Updated June 17, 2021

Should You Shower After Tanning? – How Long Should You Wait?

Should You Shower After Tanning_
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Don’t you love getting that beautiful golden brown tan? Tanning is a long process and takes a lot of patience to get the perfect skin tone.

Yet, showering after tanning can be quite a confusing topic. Even for seasoned tanners!

Most tanners ask, “Should you shower after tanning? “How long should you wait to shower after tanning?” 

Or “Should you even shower at all? The truth is… it depends! Read more to find out!

Table of Contents

Can You Shower Right After Tanning?

Before jumping into shower timings, let’s answer something first.

“To shower or not to shower?”

Sweat and chemicals could irritate and clog your pores!  It can harm your skin if you leave them on for too long.

Of course, you need to shower! But not right after tanning.

The Waiting Game: How Long Should You Wait?

The Waiting Game

How long you should wait to shower after going to the tanning salon will depend on a lot of things. 

There’s no “one size fits all” answer. You have to answer these questions:

  • What type of tanning session did you do?
  • Did you sunbathe?
  • Or did you use a tanning bed?

You also need to consider if a spray tan, indoor self-tanning lotion, or bronzer is being used.

Let’s discuss the types of tanning and the amount of time you need to wait before you shower immediately.

This is the chance to clear up many tanning and showering misconceptions, so let’s dive in!

Main Types of Tanning and Shower Timings:

1. UV Tanning

Fast Fact: Showering after a tanning booth session will NOT wash off your tan.  UNLESS! You use tanning lotions after showers.

Tanning beds (both lay-down and stand-up tanning beds) have UV rays that penetrate your skin. It stimulates skin cells and melanin production.

Melanin is the natural brown pigment made by your body. It gives you that tan color and protects you from UV light exposure. 

So don’t be afraid to take a cool shower AFTER using a tanning bed. The water can’t wash off the melanin from your skin so you can even do hot showers.

Waiting Time:  It’s advisable to let your body cool down first after UV tanning.  To get the full effect of the UV tanning session, it’s best to wait around 20 to 30 minutes BEFORE showers.

2. Self Tanners: Spray Tanning, Bronzers, and Lotions

Fast Fact: Showering IMMEDIATELY AFTER a spray tanning session causes the tan to fade away.

Spray tans, bronzers, tan accelerators, and tanning lotions boost melanin production for the best results. Some UV tanning sessions use these kinds of products.

Like any lotion, a bronzer will wash off immediately if you shower AFTER a tanning session. Bronzers don’t cause your body to produce melanin. It will “stain” your skin and provide you with a “golden” look. 

If you shower right away after applying spray tanning lotion on your skin, you wash away the bronzers! It defeats the whole purpose of your tanning session! 

Just to be sure, avoid showering right after the session. 

Also, AVOID working out right after tanning because it will cause you to sweat. Others have uneven tan lines and streaks all over their body from bronzers. They end up looking like tanned tigers.

  • Waiting Time: It’s ideal to wait AT LEAST 2 to 3 hours before showering to allow the bronzer to take effect on your skin.
  • Note: Some people freak out when they see brown water for the first time while in the shower.  It’s some of the excess bronzer or spray tan pigment.

3. Sunbathing

Some go old school and choose to go without any tanning accelerators.

If this is you, you can jump in the shower 20 minutes after exposure.

The best time for people to go sunbathing is in the morning.  There are many benefits to this aside from getting a tan.

Getting out in the morning boosts your mood, and strengthens your bones.  It also helps fight certain diseases.

Showering After Tanning: Do's and Don’ts

Dos and Donts

Now that you know the best time to take a shower after a tanning session,  it’s finally time to take a shower!

For many, the first shower is crucial in achieving that perfect glow!

To make showering after tanning effective as possible, we’re sharing some important tips!

You want to look like a Greek Goddess, not an Oompa Loompa.

1. DO Take a Quick Shower. DON'T Take a Long Bath.

Hop in.  Get out. 

Wash away the sweat, oils, and chemicals used for tanning.  Limit your time in showers post tanning.

Your skin is in a vulnerable state after a session in the tanning bed.

A shower after tanning should be super quick. 

The longer your skin gets exposed to water, the more the skin color washes off. You would’ve wasted your time in the tanning bed.

