Our Guide to Wedding Spray Tans

tan bride wearing a gorgeous white gown

PHOTO BY ALYSSA GREENBERG / Design by Zackary Angeline

Envisioning yourself walking down the aisle with a just-flown-in-from-Bora Bora glow against your pristine white gown, but more than slightly worried about all the ways you could mess it up? Us, too. It’s easy to be a self-proclaimed self-tanning addict on a daily basis when all you have to do is smear on some tanner and let it do its magic for a random weekend. But the thought of streaks, turning Muppet-orange, or bleeding brown all over your wedding dress on the BD (read: Big day. Huge day. Day of all days.) is enough to cripple anyone with fear.

Hold on to your bottles, though, because we got the lowdown from St. Tropez’s skin finishing expert, Sophie Evans, on how to guarantee the most perfect, oopsie-proof, wondrously sun-kissed skin.

Meet the Expert

  • Sophie Evans is the official ambassador for St. Tropez Tan, one of the leading self-tanning brands on the market. Evans has customized tans for A-list actors, pop stars, supermodels, first ladies, and more.

Bridal Tanning Dos


Start exfoliating your skin and completing your hair removal a week before the wedding. Wait 24 hours in between waxing and any self-tan application—this will ensure the hair follicles have settled to aid in a perfect finish. Prior to self-tan application, remove all products like deodorant, perfume, etc.

Find the Right Color

Experiment with different shades in advance. In the end, how dark you get is your own preference. Stick to just one professional spray tanning application for your final look. You don’t need any extra sessions to “build up” color. Skin naturally sheds over about 10 days, so all you would need to do in between is apply a light self-tan at home to maintain and boost the color.

Prep Before Application

Use moisturizer as a barrier for only your elbows, knees, hands, feet, crease in the wrist, back of the heel, around the hairline, and any severe dry areas when you’re applying your booster at home. This keeps those parts specifically from getting too dark and helps the tan look more natural—moisturizing your whole body will dilute the self-tan color, which you don’t want.

Use the Right Tools

Invest in an applicator mitt. They are amazing for loading up self-tanner and buffing away excess product on large surfaces—use light, sweeping strokes all over.

Fix Any Mistakes

Apply baby oil if you need to fix a dark area. Leave it on for 10 minutes to allow the exfoliation to be more effective. Scrub the dark part, then buff out the skin with a hot damp washcloth.


To extend your glow, be sure to shower post-spray tan. For best results, you should wait at least four to five hours after your spray tan, but no longer than 24 hours. Your first shower should be a gentle rinse using lukewarm or cold water. Pay close attention to areas such as under the arms to ensure that you wash off any excess bronzer. After this initial shower, you can return to your regular showering routine—keeping in mind that you shouldn't be exfoliating until you're ready for your tan to fade away. 

Remember Aftercare

Use only your favorite moisturizer on the day of your wedding—no tanner! If your tan was done right, you shouldn’t need it. This will also ensure that there is no staining on your gown from last-minute tanning. If you want even more of a glow, use a tinted body lotion or cosmetic bronzer on parts of your skin that peep out of your dress for even more polished perfection.

Bridal Tanning Don’ts

Skip Trials

Don't skimp out on a trial spray tan right before your dress fitting (preferably about two weeks before the big day). This is the best way to see what shade looks perfect against the exact coloring of your gown and if you should go lighter or darker.

Settle for the Wrong Shade

You never need to go with just one flat shade. Ask your spray-tan salon if they can customize the color by mixing light and dark solutions for your desired glow. Most places can also contour and add more color where your body needs it. By using additional shades, your skin will have more depth and definition.

Miss Touch-Ups

Remember to touch up with an at-home self-tanner every two to three days for the face and a mid-week boost for the body. The self-tan on your face fades faster, due to more exposure and daily cleansing.

Apply Too Little

Being stingy with how much product you apply never works out in the long run. “When a person is scared of a self-tan, they use a very small amount of product and try to over-rub and tan a large area. Always use enough product so that it glides effortlessly and smoothly over the skin,” Evans says. Your skin can only absorb a certain amount of tanning agent, so you can never use too much self-tan. The dreaded streak actually comes from not using enough.


The final tan shouldn't be applied more than two days before the wedding—two days prior is perfect. “You can sleep with the self-tan on for full development and then have the next day for the tan to settle and to retouch any areas if needed,” Evans says.

Exfoliate or Use Harsh Products

To maintain your glow, avoid exfoliating and using any harsh soaps, shampoos, or conditioners. Instead, reach for a soft washcloth and sulfate-free products that will be gentler on your skin. Thereafter, keeping your skin moisturized will be key. We recommend using an oil-free, paraben-free, and fragrance-free moisturizer formulated with ingredients like cocoa butter. 

Forget Sun Protection

Just because you look tan doesn't mean you're permitted to go in the sun before your big day and get burned. Continue protecting your skin by wearing sunscreen.

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