Are there any ingredients or products I should avoid when spray tanning?


This is not an exhaustive list, and this is not 100% accurate for every person. But rather a “general” guide of things that can cause problems for spray tanning clients. Note some clients find that these items do not create a problem for them, others find that other products, not listed here, will create a problem.  This is a just a rough guide.


Some Cleansers: Dove shower gel or soap, Oil of Olay Cleansers can coat skin causing uneven tanning, no color, poor fade, patchy fade(Instead use a transparent non moisturizing gel cleanser) Please see this section on SOAPS for more details.

Curel and Dove moisturizing lotion causes rapid fading on some clients. Not all moisturizers are problematic, see this article for more information on Moisturizing Tips. Regular moisturizing can be very beneficial to tan wear, but products you use, and how they are used, can alter results.

Hair Inhibiting body lotion products, these can over dry skin, or cause tan yellowing. Soy containing lotions seem to be more likely to cause tan yellowing.

Anti-aging products that “renew,” “refresh” “brighten” or exfoliate skin. The refreshing action is due to exfoliation, which can also lighten or remove the tanned dead skin cells on the skin surface.

Abrasive Scrub products, the scrubby bits will also scrub off the loose surface skin, which is where the tan has developed. This can lighten your tan or make it patchy or uneven. They use exfoliating hard granuals, sand, salt, sugar, charcol, plant shell or seed shell bits etc.

Skin renewal acids, peels or treatments, which soften, smooth or lighten skin from skin resurfacing action, will exfoliate the tan.

  • AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids), Glycolic, Lactic, Malic, Citric, TCA, Tartaric Acids
  • BHA’s (Beta Hydroxy Acids) Salicylic Acid
  • Vitamin C Treatments or serums

Retin-A type products (Retin-A, Renovate, Tazorac, and Trefinoin) can cause fast fade, or blotchyness, and uneveness

Toners containing Witch Hazel or Alcohol can lighten tan

Anti-acne products that exfoliate the skin-Accutane or Salicylic Acid

Makeup remover cleaning products or oils used to clean away eye makeup can fade tan in some cases. Though not all oil are damaging. It depends on oils types and how they are used. See this article on Oils for Skincare use when tanning.

Bar soaps, especially deodorant varieties or anti-bacterial, can coat skin and lessen color development or fade tan. See this article on Bar Soaps.

Use (daily) of loofa or a scrub mitt etc.

Band-Aids or adhesive tape can peel away tan when removed

Facial masks or exfoliating scrubs or lotions can lighten or remove a tan

Adhesive facial strips  use to counter wrinkles and sagging, can peel away tan

Wax or sugar hair removal products can also peel dead skin away, and the “tanned” dead skin

Depilatory hair removal products …Nair, Veet, Neet etc. These can lighten, fade or remove a tan.

Shaving exfoliates the skin therefore fading the tan. Clients should use a new and clean razor with a lubricating product such as hair conditioner, shave gel or cream. Wash off conditioner when done. A dull razor will scrape off the tan. An electric razor exfoliates less. See this article on shaving for more tips.

Pat dry after a shower to minimize sluffing of dead skin cells; don’t rub dry, which can scrub the skin(and tan) away

Body hair or skin bleaching products will bleach the skin and tan – Note, this is not the same as a product that suppresses skin pigmentation. Which will NOT effect a sunless tan, unless it also contains a bleaching agent.

Prolonged submersion in a hot tub, swimming pool with chlorine, salt water even a long hot bath can fade color, as it causes skin to exfoliate faster. See these tips for maintaining a tan while swimming.

Any life style habits that cause abrasion to the skin, or heavy sweating, can also cause faster fading in abrasion or heavy sweat areas. Exercise can cause faster fading especially under tight workout gear, sports bras, Pack or gear straps etc.

Women’s tans may also develop differently during various hormonal occurrences (ovulation, menstruation, pregnancy). It may be streaky, patchy, fade worse or produce a lighter, or no color tan.

Insect spray, or perfumes, when sprayed directly onto the skin can remove or fade the tan. Clients should spray clothing or a “cloud” of spray that they can walk through instead of applying directly to the skin

Medications that alter skin climate, skin dryness or skin exfoliation rate can all impact how a tan wears an fades.  Any medication taken orally can impact overall skin health, which can cause issues with tanning results or development.

And sickness or heavy stress can impact the entire body including overall skin health.  This can alter how a tan develops, wears and fades.


Photo Credit to:
Alex Perez