We noticed that there’s a surprising amount of confusion around how long you can leave your self-tanner on before hitting the showers. We’re not just talking about the self-tanning newbies — even those who have done a few sessions themselves are either a) winging it all this time or b) erring on the conservative side to prevent themselves from messing up.
Here are four questions around self-tanner development time that we usually neglect to ask.
I have all the time in the world and I have no plans of leaving the house. How long do I keep my self-tanner on?
Most self-tanners need at least 6-10 hours for them to reach the peak colour that they were designed to produce. If you have all the time in the world and nowhere to go but indoors, allowing your self-tanner to develop for 10 hours is the surest way to get the maximum shade it was intended for.
Make sure that you allow the product to dry before slipping into an airy, non-white outfit. The latter is an important detail to keep in mind before coming into contact with the beautiful fabric of your couch and turning on Netflix.
I’m afraid of turning orange. How long can I reach the maximum development time without hitting the orange side of the tanning spectrum?
Turning orange has little to do with how long you keep a self-tanning product on your skin and more with the quality of the DHA used. Most self-tanners use a tanning agent called dihydroxyacetone (more widely known as DHA), which is the active agent behind producing melanoidins after coming into contact with your skin, producing the brown pigmentation that mimics a tan.
Not all DHAs are the same. When it comes to orange tans, the culprit is usually some low-quality, synthetic DHA. What you want to look for is a DHA that is derived from a natural, plant-based source. Typically these are of good quality—there’s no funky smell, it won’t dry out your skin, and the pigmentation looks very natural that it almost works around your natural skin colour (but to be safe, choose a shade that’s not too drastic to keep that natural-looking glow). When skimming self-tanners, pick out one that uses good DHA.
I suddenly need to run out for a quick errand. What is the shortest time I can leave it on and still see results?
Self-tanners usually won’t show results until after an hour or two, and even when it does, the effect is typically minimal. If you really have to shower before leaving for somewhere, try to wait at least two hours to give your self-tanning effort some justice.
If you have time to spare afterwards, we recommend topping up your underdeveloped tan with a good gradual tanner. This will help build on your existing tan with very minimal risks.
If you really have no time, leave your self-tanner on before going to bed. You’ll wake up with a gorgeous glow 8-10 hours later. Just be wary of white sheets or sleepwear to prevent staining.
Can I leave my self-tanner on when I have to rush to a dinner or party?
Of course. Your self-tanner will still develop slowly as the night grows deeper. Just make sure that you allow your self-tanner to dry before putting on clothes (avoid super tight white outfits), and that your self-tanner doesn’t have some weird dark tint upon application.
Mousses work well because they disappear into your skin without leaving a tint. You can find our mousses here.
Beware of water or sweat as they can significantly reduce the effectiveness of your self-tanner. They can also lead to unwanted streaks and splotches, especially when the self-tanner rubs on your clothes. As long as you follow those tips, you’ll get a deep, gorgeous tan as your night progresses.
Don’t forget to shower after 8-10 hours!