Tips on getting spray tans if you're fair skinned

Updated March 23, 2017

Spray tans are a safe alternative to tanning which don't require baking under the open sun or in a tanning bed. They work by giving skin a temporary sun-kissed glow which lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the spray-tan formula. Although spray tans are a welcomed alternative to laying under harmful solar rays, it can be easy to overdo it with an unnatural result. It is important to use the right type of spray tan if you have fair skin to avoid looking orange or fake.

Choosing Formula

Choose a spray tan formula that works for you. You can choose from instant spray tans which make your skin tan in a short period of time, and usually last until the next shower or bath, or a self-tanning spray tan which gradually darkens your skin colour, resulting in a natural-looking tan. For fair skin, your best choice is to choose a gradually darkening formula to avoid getting a fake orange colour. With this type of spray tan, you can control the colour of your tan. Use more of it to deepen the colour, or skip it for a few days to lighten the tan.

For Fair Skin

The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a spray tan for fair skin is that this spray tan should be for fair or light skin. If you choose a spray tan for medium to dark skin, you will get an unnaturally dark tan. By choosing a spray tan made especially for fair skin, you will get a light tan which will look most natural, as if your skin has been tanned by the sun.


When you choose a spray tan, if available, choose one which has a dark colour when sprayed. That way, you can easily see where the tan was sprayed and immediately fix up any mistakes to avoid an uneven tan or streaks. When applying, first exfoliate skin. Then, spray the tan evenly to cover the parts of skin you want to tan. Be careful around your elbows, knees and ankles. Elbows and knees tend to get darker due to the dry skin, while your ankles are the areas most prone to streaks. Distribute the product evenly in those areas, using less on your elbows and knees, and using your hands to fix up the colour on your ankles. Allow the spray tan to dry before getting dressed.


Remember that spray tans do not contain SPF and therefore do not protect your skin from the sun. Apply sunscreen on top of the spray tan once its dry, before heading outside to avoid getting a sunburn. Reapply sunscreen every two hours at least, or after wetting skin. Sprays tans help hard-to-tan fair skin get a natural sun-kissed glow or a light tan, which doesn't mean they will make skin easier to tan by the sun. Your fair skin will still be as prone to sunburns as it was before using the spray tan. You might just be less tempted to bake in the sun, knowing that a spray tan makes your skin light brown, rather than red or pink as the sun does.

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About the Author

Aleksandra Ozimek has been writing professionally since 2007 for a fashion blog, various online media and the "Queens Courier," in addition to interning at "Cosmopolitan" magazine. She completed her Bachelor of Science in journalism and photography from St. John's University, where she is completing her master's degree.