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  • Writer's pictureKim Van Tussenbroek


Updated: Jan 28, 2019

No matter how much we try to drum into our clients heads that aftercare is important, some clients still won’t listen and won’t look after their spray tan.

With the colder weather now approaching in Australia we need to make sure that our clients are doing the best that they can to maintain their skin in the best possible way – both for when they have had a spray tan, and even in those times when they are without a spray tan.

Colder weather means drier skin, and more care needs to be taken with keeping moisture within the skin.

A moisturiser that has been formulated with a lower pH (around 5.5) works best, and should be used more regularly in the cooler months of the year.

As soon as you get out of the shower, moisture will start to get pulled out of the skin from contact with the air. It’s why the best time for a client to moisturise their skin is within 4 minutes of getting out of the shower to prevent dry, crackly skin, especially on the shin area.

Applying moisturiser whilst the skin is slightly wet/damp is best. This locks in the moisture, trapping water in the upper layers of the skin. It also allows the application of the product on the skin to be applied a lot easier as well, without potentially marking or damaging the spray tan whilst the skin is still heated from the shower.

When the client finishes his/her shower they should pat themselves dry… leaving the skin slightly wet (but not dripping). Then they should apply their moisturising product to the skin as soon as possible after coming out of the shower. A thicker amount of moisturiser should be used in winter due to the damaging and drying effects of the cold, windy weather and when humidity levels are lower due to the weather and dry indoor heating.

Please note that moisturising should take place once the tan has fully developed… so no sooner than 24 hours after appointment. Clients should allow their spray tan to develop as naturally as possible without inhibiting or influencing the outcome of the tan by placing products on their skin within this time. This also goes for body washes/soaps.

So how important is our skin to have in prime condition for a spray tan?

It’s extremely important for your skin to be in prime condition for a spray tan. You should be advising clients to make sure that they are exfoliating the evening before their spray tan appointment, and also a very light exfoliation (with water only) the morning of their spray tan appointment as long as it is not within 3 hours of their spray tan appointment.

Why do we need to wait before getting a spray tan after having a shower?


you want to make sure that the skin’s temperature has returned to it’s regular temperature as spray tan solution will not absorb correctly if the skin’s temperature is raised.


we need to make sure that the skin’s pH is back to it’s regular pH (around 5.5) for optimal results. Spray tan solutions are formulated with a pH of between 4-6 so our skin’s pH needs to be within this range for a spray tan to work correctly.


we need to make sure that the skin has had enough time for the sebum to excrete through the skin again so that the acid mantle is at the correct pH and settled prior to application.

So what is the Acid Mantle?

It’s a naturally secreted, thin protective film that covers the skin and is made up of oils, fatty acids, lactic acid, amino acids and the skin’s own natural moisturing factor. The Acid Mantle stores natural body oils and DHA reacts with the free amino acids found within the oils. The sebaceous glands are what produces your body’s sebum and makes up the acid mantle, and it’s the amino acids found in the acid mantle that is required to get the perfect spray tan.

So why is Sebum so important to the skin?

Sebum is an oily substance that is excreted through the skin to the surface and keeps your skin waterproof. Sebum eventually makes its way from the dermis to the surface of the skin through pores, or hair follicles. When sebum is mixed with sweat it becomes the acid mantle.

It keeps too much water from getting into your body, and it prevents you from losing too much water through your skin. It also protects the skin from bacterial and fungal infections.

If you have oily skin it means that your skin is producing too much sebum. Clients with oily skin will produce a lighter tan result as the oil will work as a barrier to the skin.

It is important to maintain the acid mantle, as a damaged acid mantle can lead to dehydration, oily skin, acne, and sensitivity. ... If the skin's pH rises closer to 7.0, it becomes less functional to kill bacteria, which leads to acne causing bacteria to multiply rapidly in the skin.

Sebum and spray tanning during menstrual cycle…

The sebum and your body is responsible for a clients spray tans not turning out as dark as they would when the are not menstruating.

Hormones are mostly to blame for this. As your period approaches, estrogen and progesterone levels drop. Without estrogen and progesterone to “cover up” the effects of testosterone, testosterone makes your sebaceous glands over produce sebum. Your skin becomes oilier, your skin gets inflamed, you can potentially break out during this time.. As more oil is produced during your menstrual cycle a thicker layer of sebum is covering your skin acting as a barrier. As there is a thicker barrier on the skin the spray tan will not develop as dark as normal.

You may also find that sometimes clients will go spotty (white spots/clear spots), when you are spray tanning. This isn’t tinea versicolour as most people like to think… or like to throw around at any given opportunity as an answer when this happens (as I’ve seen alot in spray tan Facebook groups)… it’s just that the skin is excreting so much more sebum via the pores than normal and it reacts with the bronzer causing a barrier blocking the bronzer from hitting the skin where there is the most sebum sitting on the skin.. obviously the spots are where the sebum has excreted through the pores and spread outwards on the skin in a circular pattern.

What can we do to help our clients get the best spray tan whilst menstruating?

As the skin is excreting more sebum, a prep spray would best be used prior to spraying the client.

Spray tan client all over with the prep spray and get the client to rub themselves with a towel. It is better to towel off the product and the broken down oil/sebum on the skin than to leave the prep spray/oil on the skin and tan over it. What we need to do is ensure that the oil has been removed fully from the skin, even for the smallest amount of time, whilst the solution is being sprayed on the skin to give the best chance of development possible.

If you have any questions regarding this blog post please post below and I will answer at my earliest convenience, otherwise you can email me directly at

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