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Spray Tan Tips: Pre & Post Care To Maintain Your Glow

Spray Tan Tips: Pre & Post Care To Maintain Your Glow

Alexandra DiMarchi & I met when I needed a good spray tan & I need it FAST.

She showed up at my house, precisely on time & was one of the most professional people I’d ever worked with. Not only was she an expert when it came to spray tans, she was FULL of knowledge, straight to the point & so efficient with the set up.

Over the last year I’ve consistently used her at least 3 times a month & for any event I’ve had. She has tanned so many celebs & is a top artist in LA. I could not be more excited to have Alexandra on the blog.

Spray Tan Tips: Pre & Post Tan Care To Maintain Your Glow

She goes so in-depth, you guys will learn all about how to blend your spray or self tan, how to maintain & prolong it, plus insider secrets on how to extend the life of your tan and how to make it look like you don’t have a fake tan at all!

Let’s welcome Alexandra to The Skinny Confidential.


Introduce yourself & tell everyone how you got into the tanning space. 

Alexandra DiMarchi: I’m Alexandra DiMarchi, an airbrush tanning expert based in Los Angeles & I’m also the Global Tanning Expert for the brand Tan Luxe. I’ve been in the beauty industry for over a decade & I’ve been specializing in spray tan care & skin finishing for about seven years now.

Skin Finishing has always been something that I’ve been passionate about, but makeup was my first love. I always wanted to be a makeup artist growing up but during my time as such I realized that I wasn’t the best at full-glam — the cut creases, other ornate eye looks, etc. — I gravitated toward complexion & skincare. I would customize a skin glow for each client based on their undertones.

Through that I mastered achieving glowy skin, matching undertones, & enhancing a client’s natural complexion. What I found out through working at MAC Cosmetics in the Washington, DC area was that women of all different ethnicities all wanted the same thing: an even & radiant skin tone.

I would have white to lighter-skinned women that would come in & they would want to appear like they had just got back from a vacation, & then I’d have women with deeper complexions who rather than looking for a tanned appearance, wanted a subtle & even glow.

So in 2013 I decided I wanted to expand my education & attend FIDM to learn more about the beauty industry from more of the business & manufacturing perspective.

That inspired me to start my own luxury mobile airbrush service.  

Eventually over the years, through networking with beauty brands & celebrities, Airbrush By Alexandra became more successful. Since then, my work has been featured in Vogue, Allure, Rolling Stone, Who What Wear, Sports Illustrated Swim Issue,  & Playboy, and has been seen at The Oscars, Golden Globes and both the SAG & BET Awards. I was even flown in by Michael Kors at the end of 2018 to tan models for their 2019 Global Spring campaign! I’ve worked with celebrities such as Halsey, Nazanin Mandi, Molly Sims, Jamie Lynn Spears, Sarah Staud & members of the Getty family. and tons of others that are posted all over my Instagram. 

Alexandra DiMarchi spray tan tipsAlexandra Dimarchi

What’s the #1 mistake you see people making when they get a spray tan?

AD: It’s hard for me to pinpoint just one because people make so many different mistakes. However, I personally think the number one mistake people make is treating airbrush tanning services like other beauty services, when in reality they require a bit more immediate pre & post care than many other beauty services to maintain their longevity…

Here’s why: If you don’t like your makeup, you can wash it off & re-do it. If you don’t like your lashes, you can remove the lashes or put on another pair. 

But with tanning, if you want tweak the color, you can’t. Whatever color you end up with is the color that will be on your skin for at least a week. Even when someone starts to shower bathe or exfoliate it off, it still takes time to naturally tan fade off to where your skin looks normal again.

That said, I think the biggest mistake people make is not following the pre-care & post-care instructions because that’s really what determines the result of your application.

You have to make sure that you prepare your skin properly hours before your appointment so that when you get to your tanning specialist they have a properly-prepped canvas to work with.

When it comes to aftercare, you really need to be careful to not wear or avoid wearing undergarments, ensure you’re wearing the right shoes or better yet wear flip flops. You’ll want to avoid wearing super tight clothing, or wearing dark clothing that absorbs heat and sweat immediately after.   So ideally, wear loose fitting clothing.

I feel like a lot of people go get a tan then just go about their day as normal, & you can’t do that.  It will shorten the life of your tan.  It ideally takes 12 hours up to 24 hours to properly cure.  If there’s blotchiness, or streakiness, more than likely it’s not the actual technician’s fault, it’s how you cared for your skin before & after. 

Additionally, I would say a lot of times that people choose the wrong shade. I think so many people still have this false sense of choosing a shade so far from their natural skin tone. But that’s not what a quality airbrush tan is. Again, it’s all about proper shade matching so that your skin doesn’t contrast too vastly with your clothing or other parts of your body. 

