How Long does Self Tanner Last?

Self-tanning products are essential in maintaining a sun-kissed glow year-round, without exposing your skin to the harmful and damaging rays of the sun. 

Self-tanning products are available in a variety of formulas and shades, each providing different options in terms of longevity. How they react and how long they last depend on your skin type and skin tones.

Generally speaking those with lighter tones can expect their self-tanner to last up to five days, while those with medium to deep skin tones can expect a tan that lasts anything between 7-10 days.

Self-tanner typically comes in two main variants - gradual tanning products and instant tanning products. Before getting into what they are and what they do it’s important that you prepare your skin prior to applying any self-tanning lotion.

Cleanse and Exfoliate

Shower and exfoliate your skin thoroughly before attempting to apply self-tanning lotions. Skipping this step will result in a patchy finish as dry, rough skin absorbs the product more readily and will leave your tan looking obviously fake and unnatural.

Use a Tanning Mitt

A tanning mitt is a nifty tool that helps spread the self-tan evenly and prevents your palms and fingers from turning orange - a huge indicator that you’ve dipped into the fake tan.

Simply apply the product to your mitt (as opposed to directly on your hands) and work it onto your skin using circular motions for an even, streakless, and natural look


If you want your skin to keep its bronzed and glowy appearance, be sure to moisturize your skin regularly to nourish and hydrate areas like your elbows, ankles, and knees. 

Applying moisturizer regularly keeps your tan from fading, allowing it to last longer.

Gradual Tan vs Instant Tan

  • Gradual Self-Tanner

Gradual self-tanners come in an array of formulas. From lotions and oils to mousses and sprays, they’re available in a variety of shades to suit all skin tones and skin types.

Gradual self-tanning products allow you to build up your desired color result over some time and you won’t see an instant difference. They usually develop within 6 - 8 hours after application 

Great for beginners, you can control how natural or tanned you wish to look, and can apply more if you if want a deeper tan, or, hold off for a few days if you’re satisfied with your result

Gradual-tanning lotions provide long wear and can last up to 10 days, provided that you apply the product correctly and based on how well you look after your skin after the product has been applied.

  • Instant Self-tan

Just like their gradual tan counterparts, Instant tans come in mists, lotions, oils, and mousses.

Typically there are two types of instant tans - those that can be washed off instantly, without leaving any residue behind or, instant meaning that they develop rapidly (within an hour) and last depending on your skin tone and skin shade.

An instant wash-off self-tanner is more of a make-up product. It’s perfect for those who don’t want a long-lasting tan but need to be tanned for a special occasion or even

The latter Instant tan is similar to a gradual tanner in terms of longevity with the only major difference being that the color develops rapidly, almost instantaneously.