scrub me's Sunless Tanning Tips.

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A great sunless tan can make you feel amazing! A healthy, sun-kissed glow that leaves others thinking “is that a real tan?” is what we’re trying to achieve when applying a tanning solution. An ideal sunless tan should look even all over, be a color that compliments your skin tone, have a pleasant smell, and last at least 5 days. Over the years we’ve gained a ton of knowledge on the topic of sunless tans and we’re ready to share our tips. Get ready to glow!

scrub me secret: (a note from the owner) back in 2007 I had my first experience with sunless tanning. I used a tanning lotion that was too dark for my skin tone, haphazardly all over my face and body. Needless to say, it looked horrible and needed lots of scrubbing to remove it. I didn’t let that experience stop me! After that, I was more careful about what sunless tanning products I was choosing and how I applied them. Through some trial and error, I found home products that I like & still recommend to my clients to this day. In 2010 I had my first airbrush tan and fell in love! Now those are the only tans I get for myself. -Katherine

Choosing the best sunless tan solution:

The best sunless tanning solutions apply color that looks great on all skin tones. This is achieved by having a blend of cool, neutral, and warm tones in the product. Products that promote more of a natural glow vs. a deep tan are the best way to go if you’re concerned about your tan looking fake. Using a tanning spray or foam is the best way to ensure an even looking tan. In our opinion, an airbrush tan from a professional technician is the BEST way to get a gorgeous, even looking color. An airbrush tan is easily customizable and it eliminates the possibility of you missing any spots at home.

natural & organic ingredients:

We like to choose sunless tanning solutions that we feel comfortable putting onto our skin. This means choosing products that have organic, natural, and healthy ingredients. We like products like SunFX, The Organic Pharmacy, Josie Maran Liquid Gold, and Sun Labs.

Airbrush tanning with the SunFX solution.

Airbrush tanning with the SunFX solution.

scrub me secret: considering sunless tanning options before a big event? we think an airbrush tan from a technician is a must! at-home tanning can sometimes leave your hands a little darker or uneven and it’s hard to get a great application, all over, on your own. getting a spray tan from a professional will ensure your tan is picture-perfect, and if it isn’t your technician can fix it for you.



Getting an even glow & Maintaining Your sunless tan:

Getting a gorgeous looking tan takes time, a little effort, and money; once that glow is finally applied perfectly you won’t want to waste it! Here are our expert tips on how to prep for and maintain your sunless tan.

shave or wax 2-5 days before tan (optional):

After your tan is applied you won’t be able to wax and it’s best not to shave, to preserve your color. If you want to do any kind of hair removal you’ll want to do this a few days before applying your sunless tan or going to your airbrush appointment. Shaving or waxing the day of or the day before your tan could cause the color to look uneven. 

scrub me secret: if you need to shave while you have your sunless tan we’ve found that getting a thick lather with your soap or shaving bar helps maintain the color. If there isn’t that creamy soap barrier there shaving will remove some of your tan.


Dry Brush & then rinse before your tan:

We think the best way to exfoliate before a sunless tan is a dry brushing method. Body scrubs with nourishing oils, like our sea salt scrubs, are great products for promoting skin’s health but are not ideal for prepping for a tan. Scrubs that contain oils or other moisturizing ingredients will leave residue on the skin that will prevent the tan from adhering. Using a dry brush will loosen and remove any dry cells sitting on the surface. Rinsing off after this will wash away any remaining dead cells, leaving the surface ready to absorb the product. This is best to do the day of your tan or the night before.

Do not apply body oil, moisturizer, or deodorant:

No one wants a streaky tan!

No one wants a streaky tan!

Skin should be free of all product before applying your sunless tan. Any type of oils, moisturizers, makeup, or deodorants will block the tanning solution from absorbing into the skin. Fresh, clean, exfoliated skin will ensure an even tan that lasts a long time. After most sunless tans there is a period where you have to let it set in, this could be anywhere from 2-12 hours; during this time there shouldn’t be any other products applied to the skin. After your first initial post-spray tan rinse you’ll be able to apply moisturizers, makeup, deodorant, and other products.

avoid all exfoliation while maintaining the sunless tan:

Any type of scrub, loofah, exfoliating facial serum, exfoliating wash, etc will start to breakdown and remove your sunless tan. Remember, the tanning solution is just adhering and sitting on the surface of the skin so when you scrub or use other exfoliating methods it will take the tan off. This is good to remember when you’re ready to start removing your fading sunless tan. While trying to maintain your tan color, using a gentle body soap is best.

scrub me secret: it’s also best to avoid rubbing your skin with towels and wash clothes when drying off after the shower. we suggest patting yourself gently with the towel to preserve the life and color of your tan.

Keep skin moisturized to maintain color:

This helps maintain the glow!

This helps maintain the glow!

Applying hydrating body butter and moisturizers a few days into your sunless tan will help keep the color looking fresh. If your skin is dry, it is more likely for your tan to start flaking off a little earlier than you would like. Keeping skin moisturized will extend the life of your tan. Sometimes you can get a spray tan to last 10 days! We like using our whipped shea butter to maintain a sunless tan. 

When the sunless tan starts to fade:

Depending on how well you maintained your sunless tan, it will start to fade anywhere from 4-10 days after it has been applied. If your tan is cared for well it should fade fairly evenly. Areas, where clothing rubs up against the skin a lot, tend to fade a little bit more quickly than other places. Sports bras, socks, and other tight clothing are items that rub away your sunless tan. You can still wear these clothing items while you have a tan but just keep in mind that if worn often your tan will fade a bit faster. We have some great tips for when you’re ready to start removing your color.

Our tips for removing sunless tan:

We love making and using our own facial and body oils but we also are obsessed with trying other skincare. This  Aveda beautifying oil i s a MUST try.

We love making and using our own facial and body oils but we also are obsessed with trying other skincare. This Aveda beautifying oil is a MUST try.

Using a body scrub that contains oil will help loosen up the product on your skin. This initial scrub probably won’t fully remove all the tan. Following up with a second exfoliation using a loofah, washcloth, or buff puff is what's going to get that remaining sunless tan to scrub away. After your bath or shower apply body oil all over and check for any dark spots you may have left. If you have any spots of leftover tan it should rub away pretty easily using a towel after your body oil is applied.

scrub me secret: our felted soaps are also a great tool for sunless tan removal. their soft but extra exfoliating texture is perfect for removing surface cells. as a bonus, your skin gets super clean when you scrub with a felted soap!

Is sunless tanning healthy?

UV damage from frequent tanning degrades skin’s health over time and can cause skin cancer (melanoma). Risks from sunless tanning are minimal as long as you’re using a product with trusted ingredients. For your safest tan, use nose plugs and don’t inhale through your mouth during a spray tan so you’re not breathing it in. Getting a sunless tan vs. a real tan from the sun or a tanning bed is much better for your health!

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scrub me secret: visit our scrub me skin care studio to experience one of the best spray tans in Chicago!