Shower After Tanning – How Long to Wait and What NOT To Do?

We love to tan, don’t we? Tanning beds, on top of that, make the whole process of tanning so much easier and quicker. Spray tanning too! And now that you’re deciding to expose your skin to UV rays, then that tanning session better yield perfect results. And this brings into discussion the right time to shower after tanning.

A shower post-tanning does indeed sound refreshing and tempting. But that doesn’t mean you should! Not if you wish for your tan to last for a longer time and even look more even and bronzed!

Should/Can You Shower After Tanning?

Ask any tanning salon technician/expert and they’ll tell you that to take a shower post-tanning is not the right way to go about the tanning process. Not that the shower is going to wash away and completely eliminate your newly formed golden-brown tan. But it does have a negative effect on that fresh bronzed look you just paid for!

Tanning lotions, with or without bronzers, are supposed to boost your skin’s melanin production, which is exactly what darkens your tan. And if you wash these lotions and bronzers off the skin after the tanning session, you’re obviously interfering with their effectiveness. That just means your tan isn’t going to reach its darkest version.

So that shower immediately after tanning may not necessarily ruin the tan, although it’s most likely to prevent the darkening of that tan.

But then if your tanning bed session did not include the use of any tanning lotions, bronzers, etc., you don’t need to wait to shower. Nevertheless, I’d like to play safe by waiting anyway.

Benefits of the First Shower You Take Post-Tanning

Before I talk about how long should you wait to shower after tanning, let’s first get out of the way the benefits of that first shower post-tanning. No doubt, this first shower is very important because it actually helps with getting that perfect, desired golden glow.

Meaning the shower post-tan defines that tan’s color and tone, no matter the type of tanning process (indoor or outdoor).

So once that ideal waiting period is over, your first shower then offers the following benefits…

#1 It Washes Away Chemicals

You may already know that tanning products are formulated with chemicals that don’t seem to be so very skin-friendly. I mean yeah applying tanning lotion right before you get into that tanning bed only makes sense. But then some of the harmful/harsh ingredients added can give rise to potential side effects like skin irritation, redness, blotches, etc.

Although if you’re using relatively healthier and more moisturizing/nourishing tanning lotions like these (some are unisex but most are for men), then the chances of any type of skin irritation coming up are highly unlikely.

Irrespective, tanning formulas clog the pores once your skin begins to sweat during the tanning session. And clogged pores welcome none other than acne breakouts!

So that shower after tanning is surely going to rinse off the product from your skin. And for specifically unclogging your pores and also fighting body acne, choose a gentle salicylic acid body wash cause it really works!

#2 It Produces A Cooling Effect

Face it or not, the process of tanning (i.e. exposing your skin to damaging UV rays, artificial or natural) tampers with the appearance and condition of the skin. During tanning, your skin is subjected to stress in the form of heat that literally scorches the skin’s uppermost layer. And then the body, naturally, also sweats quite a lot.

At such times then, cool water washing away all that stress from your skin is just what you need!

#3 It Cleanses the Skin

Getting rid of grime from the skin after using tanning lotions and bronzers is a must since these formulas have a sticky, greasy texture. On top of that, you have your sweat that’s mixing with all that potential bacteria.

So washing off all that acne and body odor-causing nuisance is the next step, especially with a pH-balanced antibacterial body wash.

How Long After Tanning Can You Shower?

It actually depends on the type of tanning session…

1. Spray Tanning

When to shower after a spray tan? For spray tanning sessions, indoor tanning lotions (mostly with bronzers) are used for darkening skin color. That means if you shower immediately after or too soon, the bronzer will get washed off. Hence, it won’t get the chance to penetrate your skin to darken its color.

Or worse, hopping into the shower too soon after a spray tan can also lead to uneven tanning results. So it’s best and most advisable to wait for 3-4 hours post-spray-tan for preventing tragedies like these.

2. Tanning Bed and Indoor Tanning

How long should you wait to shower after using a tanning bed? Did you apply tanning oil or bronzer? Because if you haven’t used tan-enhancing bronzers, then taking a shower in a little while after the tanning bed session is perfectly fine.

However, if bronzers have been applied, then avoid washing them off straight away post-tanning. And the reason for that is obvious, isn’t it? Tan-boosting bronzers, naturally, continue to darken your skin color even after the completion of the tanning session.

So how long to wait then? Once again, just like spray tanning, 3-4 hours.

3. Sunbathing

Showering after tanning in the sun also requires you to wait for at least 3-4 hours if you want to get that perfect natural-looking tan. Provided, of course, that your sun tanning session involved the use of tanning lotions or bronzers.

