That sun-kissed glow created by a spray tan might be less alluring if your newly bronzed legs are covered in stubble. As a result, eliminating that unwanted hair before you step into a spray-tanning booth is essential. If waxing is your hair-removal process of choice, time it right to avoid irritating your skin or interfering with your impending faux glow.
Waxing and Spray Tanning
Hair removal is an important step in the tanning process, but it's a step that shouldn't immediately precede the spray tan. Waxing should occur 24 to 48 hours before a spray tan. This timing ensures that your skin is smooth and hair-free before you tan, but it gives your skin time to recover from waxing.
Before you step into the spray-tanning booth, make sure there aren't any remnants of wax left on your skin. Even thin waxy layers will prevent the spray from properly adhering to your skin, resulting in white spots or blotchy coverage.
This one- to two-day waxing window also minimizes any risk of skin irritation. Freshly waxed skin will have open pores; spraying DHA onto those open pores may cause a skin reactions. Waiting gives them time to close makes your skin better-equipped to handle the effects of DHA.
Spray Tan Basics
Spray tanning uses dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, an FDA-approved color additive. DHA interacts with your skin's natural amino acids to darken the pigment for the short term. Proper care for your skin both before and after the spray tan can ensure the color is applied evenly and lasts for about a week.
Waxing isn't the only skincare consideration to make to prep for a spray tan -- other factors can impact the spray tan application as well. Exfoliation, or removal of dead cells and buildup on the skin’s surface, also promotes an even and natural-looking finished product. Exfoliation of the knees and elbows, in particular, is important to avoid darker pigmentation of these areas. While daily moisturizing will encourage a more even color, skin should be sans lotion in the hours immediately leading up to the spray tan.
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Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.