Getting a spray tan can help you achieve a beautiful, sun-kissed glow without exposing your skin to harmful UV rays. But keeping that spray tan looking flawless means using the right body wash. Harsh soaps can strip the color from your skin prematurely.
I’ve tried just about every body wash under the sun to find the best ones for maintaining a spray tan. In this article, I’ll go over everything you need to know to pick the ideal cleanser. One that leaves skin clean without fading your gorgeous glow.
Why the Right Body Wash Matters for Spray Tans
Your body wash has a major impact on how long your spray tan results last. The wrong cleanser can literally wash away your beautiful bronzed color before you get your money’s worth.
Many regular body washes contain sulfates and fragrances that can wreak havoc on a fresh spray tan. Exfoliating washes with scrubs are also bad news and will scrub off color faster.
To get the maximum longevity from your sunless tanning session, you need a body wash free of these harsh ingredients. One formulated specifically for maintaining spray tans.
The best body washes for spray tans contain gentle cleansers. They lift away dirt, sweat, and oils without stripping your tan. Many also have moisturizing oils and butters to hydrate skin and make that bronzed glow last even longer.
Using a body wash designed for sunless tanning helps you prep your skin between sessions. Gently washing away dead skin cells so you can achieve perfect, even coverage at your next spray tan appointment.
What to Avoid in Body Washes when You Have a Spray Tan
Now that you know why a body wash formulated for spray tans is so crucial, let’s talk about what ingredients to avoid. Stay away from these harsh chemicals if you want to preserve your sunless color:
Sulfates are the harsh cleansing agents found in most drugstore body washes, and they are bad news for spray tans.
Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are the main offenders. These sulfates provide that satisfying lather traditional body washes are known for. But they achieve this by stripping the skin of its natural oils.
For people with no sunless color, this extreme stripping action helps wash away oil and acne-causing bacteria. But for fresh spray tans, it causes rapid fading by removing the tanning DHA solution from skin too quickly.
Lovely scented body washes make your shower feel luxurious. However, most conventional fragrances contain alcohol and oils that break down your spray tan’s color molecules.
Some fragrant compounds react directly with DHA solution to degrade the bronzers. The alcohol also excessively dries skin, causing your tan to fade unevenly.
Any cleanser with physical exfoliating ingredients is bad news for preserving a spray tan. Examples include things like:
- Salt or sugar scrubs
- Textured washcloths
- Beads or grains
Exfoliants slough off dead skin cells—taking your tan color along with it. Even gentle, spherical beads can erode spray tan results prematurely.
Save the exfoliating washes for in between tanning sessions when you want to remove residual color and prep skin for the next application.
Harsh Acids and Actives
Glycolic acid and retinol are popular skincare ingredients found in many body washes. They provide anti-aging benefits and smooth rough skin. However, their effects are too strong for fresh spray tans.
The glycolic acid dissolves the outer layer of skin cells, fading color. Retinol increases cell turnover rapidly. Both cause uneven, patchy fading of spray tan results.
Save the anti-aging body washes for after your spray tan has faded. Then you can reap the benefits without harming your bronzed glow.
When to Start Using Your Specialized Body Wash After a Spray Tan
Now you know what to avoid in body washes to keep your spray tan flawless. But WHEN should you start using your specialized sunless tanning cleanser? Here are my tips:
Wait 24-48 Hours
After your spray tanning session, wait at least 24 hours before showering or washing skin. I recommend waiting a full 48 hours if possible.
It takes this long for the DHA in the solution to fully develop and oxidize on skin to produce color. Washing too soon can prevent you from achieving maximum bronzing effects.
Rinse With Water Only
For the first post-tan wash, just do a quick rinse with water. Avoid using any cleanser—even ones designed for sunless tanning. Let the DHA solution do its work.
Use Specialized Wash For First Post-Tan Cleanse
The first time you use a body wash after a spray tan, be sure to pick one designed for sunless tanners. This ensures you remove excess solution while hydrating skin to lock in color.
