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Does Tan Continue To Develop After Washing It Off?

Have you ever wondered if the tan you just washed off will continue to develop? Perhaps you’re left with a streaky, uneven tan, and you’re not sure if you should reapply or wait it out.

Does tan continue to develop after washing it off? Keep on reading to find out the answers!

Does Tan Continue To Develop After Washing It Off?

Understanding The Tanning Process

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and Skin Reaction

You might be wondering how self-tanners and spray tans work to give your skin that sun-kissed glow.

The key ingredient in these products is dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which safely reacts with the amino acids in the top layer of your skin to create a temporary, natural-looking tan.

When DHA comes into contact with your skin, it forms brown-colored compounds called melanoidins. This process is known as the Maillard reaction.

It usually takes around 2–4 hours to start and 24–72 hours to fully develop. That means it’s normal for your tan to darken over time, even after rinsing off the product.

Shower and Tanning Development

You might be concerned that showering will wash off your tan, but there’s no need to worry. When you shower after applying a self-tanner or spray tan, the initial bronzer – which is just a guide to ensure a uniform application – gets rinsed away.

To preserve your tan’s integrity and appearance, here are a few tips to follow during your post-tan shower routine:

  • Wait at least 8 hours after applying the self-tanner or spray tan before showering. This allows adequate time for DHA to fully react with your skin.
  • Use lukewarm water instead of hot water, as hot water can have adverse chemical reactions with DHA and lead to a patchy tan.
  • Opt for an oil-free body wash to cleanse your skin, and avoid using harsh chemicals or exfoliants, which can strip away your tan.

Does Tan Continue To Develop After Washing It Off?

Great news! Your tan does continue to develop after you wash it off. So, don’t worry if you think that you’ve washed away your perfect tan.

When you shower, you are merely washing off the bronzers, which are often used as a guide to ensure an even application. The actual tan comes from the DHA reacting with your skin.

Some self-tanners, known as rapid tans, might lead to the misconception that your tan instantly develops and rinses off. However, these tans take time to develop as well.

Ideally, you should wait for 6–8 hours before showering to allow the tan to develop completely. But if you’re rushing, it’s best not to shower before 2 hours have passed.

Now, you might be wondering how all this works. When self-tanner is applied, the DHA reacts with the amino acids in your skin, creating that coveted tan color.

This reaction doesn’t stop after you shower; it actually continues to develop, giving you a more even and natural-looking tan.

Maximizing Tan Development

Proper Exfoliation Before Tanning

To achieve a flawless and long-lasting tan, proper exfoliation is essential! Gently exfoliate your skin before using self-tanning products.

This will help to slough away dead skin cells, leaving a clean and smooth canvas for an even tan application.

Use a gentle exfoliating scrub or a loofah to buff your skin, paying extra attention to areas like knees, elbows, and ankles where skin can be thicker.

Be sure to rinse thoroughly to remove any residue, and wait for your skin to fully dry before continuing with your tanning process. This simple step can make a world of difference in the vibrancy and longevity of your tan.

Proper Exfoliation Before Tanning

Optimal Waiting Time Before Washing Off

Patience is key when it comes to maximizing the development of your tan. After applying self-tanner, it’s essential to allow enough time for the tanning product to fully develop on your skin. Typically, this takes about 8 to 12 hours.

Resist the temptation to wash off your tan too soon, as doing so may result in a lighter and less even tan. Instead, try to plan your tanning session so that you can go about your day, allowing the product to work its magic.

Then, when the time is right, gently wash off the initial bronzer layer to reveal a gorgeous, golden tan underneath.

Remember, even after washing off the bronzer, your skin will continue to develop color over the next several hours.

So don’t be alarmed if you feel your tan looks darker or lighter immediately after rinsing—just sit back, relax, and wait for the full development of your sun-kissed glow!

Choosing the Right Tanning Products

When it comes to getting that perfect sun-kissed glow, choosing the right tanning products can make all the difference. 

Selecting the Best Formula for Your Skin Type

Finding the right tanning product starts with understanding your skin type. Not every formula will work for every skin tone, so it’s important to look for options designed for your specific needs. When browsing tanning products, consider the following features:

  • Paraben-free: For sensitive skin, consider using a paraben-free formula to avoid irritation.
  • Amino acid-based: Opt for products with amino acids that interact with your skin’s natural chemistry, creating a chemical reaction that results in a natural-looking tan.
  • Streak-free: To prevent streaks, look for products that promise an even application and a streak-free finish.

