The Art of Timing Your Shave – Shave Before or After Fake Tanning?

Getting a beautiful, fresh spray tan can be a great decision. However, as you admire the sun-kissed glow you suddenly remember that you did not shave your legs or arms before getting the procedure done. This dilemma gives rise to the question “Should I shave before or after a fake tan?” 

Read on to find out more about the dos and don’ts of shaving and tanning. Find out how to keep your tan looking the best as we break down how you can combine both tanning and shaving together!

Can I Shave Before a Fake Tan?

Absolutely! Shaving prior to getting a spray tan or applying a fake tanning product is not just allowed, but it’s actually recommended. When you shave, you’re naturally exfoliating the skin by removing dead skin cells. This leaves behind a fresh canvas that’s ready to soak up the tanning product evenly. Think of it like preparing a wall before painting; the smoother the surface, the better the paint will be. So, when you shave, you’re essentially doing a vital step for your tanning session.

Tips for Shaving Before a Fake Tan

  • Timing is Key: Aim to shave at least 24 hours before your tanning session. If you’re short on time, the minimum recommended gap between shaving and tanning is four hours.
  • Rinse and Close Pores: Conclude your shaving routine with a cold water rinse. This helps close up pores and reduces the risk of the tanning solution entering them, which can create those unwanted speckled spots. 
  • Exfoliation Matters: Exfoliating is synonymous with shaving when it comes to prepping for a tan. It’s all about getting rid of dead skin cells to ensure the tanning solution adheres well. But if you’re exfoliating in the shower, do it at least 4 hours before your tan. Post-exfoliation, always moisturize using shaving products with natural ingredients to replenish the skin’s hydration.
  • Stay Away from Wax and Makeup: If waxing is more your style, do it at least 24 hours (or more) before your tanning appointment. Just like with shaving, you don’t want any residual product on your skin. Similarly, avoid makeup and lotions before your tanning session.
  • Opt for a Gentle Shower: Just before your tanning session, consider taking a relaxing, cool (but not too cold) shower. Cold showers help to calm the skin. Afterward, when drying, pat yourself gently with a towel instead of rubbing.

Pros and Cons of Shaving Before Tanning


  • Shaving pre-tan offers a dual benefit of hair removal and exfoliation.
  • It ensures a smoother skin surface, allowing for an even application of the tanning solution.
  • There’s a reduced risk of the tanning solution settling in open pores if you shave 24 hours prior, preventing speckled spots.


  • Shaving just before a tan can leave behind a film from the razor, making it harder for the tan to adhere well, leading to a streaky tan.
  • Hair removal processes, like shaving or waxing, can open up pores which, if not given sufficient time, can result in an uneven tan.

When Should You NOT Shave Before a Fake Tan?

While shaving prior to a fake tan is a commonly recommended practice, there are specific times when you might want to hold off on reaching for that razor. Let’s delve into the moments when it’s best to skip the shave:

Immediately Before the Session: Avoid shaving right before your tan appointment or application. Shaving can leave a filmy residue on the skin, which might interfere with the tanning solution, leading to an uneven tan.

If You Have Skin Irritations: If you notice any cuts, nicks, irritations, or rashes on your skin, it’s best to let your skin heal first. Shaving can exacerbate these issues, and applying tanning solution afterward can sting and cause further discomfort.

Post Waxing: If you’ve just waxed, hold off on shaving for a bit. Your skin is already exfoliated and might be sensitive. Shaving too soon after can lead to irritation and redness.

When Pores are Open: Hot showers, steam rooms, and saunas can open up your pores. Shaving immediately after such activities can lead to tanning solution settling in these open pores, resulting in a speckled or dotted tan.

If You’ve Recently Exfoliated: If you’ve given yourself a rigorous exfoliating scrub, it might be best to skip shaving for a while. Your skin could be extra sensitive, and shaving might strip it even further.

Avoid Moisture Strip Razors: These strips can leave a residue on your skin, acting as a barrier for the tanning solution and potentially causing streaks.

Can I Shave After a Fake Tan?

After achieving your desired bronzing look from a fake tan application, you might wonder if you can shave or not. There is no definite answer to this question, because it depends on a lot of factors. While it’s technically possible to shave after a spray tan, it’s generally not recommended by experts. This is because shaving essentially exfoliates the skin, which can scrape off the spray tan solution. 

