Welcome to summer, and for some clients – Vacation Trips!

Many people plan outings and events through the summer but are unsure how to maintain their beautiful Spray Tan without their regular visits to their Tanning Professional.

Below are some tips, I have found to work well when traveling on vacation.

Before your Trip:

Exfoliate well and get your skin in great shape for a long-lasting tan. Exfoliating all the dead or loose surface skin off Pre-Tan and pre vacation will help your pre-trip spraytan wear better and fade slower.  The best place to start is with this article

How to Exfoliate. https://www.tampabaytan.com/how-to-exfoliate-and-prep-skin-for-a-spraytan/

The Cliffs Notes version:  Prep skin well with a clear or translucent shower gel, and exfoliating gloves/mitt or use a plain scrub without heavy moisturizer, oils or heavy lubricants.

A simple scrub made with Baking Soda and water or a transparent shower gel mix made with baking Soda can also be used. Or a Commercial scrub made specifically for Pre Tan Use such as Tampa Bay Tan Boddie Buff. https://www.tampabaytan.com/product-category/sample-product/boddie-buff-pre-tan-scrub/

After exfoliating, please Make sure skin is product, and oil free, before applying your spray tan product. We recommend a final wash with a translucent shower gel to remove and scrub, hair conditioner, or shave product residue. Boddie Clean is a lightly moisturizing Sulfate Free Body wash that works well for Pre and Post tan use.


Hair Removal:

Please plan all Hair removal before your spray tan. Plan all hair removal 24 hours to 3 days or more before your SprayTan to lessen irritation. Different removal methods have differing suggested time frames. See this article on Hair Removal Tips for recommended suggestions.


Building the Tan Base:

If skin is completely tanning product free (pale with no tanning solution) I have found for myself, building a Base sunless tan starting 7-10 days before my trip works best.

I exfoliate well, apply my tanning solution as normal.  Then apply a second session of product about 3-4 days after the first coat. I would lightly exfoliate pre spray on this session also, to help remove any loose dead skin, but also try to preserve tan color on any skin cells still attached to the skin surface. I find exfoliating gloves, and a mild shower gel work well.  Then I apply 1. 5 to 2 ounces of tanning solution, head to toe.

I repeat this process in about 3 days or just before the vacation trip. Though I may exfoliate more heavily, on the last spray session just before my trip, depending on how evenly my tan is fading.

You are trying to get in two to three sessions over a period of days, to help solution saturate through the surface dead skin layers, rather than only tanning the top upmost layers of skin cells.

Make sure not to get over dark, which can actually fade faster and more unevenly.

This is something you should probably practice a time or two before your trip if possible, so you can find the application schedule that works well for your needs.

You can start this process up to two weeks before your trip to build color, as long as you are fading evenly.

Keeping in mind, it will take 2-3 weeks or so for ALL tanned skin cells to fully exfoliate away from the skin surface, even with regular exfoliation.

What if you already have a base Sunless Tan?

If you have been tanning regularly, and your tan is starting to look patchy, very grainy and very uneven, even when freshly sprayed, you will need to exfoliate off much of the unattractive tan fade off and start over fresh.  See the tips here on Spray Tan Removal.


What if you have a base Sunless Tan that still looks smooth and even?

Then use steps above for building a base coat on pale untanned skin. You may only need two tanning sessions before your trip, if tan still look smooth and even, and you have been maintaining tan well with regular exfoliating and moisturizing.

Daily Skin Care – Moisturize Regularly:

While ramping up to your trip, plan to use mild moisturizing shower gel cleanser, and moisturize regularly to help maintain your fresh tan, and keep skin in optimal condition. You can use any type of moisturizer that works best for your needs. (Lotions, Oils, Butters, Creams)

We also provide a range of moisturizers that work well for Spray Tan Maintenance, while helping to maintain skin health, on our Retail Products Page.


For more information on types of moisturizers, and which options may work best for you, see this article on Moisturizing oils, which also discusses lotions, which can work wonderfully as well. Oils are one option, though not necessarily the only recommended option.

Is Coconut oil (or other oil) best for spray tanning?


Should one use a Tanning Bed, to prepare for Vacation?

Some clients prefer to visit the Tanning Bed to help ramp up skin darkness before their trip. This is an option we would not recommend, due to how it impacts skin health.

It will not provide adequate UV protection, and the skin will still receive both UVA and UVB damage through ether a Sunless or a UV pigment-based Tan.

