Preparing Your Skin for Tanning

Whether you are tanning in a tanning bed salon or spray tanning salon, properly preparing your skin will help your tan last. Any tanning will dry your skin out which is why you are supposed to moisturize your skin after laying outside or going to the tanning salon, but if you start out with dry skin, it’s often much harder to get a great looking tan no matter how well you take care of your skin after your appointment.

This is especially true of spray tans. When you have dry skin, the top layer of your skin cells shrink as they prepare to fall off. This is what gives you the crocodile look or fish scale look. If you get a spray tan and then your skin cells start to shrink, the area under the tan becomes visible giving your legs a scaly look. While it’s no different than how your skin looks normally when it’s dry, it’s much more noticeable now as your natural skin color shows through while your top layer is still tan, causing a blotchy appearance. While most blame the spray tan, the fact that this doesn’t appear over your entire body tells you that it is a skin condition and not a result of the spray tan, the tanning salon session simply makes you more aware of it.

If you have that tight feeling after you get out of the shower before you moisturize, then your skin is most likely dehydrated. So let’s discuss some ways to hydrate your skin before your next tanning session.

Epsom Salt Bath

Epsom salts have many healing properties, including softening the skin. Soak in a warm bath with 2 cups of epsom salt 2-3 times a week for the best results. Not only will your skin feel softer, epsom salts have been shown to help ease stress, make insulin more effective, sooth muscle cramps and pain, and regulate electrolytes in your body.

Exfoliating Scrub

After you have soaked in the tub for at least 20 minutes you will want to exfoliate the dry skin. Natural exfoliators work best and ensure you won’t have an allergic reaction. Two great options are sea salt and olive oil, or sugar and olive oil. The roughness of the sugar or salt will not only help exfoliate your skin, but also help the oil penetrate for lasting hydration. After you have rubbed the mixture in circular motions over your body, take a washcloth and do the same to remove any residue and help the dry skin cells come off.


After your bath apply a heavy moisturizer that will protect your skin overnight. Cetaphil is a great choice as it’s very gentle, or shea butter for a more natural option.

After a week of this routine you’ll find that, even when you shower in the morning, you won’t have that tight feeling as your skin dries. Proper skincare will help you get the most out of your tanning salon package and ensure you look your best.