How Long Should You wait to shower after tanning

Getting that golden brown tan takes a long process that requires a lot of your time, patience, and persistence. And after all that work involved in your tanning process, you don’t want to wash it all away with a quick shower. However, how long to wait to shower after tanning will depend on a lot of variables.

If you take a quick shower before your tan has fully developed you run the risk of washing off your spray tan or bronzers too quickly and you may end up with ugly streaks all over your body. Taking a shower after a tan will depend on the situation you’re in like you could be sunbathing, using a self-tanning lotion, using a tanning bed, or type of bronzers you’ve applied. Each of these situations has its own specific time you need to wait before you can take a shower. 

Why should you wait to shower after tanning?

For most people, waiting for the recommended time for your tan to fully develop which is between 24-48 hours isn’t feasible. This is because you may have to go to work, things to do, or places to be, and going for even a day let alone 2 days without taking a shower doesn’t sound realistic.

Using bronzers and sunless tanning lotions

If you haven’t used any tan accelerator or bronzer, you can wait around an hour to make sure the melanin on your skin has absorbed enough UV rays to give you a decent tan. However, if you add an accelerator or a bronzer the time you shower changes. If the tanning lotion is an accelerator, regardless of whether it has a bronzer or not, it increases your tanning process.

These different chemicals and agents need time to fully develop and depending on the type of tanning lotion or bronzer you’re using the waiting time will change.

Most bronzers have the recommended time you should shower written on the label. But generally, for tanning lotions, your skin continues to darken 2-3 hours after your tanning session and it doesn’t matter if you’re in a tanning bed or sunbathing, wait at least 2-3 hours before taking a shower.

If you’re using a bronzer and take a shower or a swim after application, you will notice a brown color in the water running off your body. There is no need to be alarmed, it’s just the bronzer pigment that’s coming off and it doesn’t contribute to darkening your tan.

The brown water isn’t the bronzer itself but the natural oils and dyes that are in the DHA. Once the DHA in the bronzer comes into contact with your skin, it needs a couple of hours like 2-3 hours to darken your skin and the full results after 24 hours. So after 2-3 hours washing off the bronzer and tanning lotion will not affect the bronzer color on your skin.

After sunbathing

If you plan on getting your tan the old-fashioned way, using the sun’s rays, the best time would be in the morning to tan when the UV rays and your body’s circadian rhythms are working together. But whether you should take a shower immediately after will depend on whether you’re using a bronzer, accelerator, or tanning lotion and if you are it’s best to wait at least 2-3 hours before jumping into the shower to allow the tanning lotion or bronzer to fully set.

However, if you’re not, it’s fine if you jump into the shower after you’ve finished sunbathing without any negative results to your tan.

After a UV tanning

The time you need to wait before taking a shower after a UV tanning session will depend on the kind of tanning lotion and bronzer you use, but if you aren’t using any of these, you can take a shower after 20 minutes. However, if you’re using a bronzer or tanning lotion, 2-3 hours should be enough. Laying on a tanning bed exposes your skin to intense UV radiation and because you sweat a lot it changes your skin.

And since most people use bronzers and tanning lotions with tanning beds, the accumulation of these chemicals can harm your skin and clog your pores causing acne. That’s why it’s best to take a shower after the tanning process is complete and because your skin loses moisture from the tanning process and the sweating which can lead to dry and cracked skin. Remember to always moisturize your skin to keep it supple and soft.

If you have fair skin, it’s not a good idea to take a shower immediately after a UV tanning session. Sun tanning and UV tanning doesn’t just interfere with your upper skin, it also gets underneath your skin, which mostly affects people with sensitive skin. During UV radiation your skin undergoes a lot of stress and it causes reddening of your skin that is caused by your blood vessels coming up to the skin surface. When you pour water over it, it can cause a bad skin reaction that’s why you need to wait a while before taking a shower for your skin to cool off.

After using self-tanners and sunless tanning

The chemicals in sunless tans are designed to stay on your body for some hours since they aren’t activated by the UV light, unlike bronzers that use DHA to change your skin’s pigment with the help of oxygen to work.

If you take a shower too soon after applying a self-tanner or a fake tan, you run the risk of washing off the tanning solution which will lead to a streaky and blotched tan.

DHA oxidizes once it gets into contact with your skin to give you a beautiful golden glow and this process takes about 4 hours after applying your self-tanner, so you don’t want to take a shower before the process is complete.

However, some self-tanners and sunless tanners recommend that you don’t take a shower for about 8 hours after application.

How to shower after tanning

Once the DHA has had enough time to work on your skin, it’s safe to take a shower ruining your tan or wasting the DHA’s power. Here is how best you should clean your body after tanning.

Use lukewarm water

After your skin has gone through the burning and tanning process to change its color, taking a hot shower isn’t the best idea. It’s best to cool your body temperature so that you don’t put any more undue strain on your skin or disturb your sweat pores further.

Take a shower not a bath

Don’t take too long in the water, give your skin a mild nice cleansing and get out of the water. It’s not advisable taking a long shower or a bath because the more you expose your skin to water the more the browning agent comes off with the water.

Avoid using harsh soaps and cleansers

Avoid using soap to clean all over your body unless it’s at your groins or armpits as it will break down the oils in your body and the oils in your tanning solution and also trip away from the moisture in your skin. Also, limit your use of heavily scented soaps because they could have chemicals in them that could interfere with the self-tanners and bronzers you applied. You can use soap where it’s necessary, but you should take just a quick rinse-off than a deep clean after tanning.

Don’t exfoliate

Exfoliating your skin at this time isn’t a good idea. You should let your self-tanner to set properly on your skin for a few days before you exfoliate. The exfoliation process will most likely remove some of the tanning solutions which can give you an uneven finish and cause streaking. It’s best to exfoliate a day before you apply your tanner.

Don’t rub the towel on your skin

After taking your shower, avoid rubbing the towel on your skin as it will not only remove the tanning solution but also remove the moisture on your skin. Your body also needs the water to retain your skin’s moisture so instead pat yourself dry.

Apply moisturizer

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If you are using spray tan, you can use the best lotion aftter spray tan to rejuvenate your skin again apply a quality moisturizer so that it helps to lock in the moisture and maintain the color of your tan.

It’s important to always moisturize your skin after a tanning session to replenish the moisture lost in the tanning process. You can use a moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid that is known to do an excellent job of locking in the moisture in your skin like the one recommended above.

So, how long to wait to shower before tanning?

The answer to this question depends on the type of tanning product you’re using and the tanning session. If you’re using a self-tanner or a tanning lotion with a bronzer, it’s best to wait 2-3 hours after application or your tanning session before taking a shower.

This will give the bronzer and self-tanner time to work and fully set on your skin. If you’re sunbathing or UV tanning without any accelerators or bronzers, you can take a shower 20 minutes after your tanning session after your skin has cooled off.

Since there is no artificial process involved you’re only triggering the natural production of melanin in your body, the shower will not affect your skin.

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