Not preparing your skin for a spray tan would be like not washing an apple before you eat it. It’s a healthy thing to have, but made less effective by the residue that’s on the surface. For apples this can mean pesticides, for spray tans this can mean anything that’s on your skin from moisturizers to soaps, shampoos, and perfumes.
There are lots of great exfoliants, body polishes, and body scrubs on the market, and your clients very likely already have several at home. What they might not know is that not all exfoliants are the same! Almost all exfoliants clean your skin by scrubbing off dead skin cells; unfortunately, most also include an oil or a moisturizer meant to hydrate your skin.
While this would not be a bad thing, normally–it certainly is when you are getting a spray tan.
Having these oils and moisturizers on your skin can affect the length and strength of your tan. Instead, look for an exfoliant that leaves your skin as fresh and naked as possible. I carry several options of exfoliation products, for only $15.
Places that are commonly missed/overlooked/need special attention during exfoliation:
Hairline–this can create a ghastly tan line between your forehead and your hair–unless you wear hats all day, every day, you definitely want to make sure that this area is carefully treated.
Back, neck, and shoulders: If you have long hair–be sure to pin it up and scrub from the base of the neck and up so that this area is clean and fresh. Also, make sure you scrub your shoulders, neck, and back AFTER you rinse your hair–this is to make sure that any shampoo residue that rinsed off your hair is then scrubbed from your body entirely instead of simply finding a new place on your shoulders.
Around your armpits: Deodorants will leave a barrier with your tan. Think of it this way: after I put on deodorant I don’t spend the rest of the day with my arms in the air. I walk, I swing my arms back and forth, I wave—all the normal activities, or abnormal if you are doing something strange, move that deodorant around. So it may stain down farther than you expect on either your arm or your side (especially if you were wearing it while working out!) So make sure to scrub around this area carefully. I’m not saying scrub your armpits, but I am saying be aware that deodorant can “travel” to other places–and these places will need to be exfoliated.
Be careful: some deodorants can affect the color of the bronzer part of the tanning application–this will be rinsed away with your first shower, but it could look weird until then.
Knuckles: your knuckles get pretty dry, they scrape stuff, punch walls, and get generally roughed up. They also have stuff on them–think about how many times your hands touch things throughout the day. Clean these well!
Elbows and knees: backs and fronts! These are joints, and joints get much more movement and activity than say, your forearm. They also just generally dry out faster than the rest of your skin so be sure to carefully exfoliate–this will ensure that the tan lasts longer in these areas.