Should You Shower After Tanning? What You Need to Know!

woman showering

A majority of tanning enthusiasts have a set routine. They use a certain method, a particular product, and an extensive process to achieve that flawless and dark tan. That routine often includes taking a shower after the tanning session.

But should you shower after tanning? How does it impact your tan and overall skin health? Well, it is okay to shower after getting a tan, but the time you should wait for depends on a number of factors.

If you’re planning to go for tanning and can’t ascertain the right time to take a shower post the tan session, read on to find out everything about it. 

Why Is It Important to Wait Before Showering?

Most people have a question – Is it okay to shower after tanning? While it is okay to shower after a tanning session, it is imperative to wait for a few hours before washing it off.

Wonder why? It is because tanning is a slow process and often takes more time to show results. A majority of tanners believe that the tanning process takes hours to complete. Some tanning experts believe that it can take as long as 24-48 hours for you to see proper results from tanning.

In some instances, you can’t see a visible tan even after hours have passed, while oftentimes sunburns also appear hours after tanning. The changes in your skin keep happening long after your tanning session.

If you take a shower and wash off the tan early, it might affect the build-up of the dark and deep tan. You might not be able to get the desired results from the tan, which will defeat the whole purpose of the process. Due to this, we recommended to wait to take a shower if you’re opting for certain tanning methods.

On the contrary, for other methods, you can take a shower immediately to cool off after tanning and maximize the results.  

How Long Should You Wait for a Shower After Tanning?

Now that you know it is important to wait after every tanning session before you can step into the shower, you must wonder how long you should wait to shower after you tan. It can depend on the method of tanning you are opting for.

Here are a few common ways to tan and the time period to wait before showering:

Tanning Beds:

Tanning beds have emerged as a common way to achieve a natural-looking tan without actually stepping out in the sun. This method of indoor tanning involves a tanning bed, also known as a sunbed, that contains 10-15 bulbs or lamps. These lamps use 100-200 watts of energy to emit artificial UV radiation similar to that of the sun.

You can lie down in the bed for 10-20 minutes, depending on the level of tan you wish to achieve and also depending on your skin type. 95% of the rays from these lamps are UVA, while the other 5% are UVB. When this radiation reaches your skin, it penetrates the layers to give you a dark and deep tan.

Most people use tanning oil or lotion before going to the tanning bed to get smooth and even tan. If you are using a tanning lotion containing bronzer, it is wise not to shower as it will hamper the results.

How long should you wait to shower after tanning bed? You must wait for at least 3 to 4 hours before taking a shower as it will give the tanner enough time to work. 

In case you don’t use a lotion or oil that contains a bronzer, you can go for a right as soon as your tanning session is over. It will help cool off your skin from the immense heat of the tanning bed and revitalize you. 

For more information check our article – How Long to Wait to Shower After Tanning Bed?

Spray Tan:

For those who want an easy, quick, and hassle-free way of tanning, spray tan works best for them. All they need to do is schedule an appointment at a reputed spray tan salon near you. The tanning expert will spray a chemical solution on the areas you wish to tan while you just sit.

The solution used for spray tan contains an active ingredient called DHA or dihydroxyacetone, which is responsible for making your skin darker. The chemical DHA binds itself to the dead cells present on the top layer of your skin, also known as the epidermis.

Apart from DHA, the tanning solution also contains bronzer. The bronzer is responsible for the instant tanning effect. When you take a shower post the tanning session, the bronzer is washed off immediately, while the DHA can stay attached to the dead skin cells.

However, both bronzer and DHA need time to work and ensure the tan develops. Interfering with the solution by washing the spray tan off soon might lead to a flat, light, and sometimes streaky tan.

If you’re going for a spray tan, you must give it enough time to work with your skin if you want a smooth and dark tan. Avoid taking a shower for at least 4 hours after the tan. Leaving the tan solution on for longer than 4 hours might even help you achieve a darker tan.

While there is no ideal time to wait before taking a shower post spray tan, you can select the time based on your skin type, the shade of base tan, and how dark you want to tan. You can shower any time from 2 hours to 8 hours after the spray tan. 


