showing up as a bright spot on light-colored clothing.

Wash your hands thoroughly

Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after applying tanning lotion. Even a few fingertips can transfer color to other body parts, especially if you touch your face after applying tanning lotion on those fingers. This is one reason why it’s important for everyone in the house not to use the same towel or washcloth after using self-tanners.

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How to Wash Your Face Effectively After a Spray Tan

Washing your face after spray tanning is a simple process that can be done at home. It can take as little as 30 seconds to complete, so you don’t need to spend much time on it.

Washing with plain warm water

The first step is to wash your face with warm water. The warm water will help to remove excess tanning solution on your skin and allow it to dry. You can use a washcloth or a soft cloth to wipe the excess tanning solution off your face. You can also use a gentle cleanser to remove any remaining residue.

Using a soft washcloth

Use a soft washcloth or baby wipe to gently scrub your face in circular motions to remove any remaining product residue. This will ensure that your face is spotless and ready for moisturizing.

You mustn’t scrub too hard or too long, as this could irritate the skin and cause redness or irritation. You should also avoid exfoliating scrubs or other products containing beads, as these may increase irritation if used during this step.

Avoid regular soap

Avoid using regular soap on your face after your spray tanning session. The ingredients in these products can irritate the skin and strip it of its natural moisture, which can cause further issues such as breakouts, redness, and irritation.

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Apply moisturizer

After washing your face with warm water and buffing it dry with a soft towel, apply moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated throughout the day. A good moisturizer will also help protect against sun damage caused by UV rays from the sun or artificial sources such as tanning beds or sun lamps.

Use a moisturizing body cleanser or lotion that doesn’t contain harsh chemicals or perfumes (e.g., Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion). Your tan should last 3-7 days, depending on how often you shower and other factors such as sweat and oil production.

Can I Shower or Swim After a Spray Tan?

a lady swimming

You can shower or swim as soon as you get your spray tan, but it’s best to wait at least an hour before getting into the water. Any activity that causes you to sweat will also wash away your tan.

The reason is that the water may wash off some of the color. The longer you wait to shower or swim, the more time the color has to set in and adhere to your skin. If you get wet, pat yourself dry and reapply the lotion immediately.

The spray tan should last about 7-10 days, depending on how often you sweat (if you’re working out or exercising). You can also use body lotion on top of your spray tan to help keep it looking fresh for longer.


We hope this article has given you a better understanding of when to wash your face after tanning and how to do it. The key takeaway is that it’s better not to wash off your face immediately after getting a spray tan; wait at least two hours before heading home or anywhere else with people who can see you. Using the right kind of cleanser is very important for achieving long-lasting results.

Disclosure: This article, other beauty and fashion tips on SheBegan are contributed by experienced fashion professionals, beauty & cosmetics experts. Read our full research and editorial process here. Also, our posts may contain affiliate links, read our full affiliate disclosure

Abimboye Femi is an experienced Beauty Expert. Over the years, he has developed an uncanny nose for sniffing out the perfect fragrance as well as an eye for best beatification practices. He brings to bear, his vast knowledge of research to help deliver rich contents centered on Beauty and Cosmetics.

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