The Effects: Should You Shower After Tanning?
Should you shower after tanning? There are many people who say that you should, and others who say that it is not necessary. Here we will break down the pros and cons of both views to help you make an informed decision about how to best care for your skin.
The first group argues that if you do not shower after being in a tanning bed or laying out in the sun, then there is a greater chance of developing skin cancer because your pores will be open with sweat from hot weather or lotion from sunscreen. The second argument is that by washing off all of the lotion and sweat, as well as dead cells from your body, then you are actually increasing the risk for acne breakouts which can be a problem for some people.
Myths and Facts About Showering After Tanning
This is a question I’ve been asked many times in the salons where I’ve worked. People frequently wonder if they can shower after tanning.
Some people prefer to wait as long as possible, while others prefer to shower as soon as possible because they feel dirty and sticky after getting a tan.
People talk about this a lot, which leads to a lot of misunderstandings and myths as a result of all the overthinking and overstressing.
Following are some facts and myths about showering after a tanning session.
The Importance of Your First Shower Following Tanning
When I say that the first shower you take after tanning is important, I mean it. The truth is that the time you take your first shower has a significant impact on having perfectly tanned skin. Tanning can dehydrate your skin by removing moisture; showering helps to rehydrate your skin after tanning.
Showering can have a significant impact on your gradual tan, depending on the tanning techniques and lotions you use. Don’t be concerned! This will be explained further down in the article.
How Long Can You Shower After Tanning?
Getting a great golden tan is a long, slow tanning process that requires perseverance for many of us. It most emphatically is for me! You don’t want to wash all of your hard work in scheduling, planning, and implementing tanning sessions away with a quick shower.
Worse yet, the dreaded streaky fake-tan look! If you wash your spray tan or sunless tan off too quickly, you risk getting an ugly, streaky spray tan all over your skin.
Myth #1: Showering after a UV tanning session removes the tan.
Nope, it does not matter.
A natural pigment in your skin called melanin produces the tan that you get after tanning. Melanocytes in your skin are activated and begin to produce melanin as a result of UV exposure. It can take up to 48 hours for your skin tone to change noticeably.
The only reason your tan may take a while to appear is that your skin is recovering from sunburn (or tanning bed). Your skin’s natural pigment cannot be washed away, no matter how convincing it sounds. Skin lightening creams would not exist if you could simply take a shower to remove your tan.
There are even showers equipped with tanning lights. They allow you to tan while showering.
But there is one thing we must keep in mind here. If you used a bronzer or accelerator in a tanning bed session, you should wait at least 2-3 hours before showering. Why is this so? Bronzers and accelerators, unlike natural pigment, can be washed off. You must ensure that these products are designed to last after showers as well as during tanning sessions.
Myth #2: Taking a shower after spray tanning removes the tan.
It does, indeed.
The bronzers do the majority of the tanning on your skin during a spray tanning session. Bronzers are absorbed into your body to make your skin look sun-kissed and tanned rather than to stimulate the production of melanin.
While bronzers are used in most tanning lotions for customer satisfaction, they may not be present in all tanning products. Bronzers contain DHA (dihydroxyacetone), which adheres to your skin and oxidizes with oxygen.
Because of the oxidation, your skin appears much darker and tanned (note that this is only temporary). Taking a shower immediately after applying tanning lotion will wash the bronzer away. As a result, you will have a poor and uneven tan.
It is best to wait at least 3-4 hours before showering to allow the bronzer to set.
Suitable for Sensitive Skin
If you have sensitive skin, I do not recommend showering immediately after a UV tanning session.
UV tanning not only damages the top layer of your skin, but it can also harm your internal organs. However, these concerns are typically limited to people with sensitive skin.
Showering with reddened or burned skin can trigger a variety of reactions in people with sensitive skin. As I previously stated, your skin is subjected to a great deal of stress during a UV tanning session. Skin reddening occurs when your body produces too much melanin, which damages the skin and DNA cells. Pouring water over damaged skin is analogous to pouring cold water over a hot pan (try it in the kitchen and you’ll see what I mean!).
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How Should You Shower After Tanning?
The benefits and drawbacks of showering after tanning are balanced and do not outweigh one another. There is a proper way to shower after you’ve gotten a tan. Here’s how to do it:
- Shower with lukewarm water. Never take a hot shower after you’ve gotten a tan! Hot water is an enemy to your skin because of the stress of tanning and the burning your body has to go through to change your skin tone. Hot showers will not only irritate your skin, but will also put it in extreme distress.
