How Long Do Spray Tans Last? Here's What Experts Have to Say

You've probably tried your fair share of self-tanners at home before, whether that's for a wedding, a weekend getaway, or just to maintain a nice glow in the summertime. Many people love self-tanners because they're an easy way to achieve bronzed skin without leaving the house, but if you're looking for a fake tan that will last you a long time — say, for a weeklong vacation — then you may want to consider a spray tan.

Spray tans performed by a skilled professional are the best way to fake skin-kissed skin — sans any sun damage. At the salon, your tanning artist will help you pick the right shade for you and then apply it using an airbrush machine for a seamless blend. Typically, you go home with a guide color on your skin that you can wash off a few hours later, revealing your new tan. But how long does a spray tan last? The answer really depends.

To get to the bottom of this, we spoke with two tanning experts about how long spray tans last, plus how to prolong your results to really get the most out of them. For the scoop, keep reading.

How Long do Spray Tans Last?

The answer to how long does fake tan last depends on a variety of factors. "Spray tans usually last five to 14 days, depending on how well the skin is prepared and cared for after the tan," Veronique Munro, founder and CEO of Infinity Sun, tells PS.

St. Tropez tanning expert Sophie Evans adds: "During the summertime, it sheds quicker because you're sweating, and you're in and out of swimming pools and the ocean."

With that said, the formula that is used affects the longevity of the spray tan, too. Generally, formulas that offer more hydration to the skin tend to last longer. "Skin-conditioning agents, emollients, and humectants buffer the drying aspects of DHA (dihydroxyacetone), which set it up for greater longevity."

Some key ingredients you'll want to look for when it comes to spray-tan formulas are hyaluronic acid for hydration and propanediol, which is both an emollient and humectant.

Munro advises staying away from products that contain a lot of alcohol in the formulation, as they can dry out skin, which won't help preserve a spray tan.

How to Make a Spray Tan Last Longer

To prolong a spray tan, you'll want to make sure you properly prepare for your appointment and engage in the right aftercare process. You cannot maintain a long-lasting tan on dry, lackluster skin, so first, you'll want to exfoliate and moisturize well prior to your tanning appointment. This creates a smooth base for the color. In the days following your spray-tan appointment, be sure to keep the skin hydrated with an oil-free moisturizer. You should also take a break from exfoliating (unless using a very gentle method) for the time being.

How to Keep Your Skin Safe With a Spray Tan

Just because you have a spray tan doesn't mean you're protected from UVA/UVB rays when out in the sun. That means you're still prone to sunburn if the right preventative measures aren't taken. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using SPF 30 or above when out in the sun to protect your skin from harmful rays. If you're worried that it'll make your spray tan look patchy, look for an oil-free sunscreen that'll keep you safe from the sun without ruining your color.