Fact Checked

Do I Need to Prepare to Go to a Tanning Salon?

Cindy Quarters
Cindy Quarters

A tanning salon is a place you can go to get a rich, deep tan even in the middle of winter. The salon typically contains tanning beds or standing tanning booths, which are individual stations where customers are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays from lights within the bed. The UV rays cause the skin to tan just as though it had been exposed to the sun. In many cases tanning salons also have sunless tanning booths that will spray a chemical tan on your skin instead of using the UV light. Whichever type of tanning you choose, your experience will be enhanced if you prepare to go to a tanning salon in advance of your arrival.

The most important thing you can do to prepare to go to a tanning salon is to shower and remove all makeup, lotions and body oils. The presence of anything extra on your skin can affect how well you tan, and you may end up with an uneven appearance if you are not clean at the start of your session. Do not use any moisturizers for at least six hours prior to a tanning session. This is especially true if you are using the spray tan option and applies even if you plan on showering immediately before you get your tan.

A tanning bed.
A tanning bed.

Another very important step that can help you prepare to go to a tanning salon is to exfoliate your skin, or remove dry skin cells. A good way to do this is to use a scrubbing sponge or pad and work it over your entire body while you are in the shower. This will help to remove any old, dead skin cells and ensure that your tan looks as good and lasts longer. Start exfoliating about a week before you go for your tan, and work on it every day. Don’t scrub too hard, because you don’t want to damage your skin, but rub hard enough to remove the dead skin.

More skin exposure will ensure a larger area of the body is tanned.
More skin exposure will ensure a larger area of the body is tanned.

If you are going to use a regular tanning bed you can apply a high quality tanning lotion over your entire body prior to arriving at the tanning salon. This will help to promote a rich, even tan that lasts a long time. If you have long hair, put it up as you prepare to go to a tanning salon so that it does not interfere with the tanning process on your face and neck. This will help both a UV tan and a spray tan.

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Discussion Comments


It's true that any kind of oil or soap residue on the skin messes up the tan. That's why it's a good idea to wash skin thoroughly and use a washcloth to remove all of this. The skin needs to be as clean as possible.

I made the mistake of applying lotion a day before my tanning appointment and I never washed it off. Not only did I not tan as well, but there were streaks. The areas without the lotion came out darker. It looked quite bad and it was entirely my fault.


@discographer-- You're supposed to wax or shave before tanning because doing these after tanning will cause your tan to lighten faster. Both shaving and waxing exfoliates skin and exfoliating in general will remove the tan faster. So you should do these before your appointment, maybe a day before.

I think you can wear eyeliner and lipstick but double check with the people at the tanning salon. You do have to remove other makeup like cream, foundation and powder though. My tanning salon actually has makeup removal wipes available there for people who forget to wash their makeup off. But I think you're better off just not wearing any that day.


What about body hair removal like waxing and shaving? Do I need to do these right before I go to my tanning appointment? Can I wax or shave afterwards? And is it okay to wear eyeliner and lipstick or do those need to be completely removed as well?

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    • A tanning bed.
      By: markcarper
      A tanning bed.
    • More skin exposure will ensure a larger area of the body is tanned.
      By: Rido
      More skin exposure will ensure a larger area of the body is tanned.