How to Fake Tan Before Your Wedding

A tanned bride wearing a strapless dress and holding a large bouquet.

You’ll be glowing from the inside out on your wedding day, but if you’re worried that your skin will be more pale than your dress, then you may be considering some fake tan application before the big day. While fake tanning is a much healthier option than taking several trips to the tanning salon or basking in the sun, it’s notoriously tricky to apply and to prevent mishaps. Thinking about fake baking before the wedding day? Here are some of our best tips to ensure that you look sun-kissed instead of splotchy.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Spray Tan the Night Before the Wedding

When you want to look tan for your wedding, it’s only natural to think that you should apply it as close as you can to the event so it looks fresh. But this can be a big mistake. Just in case something goes awry, you want the opportunity to fix it and you also want to give the product time to develop. Professionals generally recommend to get a spray tan or apply fake tanner at least two days before a big event.

Visit a Professional Airbrush Artist

Someone getting spray tanner applied with an airbrush.

If you really want that perfectly bronzed look on your wedding day (minus the harmful rays of the sun) then your best bet is to leave it in the hands of a professional. A professional spray tan airbrush artist will ensure that your tan is evenly applied and looks natural.

Getting a professional spray tan for the first time can be a bit intimidating, but you can generally expect that your artist will ask you to do the following:

  • Arrive with fresh skin—meaning no lotions, perfumes, or in some cases even deodorants applied
  • Remove all makeup
  • Wear disposable underwear (or underwear that you don’t mind gets ruined)
  • Bring a ponytail holder to put hair up in a net that they’ll provide to protect your hair
  • Bring or wear dark, loose clothes for the ride home that you don’t mind getting stained

During the appointment, your spray tan artist will use a spray gun and work in a methodical manner to apply the product evenly to your skin. They will instruct you on how to stand, when to turn, or on anything else they might need you to do in order to apply the perfect spray tan.

Once you’re dry enough, you’ll get dressed and they’ll give you instructions for after-care. Typically you won’t be able to shower for at least six to eight hours after your spray tan, so it’s probably not a great night to go out with the girls (note: spray tans tend to have a very distinctive smell).

Go to a Spray Tan Booth

If you don’t feel comfortable being nearly naked in front of a stranger or you just don’t want to shell out the money for a professional spray tan, another option is to go to a spray tan booth. Because you won’t have a professional to evenly apply the tanning solution, you’ll have to ensure that you stand correctly in the booth and follow instructions so that you don’t end up with disastrous results.

To get a perfectly even tan, exfoliate your skin the day before and don’t wear any makeup or moisturizer on the day of your appointment. Just like getting a spray tan from an airbrush artist, be sure to bring/wear dark and loose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty and avoid showering for at least six to eight hours afterwards to avoid streaking and color splotching.

Once you arrive at your appointment, the attendant will give you instructions or show you a video on how and when to turn so that your tan is evenly applied. Should you have any questions about how your booth will work, ask the attendant before they get it queued up. When you get into the booth, you can either wear a bathing suit or get in there completely naked—it’s up to you, your comfort level, and the rules of the salon.

Apply the Self-Tanner at Home

A woman applying self-tanner on her legs.

Self-tanning lotions and creams have come a long way in the last 10 years, so many brides are comfortable with DIYing their tan at home. Should you choose to go this route, be sure to read the instructions on the product carefully in order to avoid a streaky mess.

Just like tanning with a professional or in a booth, you’ll need to exfoliate before and remove any makeup or lotion. When you’re ready to apply, first use a tanning primer on tricky spots like knees and elbows, which tend to absorb excess product. Then, once your primer has dried, put on a pair of tanning mitts (to avoid getting orange hands) and apply the tanner in a circular motion to avoid streaking.

Once it’s been evenly applied, follow the instructions on the product to know when you can shower (generally, follow the six to eight hour rule for good measure).

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