Spray Tan Towels & Tips to Get the Perfect Sunless Tan


With the increasing awareness surrounding sun damage and the wrinkles, spots and cancers that come with the territory, you’re unlikely to see hordes of beach bunnies oiling up poolside. The tides of tanning have turned. Minors are no longer allowed in tanning beds, and even those of us of legal tanning age are starting to take the threat of sun damage to heart. It’s 2016, and big floppy hats, high SPF, cool shades and wrinkle-free skin rule during these sweltering summer months. Yet, at the same time, the sun-kissed look never really went away. Rather than catch rays directly from the source, we’re fortunate to live in a world where tans come in bottles, even if that generally evolves into a somewhat messy endeavor. Whether you go with a mist, or a gel or hydrating lotion, your bathroom counters, floor and bathmats are sure to turn as golden brown (or, let’s face it, orange) as your lovely face.

 Whether we admit it or not, the perfect tan is kind of a holy grail for beauty aficionados. It’s a real game changer for your makeup routine, as your skin won’t need as many bronzers, blushes or foundations to look luminous.

The prospect of faking that gorgeous golden brown glow is a little scary, we know, but you don’t need a team of experts on hand or a trip to an exotic locale to get there. Armed with the right tips and tricks, you’ll go from pasty princess to sun goddess in no time.

Do the Prep Work


Before you get started, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got some extra towels around the house. Your spray tan towel, or towels, let’s be realistic here, will be your best friends when it comes to avoiding streaks, removing any self-tanning errors and keeping your bathroom looking fresh well after the big transformation. Now, let’s get started:

Exfoliation Reigns Supreme

Exfoliate. Seriously. A little work with that loofah or washcloth a few times a week will work wonders. Whether or not you choose to tan or rock your natural skin tone, a smooth canvas is always your best bet. Dry skin yields some gnarly and unpredictable results when applying a tan straight from the bottle. Readers beware— some of the biggest self-tan fails stem from a lack of sloughing off the scales.

Shave Legs in Advance

Building on the idea of exfoliation, shave those legs the same day you plan to apply the tan. The razor will scrape off any dead skin and smooth over any scaly areas. Use a brand new razor blade to make sure your shave exfoliates evenly for a consistent tan.

The Lotion Myth

Moisturizing is something you should do on the regular, regardless of whether or not you choose to change your God-given skin color. Keep your skin fresh by using a light lotion on a regular basis, preferably after you towel off post-shower. What you might find surprising is, contrary to popular belief, applying copious amounts of lotion can wreak havoc on your tan, before it’s even applied.

When you’re planning to make the move from winter white to golden sun goddess, you’ll want to skip the lotion, or at least wait until it’s been fully absorbed. If your skin is too oily, the lotion will act as a barrier between the tanning solution and your skin, blocking the active bronzing component, DHA and making absorption a major challenge. On the flip side, if your skin is more lizard scale than baby smooth, you’re in trouble. Dry skin leads to uneven absorption, as it naturally exfoliates itself rather inconsistently. Moderation is key in the realm of pre-tanning moisturizing. Lotion up regularly, exfoliate and drink plenty of water, and you’ll have the kind of soft, smooth skin that’s the perfect canvas for a new tan. If you’re still worried about dry skin getting in the way of the summer glow of our dreams, look for a self-tanner that includes a moisturizer in the formula.

Use the Power of Lotion for A More Natural Tan

This is not a contradiction, but a pro-tip straight from the tanning salon. The reason the professionals keep that bottle of lotion in the spray tan room is that there are some areas that don’t naturally tan. You know, the hands, the bottom of your feet and heels. As we mentioned before, lotion blocks the absorption of the tanning solution, which in some cases can be used to your advantage, helping create the kind of tan that looks like it came straight from the shores of Tahiti — without all those suspect moles, freckles and spots that inevitably show up later, warranting a trip to the dermatologist.


Most people will opt to apply just one pump’s worth to their hands and feet, but adding an extra layer will give you a better look. First, smear a light layer on your entire hand. Start by applying one light layer over your whole hand — we’re talking everything, the top, the palm and the fingers (and in between!), and then do the same for the feet, starting at the ankles and working your way down to the toes and heels. Rub the lotion in until it’s been completely absorbed.

Since the tops of your hands from the wrist down and the tops of your feet from the ankle tend to have naturally lighter skin than the rest of your body, this initial, lighter layer will ensure that when the self-tanner starts to work its magic, it will blend naturally, as if you had actually been in the sun. After the initial layer over the tops of the hands and feet, go over the palms of your hands and the bottoms once again with a generous amount of cream. This second layer will keep those areas from getting color at all. This may seem counterintuitive, but big brown splotches on the soles of your feet or dark areas around wrists and ankles will give away your “secret” to observers (though, we think you shouldn’t worry too much about being found out, sun damage isn’t exactly cool these days).

Also, once you’ve applied the tanning spray or lotion, and are about to dry yourself off, you’ll want to be especially diligent about wiping off the barrier cream. Do this before you towel off, and make sure you absolutely DO NOT get this cream anywhere else on your body. Since any lingering lotion could spell trouble for your freshly applied glow, use two separate towels, one for the barrier lotion, and one to remove any excess tan to ensure that you remain streak-free.

