How To Make Your Spray Tan Last

Spray Tan St. Tropez

Photo: Getty Images

This summer I came so close to accepting my pale complexion. But whenever I head to the beach, hope rises in me. Maybe, just maybe, I can get a little color this summer. There’s nothing worse than being the palest person on the sand. But as the horror stories continue to come in about the effects of tanning beds and natural tanning, little options are left to get that summer glow. That’s why I decided to turn to the spray tan this summer. And unlike what you’ve heard in the past, a spray tan isn’t just a quick fix. With a little time and energy, your spray tan can last for weeks.

Related Article: Forget To Put On SPF? Try Eating It!

There are three types of spray tans – a spray-on booth, a spray tan by an aesthetician and an at-home treatment. I decided to get a tan by an aesthetician at the St. Tropez tanning salon in Soho here in New York City. Although a little more expensive at $65 a treatment, the result was worth it. “The benefit of seeing an aesthetician is that they can provide a more personalized look, perhaps a more ‘artistic effect’ can be achieved,’” Dr. Deborah Sarnoff, a Eucerin Skin First Council member, told me.

Get A Tan Worth Maintaining
When I met with Skin Finishing Expert Sophie Evans from St. Tropez, a personalized look is exactly what I experienced. She assessed the color of my skin on my face compared to my body to come up with the perfect natural-looking formula. The key is to always use a lighter formula on the face since it receives the most sunlight and will always be a little darker than the rest of the body. A customized tan can also include the contouring and toning of the body (or what we call the lazy girl’s trick to six-pack abs). I decided to forgo it.

After my tan, I went back to my apartment where my roommate literally screamed when she saw my transformation. It wasn’t that I looked bad; she had never seen me look so tan before. Remember, you can’t judge the color until after you’ve showered. The spray tan was just the beginning. I was determined to keep that color as long as possible. Using several products, such as self-tanners, exfoliators and cleansers, I was able to extend the life of my spray tan.

Spray Tan St. Tropez Clinique Origins

Photos: Courtesy of St. Tropez/Clinique/Origins

A tan looks best when skin is hydrated. The Tan Optimiser Shower Créme ($15, combines organic aloe vera with hydrating Mediterranean oils to cleanse the skin, preparing it for a self-tanner application. This formula also rejuvenates the spray tan. To apply, use like any other shower gel; work into a lather while showering and rinse thoroughly.

Even the best self-tanners I have tested have given me streaks along those trouble areas, including the wrists, knees and elbows. What I’ve always forgotten to do before application? Exfoliate. “You should exfoliate on or after the third day of your spray tan and then every few days,” Evans told me. “Using a light exfoliator will guarantee the tan remains and stays even during the duration of the tan and as it starts to fade.” After using the shower crème, apply the exfoliator to skin while bathing. Massage the formula all over your body in circular motions, concentrating on your elbows, knees and feet. Rinse. We recommend Clinique Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliator ($24, FYI: Exfoliation doesn’t remove a tan completely. It blends and removes harsh color.

Related Article: How To Get Glowing Summer Skin

Go Easy On The Self-Tanner
“I would not advise you to self tan daily as you may become too dark, and the tan could look unnatural,” Evans said.“It would be better to boost the color midweek with a gradual tanner, such as St. Tropez Everyday Gradual Body Lotion ($30,, or use after intense exercise. Moisturize daily and be gentle with your skin” I admit I used the lotion more than recommended and I did see the color go from natural to orangey around my wrists and elbows. After a few days though, I started using the product only every few days and saw the natural color return.

Be Gentle With Your Face
Because the color on your face is usually a little darker than the rest of your body (and more sensitive), you should use a different tanning formula. Origins Faux Glow Radiant Self-Tanner For Face ($21.50, is a moisturizer with just a touch of self-tanner. I love this product because it adds to and enhances your tan. The moisturizing capabilities enhance the color from the spray tan while the marine extract boosts melanin when in contact with natural sunlight.

Enjoy The Results
After using these products religiously for about two weeks, I still had color. It may not have been dark enough to knock my roommate off the couch, but it was visibly noticeable. I highly recommend a spray tan to anyone who wants to jumpstart her color for summer…or enjoy a little color as summer now hits the final stretch.

Do you think the spray tan is the answer to our tanning woes?