The Golden Rules Of Spray Tanning

Martha Hunt, Sara Sampaio and Taylor Hill backstage

by Contributor |
Published on

Thou shalt not over-exfoliate. Thou shalt not pick the wrong shade. Thou shalt not get a tan enroute to the airport.

If you’re new to spray tanning (where have you been? It's way preferable than cooking in the sun for hours), read our tips and tricks from James Harknett, Sienna X ambassador and celebrity tanning expert. We grilled James for prep tips to make tans last longer, holiday timescales, spray tan no-nos and touching up at home.

How to prepare for a fake tan

The first rule for self-tan is to think about hair removal. Waxing should be done at least 48 hours before the treatment, giving time for any wax residue to fall away from the legs and bikini area. This could block the tan from activating evenly. Shaving is a little safer but ensure you rinse the legs with cold water to close the pores and avoid stubborn blotches.

It’s super important to remember to exfoliate the morning or evening before you tan, don’t just leave it to the last minute before application. This is because you need to allow enough time for your skin to restore the correct Ph levels. I recommend using a product like Sienna X’s Polishing Body Scrub to gently buff the skin. Also, don't moisturise after exfoliating; simply rinse and pat dry.

How long does a spray tan last?

A spray tan can last up to 7 days, and will fade gradually in this time. It was always last longest if you follow the preparation tips above, and try to avoid swimming in chlorinated water or shaving.

When should I get a spray tan?

I always tell my clients to get that holiday glow, whether it be through self-tan or a professional treatment, go at least one day before you travel on holiday. This is because you need to allow enough time for your product to activate and develop. Most formulas take are around 8 hours activation time; therefore don't tan at 10pm if your leaving for the airport in the early hours of the morning.

Are spray tans safe?

Yes. It is much much safer than scorching your skin in the sun, that's for sure. And if you choose a reputable brand (like Sienna X) they shouldn't contain any toxic ingredients.

Does spray tan wash off?

No. Try not to shower within the initial development time - usually the 8 hours following your treatment. After this, your tan will fade naturally but showering should not wash it off your skin. If you want to remove it quicker, try gently exfoliating the skin with a mit.

How do I pick the right shade?

I think the key to a golden success is to really think about you skin tone and how it tans naturally in the sun. Darker doesn’t always mean better, so if you’re a tanning novice, I’d avoid darker products, especially on the face. Sometimes it’s better to start with a professional treatment, like Sienna X who break down their solutions into percentages so you can find your go to shade and really enhance your natural complexion without looking fake. This will also allow you to build up a natural looking complexion and even enhance areas of the body through contour techniques.

New self-tanners should also patch test the product and maybe run a tanning trail on the legs to start. I recommend using an easy to apply product, like the Sienna X Q10 Bronzing Mousse, which contains a warm golden guide colour to eliminate making tanning blunders. The guide colour allows you to cover the skin evenly without it feeling heavy.

Any self-tanning no-nos?

Avoid over tanned wrists, palms and ankles SOS emergencies by lightly blending your tanning solution with a plain moisturiser to thin out the tan. This will allow you to add just a touch of colour to these problematic areas and create a smooth, streak free finish.

Thanks James!

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