How To Prepare For A Spray Tan

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In case you didn’t already know this about me, I freaking. love. spray tans. I get them quite often, so I inevitably get a ton of questions about them. How to prepare, what to expect during your appointment, how to maintain your tan, and so much more. I thought it would be much easier on all of us if I compiled some FAQs in one place! In today’s post I am sharing my top tips on How To Prepare For A Spray Tan, plus post-care tips.


I am very passionate about protecting my skin, but not just to avoid wrinkles and early signs of aging. Yes, those things matter too, but what is more important to me is reducing my risk for skin cancer.

When I was in college, my mom was diagnosed with melanoma. I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was walking into the Rec Center at K-State one afternoon when my mom called. When she told me the news, it was like she dropped a bomb on me. I was shocked, scared and immediately started crying.

Thankfully, they caught it early. She actually waited until after she had surgery to tell me about the diagnosis. Admittedly, it was nice having to stress a little less about the situation. My mom’s choir director randomly encouraged everyone to get a skin check one day, which is what made her schedule an appointment. If it were not for that, she may not have discovered the melanoma until it was too late. I could not be more thankful that they caught it when they did.

I can happily say that my mom is now cancer-free. She has a huge scar as a reminder of what she went through & a reminder to WEAR SUNSCREEN. My dad has also had squamous cell skin cancer removed in multiple places. Obviously, I’m at an increased risk based on the fact that both of my parents have had skin cancer. Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and undo the damage from tanning beds back in my younger days. Unfortunately, I can’t. I can only control what I do moving forward!


Recreating Rays compensates me for referrals; however, all opinions expressed are my own. I only promote & support brands that I truly love. Thank you for supporting WFTW!


With that said, I feel 100x better when I have a little glow. Kansas winter is rough on me in multiple ways. My skin is dry, it’s cold AF and the sun rarely comes out. To top it all off, I’m ghostly white. I’m not saying you can’t feel yourself when you’re pale, but DAMN. I feel like a new woman after a spray tan. But winter is definitely not the only time I rock a spray tan. I love to get them all year round, especially for special occasions like weddings and vacations.

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I go to a place called Recreating Rays in Kansas City for my spray tans. If you live in KC, you absolutely need to check them out ASAP. They do custom airbrush spray tans, so it is a person physically spraying you, rather than going in a booth. This results in a much more thorough and even tan. They can also customize the solution based on your current skin tone and desired color. Recreating Rays is located in Olathe, KS.

I am going to go over some of the most common questions I get about spray tans. Whether you are getting your first spray tan, or want advice on getting the best results, this post should help! Find out How To Prepare For A Spray Tan & so much more below!

Q. Do spray tans make you look orange?

It is humorous to me that this is still such a common question that I get. Do you think I would get spray tans all the time if they made me look like an oompa loompa?! Yes, spray tans made people look orange back in the day, but they have come a long way! Custom airbrush spray tans especially look very natural — no streaks and they can customize your color!

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Q. How To Prepare for a spray tan:

There are a few steps that you will want to take in order to prepare for your spray tan. First, I recommend shaving anything you want to shave at least 8 hours before your appointment. If I have an appointment at 4 PM, I will shave the night before or first thing in the morning. I will also take a full shower at that time (wash my hair & body) and exfoliate. Exfoliating helps remove dry or dead skin so that your tan applies more evenly. You can use inexpensive exfoliating gloves like these, or I typically wash my body with a loofah.

Be sure to arrive at your appointment without lotion, deodorant or makeup on.

Q. What should I wear to my appointment?

Wear dark, loose clothing to your appointment. In the warmer months, I will wear a black, flowy cover-up/dress. If you wear something with tight straps, it will likely rub off your tan, so try to avoid this. In the colder months, I will wear baggy sweatpants and a loose sweatshirt. Do not put a tight bra on for several hours after your appointment, if at all possible.

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Now that you know How To Prepare For A Spray Tan, you are probably wondering what you can expect once you get there.

At Recreating Rays, they give you time to undress to your comfort level in private. They give you a warm, wet washcloth to apply some moisture to your skin and exfoliate a bit. You will also want to pull your hair back and put on a hair net that they provide.

They will enter the room and guide you throughout your tan. They give specific instructions regarding which direction to face, where to place your arms, etc. Feel free to make conversation during your tan – they make you feel extremely comfortable!

Q. Should I get my nails done before or after my spray tan?

If you are getting a manicure or pedicure, get them done before your spray tan.

Q. How do you know what color to ask for?

Wherever you go, be clear about the color you would like to achieve and ask the staff for guidance. They can customize it based on your current skin tone and how dark you want to be. I personally like to be pretty dark when I get spray tans. If you want your tan to be lighter (i.e. during the winter months), they can help you achieve that as well.

Since my face fades faster due to washing it twice a day, I typically have them do two passes on my face. This is a personal preference. They will ask what you want for your face. If you are going somewhere else, including a spray tan place with booths, you can always ask the employees which solution they recommend based on the color you hope to achieve.

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Q. Do you go fully nude or wear a swimsuit? I’m so nervous because of the way my body looks.

You can undress to your personal comfort level. I can only speak for the ladies at Recreating Rays, but I promise they are NOT judging your body whatsoever! They are just there to do their job, make you feel completely comfortable and give you a beautiful glow! I personally prefer to go nude because I don’t want any lines, but this is totally up to you.

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Q. Post-spray tan tips — how to maintain your glow?

A lot of people want to know how to prepare for a spray tan, but caring for your tan after the fact is crucial, too!

It is important to stay moisturized — this helps maintain your color. I love using RR’s spray oil after I shower, but you can also use a moisturizing lotion. Drinking plenty of water can also help you and your skin stay hydrated!

Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing for 6-8 hours, and do not get wet for at least 8 hours. The only exception is if you get the rapid spray tan. You can rinse off 3-4 hours after the rapid tan, which is why a lot of people prefer this one! I personally love getting the rapid tan, too. Otherwise, I typically sleep in the tan overnight and rinse off first thing in the morning.

When you shower after your tan, washing only the “essentials” with soap will help your tan last longer. Use a sulfate-free soap or soap without exfoliating ingredients. RR offers some spray tan-friendly soaps and moisturizers at the studio. When you get out of the shower, make sure you pat dry with a towel. Do NOT rub, as this will rub the tan off. This applies after washing your face as well.

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Q. Can I workout with a spray tan?

Yes! I always work out while I have a spray tan. I typically try to time it so that I take 1-2 days off towards the beginning of my spray. This reduces the amount of sweat and thorough showers I have to take while it is at its prime. I try to wear looser fitting sports bras during my workouts. You can apply loose powder on the areas where your sports bra touches your skin to reduce the chance of your tan rubbing off.

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Q. Who is the best person to go to for a spray tan at recreating rays?

I can genuinely say that ALL of the ladies at Recreating Rays do an equally amazing job. I have had a spray tan from all of them and have never had a bad experience. You truly can’t go wrong! Shonna is the owner and she has done an awesome job of training everyone. Trust me. : )

Q. Does your skin feel sticky while you have a spray tan?

Your skin will feel sticky right after you get your spray tan. This will go away after your first shower.

Q. How long do spray tans last?

This will vary depending on how often you sweat/shower, and how well you care for your tan. They typically last about a week to 10 days. Recreating Rays does have tan-extending lotion available as well that can help extend the life of the tan.

Q. How soon can I workout after getting a spray tan?

You can workout after you have rinsed off/showered for the first time. I almost always workout the next day with no issues.

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Q. How long does a spray tan last if you are at the beach and in the pool/ocean?

Being in the water for long periods of time will dramatically fade your tan. Try to limit the amount of time you are submerged in water to 10-15 minutes at a time if you want your tan to last. Using waterproof sunscreen can help protect your tan from harsh chemicals or salt water on vacation. Be sure to use sunscreen to protect your skin as well, as spray tans do not provide any skin protection/SPF. It is recommended to use the tan-extending lotion on vacations where you will be in the water. You can purchase it from Recreating Rays (or other sunless tanning salons if you are not in KC).

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Q. What is the cost of a spray tan from Recreating Rays?

All pricing information is available on the Recreating Rays website here. If you plan to get at least two spray tans a month, then a membership is definitely the best deal. You pay $20/month and $20 per spray tan, so you save a lot of money this way. As a member, you also get discounts on other products and services. Other services available at RR include waterless manicures and pedicures and teeth whitening.

Q. What is the best time to get a spray tan before an event?

I personally like to get my spray tan 1-2 days before an event so it is nice and fresh! Once you have rinsed it off in the shower, it should not come off on your clothes.

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Q. Can I sleep in my spray tan?

Yes. When I get the regular spray tan solution (vs. rapid), I always sleep in it and rinse off in the morning. If you sweat while you sleep, you might want to avoid this option, or go for the rapid tan.


Recreating Rays recommends consulting with your OB and getting the okay prior to scheduling. RR does provide a mask for you to wear during your session to avoid inhalation of any spray.

Here is some more information about tanning while pregnant by Mom Loves Best.

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Q. I don’t have a Recreating Rays near me 🙁 Where should i go?

If you do not live in KC but want to go somewhere similar, don’t worry!

The owner of Recreating Rays, Shonna, started an organization for spray tanners all over called the Association of Sunless Tanning Professionals. Check out their member listing here.

I hope this post addressed all of your questions/concerns about spray tanning and that you now know How To Prepare For A Spray Tan & so much more! If you want learn more, head to Recreating Rays for additional tips, and learn more about the services they offer.

If you go try Recreating Rays, let them know I sent you! I apologize in advance for getting you addicted to spray tans. ; ) #sorrynotsorry

Don’t forget to pin this post on Pinterest so you can easily refer back to it, and share the love to others looking for spray tanning tips!

Enjoy your glow!


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  1. That’s good to know that you will need to rinse off the spray tan so that it won’t get on your clothes. I would want to have a good tan for an event where I want to look good, so a spray tan sounds like a good option. I would think that it would be good to not have any of it get on my suit or anything like that, so I’ll have to make sure that I rinse off before I put fancy clothes on.

  2. I love this post. I have learned so much working as a spray tan artist in Beverly Hills and laugh too when people are worried about it being orange! The solutions these days are so bronzy and beautiful! I made a list of everything you can do to to ensure the perfect spray tan and a lot of my tips line up with yours but a few are unique so feel free to check it out 🙂

    1. Aw, thank you so much! I’m sure you have learned a lot! I totally agree – I’ll have to check out your tips! : )

    1. Spray tans can be drying, but moisturizing can help the tan last, so I always make sure to keep my skin really hydrated which helps me avoid getting too dry! I personally love using a body oil right out of the shower! It has coconut oil, jojoba oil, etc., but you can also use lotion!

  3. Thanks so much for this post, it’s super helpful! Right now with the pandemic, what do you recommend to keep my hands clean if I can’t wash them for 4-8hrs? Thanks!

    1. So glad it’s helpful! I would say to try to do it at a time when you can be home for a few hours afterward and not have to wash your hands, if possible! Otherwise you might be safe just using hand sanitizer rather than water during those first few hours!

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