Should You Moisturize Before Applying Self Tanner?

Should you Moisturize

By Ashlyn Noah
January 20, 2022

Are you new to the self-tanning world? You might be wondering how self-tanning lotions vary from the tanning bed or the traditional tanning method you’re used to. 

Self-tanning at home is a great way to achieve a flawless tan that looks as if you got it naturally outside, but there are certain recommendations you should follow to ensure your tan stays flawless as long as possible. 

Additionally, it’s important to know that not all self-tanners are made equal. Most self tanning lotions and mousses on the market are full of parabens, dyes, chemicals and toxins that may give you color (albeit orange), but are detrimental to your health. 

We, of course, recommend Naru Organics self-tanner instead, made with all naturally-derived and organic ingredients. 

Regardless of which product you choose, proper skincare is key to getting the most out of your faux tan. 

Here’s everything you need to know about application and moisturizing before self-tanning.

Why Self-Tanners Are Better Than Other Methods

If you’re looking for a safer and effective way to get a tan look the first time around, self-tanners are a great option (assuming your product isn’t full of nasty ingredients). 

Unlike the risks that come with tanning beds and UV rays from the sun, you won’t have to worry about long-term affects like skin with these products. 

Self-tanning products with healthy and researched ingredients are super safe for your skin and are dermatologist-approved. Granted, there are mistakes that can be made with these products, and nastier products on the market that cause discoloration if you aren’t careful.

The good news is that these products are easy to wash off and buff out of your skin if you catch a mistake quickly. All you need is a damp rag and to remove the product as soon as you apply it and catch the mistake. If you don’t notice a streak until later, try out one of these tips to fix your tan. 

Self-tanners are made with an active ingredient called dihydroxyacetone, DHA, which react with the amino acids on your skin surface to cause a chemical reaction that produces the darker pigmented shade of your tan. 

Just like a spray-tan, self-tanners sit on the first layer of skin and DHA is completely safe for your body in achieving a gradual tan. 

Tan Woman on Beach

Types Of Self-Tanners

You may have already spent a lot of time  trying out the various self-tanners that are out there. Here are the common self-tanner methods on the market:

  • Body lotion
  • Tanning mousse
  • Bronzer
  • Mist
  • Towelette
  • Gel

As mentioned before, if you’re not careful, you could pick up one that contains a lot of harmful chemicals. In fact, it is sad, but most of them do. The best kind of self-tanning products are natural, and organic, and you won’t be soaking toxins into your skin while avoiding UV rays. 

Should You Moisturize Before Self-Tanning?

Depending on the method of self-tanner you choose, you may be wondering if you should be hydrating your skin with your daily body lotions. If you are dealing with dry skin, don’t worry, most self-tanner lotions contain hydrating ingredients to keep up with your skin’s moisturizing. 

​If you are planning on applying self-tanner, when it comes time to put on your moisture after your shower, tanning experts recommend you skip this skincare step.

It may seem a little out of place to ditch your daily lotion, but it can actually be a culprit in the unevenness of your tan. Applying moisture from lotion can alter the color of your tan and cause some spots to appear darker.

Since self-tanners set in the first layer of skin, you don’t want to have anything else on your body that can hinder your product from doing its work. If you are really worried about making sure your body keeps its daily nutrients, be sure to find a product with aloe or other hydrating ingredients in its makeup. Naru Organics contains almond oil and other hydrating ingredients to keep your skin nourished and glowing. 

Application Tips To Achieve A Natural Glow

Now that you know to not apply your moisturizer before your self-tanner, what about other steps to take before or after your shower

The actual process of prepping your skin for the self-tanning product starts with exfoliation. When you exfoliate with your body scrub and mitt, you will be scrubbing away the dead skin cells and creating a clean surface for your product to sit on. 

It’s important that you exfoliate before you apply your product so that your dead skin cells do not shed while holding the product. Exfoliation helps to clean your pores and open them up to be able to accept the product and hold onto the tan much longer. 

After you exfoliate, it’s crucial that you wax or shave and get that out of the way in advance. If you wait to shave a day or two after putting on the product, your even tan could easily be stripped away. 

Now let’s talk about what to do after the shower. 

As soon as you step out of the shower, refrain from immediately putting on lotion, as mentioned above. 

If you try to apply self-tanning lotion or other forms before your body is completely dry, you might not have the streak-free results you want. The water that is continuing to dry and run through your tan and leave behind water streaks. 

One of our important tanning tips is to give your body ample time to dry even though you will be dying to lock in moisture. Wait at least 10 minutes before you start to apply. 

Don’t Forget Your Applicator Mitt (if Using a Traditional Product)

To keep your skin tone the same on the inside of your palm, remember to always use a tanning mitt when you apply any kind of traditional self-tanner product. 

Tanning mitts are lifesavers when it comes to stopping discoloration on your hand, but they also help to rub your product evenly on the rest of your body if you rub it in the correct way.

Instead of rubbing your product back and forth or side to side, use your applicator mitt in a circular motion to make sure you get an even application. 

​You can use your applicator mitt to rub out even creases and help reach the hard areas such as your elbows, ankles, and wrists to rub your traditional self-tanner in evenly.

Rules To Follow After Application For Keeping A Tan Look

Once your self-tanner is applied evenly on your skin, tanning experts recommend letting your body dry completely, about 10 minutes, before getting dressed.

The time of day you apply your self-tanner is completely up to you, but to best fit with your schedule, some people like applying these products at night before they go to sleep to make it easier. Be warned though — some traditional self tanners made with dyes may stain your sheets. 

If you put your self-tanning product on during the morning after a shower, it’s crucial to not only let your body dry but to wait for at least 6 to 8 hours before doing any type of physical activity that gets your body wet. 

This includes swimming or working out so there are no streaks left behind from any perspiration or water. 

When it comes to having a consistent golden glow, it’s recommended that you reapply your product every other day at first until you start to notice a color change, then you can apply your product every 3 days to keep the color.

Self-tanners fade very quickly since the product only sits on the first layer of skin. Because of this, they are easily washed off and the key to building and keeping color is consistent application. 


This may seem like a lot of rules, but it’s important to follow if you want to keep the livelihood of your sunless tan. 

Remembering to not apply moisturizer after the shower and giving yourself enough time to dry is imperative for the consistency of your sunless tan.

And if you want to avoid all of the staining and hassle of a traditional self-tanner, give Naru Organics self-tanner a try instead. 

Note: Want to give yourself an even, natural-looking sunless tan without exposing your skin to toxic chemicals, dyes or synthetic fragrances? Get Naru Organics self tanner and try the very first flawless self tan with no nasty ingredients. Learn more now!
naru organics self tanner

Ashlyn Noah

Ashlyn Noah is an author in the skin care industry.