If you’re searching for an easy yet affordable way to tan, go old-school with sunbathing. You can take the benefit of the abundance of sunlight and use it to achieve a natural tan. The UV radiation of the sun rays can help you get the dark skin tone you want.

The rays of the sun also contain both UVA and UVB radiation, much like the lamps in tanning beds. When the rays reach your skin, they can penetrate deep to reach the cells known as melanocytes.

The radiation triggers these cells to produce melanin, the chemical which is responsible for the darkening of your skin. The more the level of melanin in your skin, the darker your skin shade will be.

Since sunbathing is quite similar to tanning beds in terms of how they affect your skin, the guidelines for showering are also similar. When to shower after tanning in the sun? If you aren’t using any tan accelerator like lotion or oil, you can jump into a shower right after you finish your tanning session. It will help cool off your skin after bearing the immense heat of the sun.  

In case you are using a product that contains bronzer to help you achieve a darker tan quickly, it is wise not to shower immediately. You must wait for 2 to 3 hours before washing off the lotion in the shower. It will give the oil or lotion enough time to interact with your skin and give you desired results. 

How to Shower After Tanning?

Can I shower after tanning? Yes, you can, but the first shower after a tanning session is crucial. One wrong step can quickly hamper the efforts of hours and give you a patchy and uneven tan. Therefore, it is imperative to take a shower carefully after tanning.

Keep in mind the following basics while showering after you have tanned:

Use Mild Water:

While you have already subjected your skin to a lot of chemicals or radiation during the tanning session, it is wise to go easy during the shower. Avoid taking a hot shower since your skin is sensitive, and it can have an adverse impact. Immensely cold water might not be ideal as well.

You must use mild water to take the first shower after tanning, whether you have been lounging in the sun for a natural tan or using artificial measures.   

Avoid Long Showers:

While it may be tempting to take a long shower after tanning, it is wise to avoid it. Get into the shower, give your skin a mild cleaning, and quickly get out. Avoid taking a long bath or dip in the water since the more exposed your skin is to, the more chemicals will come off.   

Don’t Use Harsh Products:

Try to limit the use of harsh products like soaps or cleansers right after tanning. Your skin is sensitive after the session, and an artificial product might hamper it. Avoid using soap with artificial fragrance or ingredients and opt for a natural soap instead. Check out our article – best after tanning body washes after spray tan.

Skip Exfoliating and Shaving:

If you want to exfoliate or shave, you must do so 24 hours before tanning. Indulging in activities like exfoliating or shaving might remove the tan from your skin, leading to an uneven and streaky tan. It can defeat the entire purpose of tanning, so avoid exfoliating and shaving for a few days after tanning.  For more information on how to use exfoliator check here – how to exfoliate before a spray tan

Pat Dry Yourself:

When you step out of the shower, you must not rigorously rub off the water from your body. Instead, stand for a minute to let the water drops fall off. You can then use a soft towel to pat yourself dry in a gentle motion.

Do not dry yourself in an aggressive motion as it can affect the tan and also irritate your skin.   

Moisturize Well:

Moisturizing your skin is vital, but it becomes more important after tanning. Use an organic moisturizer without any harmful ingredients and apply it all over your skin. It will not only nourish the skin from within but also help you achieve a smoother tan.

Related Questions:    

Should You Shower Before or After Tanning?

You can shower before going for tanning since it opens up the skin pores and gives you clear skin. It ensures your skin can hold the tan and help you get a dark tan.

It is okay to shower even after a tanning session, provided you are opting for tanning bed or sunbathing without using a bronzer. If you are going for spray tan or self-tanners, you must wait for a few hours before hopping into the shower.   

What Should You Not Do After Tanning?

Taking care of your skin post the tanning session is essential. You must avoid exfoliating your skin after the tan as it will remove the dead skin cells and strip off the tan. Besides that, you must also avoid shaving your skin immediately after tanning to make sure the tan lasts for long. 

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