 What are your top tips for maintaining a glowy, even tan?


 Adjust your skincare: 

If you’re someone who gets an airbrush tan regularly you want to adjust your skincare to keep it. For instance, avoid exfoliating, oil free & brightening products. My favorite body cleanser that works best with airbrush tans & self-tanners is Nécessaire body wash ( fragrance free ). 

Hydrate your skin & use a gradual: 

The more you hydrate the skin the more evenly your tan will fade. Nécessaire body lotion & body serum is great. If someone is super dry,  I’d recommend Josie Maran’s body butters.  If those are too thick I like Dr. Barbara Sturm’s anti-aging cream.  These act as a barrier cream that protects your skin and tan.

I also love using Super Glow by Tan Luxe. It’s a body serum with a lower percentage of DHA. This lower level of DHA allows for more of a natural enhancement & isn’t going to drastically change your color, but will help it build over a few days to get more longevity out of your tan. Another great product is The Gradual by Tan Luxe. It super hydrating & works well with all skin tones. 

Using a setting powder is great too. I like to use it under my arms, under my neck, under my boobs, under my butt- under any place that naturally creases a bit more. It’ll help you feel like you aren’t wearing a self tanner while it’s setting on the skin. Currently I use ILIA.

poolside with chairs
Spray Tan Tips: Pre & Post Care To Maintain Your Glow
{ photos from The Marley }

Only use a tanning mitt for certain areas: 

Do not use it on your hands, feet, elbows, face, etc. I only recommend using it on larger parts of your body. It can deposit too much product into those dryer areas so it’s better to use a kabuki brush for hands & feet, etc.  While we’re on the subject of hands, don’t forget to blend into your wrist! If you don’t, it can be a dead giveaway that you’re wearing self-tanner. ( My blending tips are below ).

Pre & post care is so important: 

Shower, shave & exfoliate prior to your tan. You want to prep your skin to have a clear canvas for your applications. After your tan, avoid really hot showers, use of bar soap that dries your skin. They will make your tan fade quicker so use lukewarm water.

Avoid red lights. It can stop your tan from developing & this actually happened to Lauryn!

Make sure all beauty services are done prior. The tan should be the last beauty service before an event. Get waxing, pedicure, manicure, facial, all that stuff done before a tan. Those services can strip your tan & make it uneven. 

Do you have any tips for blending a tan?

AD: Yes, here are the best ways to blend & hide that you have a self-tan:

Use a root touch-up product:

For instance, some who is blonde & gets airbrush tans will most likely have a paler scalp. I like to use Root Cover Up from L’Oréal tanning solutions in medium brown, but all you need to do is match your tone. Sometimes I’ll use the powders too so there isn’t a blunt line from the tan to your scalp. 

Have a darker foundation ready: I always recommend clients have a darker shade of foundation than they would normally wear. Cover FX custom drops are great, so I like to have one that’s 2 or 3 shades darker than my foundation. They blend with any type of formula so you don’t need to have a ton of different foundations. Just have your normal one & add the darker shade of Cover FX drops. 

If you plan to do it yourself, you can make use of a body scrub or exfoliating mitt by working in circular motion.  Pay extra attention to areas such as the knees, elbows and neck.  Again, I would prefer to have a professional handle it.

Always make sure your hands are tanned:

Your hands fade quicker than the rest of your body. Just take a your bronzer with a big brush & use it on your hands when your tan is fading to avoid any tan lines. I also do this on my feet if I’m wearing heels that show a lot of skin.

HOT TIP: One of my favorite things to blend out a tan is the Artis Palm Brush Mini. I recommend this for buffing out your hands & your feet or the areas where you want smooth out your tan a little bit.  

How can you keep your tan from fading unevenly?

AD: To avoid your tan fading unevenly make sure you properly hydrate & exfoliate your skin. Exfoliation is critical because you have to ensure that there are no dead skin cells on the body that could shed days later. That dead skin will inevitably take the tan with it. Hydration is important because the more hydrated the skin is, the more evenly the tan will fade.

If someone is an advocate for self-tanner, they should make sure that they are truly moisturizing the dryer areas of their skin more frequently. A lot of people hydrate their hands & their arms, but they forget to pay more attention to areas like their elbows. So what I like to do is intentionally add some oil to those areas.

You also need to make sure that you’re moisturizing your feet & ankles. Those areas are particularly important, especially if you frequently use self-tanner. I put lotion & serums heavily on my feet & ankles a couple of nights a week, and then make sure I wear socks when I sleep. That helps the moisture really penetrate. 

Another thing is if people work out a lot, they need to make sure to pat themselves dry right afterwards. That’s because there are salt glands in your skin, & when your sweat builds up in certain areas, it can cause uneven fading & blotchiness. 

How can we make sure we don’t get that orange shit all over our hands & feet?

