Can you work out after a spray tan?

Although they can turn you into a flawless bronze goddess, spray tans have this big flaw of being temporary and pretty tricky to maintain.

With other strict warnings, a workout after a spray tan is at the top of the no-no list, and for good reasons.

Read on to find out why exercise should be avoided and how long you should wait to hit the gym again in order to maintain that sun-kissed glow as long as possible.

tanned body

How does spray tanning work?

Most spray tan booths use solutions that contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a sugar molecule derived from plants, that chemically reacts with amino acids in the skin’s outer layer epidermis to produce pigment.

What you’ll hear in a common spray tanning salon is that your tan will need time to develop, which actually means that DHA takes time to react and start the pigmentation change.

The common consensus is that an 8-12 hour time frame is the minimum to be sure your tan will develop.

Some solutions need between 8-24 hours to fully achieve the desired darkness. Simply put, before it kicks in, the solution only topically lies on your skin and can be removed as easily as makeup. This is why you’ll be strongly advised to avoid showering, sweating, oiling, or any kind of activity that could strip off the layers of your tan right after the treatment. Otherwise, the results could be streaky and uneven patches that look unappealing.

What happens if you work out after a spray tan?

If you think about it, traditional exercise and working out include all of the steps that can jeopardize even distribution and development of the pigment right after the tan application – profuse sweating, body heating, tight clothes rubbing directly onto the skin, and finally the need to take a (long) shower or a bath. Some people also like going to a sauna after an intensive workout to induce perspiration even more. These could all literally swipe away all the work and leave you with disappointing tanning results.

What about exercise after self-tanning?

Self-tanning products come in various forms, mousses, creams, powders, sprays, and even wipes. Compared to booth tanning, home sprays can be even less potent and short-lasting, so make sure to read the instructions carefully before you decide to break a sweat. However, in general, you should wait at least 8 hours before working out after self-tanning, ideally even longer.

Keep in mind that most spray tans in a can for home use have similar ingredients like professional tanning salons, including DHA, so the after-care procedure will be basically the same. In this case, for best results, you should wait at least 24 hours before working out.

Can you run after a spray tan?

Running is a high-intensity, cardio activity that falls under the category of vigorous exercise. No matter how experienced and fit you are, running will trigger at least light perspiration, meaning danger for your fresh new colour.

If you just can’t skip your daily run, make sure to make a tanning appointment after your run and preferably sleep on it. You’ll be ready the day after (at least 12 hours after) for your jogging adventures.

Why can’t you swim after a spray tan?

Submerging into the water only a couple of hours after your tanning will wash off the layers of the solution, leaving blotches all over your skin. Worse, the cosmetic bronzer will start dissolving and you certainly don’t want brownish water all around you in a public pool.  

In fact, the longer you stay in the water, the more the colour fades off.

Whether it’s pools or the ocean, there’s no difference for the tan. However, overly-chlorinated pools (sometimes for disinfecting reasons) can have the “bleaching” effect on the skin and dry out certain sensitive skin areas, leaving the tan even more unevenly distributed.

How long after spray tanning can you swim?

Tanning salons advise opting for swimming only after you have taken your first post-tan shower (preferably 24 hours) to avoid any tan stripping  (and possible embarrassing situations).

Swimming should be safe afterwards.

With that said, spray tanning is a temporary treatment that lasts only  5-7 days, (some salons claim 10 days or even 14 days) if taken care of diligently, which means reducing swimming to a minimum.

Water softens up the epidermis, acting as a natural exfoliant. Longer submersion into the water, especially when hot, loosens up the topical skin layers, eventually causing the skin to “shed”, and consequently renew the natural pigment. Therefore, avoiding long hot showers, bathing and daily swimming can significantly prolong the pigment of your tan.

Can you work out before a spray tan?

According to tanning experience, working out before your appointment is actually a great idea.

As long as you leave enough time to properly exfoliate, shave, and thoroughly dry your skin before the tanning, exercising doesn’t pose any potential problems. In fact, it could be a good idea to do your workout right before the appointment so you can have just enough time for the tan to develop before the next training session.

Finally – How long after spray tanning can you work out?

Just like with swimming, the sweat and heat-induced from working out are detrimental to your tanning bronzer and will diminish its effect.

It is recommended to wait a minimum of 8 hours, ideally 24 hours, before hitting the treadmill. The best advice would be to wait the day after, just to stay on the safe side.

When it comes to maintaining the pigment afterwards, profuse sweating and skin rubbing with a towel or tight clothes may cause the tan to fade more quickly or appear less noticeable.

If you’re a gym enthusiast and just can’t take a week off from exercising, make sure to wear loose clothes, engage in light and relaxing activities such as yoga, stretching, or low-intensity workouts to minimize perspiration. After the training, take short and cold showers and pat your towel instead of rubbing.

 Daily moisturizing can also help retain the integrity of the tan.