After that first cleanse, I only use my spray tan body wash once every other day or so. Too frequent washing causes the color to fade more rapidly.
How to Use Body Wash to Make Your Spray Tan Last
Once you have a good body wash for spray tans, be strategic about how you use it. Follow these tips for making each golden, sun-kissed session last as long as possible:
Use a Dime-Sized Amount
You really don’t need much body wash to gently cleanse skin after a spray tan. Dispense a dime-sized dollop into your palms and work into a lather before applying to skin.
Too much product can be stripping, even if the formula is gentle. A little goes a long way.
Use Hands Instead of Loofahs and Washcloths
Apply your spray tan body wash with your hands rather than abrasive loofahs or textured washcloths. Your palm and fingers will provide plenty of gentle cleansing action without prematurely scrubbing off color.
Focus on Sweat-Prone Areas
Apply the most lather to areas most prone to sweat like underarms, neck, chest, and back. Rinse the rest of your body quickly and gently. This removes odor and bacteria without fading color all over.
Pat Skin Dry
After rinsing, pat your skin with a clean towel rather than rubbing vigorously. Rubbing can remove bronzers, especially if your towel is slightly textured. Gentle patting preserves glow.
Apply your favorite spray tan extending moisturizer immediately after toweling off. This seals in hydration to keep skin from drying out and tan fading unevenly. Moisturized skin better retains bronzers.
Exfoliate Gently Before Re-Application
One benefit of body wash for spray tans is gentle exfoliation between sessions. Use your tan-safe cleanser once daily for 2-3 days pre-tan. This lightly buffs away dead skin cells so your next application goes on perfectly even.
5 Best Body Washes for Spray Tans
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Moisturizing Body Wash
Mrs. Meyer’s clean day body washes are a favorite among spray tanners for good reason. This is a sulfate-free formula that uses aloe vera gel, essential oils and flaxseed oil to nourish skin. It comes in lovely scents like Lavender, Basil, Honeysuckle and Rain Water.
What I love about Mrs. Meyer’s for spray tans:
- Leaves skin soft and smooth: My skin always feels hydrated and refreshed after using this body wash, never dry or tight.
- Preserves spray tan color: The oils and aloe vera provide moisture to retain color rather than stripping it away. My tan lasted much longer compared to harsher soaps.
- Sulfate-free, paraben-free: The formula avoids harsh sulfates that can remove spray tans. It also skips parabens, which some may find irritating.
- Cruelty-free: Mrs. Meyer’s ensures no animal testing is used in production, which aligns with my personal values.
If you want a sulfate-free body wash that smells amazing and keeps your spray tan glowing, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day is an excellent choice.
Native Body Wash
Native creates body washes with naturally derived ingredients in enticing scents like Coconut & Vanilla and Cucumber & Mint. The fragrances come from essential oils rather than phthalates.
What makes Native Body Wash great for spray tans:
- Won’t strip color: The formulas are free of harsh sulfates and oils so they don’t break down spray tans. Even after multiple showers, my tan stayed vibrant.
- Leaves skin hydrated: Ingredients like shea butter and natural oils moisturize skin so it feels soft, not dried out from washing.
- Variety of scents: With options like lavender & rose, citrus & herbal musk and more, you can switch up scents without damaging your tan.
- phthalates-free fragrances: No phthalates are used in Native’s essential oil fragrances. This makes scents less irritating for sensitive skin.
If you want a body wash that smells fantastic without the risk of phthalates, Native is a wonderful choice that preserves your spray tan.
Puracy Natural Body Wash
Puracy makes an incredibly effective body wash with a blend of clinical grade ingredients like coconut, vanilla and sea salt. Their formulas are plant-powered and pH balanced.
Reasons I love Puracy body wash for spray tans:
- Preserves moisturizing layer: The pH balanced formula maintains your skin’s natural moisture barrier so spray tan isn’t stripped away.