Apply Liberally

Self-tanning is one area where more tends to be more, at least as far as product goes. Don’t be afraid to really go for it. If you’re using a cream, cover your body with big, thick globs of product, and know that it doesn’t even matter if it goes on uneven. There’s this idea in place that more product equals more tan, and that’s not necessarily true. An even tan will come from more coverage, so don’t worry about the thickness of the lotion. Instead, concern yourself with covering your entire body. Conservative use is what leads to to rampant streaking, so don’t skimp on product.


Too Dark, Orange or Covered in Spots and Stripes?

Fear not, darling. We’ve all been there after getting a little overzealous with a new tanning lotion a few hours before a wedding, a first date or meeting the parents of a new significant other. But that patina is not permanent, we promise. Here’s a few tips and tricks to get you looking gorgeous (and more importantly, like yourself) in no time at all:

Check Yourself — Look No Further than Your Cell Phone Camera

The DIY tan can be tough to nail, especially for newbies. And even when you think you’ve got it right, the shade might be a little off, given the fact that you are literally altering your natural skin tone. Of course, you’ve probably perused the aisles of the drug store or scrolled through offerings on the Sephora website, careful to select the perfect shade for you. Nevertheless, the countless choices mean a greater chance of mismatch. If you’ve already gone through the process of painting yourself golden brown and are unsure that it looks natural, turn the flash on your iPhone camera and take a selfie. Using flash will bring to light any indication that your tan looks unnatural or too dark, and will reveal that you’ve selected a color that’s perhaps not quite right for your unique skin tone. If you find that seems too orange, or maybe just looks weird, try the baking soda tip, or use an exfoliating face wash. It might take a couple rounds of scrubbing, but you’ll be looking like yourself in short order.

Baking Soda for Streaks and Spots

For all you natural folks who’ve used the old baking soda trick to clean the ceramic of your kitchen sink, whiten your teeth or remove stains from your carpet, the same general principle applies here. If you slapped that tan on in a hurry, there’s no doubt you’re covered in streaks or at least a few highly concentrated areas of deep browns and oranges. If that’s the case, hit the kitchen cabinet and get to work. Make a paste by mixing the baking soda with a little water and scrub the areas that stick out the most. Moreover, the baking soda won’t completely erase that hard won tan, it simply buffs out the color, wearing it down over a few rounds of vigorous scrubbing.

Chemical Intervention

This is a last ditch resort that could play out poorly, so tanner beware. If you’re really hating your new look, or have somewhere to be within the next couple hours, there is something you can do. The big guns like peroxide, bleach, chlorine and somewhat surprisingly, anti-dandruff shampoos all work to strip away the top layer of skin and interfere with the DHA. These chemicals will lighten skin in a pinch, but use caution if you decide to try this, sensitive skin may become red and irritated, particularly on the face or neck. Another thing to note, do not apply any harsh chemicals right after exfoliating. If you just attempted scrubbing the tan off, take a breather and let your skin recover. It’s been through a lot. Moreover, never apply immediately after shaving or exfoliating, that’ll just further aggravate the skin. While no one wants to have orange tiger stripes, chemical irritation and red, blotchy rashes aren’t exactly a great alternative.

Don’t Ruin Your Clothes

After you’ve applied your new glow, wait at least 15 minutes, or until dry, before putting your clothes back on. It’s tempting to want to cover up right away if you’re applying the tan to battle some of the winter blues. To speed up the dry time, blow-dry your skin on cool (hot air might make you sweat and streak your tan. Once you feel dry, put on something loose and breathable (no leggings, tights or tight fitting shirts), preferably in a dark color, as some of the tan might rub off on the fabric.


Clean Up Time

You probably weren’t bargaining for a whole bunch of brown stains taking over your collection of linens, your bathroom tiles and possibly your clothes. Most of us prefer a tidy bathroom rather than one that looks like a war zone. There are a couple things worth noting, especially if you’re a neat freak. Opt for a self-tanner that doesn’t have instant color. This buys you a bit of time to get things cleaned up before your entire home goes bronze. If you’re going the spray route, use a tanning mitt and rub the mist over your skin. This method ensures the particles from the spray won’t get all over everything you own (pro tip: make sure no white clothing, towels, etc. are in the line of fire). If you prefer a darker tan, do another layer.

Another tip: Keep some dark towels on hand (or white ones you can bleach) for easy clean up. We have an extensive collection of tanning salon towels, in a variety of colors, so you can avoid having to explain mysterious brown stains to guests expecting a clean hand towel.

Need the Perfect Spray Tan Towel? Towel Super Center Has Got You Covered

Whatever messy situation you find yourself in, you’ll need a trusty towel nearby to absorb mistakes and messes. In any case, check out our selection of professional quality towels in every shape, size and color. We also have wholesale ordering available in case you want to stock up, since its best to be prepared for any tanning disaster that comes your way. Whether you’re a regular tanning pro, or just making the switch from catching real rays to the sunless synthetics, we’ve got wholesale tanning salon towels for every budget, so you can avoid streaks and spots all summer long, and well into the fall and winter months when you begin to get wistful for that golden glow.

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