How Long Does Tanning Lotion Last? + 13 Easy Ways to Make Your Tan Last Longer

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How long does tanning lotion last and how can you make your tan last longer? In this post, I’m sharing tips for a lasting and stunning self-tan. 

If you’re like me, you love the look of glowing, sun-kissed skin. There’s no better way to achieve this than with a high-quality self-tanning lotion. 

While laying out in the sun is the quickest way to a sun tan, it’s also the quickest way to sun damaged skin. I always opt for sunless tanning lotion over harmful UV rays. 

If you are new to fake tan or self tan, you probably have loads of questions and that’s where I come in! 

Wondering how long does tanning lotion last? With these easy tips, you can find out how to make your tan last longer.

Today, I’m answering one of the most asked questions: “How long does tanning lotion last?” I’m also including expert tips on how to ensure your self-tanner lasts as long as possible to minimize maintenance for your sun-kissed glow. 

Along the way, I’ll share my must-have self-tanning products along with a coupon code that works for all of my favorites!

How long does tanning lotion last?

A self-tanning lotion usually lasts anywhere between 3 to 7 days. After that, you will experience streaking, fading, and product build-up in fine lines. That’s when it’s time to hop in the shower and get exfoliating! 

You can, however, achieve a self-tan that lasts even longer with the right preparation and maintenance routine. 

If you treat your skin (and tan) with kindness, you can maintain an even, natural-looking tan for up to 10 days.

13 Tips for a Lasting Self Tan

We know a tanning bed is not an ideal way to get your summer tan. The good news is you can achieve a lasting, healthy tan with sunless tanning products and a little knowledge. 

Self tan is only as good as the effort you put into it. With these 13 easy tips, you can extend the life of your self-tan, saving you time, effort, and product!

1. Exfoliate Your Skin

The best way to make sure your self-tanning lotion lasts is to provide a solid base for application. 

Part of this proper care means exfoliating your entire body with a gentle body scrub or exfoliating mitt to target dead skin cells. One of my favorite body exfoliators is the Necessaire Body Exfoliator. The Eucalyptus one smells amazing and the bottle lasts for months.

Here are some other recommended body exfoliators.

For your face, use a chemical exfoliant with ingredients like salicylic acid to thoroughly exfoliate without causing irritation. Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant is one of my all time favorite face exfoliators. Below are some other face exfoliators that I recommend.

The active ingredient in self-tanning lotion adheres strongly to dry skin. Without exfoliating, the tanner will cling to any dry patches, causing a patchy tan. 

With the proper base, however, self-tan can better adhere to your skin, and your tan will last longer.

2. Moisturize as Skin Prep

The next step for a good base is to moisturize regularly leading up to your spray tan appointment or at home application. Choose products that provide deep moisture for healthy skin, with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, and amino acids. 

Healthy skin is key to a lasting tan. I love Necessaire Body Lotion and Necessaire Body Serum for the ultimate hydration. Read my full Necessaire Review here

Before self-tanning, focus your moisturizer on specific dry areas like ankles, knees, wrists, and elbows. Because these areas are naturally drier, self-tanner will develop darker here, leaving a patchy tan. 

This step is so important that I wrote an entire post about it! Check it out here and learn about the best moisturizer for spray tan

Here are my favorite body moisturizers.

3. Check for Expired Products

When it comes to pantry staples, an expiration date isn’t always the most important thing. In some cases, products are absolutely fine to use months after their supposed expiry date. 

But with beauty products and self-tanners, these dates definitely matter!

Like all things beauty, self-tanning lotion has a shelf life. The active ingredient DHA is responsible for giving you a beautiful, gradual tan. And over time, it breaks down!

This will affect the color, application, and longevity of your self-tan. 

Make sure to use your self-tanning lotion before its expiration date – usually 18-24 months after purchase. If your tan ever looks green, do not use it. You’ll thank me for this top tip!

4. Try a Tanning Mitt

For a lasting, even tan, you need an even application to begin with!

A tan application mitt is one of my favorite beauty tools. It makes your tan incredibly easy to apply for a streak-free finish. 

It also protects your hands from getting discolored throughout the application. 

How long does tanning lotion last and how can you make your tan last longer? In this post, I’m sharing tips for a lasting and stunning self-tan.

I use the self-tanning mitt from Coco and Eve, who sells my favorite self-tanner. You can also use their bronzing brush for control over tricky areas, including hands, feet, and your face. 

If you want to try either tool, make sure to use Coco and Eve discount code below.

Get 15% off Coco and Eve using this link and my Coco and Eve discount code LORNA15.

5. Use Quality Self-Tanner

Another key to a lasting self-tan is to use quality products. 

My favorite self-tanning lotion comes from Coco and Eve. It’s fragrance-free, comes in varieties for dark to fair skin, and can be washed off in just a few hours!

I find Coco and Eve’s self-tanning lotion to be long-lasting with a beautiful, glowy finish. 

How long does tanning lotion last and how can you make your tan last longer? In this post, I’m sharing tips for a lasting and stunning self-tan.

If you’d like to try their self-tanner, or purchase their complete self-tanning kit, make sure to use my Coco and Eve coupon code. 

Get 15% off Coco and Eve using this link and my Coco and Eve discount code LORNA15.