- Take a shower rather than a bath. If you enjoy taking baths, you may be disappointed. I prefer long baths to showers, but when I’m fresh off a tanning session, I keep my shower time to a minimum. The water washes away your natural and fake-tanning oils while you spend all that time standing under running water or sitting in the tub.
- Soap should be avoided. Of course, you can use soap in areas such as your groin and armpits, but not all over your body. Soaps are made to dissolve oil. With the use of soap, both your natural body oils and the ones from your tanning lotion degrade. If you must use fragrant soaps, keep them away from the most visible areas of your skin where the tan will show.
- Don’t rub your towel all over your skin after you’ve taken a shower. Rubbing the towel removes not only the tanning lotion but also the moisture from your skin. As I previously stated, water is absolutely necessary for keeping your skin hydrated. After you’ve finished showering, don’t just blot up the excess moisture with your towel. Do not rub your skin dry; instead, pat it dry.
- Apply moisturizer immediately after showering to avoid dehydrating your skin. Hyaluronic acid is found in some of the best moisturizers to use after spray tanning. After using UV tanning beds to get a tan, your skin will have lost the majority of its moisture, so remember to moisturize.
Shower Following Indoor Tanning Bed
As previously stated, the amount of time you should wait before showering after a UV tanning bed session is determined by the lotions and bronzers you use.
Shower 20 minutes after a UV Tanning Bed session if you are not using any tanning accelerator or bronzer. It is best to wait 2-3 hours before showering if you are using tanning lotions or bronzers.
You’re exposing your skin to a lot of UV radiation while lying in a tanning bed. You’re also perspiring a lot, which is causing your skin to change. And, why not, most of us use tanning lotions and bronzers when we use a tanning bed?
However, a buildup of all of these chemicals can clog pores, cause acne, and harm the skin. As a result, showering after the chemicals have finished their work is a good idea.
Furthermore, tanning and sweating cause the body to lose moisture, resulting in dry, cracked skin. When it comes down to it, tanning is essentially a controlled burn. So, in order to keep your skin supple and beautiful, be sure to moisturize and care for it.
After allowing your lotions and bronzers to set for the recommended 2-3 hours, take a shower to refresh your skin!
Showering after using a self-tanner or sunless tanning product
Self-tanning is a completely different story than regular tanning beds. These sunless tanning chemicals are intended to remain on the skin for at least a few hours. They are also not activated by UV light, unlike tanning lotions. Bronzers work on the body by altering the pigment of skin cells with DHA, and they require time and the presence of oxygen to do so.
If you shower too soon after applying a “fake tan” such as Tan Physics (reviewed here), Loving Tan (reviewed here), or Mystic Tan (reviewed here), you will wash the tanning solution off. This will almost always result in a streaky, unappealing tan and should be avoided.
The luscious deep golden glow is achieved as the DHA oxidizes on the skin. After applying the self-tanner, this process usually takes 4 hours to complete, and you don’t want to interrupt it with a shower!
However, you should consider the specific self tan you’ve chosen, as some self-tanners and sunless tanners advise not showering for up to 8 hours after application. Sometimes it might look like an airbrush tan. However, for the most part, these can be washed off after about 4 hours.
Brown Water in the Shower
When you shower after applying bronzer (or swim in the pool), the water will most likely have a brown tint to it as it runs off your body.
But don’t be concerned. It’s the bronzer pigment washing off in the shower, and it’s not making the skin type any darker. It is preferable to remove this coloration after the bronzer has set, as there are fewer chemicals on the skin to clog pores, etc.
The brown water that comes off the body is not the tanning agent – that is usually DHA (dihydroxyacetone). Other dyes and natural oils are responsible for the brown hues, while DHA is white. Any brown in the water is caused by other dyes and oils.
DHA is a chemical that reacts with skin cells to produce a bronze color when applied to the skin. This process takes about 2-3 hours, and the full results are usually visible after about 24 hours.
After a couple of hours of contact with the skin, the DHA will have done its job, darkening the skin type. Washing off the bronzers and tanning lotions at this point will not remove any of the bronze color from the skin, assuming you waited the recommended 2-3 hours.
How to Shower Up After a Spray Tan
Here are a few pointers to help you get the most out of your shower after your spray tan.
1. Do not overheat the water.
There’s no need to boil your skin after you’ve braised it! There is no need to take a cold shower, but it is a good idea to reduce the temperature to avoid further harming the skin. This is true whether you are showering after sunbathing, tanning in a tanning bed, or using a self tanner.
