If you’ve used a spray tan then you know not to shower for at least 8 hours after application. What about tanning beds, how long should you wait to shower after tanning bed?
Well, it depends.
First, let’s burst a popular myth. Showering doesn’t fade off your tan after a session in a tanning bed. That darkening you see on your skin is caused by melanin which the body produces when it is exposed to UV rays.
You cannot wash off melanin.
So if you use a tanning bed, you can shower as soon as you like and it will not affect your tan. But use lukewarm water. Your skin is still a bit too sensitive and hot water could be uncomfortable. It could also strip away oils from your skin, leaving it dry and unprotected. For that reason, you also shouldn’t use harsh soaps.
Then make sure you apply a generous slathering of moisturiser. If you skin gets too dry your tan will look a bit faded.
However, if you used a bronzer or tanning accelerator before or during tanning you may want to hold off on the shower.
Many tanning bed lotions contain ingredients that enhance your natural tan either by boosting melanin production or adding an artificial ‘tan’ on top of the natural one.
Showering too soon before the product had had a chance to fully set in can reduce its effectiveness. In such cases it’s best to wait 4-8 hours before taking a bath. But ask the product manufacturer or the tanning bed operator for the best advice on how long you should wait.
And that’s the low-down on tanning beds and showers.
Other Dos and Don’ts after using a Tanning Bed?
1. Do hydrate your skin, a lot.
Tanning using UV is essentially trauma to your skin cells. That’s why the body produces melanin to defend itself. You can help protect it further by keeping it well hydrated. Use a good quality moisturiser both during and after the tanning process.
Some moisturisers are labelled for use specifically after tanning. They are formulated to protect your skin while also enhancing your new tanned look. But any good quality moisturiser will do. Also drink enough water to hydrate from the inside.
2. Do apply sunscreen whenever you go out.
A tanning bed does not make you invincible against UV. Leaving your skin unprotected when outside can cause skin damage. If you are spending time outdoors use sunscreen as usual.
3. Do eat fruits and dark chocolate.
Fruits will not only help with rehydration, they also contain polyphenols which can prevent UV damage to skin cells. The best fruits for this include grapes, cherries, berries, apples and pears.
Dark chocolate contains flavanols which are antioxidants. They protect your body from UV damage after exposure in a tanning bed.
4. Do talk to your dermatologist or doctor if you experience a problem.
If you notice rashes or any other kind of reaction on your skin, it’s best to talk to your dermatologist before using a tanning bed again. You may be UV sensitive and not realise it.
5. Don’t go back too soon.
Give yourself 36-48 hours before going back to the tanning bed. Remember that your skin has sustained some trauma, though minor. Another dose of intensive UV so soon carries serious health risks.
Ask the operator at the salon how long you should wait before coming back. You may need to wait a bit longer if you have very fair skin which is more vulnerable to UV damage.
Normally 2-3 times a week is best at the beginning. When the tan sets you can reduce that to 1-2 times a week.
6. Don’t shower with too-hot water or use harsh soaps.
You want to maintain as much moisture as possible on your skin both for protection and to enhance your appearance.
If you shower or bathe with very hot water, it will strip away oils from your skin, causing it to dry out. Using harsh soaps or skin products can also cause loss of moisture.
As we have mentioned, if you have to shower immediately only use lukewarm water and gentle soap. And remember to moisturise.
On the same note, be gentle when exfoliating. Scrubbing too hard will have the same drying effect and could even cause your tan to look faded.