Both a sunless and a UV tan provide very limited, and nominal 3-4 SPF protection against UVB skin burning. (UVB Rays cause visible skin redness and burning, skin aging and skin cancers) Neither provide UVA damage protection (these are the UV rays associated most with skin ageing, deeper skin damages, and skin cancers)

Tanning bed use will also dry and damage the skin, no matter which lotions or moisturizers are used. This can lead to excess dehydration, and peeling, as well as long-term damage and skin aging.

For this reason, most skincare experts would not recommend tanning bed use.

But some clients feel this is the best option for their needs. This is of course, one’s personal preference.

Spray Tanning and UV tanning can certainly be used together.

A sunless tan can slow the rate that a UV Tan darkens (tan development rate), at least when freshly applied.  But as the Sunless Tan fades, this will change.

This article covers this in more detail. Will Spray Tanning prevent a Sunburn.


A good Broad Screen Sunscreen is still strongly recommended, for overall skin health and sunburn prevention, when outdoors. Especially in tropical locations. 15-30 SPF is the minimal range, applied every few hours, and after swimming or heavy sweating.  For tropical locations, the UV exposure will be more intense, so one would burn faster, then you do at home.  For this reason, a 50-100 SPF is a better option if possible.

Sunburns ruining your vacation are just never very fun!

What to pack to maintain the tan while on Vacation?

Things to take on your trip:

  • Mild moisturizing shower gel of choice, with a shower poof or sponge
  • Exfoliating gloves or mitt, or scrub of choice
  • Plastic Gloves to protect palms.
  • Loose sleep garment to sleep in to protect bedding from spray tan rub off after refreshing color. (please don’t Stain Grandmas Heirloom White Sheets!)
  • Moisturizer lotion for daily moisturizing, or as a moisturizing barrier for Hands, feet, knees and elbows
  • Makeup Brush or Small soft applicator pad to apply product to face, hands and or feet
  • Nail Polish Clear, to protect nails, when tanning
  • Dark Tight undergarment/panties to use while tanning, to provide tan line if desired. (Don’t tan in that new pricier designer swimsuit you just purchased; it can get stained)
  • Self Tanning DHA product, mousse, aerosol or lotion, or some tanning solution in a spray bottle along with an applicator or blending mitt or pad.
  • Body Bronzer or Makeup to touch up color on legs or face as needed, to maintain your best-looking Glow.
  • Sunscreen product of choice
  • A zip closure plastic bag to store it all in, to prevent leaks. Please this in your Checked-In suitcase, not your carry on to prevent issue with TSA.

Rebuilding your color as needed: Rebuild any faded color- the Topper Coat!

During your trip, as needed every few days, lightly exfoliate skin, to even out color, and apply a topcoat of sunless tanner product all over your current tan. Apply lightly to hands and feet with a small pad or makeup brush. I recommend premoisturizing these areas with a moisturizer lotion. Touch up face neck and chest nightly as needed.

See steps on below link, on how to apply solution head to toe. These same general steps apply as a touch up, you would just apply less coats.

For instructions, download the guide here:


Steps for a Mousse Product, below link:


After your swim, gently cleanse off any sunscreen and pool or salt water, rinse, and towel dry the skin (pat not scrub), then reapply your self-tan product to rebuild any faded color.  If you scrub the skin with your towel, you can increase the skin exfoliation, so patting will better preserve your tan.

I personally like this mousse, which is a favorite when I travel on vacation. But you can use any mousse, aerosol, lotion etc of your choice. Just apply a light fresh coat head to toe before bed, and wake -up with a renewed tan to start the day.

If you will be hitting the Dance Floor for the evening, and don’t have time to wait for your sunless product to develop color – Fake it with a water Restive bronzer/makeup. Sally Hansen’s Airbrush legs is a bit tricky to color match, and blend. But once you find the correct shade, it can be a life saver. It’s also terrific when your feet, hands or chest are fading a bit too fast, and you want to spot refresh color.

Its available at most drug stores and comes in a range of shades. It comes in an aerosol or a lotion. I prefer the lotion personally. This is a temporary, water resistant, low transfer, Body Makeup. It washes away with soap and water.

Products of this type are what you see on celebrities, dancers, and performers to look “perfect” on stage or at red carpet events

I love these types of products to keep my legs looking great all summer under short shorts and summer skirts.

How to maintain your Tan if you will be swimming, or doing water sports?

Start with the correct sunscreen type, and rebuilding faded color, see the link below.


If you will be sun bathing, we recommend that you moisturize your skin to help minimize dehydration, which will cause your sunless tan to fade faster.  Look for products high in Anti-Oxidants to help lessen UV Tanning related inflammation. Apply to shower damp skin for best results. See some Tampa Bay Tan recommended moisturizers, DHA Products, Scrubs and Body Washes here:



Photo by STIL on Unsplash