- 98.6% plant-based ingredients: Almost all ingredients are plant-powered, like coconut oil, citrus and sea salt. There are no harsh sulfates or chemicals.
- Leaves skin super soft: My skin always feels hydrated yet clean after using Puracy body wash. The natural oils are very moisturizing.
- Money-back guarantee: Puracy stands behind their products with a satisfaction guarantee. You can try it risk-free to see if you love it.
Puracy offers an effective cleansing body wash that also hydrates and protects spray tanned skin. The completely natural formula makes it one of my favorites.
Tree To Tub Soapberry Body Wash
If you want a body wash with the most natural, pure ingredients, Tree To Tub is a wonderful option. It’s made with soapberries, shea butter, aloe vera, chamomile and other botanicals.
What makes Tree To Tub soakberry wash ideal for spray tans:
- Gentle for sensitive skin: The hypoallergenic formula cleanses gently without irritating, thanks to soothing chamomile and aloe. It’s great for sensitive skin.
- Leaves skin hydrated: Shea butter and aloe vera provide hydration that protects your spray tan, while soapberries cleanse.
- Lovely lavender scent: The lavender essential oil scent is subtle but beautifully calming. And it comes from pure oils, not phthalates.
- pH balanced formula: The 5.5 pH helps maintain skin’s moisture so your spray tan lasts and lasts. Harsher soaps can disrupt this.
If you want only the purest natural ingredients against your skin, Tree To Tub is one of the best body washes for spray tans.
CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash
For those with perpetually dry skin, CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash is a dermatologist-approved choice that hydrates while cleansing. It contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides to nourish skin and retain moisture.
Why CeraVe body wash is excellent for spray tans:
- Locks in moisture: With hyaluronic acid and glycerin, this body wash hydrates deeply to maintain spray tans rather than removing color.
- Restores skin barrier: The formula includes three essential ceramides that protect and reinforce the skin barrier. This keeps your tan vibrant and skin healthy.
- Fragrance-free: CeraVe washes avoid fragrances and oils that could irritate sensitive skin and remove spray tan. It’s ideal if you prefer fragrance-free.
- Accepted by NEA: This body wash is approved by the National Eczema Association and developed with dermatologists, so you know it’s safe and effective.
CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash gives your skin lasting hydration and protection, keeping your spray tan flawless for days. It’s great for those with dry or sensitive skin.
Frequently Asked Questions About Body Wash for Spray Tans
How long should I wait to shower after a spray tan?
Wait at least 24 hours before getting skin wet or washing with body wash. 48 hours is ideal to allow full DHA development.
How often can I use my spray tan body wash?
Limit washing to once every 2-3 days max. Frequent cleansing causes faster fading even with gentle cleansers.
Should I use a washcloth or loofah?
No—use your hands only. The texture of washcloths and loofahs can rub off bronzing agents.
What’s the best way to dry off after showering?
Gently pat skin with a clean, soft towel. Avoid vigorous rubbing which can strip away color.
When should I exfoliate?
Exfoliate lightly 2-3 days before your next session to ensure flawless coverage. Avoid scrubs immediately before or after tanning.
Don’t let the wrong body wash strip away your sunless tan prematurely. With this guide, you now know what to look for in cleansers to help your spray tan last.
Be sure to avoid sulfates, fragrances, oils, and exfoliants which can wreak havoc on fresh spray tan results. Instead, choose a gentle, hydrating formula designed specifically for bronzed, sunless skin.
Apply your specialized body wash just once every 2-3 days after an initial 24-48 hour waiting period. Use only your hands to gently cleanse skin. With the right techniques, you can make that beautiful faux glow last for over a week!
Sophia Rodriguez is the creative force behind IGXO Cosmetics, a popular beauty blog and brand. As a long-time makeup artist and beauty industry insider, Sophia realized there was a lack of authentic, relatable content for the everyday woman. This inspired her to launch IGXO Cosmetics in 2018 as a platform to share her passion for beauty.