How to make your spray tan last

If you want a golden glow this summer without damaging your skin or putting yourself at risk for skin cancer, consider a spray tan. It's an easy, quick way to get some color without baking under the suns brutal rays. While a spray tan can give you a boost of confidence, it won't last very long. Spray tans fade quickly and can become expensive if you make regular appointments. Here are a few ways to stretch out the time your tan lasts.

  • Time it right. If you're looking for that golden glow for a big event like a wedding or a vacation, schedule your spray tan session for one or two days before the big day to give the product time to dry and set in. "It takes 45 minutes to 1 hour to start taking effect, and once you factor in drying time, you could be looking at about 3 hours," says LeAura Luciano, a celebrity makeup artist and style expert in New York City. Shave and exfoliate beforehand to remove dead skin cells. Once developed, the glow can last up to 10 days.
  • Go easy with water. Wait at least 4 hours after a spray tan before showering or swimming. When you get out, lightly pat yourself dry with a towel; don't rub, which can wipe your tan away. And avoid extended periods in hot tubs. "The chlorine may bleach the skin, thus lightening your tan prematurely," Luciano says.

  • If you spend time out in the sun this summer, make sure to wear sunscreen, and check out our sunscreen ratings. Sunburn suffers, try some of our tips for relief.
  • Moisturize. Hydrating your skin keeps a spray tan looking even and helps it last longer. Luciano recommends using a tan-extending moisturizer like Model Co. Tan Extender Self Tan Enhancer ($20) or Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer ($9). "It has both glycerin to moisturize and a low dose of DHA, the main coloring ingredient in spray tan," she says. It's also a good idea to lightly exfoliate your skin about four days after a spray tan treatment to even out any blotchy spots.
  • Also good to know: the main tanning ingredient, DHA, is only approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use on the outside of your body, so be careful if you use a product that you run the risk of inhaling, and when applying it to sensitive spots, such as around your eyes.

    Editor's note: A version of this story first appeared in ShopSmart magazine.

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