2. DO Use Lukewarm Water. DON'T Take a Hot Shower.

When you immediately shower with very hot water, you’re putting unnecessary strain on the pores of your skin.

Remember, your skin went through a sort of “burning” process, so you don’t need to “boil” it too. Burnt skin will be delicate so take caution.

Don’t take a very cold shower either.   Try to dial down the temperature so you don’t abuse your skin. We suggest lukewarm water that’s just right.

3. DO Let Some of the Product Wash Off with Water. DON'T Use Soap the First Time You Shower.

Most harsh soaps contain chemicals that will strip away the bronzer from your skin.

Let the bronzers rinse off with the water. 

But if you’re the kind of person who can’t shower without harsh soaps, then just don’t use a lot.

Use a gentle non-fragrant soap for necessary areas, like the groin and armpits. Don’t use bar soaps with harsh chemicals.

4. DO Exfoliate a Few Days Before the Tanning Process. DON'T Exfoliate After Spray Tanning.

Should you need to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells, make sure to do it a day or so BEFORE using a tanning bed.  It preps your skin and makes your tan last WAY LONGER.

It’s not a good idea to exfoliate immediately after your tanning session. It will remove the tanning lotion and cause streaking on your skin.

How long should you wait to exfoliate after spray tanning? A good spray tan aftercare tip is that it’s ideal to let your tan set on your skin for A FEW DAYS FIRST before you exfoliate.

5. DO Pat Dry with a Towel. DON'T Rub It on Your Skin.

Patting yourself dry will help keep moisture on your skin after a tanning process.

Rubbing a towel on your skin REMOVES the tanning solution.

After taking a shower, let gravity take its course.  Allow the water to run down your body for a minute or so.

6. DO Moisturize Your Skin. DON'T Let Your Skin Get Thirsty.

You lose a lot of moisture during a tanning process.  Moisturizing your skin after a tanning session replenishes the skin’s moisture.

Moisturizers help maintain the color of your tan.

After you’ve dried off, rejuvenate your skin with a good moisturizer! It reduces skin irritation and dryness after a tanning session.

Use a moisturizer that has Hyaluronic acid at least twice a day.

7. DO Eat Dark Chocolate. Yes, You Heard It Right!

Fun Fact: Did you know that eating dark chocolate helps limit possible damage from UV tanning?

But not all chocolates are the same! Dark chocolate has antioxidants that prevent premature aging and promotes cell growth.

The Flavanols in dark chocolate help reduce inflammation in our body. It also contains Magnesium, which is the original “chill pill”. It suppresses the release of Cortisol which is a stress hormone.

We bet you can’t wait to shower now! There’s a good excuse to eat chocolate! 

Best Moisturizers That Help Your Tan Last Longer!

We all know tans are never meant to be permanent. 

But you can extend the life of your tan by using a good moisturizer!

Our Top Picks:

1. Burt's Bees Aloe & Coconut Oil After-Sun Soother

Burts Bees Coconut

Burt’s Bees Aloe and Coconut Oil After Sun Soother is moisturizing! It has antioxidants and nutrients that nourish the skin.

This fast-absorbing and non-greasy lotion has a natural blend of ingredients. It contains coconut oil and aloe that soothes and hydrates the skin.

It’s so calming and refreshing, you’ll love it!

2. All Good Organic Coconut Oil Skin Food with Lemongrass Essential Oil

All Good Organic Coconut Oil Skin Food with Lemongrass Essential Oil

All Good Organic Coconut Oil Skin Food with Lemongrass Essential Oil is perfect for that post tan glow! This product will leave your skin moisturized and healthy!

You can’t go wrong with its all organic ingredients! It’s made up of cold-pressed, unrefined virgin coconut oil.

The smell of Lavender and Lemongrass smells like a spa!

3. Cerave Moisturizing Cream

Cerave Moisturizing Cream

Cerave Moisturizing Cream has moisturizing ingredients that are great for your skin!

It has hyaluronic acid and ceramides that restores the natural barrier of your skin.

It’s fragrance-free, fast-absorbing, and non-greasy.  It leaves your skin feeling fresh with every application!

4. TruSkin Vitamin C Moisturizer

TruSkin Vitamin C Moisturizer

TruSkin Vitamin C Moisturizer has powerful restorative properties which fit ALL SKIN TYPES.  It restores the natural glow of your skin while eliminating visible signs of aging.

