What is the best lotion for hydrating skin after a spray tan?

Self-tanning sprays have become extremely popular in recent years. Unlike tanning beds, self-tanning sprays provide a safe alternative for achieving a beautiful bronze glow. Dermatologists confirm that self-tanning sprays do not have harmful effects on the skin when used properly. The results of a self-tanning spray tan can last anywhere from 3-10 days depending on your skin type and how well you care for your tan.

While self-tanning sprays provide a safe tanning option, it’s crucial to properly prep and care for your skin before and after use. Applying moisturizer and lotion after your spray tan is one of the most important steps for prolonging your sunless tan and keeping your skin healthy.

In this guide, I will discuss everything you need to know about choosing the best moisturizer and lotion to use after your spray tan.

Preparing the Skin for Self-Tanning Spray

Skin for Self-Tanning Spray preparations

Before your spray tanning appointment, it’s essential to thoroughly exfoliate and cleanse your skin. Exfoliating removes dead skin cells, impurities, and any remnants of lotions, cosmetic products, perfumes etc. This allows your skin to be a blank canvas for an even application of the tanning spray. The spray will be able to penetrate your pores more effectively leading to a flawless finish.

Make sure to use a gentle exfoliant that won’t cause irritation. I like to use an all-natural coffee body scrub with coconut oil. You’ll also want to shave and wax any areas you want hair-free prior to your spray tan.

Hydrating the Skin After Self-Tanning Spray

Hydration is key for prolonging your spray tan and keeping your skin in top shape. Many people confuse skin hydration with moisture retention. Hydration refers to the water content within your skin cells and can be achieved through topical skincare products and increased water intake. Moisture retention is your skin’s ability to hold onto water to prevent dryness.

It’s crucial to hydrate your skin throughout the year, but this becomes especially important during hot summer months. Insufficient hydration leads to dry, flaky and peeling skin which causes your spray tan to fade and look uneven. Proper hydration ensures your tan looks smooth and lasts as long as possible. This is where using a moisturizer after your spray tan comes into play.

Choosing the Best Moisturizer After Spray Tan

When researching the best moisturizers to use after spray tanning, there are certain ingredients you’ll want to avoid as they can negatively affect your tan.

Ingredients to Avoid

  • Fragrances
  • Dyes
  • Alcohols
  • Sulfates
  • Mineral oils
  • Essential oils
  • Retinol
  • Fruit acids
  • Anti-wrinkle components
  • Anti-acne products

These ingredients can irritate freshly tanned skin. Fragrances, dyes, alcohols, sulfates, and oils also remove moisture from your skin causing dryness. Acids and anti-aging products speed up the exfoliation process which will lead to rapid fading of your tan.

Preferred Moisturizing Ingredients

Instead, look for hydrating ingredients like:

  • Shea butter
  • Aloe vera
  • Coconut oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Fractionated coconut oil

These ingredients provide deep nourishment for your skin while locking in moisture. I recommend using creams and lotions made with all-natural and organic ingredients as much as possible. Here are my top picks for facial and body moisturizers to use after your self-tanning session:

Best Lotions To Use After a Spray Tan

  1. The Body Shop’s Coconut Body Butter – Ultra-hydrating and free of parabens and sulfates. Smells like summer!
  2. Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion – Uses oats to soothe sensitive skin and add moisture. Fragrance-free.
  3. Hempz Original – Contains 100% pure hemp seed oil to calm and condition freshly tanned skin.
  4. SheaMoisture Argan Oil & Raw Shea Butter Body Lotion – Nourishes skin with Fair Trade shea butter and argan oil.
  5. Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion – Maximizes moisture with natural oils and butters.
  6. All Good Organic Coconut Oil Lotion – Organic, non-GMO and cruelty-free. Hydrates skin with coconut oil.
  7. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream – Uses hyaluronic acid to quench dry skin.
  8. Jergens Natural Glow Self Tanner – Gradually enhances your tan while smoothing and hydrating.
  9. Shea Moisture – Any product from this organic beauty line!

Best Moisturizers To Use After a Spray Tan

  1. Drunk Elephant Sili Body Lotion – Gentle formula ideal for face and body. Has antioxidants and nourishing oils.
  2. Avalon Organics Aloe Unscented Hand & Body Lotion – Soothing aloe hydrates sensitive facial skin.
  3. Embryolisse Lait Crème Fluid Lotion – Lightweight face and body moisturizer packed with vitamins and essential fatty acids.
  4. St. Tropez Gradual Tan Watermelon Lotion – Provides subtle self-tanning effects while hydrating.
  5. Pink Perfectly Pink Moisturizer After Tanning Lotion – Designed specifically for post-tanning moisture and extending tan life.
  6. TruSkin Vitamin C Face Moisturizer – Brightens skin tone while hydrating.
  7. Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Body Lotion – Affordable drugstore option that relieves dryness.
  8. Moisture Lock Tan Extender Moisturizer Lotion – Locks in moisture and prolongs your tan.

Facts and Tips for Skin Hydration After Self-Tanning

Skin Hydration After Self-Tanning

It’s important to remember that self-tanning products have a drying effect on your skin. This is due to the DHA (dihydroxyacetone) that reacts with amino acids in your skin cells to darken their color.

After your spray tanning session, avoid showering for at least 8-12 hours so the DHA has enough time to fully develop. I also avoid applying any cosmetic products like perfumes, deodorants, and makeup directly after tanning to prevent disrupting the DHA.

When you are ready to shower, use lukewarm water rather than hot, and avoid scrubbing or using harsh soaps. Gently pat your skin dry rather than rubbing it with a towel. I like to alternate moisturizing daily with a gentle, fragrance-free body wash to retain hydration.

It’s best to schedule your spray tan appointment 1-2 days before an event so you aren’t rushing off to sweat it out at the gym or scrub it off in the shower. Wear loose, dark clothing after your appointment to prevent rubbing off excess tanning solution.

Avoid intense exercise for 24 hours after your spray tan. This will prevent excessive sweating which can cause your spray tan to run and fade unevenly. You want to take good care of your skin so your glow lasts as long as possible!


Caring for your skin properly before and after your spray tanning appointment is crucial for achieving flawless, long-lasting color. Be sure to deeply exfoliate and cleanse your skin prior to your spray tan.

After tanning, wait at least 8-12 hours before showering or applying any skincare products. When choosing a moisturizer, avoid fragrances, oils, and ingredients that can irritate freshly tanned skin.

Look for hydrating ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, aloe, and hyaluronic acid. Apply your moisturizer generously whenever your skin feels dry. Well-hydrated skin retains a smooth, even glow for days!

With the right prep and post-tan routine using skin-nourishing ingredients, you can make that sun-kissed glow last. Let me know if you have any other questions about choosing the perfect moisturizer to use after your spray tan!

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