When this happens, the result is uneven, dry patches on your skin which will destroy the beautiful fake tan that you had achieved earlier. For the tan to appear flawlessly, it’s vital that the amino acids and DHA have ample time to absorb and develop within your skin, so that the color is dark and rich. However, this does not mean that you simply cannot shave after fake tanning. If you exercise caution and follow the correct skin care and shaving tips, it can be achieved without risking your faux tan.

Tips for Shaving After a Fake Tan

  • Be Patient: If you must shave after tanning, wait until the tan fully develops. Typically, you’d rinse off a spray tan after about 8 hours, but it takes a full 24 hours for the tan to set. Since shaving is a form of exfoliation, doing it before the tan sets can lead to an uneven appearance.
  • Be Gentle: Remember, your freshly tanned skin is delicate. If you’re shaving, use a gentle touch and a sharp razor blade to avoid exfoliating too aggressively.
  • Don’t Shave Daily: The more frequently you shave, the faster your tan will fade. Moreover, over-shaving can damage the skin’s uppermost layer, so it is best to avoid over-doing it. 
  • Use a New Razor: Always opt for a new or barely used electric razor. This reduces the risk of introducing bacteria to your freshly tanned skin, and your tan will last longer without any nicks, cuts or bacterial rashes. 
  • Don’t Use Shaving Foam: Many shaving foams and lotions contain ingredients that may not be friendly to your tan and skin. If you must use something, consider a homemade shaving cream made from skin-friendly ingredients, especially if you have sensitive skin. 
  • Consider Your Hair Type: Surprisingly, your hair type can affect the shaving process extensively. For people with dark hair, you may need to exert more pressure, but be cautious. Over-shaving can open pores which can then be filled with melanin, leading to a polka-dotted appearance and can ruin your tan.

Additional care tips include moisturizing daily, avoiding lengthy water exposure, and topping off your tan with tinted moisturizers that match your chosen shade. By adhering to these tips, you can make sure that your shaving does not affect your tanned skin or confidence in any way. 

Pros and Cons of Shaving After Tanning


  • Shaving post-tan can leave your skin feeling silky and soft.
  • Shaving can provide a refreshed and clean sensation, especially in warm weather.
  • In some cases, shaving might make your tan appear more polished by removing any tiny body hair that can reflect light differently.
  • If you missed shaving before the tan, doing it afterward means you won’t have to wait days for the tan to fade before shaving.


  • Shaving can take off a layer of the tanning solution, leading to patchy results.
  • The act of shaving can sometimes result in dry skin and dark spots, which may appear more pronounced with a tan.
  • Shaving post-tanning can expedite the fading process as it removes layers of skin and, consequently, the tan.
  • As an exfoliation method, shaving can accelerate the fading process of your tan.
  • Shaving on freshly tanned skin may increase the risk of skin irritation or redness.
  • The combination of tanning solution and shaving might increase the chances of pores getting clogged, leading to potential breakouts.
  • If not done carefully, shaving can cause streaks or lines, disrupting the smooth appearance of your tan.

In essence, while it’s possible to shave after a perfect spray tan, the cons outweigh the pros. If you want your tan to last and look its best, it’s wise to hold off on the razor until your tan begins to naturally fade.

When You Should NOT Shave After a Fake Tan

Immediately After Application: Shaving right after a tanning process can easily strip away the tan before it has had a chance to fully develop. Typically, tans require several hours to set properly.

During Tan Development Period: Most tans need up to 24 hours to fully develop. Shaving before this period can disturb the tan’s development, leading to uneven results.

On Irritated Skin: If you notice any skin irritation, redness, or bumps after your tan session, it’s best to avoid shaving. Doing so could exacerbate the irritation.

After Using Tans with Bronzers: Some tanning solutions have added bronzers for instant color. Shaving might remove this bronzer unevenly and give a streaky appearance.

Frequent Shaving: If you’ve just shaved the day before your tanning session, you might want to hold off shaving again right after. Over-shaving can lead to skin sensitivity and doesn’t give much benefit in terms of unwanted hair removal.

Before Engaging in Water Activities: If you’re planning to swim or engage in prolonged water activities, it’s suitable to avoid shaving right after a tan. Shaving, combined with the effects of chlorine or salt water, can fade your tan rapidly.


In conclusion, you can shave either before or after fake tanning, however the decision around the timing of your shave is a nuanced consideration.

It’s crucial to understand that for optimal results, it’s best to shave at least 24 hours before the application of a spray tan. If, however, you decide to shave afterwards, take care to ensure your tan has fully set in order to preserve the tan quality.

With these key shaving considerations in mind you can ensure your perfect tan looks its best for as long as possible!

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