It’s paraben-free and cruelty-free and hydrates deep into your skin.  And what we love about it is its quick-absorbing application and soothing scent!

5. St. Ives Facial Moisturizer

St. Ives Facial Moisturizer

St. Ives Facial Moisturizer is safe, paraben-free, and dermatologist-tested. It has safflower seed oil which is an anti-aging ingredient. 

This also contains collagen elastin which helps erase fine lines and wrinkles. Its hydrating non-greasy formula makes skin softer and smoother!

Enjoy smooth, youthful-looking healthy skin with this trusted brand!

6. Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer is a streak-free moisturizer that absorbs fast.  It’s a great tan treatment extender.

It’s an amazing product that nourishes and gives you that gorgeous flawless glow!

Shower After Tanning: Love the Skin You're In!

Shower After Tanning

Wow, what an amazing tan! You’re glowing!

By now, most people could be complimenting you for your time well spent on the tanning beds.

At this point, with a shower after tanning, maintenance is key. If you’re a tanning newbie or you need a refresher on how to get the most out of your tan, we’ve got it here for you! 

Here are a few tips to keep your skin healthy after a tan:

1. Don't Wait, Hydrate!

It’s not enough to moisturize your skin after a tan.

Remember your science class?  About 60% of the human body is water

Keeping your skin hydrated with water is essential… especially if you’re no longer in your 20’s!

As we age, our skin loses its ability to keep moisture.  Make sure you drink AT LEAST eight 8-oz glasses of water a day to keep moisture locked in.

A tanning bed session can dehydrate you fast!  You’ll notice you’ll want to drink more water on days when you tan.

Every sip counts! Drink water as long as you’re thirsty to keep your skin hydrated.

2. Cook That Pasta, Order That Pizza!

Want to keep your tan skin healthy and beautiful? Eat more marinara sauce!

We’re not saying to binge on pasta and pizza in the name of great skin. Wheat flour and mozzarella cheese don’t have proven skin benefits but tomatoes do!

Tomatoes are a great source of Lycopene – the nutrient your skin never thought it needed.

  • Lycopene contains a carotenoid which is a compound that gives it a natural red color.  It’s an antioxidant with many skin benefits.
  • Antioxidants help reduce inflammation and reverse signs of aging. So you’ll enjoy reduced fine lines and plumper skin!

3. Keep Calm and Drink Green Tea

“A true warrior, like tea, shows his strength in hot water.” – Chinese Proverb

You may not know it but Green Tea is the real superhero ingredient for many things!  And a lot of people agree!

Green Tea comes from the leaves of the tea plant Camellia SinensisIt has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that benefit the whole body.

It also contains ingredients such as caffeine and tannins.  These work by shrinking your blood vessels and decrease puffiness on your face.

Green Tea is a bit of an overachiever.  You can find it in a wide range of products such as moisturizers, cleansers, serums, and masks.

Not only is it safe to consume daily, but you can also use it in your skincare routine!

4. Protect Your Skin. It's The Only One You've Got.

We all love that honey-hued skin tone, but you have to be smart about skin protection AFTER TANNING.

A good sunscreen for tanning is your skin’s primary line of defense after a tanning bed session.

The SPF on sunscreen bottles stands for “sun protection factor.”  It tells you when to add more, not the amount of protection you’ll get.

For example: SPF 2 means you have 20 minutes of sun protection.

For total protection, dermatologists recommend using at least SPF 30.  This will give you 2 hours of protection. 

Did you know? The sun’s UV rays can still harm us even when tanning on a cloudy day?

Look, lather on sunscreen no matter what!  Make it a daily habit like brushing your teeth in the morning!

Wrapping It Up

Wrapping It Up

We finally answered all the questions about showering after tanning and tanning techniques!

Here’s a quick guide for you:

When Using a Tanning Bed:

Don’t shower immediately.  Only shower after tanning when you’ve let your body cool down after UV exposure. 

It’s best to wait around 20 to 30 minutes for this type before tanning bed showering.

For Self Tanner: Bronzers, Spray Tan, Tanning Lotions

The idea is to wait at least 2 to 3 hours before showering to allow the color of your tan to come out before showering.

For Sunbathing:

If you want to go the old-school way, sunbathing is simpler.

Without bronzers or a self tanner, you can jump in the shower 20 minutes after being under the heat of the sun. 

Good luck!  Happy Tanning!

Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.