AD: I would say the best way to prevent it is to simply pay attention to those areas a little bit more, don’t rush the process. What I like to do is tan those areas at night, because then I don’t have to worry about messing up my application by putting my shoes or socks back on, washing my hands, or doing any other activities that will make my skin get wet.

I think a lot of times people rush the process & then unintentionally they use too much product in those areas. But those are dry areas so they’re gonna absorb the product way quicker than the rest of your body. The result is that they overdevelop. So less is more, except when it comes to moisturizing before application. You should make sure to moisturize those areas really well, creating a barrier & then apply the tanning product. I always recommend people use a beautyblender with a kabuki brush & apply a gradual self-tanner to those areas & buff it in to create an even transition. 

Spray Tan Tips: Pre & Post Care To Maintain Your Glow
flamingo float

If you’re getting a spray tan at a salon, what does the prep look like for the client? 

AD: First, you have to go to a custom airbrush studio that specializes in airbrush tans particularly because those studios are going to be the ones to take the extra precautions to make sure you have a flawless tan. There’s a lot of traditional tanning salons that offer sunless tanning such as the beds, spray booth machines, & then they’ll say, “Oh, we also have someone that does the spray tans.” Steer clear of that. The only exception ( in my own opinion ) would be if an artist rents a room in someone else’s salon. 

An airbrush artist who specializes in the service will make sure they’re properly prepping your skin. So normally when you arrive for the service tanning appointment, they’re going to ask you a couple of questions. Like, do you want a regular or rapid tan? What shade(s) are you aiming for? What is the occasion? And then they’re going to customize that color for you. A really good airbrush artist is going to prep your skin themselves, meaning they’ll directly apply lotion to the areas that need it. Then, they’re going to blend you out and they’re going to apply powder afterwards in certain areas to make sure you feel dry or as dry as you possibly can after getting an airbrush tan. Lastly, they will make sure you’re fully knowledgeable on post care to ensure you get the most longevity. 

What are the pros of having someone tan you in your house?

AD: So this is why I started an airbrush tanning business because I recognized there was a demand for it. Number one, time is money & people love the convenience of a private in-home luxury service. I rented a space 4 years ago & a lot of my clients did not want to come in. Ultimately, it came down to comfort.

An airbrush tanning service can be a very private one. While what they wear is up to their discretion, some choose to be nude to avoid tan lines, while others are wearing minimal undergarments. 

Additionally, you’re not in your most luxurious state after an airbrush tanning treatment. You can’t wear makeup, your hair has to be tied up, you can’t wear regular clothes after, so it’s really not a moment when you feel glamorous. Even if your skin looks awesome, some still tend to feel bare. So I would say that people like the convenience of the in-home service because of the privacy, & they’re able to lounge around their home for a while until it’s time to rinse off their tan.


You work with a ton of celebs. What are their secrets when it comes to tanning?

AD: I think a secret is that most celebrities get them, they just don’t disclose it. There are celebrities that people praise for having a natural tan that are actually really pale, they just tan every week.

Tons of celebrities get the service & they don’t disclose it. That’s why they use at-home airbrush-tanning services because they like the privacy & the exclusivity of it. They don’t want to leave their homes because they don’t want to be published or photographed looking a certain way. 

That usually explains why tanning artists are rarely tagged in photos even though our work is often the most exposed — if the client has on a revealing outfit, etc. — there’s still a slight stigma attached to revealing that you get spray tanned. 

Also, celebrities are super busy just like the rest of us! Saving time by having an airbrush expert come to their home just makes sense.

Why do you like to spray tanning over a tanning bed?

AD: Mainly for health reasons. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States & across the world, with one in five Americans developing it by the age of 70.

For me, the reason that I even got into spray tanning was because I started becoming more aware of premature aging & the time I was spending in the sun. That’s when I started gravitating towards self tanners & spray tans. 

However, even with spray tan formula, I would recommend that people take health precautions & either use nose plugs or wear a mask. That should always be an option because breathing in too much of any kind of fumes can be excessive ( especially for the tanning artist & weekly tanners ). 

It seem obvious that spray tan solution are much better than a tanning bed. Spray tans offer an instant glow without any of the dangerous exposure unwanted UV rays.

Pimp yourself out! 

AD: You can find me & pictures of my work on Instagram @airbrushbyalexandra & visit my site


Be sure to follow Alexandra on Instagram where you can see all her work ( & celeb clients ). G2G book my next appointment with her.

x, lauryn

+ check out tips for taking care of afro-textured hair

++ scope how to organize your skincare like a pro. 


The Skinny Confidential
The Skinny Confidential art by @kayladarbymatar
{ art by @kayladarbymatar }

  1. love this! I own a spray tan business + blog and this is on point.
    love the content you’re putting out! xx

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