Additionally, one of the best tips for sun tanning is to pick the most suitable and safest time to tan – that is between 10 to 4 o’clock in the day.

What NOT TO DO After Tanning

Here’s how to get the best tan safely and faster! Just follow this list of not-to-do things and you’ll be there…

– First of all, and this goes without saying, DO NOT shower for at least 3-4 hours post-tanning. You should wait for a few hours to allow the tanning bronzers to get absorbed into your skin and darken your tan even after the process/session of tanning is complete.

DO NOT even shave after tanning for a minimum of 12 hours at least.

DO NOT, obviously, tan again straight away. You have to wait for at least a day before your next tanning session. 24 hours are needed for the skin to bounce back from potential, minor damages often accompanied by the tanning procedure.

DO NOT forget to keep your body and skin hydrated. Meaning drinking lots of water.

DO NOT wear shoes, socks, or even tight-fitting/body-hugging clothes (bras, spandex, jeans, etc.), not for 5 hours at least post-tanning. Because if you do wear socks, boots, or shoes, your tan on the feet, ankles, and legs may not develop properly.

How to Shower and Care for Your Skin After Tanning

Basis post-tanning bathing and skincare instructions…

Use Water That’s Not Too Hot

Your skin has already been subjected to heat (be it because of the tanning bed or sunbathing), so it’s best to keep it from braising further by avoiding a hot water shower.

Now I don’t mean using cold water! Instead, make sure the water temperature is less hot and more cool to make sure your skin doesn’t suffer any further.

Keep Your Shower Quick

After tanning, no need to spend too much time in your shower. Reserve that long and luxurious shower for another time indeed. Rather a mild cleansing, using a body wash formulated for sensitive skin maybe, and a quick bath.

Plus, the longer the exposure to water, the more the chances of those bronzers also coming off.

Use Only Skin-Friendly Products and No Exfoliation

Meaning harsh body cleansers, washes, and soaps should not be used. In fact, limit the use of even that skin-friendly cleaning product. And even more so if the formula contains artificial fragrances and other such disruptive chemicals that tend to reduce the effectiveness of self-tanners and bronzers.

In most cases, the first shower post-tanning is more like rinsing the body instead of deeply cleansing it.

And lastly, even exfoliation is a complete NO-NO. After all, exfoliating the skin removes old skin cells and paves the way for new ones. This means exfoliation will also eliminate the tanner from your skin. Thus, an uneven-looking, incomplete tan.

Rather you should exfoliate prior to your tanning session to get rid of dead skin cells, so the new, fresh ones take on the attractive golden-brown appearance.

Pat the Skin Dry

Post-shower, rubbing the towel against your skin to dry yourself is NEVER a good idea. Do this instead – first, let the water drip off your naked body on its own, and then, using your towel, gently pat your skin with it to dry off.

Moisturize the Skin

Your skin, at this point after the shower, demands rejuvenation. And what better way to breathe life back into your skin than by applying a nourishing moisturizer. For tanned skin, this step is even more important as it locks in that tan shade and also takes care of your pores.


Is It Best to Shower Before Sun Tanning?

Expect your sunbathing time to be the most effective if you exfoliate, shave, and shower before tanning, any form of tanning. This, especially exfoliation, preps the skin for a more even-looking and longer-lasting tan by getting rid of dead skin cells.

Is It Best to Shower After or Before Tanning?

If you want your tan to look exactly like what you have in mind, meaning for the tan to reach its maximum limit in terms of darkening, shower before your tanning session. Your pores open up and your skin is cleansed, thus ready for allowing the tan to form nicely and evenly.

And after your tanning is done, wait for at least 3-4 hours and then take a shower. Any sooner and you’ll be messing with the tanning/bronzing potency of your tanner.

Can I Go Swimming After Tanning?

Are you swimming outdoors? If yes, then swimming under the sun is only going to darken the tan because of the presence of chlorine in water and its reaction to the rays of the sun. But don’t forget that sunscreen!

As for swimming indoors, these sessions should be limited to just 15 minutes to reduce tan fade. Hence, avoid long soaks in the pool.

Now You Can Tan the Most Enjoyably!

Of course, the process of tanning, which means the darkening of your skin to get that desirable, perfect golden-brown bronzed look, also includes post-tan care. Because even after using the tanning bed or spray tanning, tanning lotions and bronzers continue to affect your skin’s melanin production.

So it’s best to let that happen and not disrupt the process by taking a shower too soon. What would too soon be then? Within 3-4 hours after tanning!

Especially when using a tanning lotion with bronzer, hop into your bath only after 3-4 hours at the least.

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