2. Don’t stay in the water for too long.
After a fake-tanning session, there’s no need to take a long, luxurious shower. Instead, jump in the shower, give your skin a gentle scrub, and get out. Taking a bath or a long dip in the water is not a good idea. The longer your skin is exposed to water, the more likely it is that some of the browning agents will be washed away. Also, be cautious when washing your hair after applying a spray tan.
3. Avoid using any harsh soaps or cleaners.
Try to limit your use of soaps and cleaning products unless you’ve been heavily exercising or otherwise have a need for a thorough cleaning. This is especially true for heavily scented, augmented soaps that contain a variety of other chemicals that may interfere with the bronzers and self tanners you’ve used.
Use soap on the areas that require it, but your post-tanning shower should be more of a rinse-off than a deep clean.
4. Avoid Exfoliation
Now is not the time to exfoliate your skin! Allow the self tanner to sit on the skin for several days before exfoliating; the exfoliation process will most likely remove at least some of the self tanner. This can result in streaking and an uneven finish, which no one wants!
Instead, exfoliate a day or two before starting your self tanning applications.
5. Pat your body dry
There’s no need to vigorously rub off all the water that’s run off your body after you get out of the shower. Instead, turn off the shower and stand in it for a minute or so, allowing gravity to remove as much water as possible. Then, using a towel, pat yourself dry rather than aggressively drying your body as most of us do when we dry off.
The gentler you are able to dry yourself, the better.
6. Moisturize once more
After you’ve dried off, it’s time to rehydrate your skin with a high-quality moisturizer. A moisturizer will help to lock in the color and keep the pores clean.
7. Put off shaving for a few minutes.
If you must shave, it is best to do so before your tan. If you didn’t, you should wait at least 24 hours after a spray tan to shave. More advice can be found at that link.
The bottom line is that if you use a bronzer-containing self-tanner or tanning lotion, you should wait 2-3 hours after application, or your tanning session, before showering. This will ensure that the bronzers and self-tanners have had enough time to work and have completely dried on the skin.
After this time period, these chemicals aren’t doing much and can be safely and gently removed.
If you’re sunbathing or UV light tanning without any bronzers or tanning accelerators, it’s generally safe to shower shortly after you’ve finished your regular tanning. There may be a minor benefit to waiting for 20 minutes or so for the skin to fully cool after a session, but it is minor, and showering has no effect on the skin’s natural melanin production.
Stay safe, and good luck finding your ideal skin tone!
FAQ Tanning for Beginners
Is it safe to shower immediately after tanning?
Taking a shower immediately after applying tanning lotion will wash the bronzer away. As a result, you will have a poor and uneven tan. It is best to wait at least 3-4 hours before showering to allow the bronzer to set.
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Is it okay to shower after tanning outside?
Showering will never interfere with your tan if you are tanning outside, such as sunbathing. You can shower immediately after tanning in a tanning bed. Still, if you’re using bronzers, I’d recommend waiting a couple of hours longer. After a spray tan, you should wait 3-4 hours before taking a shower.
Is it better to shower before or after using a tanning bed?
Shower, shave and exfoliate at least a day before your tanning session. Exfoliating helps to prepare your skin for tanning. If you don’t have time for thorough exfoliation, using a loofah, brush, or bath puff in the shower will suffice.
Why do you smell after tanning?
It’s caused by the melanin in your skin. UV light rays make it difficult for your skin to tan quickly. The smell is caused by a reaction on your skin caused by rapid discoloration. Bacteria, as we all know, thrive on our skin, which can be both good and bad.
Can you shave after tanning in a bed?
Shave at least 12 hours after your tanning session. Wear short boots if you want to avoid getting a patchy tan on one or both of your legs. Wait at least 24 hours before tanning again.
What not to do after tanning?
You must keep the oils in your skin intact after tanning. As a result, you should avoid taking a shower immediately following the session. A shower within 4 hours of a tanning session can be extremely damaging to your skin. Even if you do, keep it to a hot water bath.
Can I tan two days in a row?
It is not recommended to tan two days in a row, regardless of the tanning method used. Tanning two days in a row exposes you to UV rays as well as chemicals found in spray tans and self-tanners. It is best to wait at least 3-5 days before getting your second tan of the week.
Do cold showers help tan?
Cold Showers: In addition to improving circulation, cold showers dehydrate your skin less than hot showers. So, if you want to keep your beautiful tan, stick to room temperature water. When your skin becomes dry and flaky, the outer layer (which contains the color) sheds more quickly.