skin tanning

How Long Does A Self Tanner Last? (Most Effective Tips for a Long-Lasting Tan)

The beauty of self-tanning is that it actually works. But it’s okay for newbies to be concerned about issues like how orange they’re going to look after their tanning session. Or the fact that they might end up smelling like an overcooked turkey. Or worrying about the question, how long does self tanner last?

To be honest, if you’re working with a high-quality self-tanning formula, then you can eliminate these concerns. You then don’t have to worry about looking orange, stinking, or your tan fading quicker than usual.

So let’s first find out how to choose a high-quality self-tanner, then I’ll tell you how long it normally lasts.

Choosing the Best Self-Tanner

The rules are simple here. All you have to do is keep them in mind at the time of buying a self-tanner.

The first rule is less or no DHA.

Make sure your tanning moisturizer is not packed with tons of DHA. You can go with minimal to zero DHA as that is proven to be more skin-friendly. Plus, this active ingredient in a lower concentration builds the desirable sun-kissed glow gradually with daily use.

The second rule consists of tanning towelettes.

For a quick tan, nothing beats the convenience of tanning towelettes. All you have to do is unfold them and swipe them across your skin to achieve an even glow in just a few hours. They’re presoaked with self-tanner.

The third rule consists of self-tanning creams and lotions.

More often than not, sunless tanning is mainly carried out by either a self-tanning cream or self-tanning lotion. Both types of formulas, just so you know, are tinted. This means you can tell if you end up missing a spot during the application.

You should also know that these creams and lotions take a while to get absorbed into the skin. So you can take as much time as you need to rub the formula and cover target zones.

The fourth rule consists of self-tanning gels and mousses.

Now, these are quick-drying and lightweight, unlike self-tanning creams and lotions. Layering self-tanning gels and mousses is easier for building coverage or customizing for contouring.

The fifth and final rule consists of self-tanning sprays.

If you want to cover a large area, nothing works better than this. However, technique matters here. Use the self-tanning spray around six inches away from your skin in the circular motion.

As for the results, it gives you a light-colored airbrushed tan.

How often to apply self tanner, can you leave self tanner on too long

How Long Does Self Tanner Last?

Now that you know how to choose a self-tanner, it’s time to find out how long the tan lasts.

In the case of a high-quality, moisturizing self-tanning formula, expect your color to last anywhere between 3 and 7 days.

It’s only with proper maintenance as well as careful preparation can you extend the lifespan of your tan to maybe 10 days. So if that’s what you wish to do, then you might want to go through the next section.

The Most Effective Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Tan

These are simple instructions that you should follow if you want a longer-lasting and also an even deeper tan. It’s frustrating when you go through the trouble of tanning when the color starts to fade sooner than you can imagine. Am I right? So let’s find out how to prevent that from happening.

#1 Exfoliate before your tanning session

Whether self-tanning, spray-tanning, or sun-tanning, it’s necessary to exfoliate your skin. What exfoliation does is prep and prime your skin before tanning. When you exfoliate, you’re actually getting rid of dead skin cells often present on the top layer of your skin.

So what do you use for exfoliation? Gentle body scrubs and body brushes.

#2 Take cold-water showers after tanning

Nothing ruins a fresh tan like bathing in hot water post-tanning. If you want to know how to maintain your tan, then you have to become best friends with cold water in your shower. While it’s true that hot water feels relaxing but it’s just going to destroy your tan by causing dehydration.

#3 Moisturize your skin daily

After that cold-water shower, it’s time to apply a moisturizer. Whether tanned or not tanned, moisturizing the skin on a daily basis is essential. Particularly if you want your skin to glow and feel healthy. It’s even more important after tanning or if you have tattoos. That’s because moisturizing ingredients lock in the bronzed color and prevent the skin from peeling.

Another genius tip is adding a little bit of self-tanning oil to your daily moisturizer and then applying it on your skin.

#4 Hydration

You already know the benefits of drinking enough water in the day, right? However, consider it extra-crucial when you wish to maintain your tan. Hydration extends your skin cells’ lifespan, which, in turn, postpones your skin’s natural process of exfoliation. As a result of this, your tan lasts longer.

So don’t hesitate to consume more cucumber or coconut water on a daily basis to boost skin hydration.

#5 Use a tan extender

Products like a tan extender are specifically designed for preserving your tan while also amplifying it a little. So you can incorporate one into your daily skincare routine if you want to increase the lifespan of your bronzed, sun-kissed glow.

7 Common Tanning Myths Every Self-Tanning Enthusiast Needs to Know

  1. All self-tanning formulas are the same. That’s really not the case. There are different types of self-tanners; like gels, mousses, creams, lotions, towelettes, sprays, etc. And each kind reacts differently with your skin.
  2. Exfoliating the skin before tanning ruins the tan. Like I’ve already discussed before, exfoliation helps in getting rid of dead skin cells. And once they’re gone, you can expect the tanning application to be more balanced and even.
  3. Moisturizing the skin before tanning causes streaks. After you exfoliate, you have to moisturize because what moisturizing your skin does is allows even, smooth coverage.
  4. You can apply a self-tanner however you like. Wrong. If you want your self-tanning formula to make an impact, then you have to follow the instructions provided by the brand.

The basic steps for prepping are cleansing the skin, exfoliation, and then moisturizing.  As for application, begin by washing the hands thoroughly. Use self-tanning mitts for preventing palm stains. Then for post-tanning, wait till the self-tanning formula dries up completely before you wear your clothes, which should be loose and dark-colored.

  1. Self-tanners make you look orange. This does not happen with all self-tanning formulas just by the way. There are many good self-tanners out there that give you a natural bronzed tan. Even so, if you’re still concerned about looking orange, then opt for a formula with green undertones.
  2. The self-tanner will stain your sheets. As long as you’re choosing a self-tanner manufactured in this day and age, you don’t have to worry about your clothes and sheets staining. Such formulas are clear to provide you with the best faux tan.

But if your self-tanner is tinted, then do yourself a favor and use a darker sheet.

  1. Tanning fair or pale skin is a bad idea. There’s nothing wrong or harmful about tanning fair or pale skin. The tanning results do not look unnatural in any way.

Just make sure you get a gradual self-tanning formula. One that requires you to apply it a few times for building color. This way you get the wonderful opportunity for customizing your tan, which means you don’t end up looking darker than you had planned.


So I have answered the most commonly asked question, how long does a self-tanner last? Once again, the answer is anywhere between 3 and 7 days. As for extending the lifespan even more, I have discussed the most effective tips. Along with the most common myths about self-tanning.

As long as you keep everything in check and follow proper instructions, you can keep that sun-kissed glow alive for enough time.

This post was created by a team of dermatology professionals at Skincare Top List, who, needless to say, are very adamant on using the right types of products for skincare and haircare.

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