How long do I have to wait to shower after applying a spray tan?

This seems like a very simple easy answer – right?

But, there can be more than one correct answer, depending on the situation.


Is this your first spray tan with this specific product?

If so, then first follow the manufacturer’s directions, usually ether on the label or website.

All formulations and products are not identical, and the recommended shower off time can vary from brand to brand, or product to product. If no information is provided, a general rule of thumb, for a traditional longer wear “normal” type blend, would be to shower off the tanning product at 8 hours, if this is your first use. Do not leave a product on overnight, if you have not experienced this product before (on yourself). Doing so can lead to over darkening, poor fading, off color, etc.

If this is a specialized Rapid Acting/Early Shower off type blend, then follow the suggested manufacturer product directions for their blend. Again, not all brands will have the exact same information for shower time recommendations. Blends differ, ingredients differ, etc. These will alter end results.


What Solution Type did you use?

  • Is it a standard product type, in which you leave the product on for an extended period, then shower off? Usually 8 hours would be the best range to start with.  Check your development color at 12-24-48-72 hours (depending on blend type).  If the final color is to light, then when using this product again, you may choose to leave the product on for 12 hours or so before you shower.

If the color is to dark, orangy, brassy, fades poorly etc. Then adjust to a slightly shorter shower off time, of 4 or 6 hours, which will provide a bit lighter color, that will better suit your skin. This will provide a better final color, better fade etc.

  • Is this a product advertised as an Early Shower Off product (Fast Developing, Rapid, 1 hour tan etc) – then follow the directions for the correct shower off time based on your untanned pale skin type. This should be on the label or website from the manufacturer. Please note, every brand has their specific directions, please follow the correct information they provide based on their products.  Leaving a product on longer will not make you “browner”, and in fact can make you over dark, off color, orangy, brassy or create a fast fading or uneven tan.  Judge your color after 12-24-48-72 hours.

Based on final color judgment you can adjust your shower time up or down an hour or two until you receive the best results for your skin.

Why such a long range of many tan color checking times? Because different Ingredients matter.

Per above you will see I have listed a range of times to “check” color (12-24-48-72 hours). This is “general” information, and you may need to adjust based on your unique skin.

Different blends, based on ingredients, will peak in color development at various times. Some will be fully darkened at 12-24 hours, usually the case with a DHA only blend.  While others can continue to darken for 24, to 48 to 72 hours – most common when a product also contains erythrulose self-tanning activities.

A person’s individual skin will also vary some in when the browning action completes. Skin permeability, dryness, oiliness, condition, thickness, heath can all change development range. So one person may find their skin peaks in color darkness a bit differently than someone else’s.

Always check color AFTER showering. You would be surprised how often a new client who has never been spray tanned, does not know that the color can differ dramatically pre-and post-shower. Never hurts to gently remind them.  ***smile**


Do you have very fair skin or turn orange very easily? Or just afraid you might turn orange?

Then use the earlier shower off ranges recommended for your product.

Are you very dark skinned, already have a dark UV Tan, and/or never turn orangey or off color?

Then you can wait longer before you shower, or even leave a product on overnight. Some clients even like to leave products on a few days before they shower. If you are darker skinned, and never have issues with off color, poor fade, or skin dryness, this is certainly an option you can use.

Are you a seasoned tanner, with a lot of product already on the skin from weekly back to back tanning visits?

Assuming you can exfoliate skin evenly, and do not have uneven fading, off color, or patchiness or scaling, then you may also be able to leave a product on overnight without concern.

What if I must use a DHA level Higher/Lower then what is normally best recommended for my skin type, or then the one that tends to work best for myself?

When asking this question, you should already be familiar with using the specific Brand/Blend and DHA level personally and how it works for you specifically, before trying to adjust shower timing.

The reason I stress this is not all 8% DHA products will be equal in the results or color depth or fade off they product. 8% is ONLY the DHA level of the product. However, every other ingredient within the product will tweak how dark or light the tan develops, color tone, dryness or moistness, fade rate and fade evenness etc.  Even when using the same DHA percentage range within the same Product brand, expect each different blend to act differently.

For example, Tampa Bay Tan has 9 blends total – of those 9, even if you used the 10% range of each separate blend, side by side on the same client, in the same amounts, at the same time, the final darkness, tone, fade will differ from one product to another. This is because of other differing ingredients in each blend and how your skin “may” react differently to each.  In some cases, you may find all look very much the same, because this is based on “your” skin and what it reacts to in each blend.

But keeping the above in mind, if you only have DARKER solution then you normally use, adjusting the shower off time to a shorter timeframe will lighten final tan.  So if you normally leave a 10% product on overnight, and get a terrific medium tan, but only have a 12% available you can use it as well; Apply the 12% in the same amounts, and shower off at 8 hours instead to lighten the color.

Or if you only have a lower 8% DHA level product, but like to leave a 10% on 8 hour, just apply the 8% and leave on overnight. This will give you a darker color then the 8% left on at 8 hours.