With these factors in mind, you’ll be better prepared to find a tanning product that caters to your unique skin type.

Exploring Top Brands and Tanning Options

One highly recommended tanning brand, St. Tropez, is beloved by influencers, celebrities, professionals, and beauty editors alike.

St. Tropez offers a range of high-quality tanning products, featuring a 100% natural tanning agent that can provide a beautiful, streak-free tan for every skin tone. Let’s explore some popular options within their range:

  • Classic Range: Ideal for those looking for a traditional tanning method, the Classic range includes various mousses, lotions, and mists that provide long-lasting results.
  • Purity Waters: If you prefer a lightweight, easy-to-apply option, Purity Waters offers hydrating and transparent water-to-foam formulas.
  • Dark Mousse: For those seeking a deeper tan, the Dark Mousse provides an intense and long-lasting color.

Aside from choosing the perfect product for your skin type and desired color, it’s essential to prepare and maintain your tan.

St. Tropez offers a range of “Prep and Maintain” products, ensuring your tan stays flawless for as long as possible.

Maintaining and Enhancing Your Tan

To keep that gorgeous glow you’ve achieved, it’s essential to moisturize your skin regularly. Hydrated skin helps your tan last longer and ensures even fading, so you won’t be left with a patchy or uneven look.

Look for a lotion that’s gentle and doesn’t contain harsh or drying ingredients, such as alcohol.

Stay away from hot water when you’re bathing, as it can dehydrate your skin. Opt for cooler showers instead, and use a soap-free cleanser to avoid stripping your skin of its natural oils. 

Reapplying and Protecting Your Tan

Reapplying and Protecting Your Tan

Whether you’re rocking a natural suntan or a salon spray tan, reapplying is essential to maintain and prolong the life of your bronzed look.

Keep in mind that when you wash off a fake tan, it will continue to develop, so don’t be discouraged if it appears lighter after your first shower.

Depending on your desired darkness, you can reapply your spray tan or self-tanner every few days to keep your tan looking fresh and even. Keep in mind that the more you leave your tan on, the darker it can turn out.

Never forget to protect your skin with sunscreen during the day, even if you have a fake tan. Sunscreen not only helps shield your skin from harmful UV rays, but also contributes to the longevity of your tan.

Choose a sunscreen with a high SPF and make sure to reapply it throughout the day.

Common Tanning Mistakes to Avoid

Washing Off Spray Tan Too Early

It’s crucial to be patient when it comes to spray tans. If you wash off your spray tan too early, like in just 2 hours, all your effort might go to waste.

You can still get a beautiful tan by waiting around 15–20 hours for the DHA to start developing on your skin. But if you’ve waited 18 hours and your tan still hasn’t developed, that’s when you need to start worrying.

The ideal waiting time for washing off a spray tan is at least 6–8 hours; avoid hot water and use oil-free body wash to prevent patchy results.

To achieve a flawless tan:

  • Wait: Give the tan enough time to develop, ideally 6–8 hours.
  • Shower correctly: Use warm water and oil-free body wash.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals: Steer clear of foams, soap, and strong body washes.

Dealing with Streaking and Uneven Tans

Another common self-tanner mistake is the resulting streaky and uneven tan.

Are you tired of getting a light, patchy tan instead of the gorgeous glow you were looking for? It’s all too easy to fall into the light tan mistake trap! Follow these tips to get that perfect, darker tan you’ve been dreaming of:

  1. Exfoliate: Remove dead skin cells to create a smooth canvas for your tan.
  2. Shave: Shave before tanning to avoid removing bronzed skin.
  3. Apply evenly: Use a tanning mitt or a gentle circular motion to distribute the self-tanner evenly.
  4. Blend: Pay extra attention to areas like knees, elbows, and ankles where the product tends to build up.

How Do I Get a Lighter Tan?

How Do I Get a Lighter Tan?

To get a lighter self tan, you can take a shower after a spray tan and wash the spray tan off earlier than you normally would. The longer you leave the spray tan on, the darker the color will be.

Will My Tan Last Longer if I Moisturize?

Yes, applying moisturizer daily can help extend the life of your tan. It’s important to keep your skin hydrated to keep the tan looking its best.


Avoiding these common tanning mistakes and taking the necessary precautions, you’re well on your way to achieving the perfect, evenly bronzed tone you desire.