6. Be Patient 

Whether you’re getting a spray tan or using a self-tanner, a good faux tan takes time. 

If you rush your application, there’s a high chance of streaks, dark spots, and an overall uneven finish. 

To ensure a lasting tan, set aside the time it takes for a careful application. You’ll thank yourself later! Also the first time I used self tanner thought me lots of things! Over time, you will get better if you are applying the tan at home. Have a trial run before any big day if possible.

7. Tan Sections at a Time

When applying your self-tanning lotion, work in small sections across your entire body, applying in even, circular motions. 

I like to work from top to bottom, beginning near my neck and working down. This way, I never miss any spots and achieve a lasting, streakless self-tan. 

Wondering how long does tanning lotion last? With these easy tips, you can find out how to make your tan last longer.

8. Let Your Tan Set

Indoor tanning lotions require a set amount of time before showering, getting dressed, or otherwise disturbing your tan. 

For best results, allow your tan to dry, following the instructions on your self-tanner, before getting dressed. 

You’ll also need to wait several hours before your first shower, depending on how much you’d like your tan to develop. 

My favorite Coco and Eve self-tanner can be washed away after just a few hours for a natural-looking tan, though some self-tanners should be worn overnight. 

If you want your tan to last, you need to allow it this time to fully develop.

9. Wear Loose Clothing

After you’ve done the hard work, it’s time to get comfy!

I recommend wearing loose, breathable clothing after applying self-tanning lotion. Try billowy loungewear or pajamas in natural fabrics like organic cotton and silk. Avoid linen as it’s too stiff and could disturb your tan. 

Sunless tanners can go wrong after application with the wrong clothing choices. Fabrics that rub or cause you to sweat can create a streaky tan, even after perfect application.
Keep cool and comfortable while waiting for your tan to develop with my favorite Cozy Earth Loungewear and Pajamas. I even have a coupon code for you!

Get 30% off Cozy Earth AND a free set of socks (worth $55) using my Cozy Earth link and my Cozy Earth discount code CE-LORNARYAN. Add the socks to your order along with all your other purchases. Click through the link for the discount to auto-apply.

Overnight is the best opportunity for your tan to set. Make sure you wear the right things to bed after self-tanning

How long does tanning lotion last and how can you make your tan last longer? In this post, I’m sharing tips for a lasting and stunning self-tan.

10. Avoid Long Showers

While we know it’s important to avoid showers when waiting for your gradual tanner to develop, maintenance doesn’t stop there. 

Give your self-tan a long life by limiting exposure to water. Temperate showers are totally fine, but long hot showers, baths, and hot tubs can create premature fading to your golden glow. 

Swimming in chlorinated pools can also fade self-tanner fast!

As a rule, stick to quick, warm showers and avoid hot, prolonged water exposure. If you’re an avid swimmer, try using a waterproof self-tanner for best results.

11. Use Moisturizer in Your Daily Regimen

No matter your skin type, regular moisturizing is a necessity in any skincare regimen. This is especially true when trying to prolong the life of your self-tanning lotion!

Once your tan has fully developed, make sure to moisturize your entire body daily. Self-tanner adheres best to healthy skin, and moisturizing is a big part of skin health. 

Avoid oil-based moisturizers as they will break down your self-tanner, turning your tan splotchy and ready for removal.

12. Try a Tan Extender

Even the very best self-tanners can use a little boost. Tan extenders are a great way to let your perfect tan last longer. 

A good tan extender will add a natural subtle color back into your skin. It will also provide extra moisture and glow. 

Wondering how long does tanning lotion last? With these easy tips, you can find out how to make your tan last longer.

Apply a tan extender daily, beginning three days after your self-tan. Use the extender like a moisturizer, applying it after your shower. Saint Tropez makes an excellent tan extender with a glowing bronzed finish over the entire body. 

For my face, I love using Coco and Eve bronzing face drops. I just mix a couple of drops into my face moisturizer and apply it daily for a sunny complexion.

Get 15% off Coco and Eve using this link and my Coco and Eve discount code LORNA15.

13. Remove Your Tan Properly

So, you’ve prolonged your self-tan for as long as possible, and it’s time to prep for your next application. 

A thorough removal is just as important as any application, creating a bare canvas for your next lasting tan. 

To remove your self-tanner, apply a layer of baby oil over your entire body and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then, hop in the shower and rinse off using a loofah. This will also help exfoliate your skin for your next application!

How Long Does Tanning Lotion Last? My Final Thoughts

By following this easy tan maintenance regimen, you can keep your self-tan looking glowy and even for up to 10 days. 

Though these steps may take a little bit of time and getting used to, before long, they’ll be part of your regular beauty ritual. The sun-kissed results will be well worth your efforts!

I hope you’ve found these tips useful in achieving your perfect self-tan. If you have any remaining questions about self-tanning lotion, product recommendations, or all things faux tan, please reach out via Instagram or my contact page.

About Lorna Ryan

Lorna's fashion & beauty journey began on runways, including NYFW, which sparked her love for all things chic. Lorna spent two years as a SephoraSquad ambassador, sharing hero beauty products. Lorna unveils coveted beauty gems, the latest fashion trends, and best-kept jetsetter escapes.