As most Professional Techs would tell you, Its often very difficult to help clients understand the importance of good, regular, and proper exfoliation. A good pretan exfoliation will both prepare skin for their first tan, and extent its wear. Skin preparation is very important.

Poor exfoliation, can ruin the best applied tan, no matter what spray tan line you use.

A typical call from a client or the Tech, about the client, when we troubleshoot a tanning issue on the phone goes like this:

“…..Exfoliation?….…ahh I use XYZ scrub, ….or my “homemade” scrub, …..or “insert company of choice” scrub.

……or I used a washcloth,…. a loofah,….. a body poof, …..

……I used this or that, with Bar soap, …no bar soap…this “special bar soap”…., gel soap, …cleansing oil… with lotion…without lotion etc etc……..

……..Or I don’t remember,….. or I did not do anything at all, should I? … “

As you can see for a Professional Spray Technician it is impossible to really know WHAT your client used, and if they are really preparing their skin in the best manner to provide an even exfoliation head to toe, without adding other “skin coating products” that can all effect the tan result.

For a client, it can be very very confusing, and create unneeded frustration.

Prep Tan prep sprays like the TBT CYA are a great help, but they will not replace regular exfoliation, and they do have limits on what they can remove from the skin surface.  For clients that tend to use Bar Soaps, or heavy moisturizers, body butters, creams, or skin oils, or in shower oils and lotions, often nothing can remove those coatings except a manual mechanical exfoliation device.


Recommended Best Use Tips – Exfoliation Mitt or Glove:

I recommend using a mitt or glove with a mild “translucent/transparent” shower gel of choice, at the end of the shower after all hair cleansing, shaving etc is finished. Using this as a LAST step will remove all product residue from the skin surface from scrubs, soaps, conditioners, oils etc.

Do this 1-24 hours before your spray tan session, without applying other products on the skin.  (other than an optional barrier cream or optional light premoisterizing product as needed for dry skin areas, making sure skin is sweat free, and antiperspirant and cosmetic free before spraying)

I recommend a transparent gel cleanser, as opposed to a milky looking opaque gel cleanser or a bar soap (of any type) – ether of these options can coat skin with products that can hamper self-tanner development and penetration. (want to know more about soaps and cleansers to use? Click HERE)

This is step one to help get that great tan consistently, week to week.


For the regular weekly Tanner:

Use the green exfoliation mitt we sell (both face and body versions included in a set) or a Nylon Exfoliation Spa Glove, or similar once a week or more, to both maintain the sunless tan, and prepare for the next tan sessions.  I prefer ether of the above over a Loofa, which can exfoliate unevenly, and can be to soft.  But if client has very sensitive skin, a loofa or rough washcloth may be the preferred option for their needs.

A light exfoliation done mid-week, and topping off color with ether a Drugstore self-tanning product, or TBT’s Mousse, Aerosol, or Tan Therepe Lotion will help keep the color fresh between salon visits. (using the mitt more lightly on the skin to just lightly remove “buff-off” any loose skin cells, do not scrub hard enough to remove majority of the tan)  This may or may not been needed, depending on how your tan fades, tan depth, skin type, environment etc. So this is optional. (I personally do use this option)

Once a week, just before you get a new fresh tan, exfoliate heavily (more of a “scrub” effect) especially focusing on dry skin areas, like feet, ankles, hands, knees or any areas of “build up”, uneveness or spots. This would be required for most self tan users,  once a week roughly. Though some would do this every 5 days, every 7 days or every 10, or 15 days. Again, it depends on each client, products used, tan depth etc.  So adjust as needed.

They will not be removing the entire tan. Rather you are lightening the tan all over, and evening it out to help the new tan blend the old and new color together better.  Because of the skins exfoliation rate, you cannot remove the entire tan all at one time, as you will not be able to remove all attached skin cells that are tanned. For Tan Removal see steps below, in this article.

A few lucky Folks, never need to exfoliate, and can maintain a great tan year round – I am not one of them 🙂  – Kind of hate them actually – LOL

But keep in mind that’s normally the exception rather then the rule. Many clients do find at least some exfoliation will help the tan develop, wear and fade better. But use the method that works best for you.

The facial mitt can be used on the face more often as needed to help remove any uneven fading, then client can refresh color on face as needed at home with a drugstore self tanning product or the Mousse or Aerosol we sell.

If they prefer an Exfoliation Scrub:

If your client prefers a premade scrub, we have one available through Tampa Bay Tan, the Boddie Buff scrub.

Caution client that many Prepackaged scrubs are not recommended for PreTanning use, as the normally will contain moisturizers or oils that may coat the skin and hamper tanning solution penetration.  The Boddie Buff Scrub is specifically formulated for use pretan, and will not coat the skin with products that can hamper sunless tanning product penetration.

Note, in my experence, this is a milder exfoliating action compared to the glove or mitt option. So if the client needs more exfoliation, they should ether use one of the tools above, or try a paste made with baking soda and water. The Baking Soda and water paste is fine for occasional use, but this can be very drying to the skin when used regularly.


Tan Removal:

To assist in removal of an old or unattractive self tan, ask client to cover skin head to toe in a skin friendly cosmetic oil based product. Mineral oil neat or Baby Oil, will both work well,  and are inexpensive, and available at any drugstore in the Babycare products aisle.

They can also substitute any “wet” slow absorbing oil of choice. A “wet” or slow absorbing oil does not absorb into the skin fast, is thicker, and tends to leave a very wet/oily sticky or coated feel on the skin, which is what you want in this instance.  Examples are mineral oil, coconut oil, evening primrose, palm, avocado, flax, sunflower and others.

Dry oils absorb faster, and do not leave skin feeling “wet” or oily, which makes them a great option to use just before self tanning for a light moisterization. The TBT MoistAire Product is an example of a Dry oil product.

After the oil coat, Put on some loose comfortable absorptive garments that cover skin surface,(to prevent oil on furniture) such as sweat pants, track pants or leggings, and a soft cotton type Tee Shirt. Let oil absorb into the skin for 20-30 minutes or more. (just based on personal preference)

Then take a long soaking warm tub bath for 20 minutes or so,  cleanse off excess oil with a milk cleanser, and use the mitt  or glove to gently exfoliate the skin in overlapping manner, client may use a scrub or baking soda as well. But the mitt works best when used  alone. If use is uncomfortable, please use with soap to better lubricate the skin, and adjust pressure on skin surface to prevent discomfort.

If no tub soak is possible, advise client to take a long shower, and repeatedly, but carefully, scrub skin with careful pressure to prevent irritation.

This can be done daily over a few days to remove much of the self-tanner. It is normally not possible to remove all self-tanner, as many tanned skin cells are still attached to the body surface, and will need to loosen on their own. The tub soak will increase the ability of the attached skin cells to release.

This would be used as an occasional self tan removal, when client wants to start again with a “clean slate”, removing build up that may prevent even fading.  This is not required once a week, for regular tanning. Normally a good in shower exfoliation with the mitt or glove, (once a week, with a light exfoliation mid week if needed) will remove “some” (not all) of the surface tan, leaving some color on the skin.

Follow up with a fresh reapplication of tanning product at appropriate levels, and DHA range, will rebuild color enough to even out the tan, and blend old and new color together.

For Clients that maintain a tan year round, they may find after 6-8 weeks or so of back to back tanning, their tan fading is becoming more crackly, uneven and messy. Adjusting maintenance with additional moisturizing, and mid week sunless lotion application may help. But if this does not work, they may need to take a week or two off from spray tanning, removing as much product as they can with the tub soak or other methods.  Then coming back to tanning with a clean fresh slate, so to speak.