People tan in many different ways. For example, they can sunbathe, use a tanning bed, or apply a self-tanner. Regardless of the method, people often wonder how long they should wait before taking their first post-tan shower. If you're interested in knowing the answer and factors at play, keep on reading.
The Short Answer
It depends on the type of tanning that you've done. If you sunbathe or use a tanning bed, you can shower around 20 minutes afterward, which should be enough for the freshly tanned body to cool down. However, if you use tanning lotions and bronzers, you should wait up to 4 hours before showering to allow the color to set in fully.
Showering According to the Type of Tanning
Before you understand how long you should wait before you shower, it's crucial to know how different types of tanning work so that you know precisely when to shower. We can categorize tanning into types: UV tanning and lotions or bronzers.
1. UV Tanning
How It Works
Whether your UV tanning entails using tanning beds or sunbathing, both methods work very similarly.
Whenever you use either method, the UV light triggers or activates melanin-producing cells in the epidermis called melanocytes. Then, the process of melanogenesis starts, producing the necessary pigment to make the skin darken. The change of skin color takes up anything from 2 to 48 hours.
Does this mean that you have to wait that long to shower? No, since this type of tanning works with the skin's naturally produced pigment and not an external product that you physically apply, water and soap won't wash away the tan.
When to Shower
If you're not using any accelerators, such as tanning lotions and bronzers, you can shower shortly after or wait for up to 20 minutes to let your body cool down before showering.
2. Tanning Lotions and Bronzers
How It Works
These products work pretty differently from tanning beds. Tanning lotions and bronzers need some time to set into your skin and work their magic, as they don't work with your skin cells. Instead, they use dyes and DHA, which react to the outermost layer of the skin. After the oxidation, the skin starts to take a new bronze color.
When to Shower
This differs from one product to another. For example, you can wash off most self-tanning products after 4 hours from using them. However, some products need more time, meaning up to 8 hours.
Tips for Showering After Tanning
Now that you understand when to shower, it's time to know the ideal way to shower after tanning. This way, you get to preserve the tan and have your skin looking as healthy and natural as possible.
Keep It Short and Sweet
Long showers usually leave the skin all wrinkly, pruney, and dry, which is the last thing you want for your tanned skin. So, try to limit your shower time to avoid stripping the skin from its natural oils, thus prolonging the life of your tan. Rinse your body under the water for a minute to take the ideal post-tan shower.
Avoid Hot Water
Most people love warm or hot showers because they're super relaxing, help lower blood pressure, and reduce muscle tension. Nonetheless, hot water dries the skin and irritates it, which is a nightmare for your tan.
So, make sure to shower only with lukewarm or cold water, which will soothe irritation and help wash away any residue chemicals without affecting the tan.
Skip Harsh Soaps and Hair Washing
We all have our scented shower gels or bar soaps. And they have us floating in a bubbly, foamy dream and leaving the shower with a heavenly smell. But, you may have to skip all soap, or these types of soaps, in your first post-tan shower.
If the idea of not using soap is out of the question for you, trade your usual kind for an oil-free body wash without any harsh ingredients that could irritate your skin. In addition, try to use it only in strategic spots instead of soaping the entire body, such as the armpits, feet, and crotch area.
Moreover, don't wash your hair with anything rather than water in the first 24 hours after tanning.
Try Not to Scrub Too Hard
If you tend to scrub your skin off in the shower, you aren't alone. The shower is the time to get clean, so why not get really clean? Well, this mindset won't work when you've just tanned. Instead of scrubbing your skin with a loofah, gently rub it with your own hands.