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How Long After a Spray Tan Can I Use a Hot Tub?

If you frequent tanning salons and love to get a spray tan, and also love your hot tub, you’ve no doubt wondered, how long after a spray tan can I use a hot tub?

Plan to wait at least 6 hours after receiving a spray tan before getting in a hot tub. Also, limit soak times to 20 minutes or fewer to minimize the lightening of the tan. Also, consider lowering the temperature of the water to 98° as the hotter the water, the more damage done to the color of the tan.

And that doesn’t even cover the possibility of damage to your hot tub (which we’ll get into below).

If you are a regular visitor to the tanning salon and you own or have access to a hot tub, this article will be of particular interest to you.

So, let’s jump in and find out how to use a hot tub after applying spray tan.

spray tan hot tub lg

Does chlorine ruin a spray tan?

Chlorine doesn’t ruin a spray tan. High chlorine levels will lighten a spray tan, and the spray tan itself can affect the chemical balance of the water in a hot tub and turn the water cloudy. Spray tan chemicals can also discolor the sides of a hot tub. 

More on that later.

In high concentrations, the chlorine will bleach your spray tan, but for normal use, the level of chlorine in a hot tub will not have too much of an adverse effect.

However, if you jump in your hot tub too soon after shocking it with chlorine, the elevated levels can strip away your skin cells and break down your tan very quickly.

If you’re concerned about the high chlorine level in your hot tub, you should read this recent article on my website. Just click on the link to see it.

Saltwater has the same effect on a tan, so swimming in the ocean is not a good alternative, but if you love to swim and show off your spray tan, applying self-tanner frequently is the way to go, along with moisturizing your skin when you’re done.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on fancy products to moisturize your skin.

Good old-fashioned coconut oil such as the one made by Nutiva on Amazon is a great product with over 40,000 outstanding reviews. And avoid citrus-based products as they contain citric acid that will strip away the color.

How long do you have to wait to get wet after a spray tan?

Plan to wait at least 6 hours after applying a spray tan before getting in water of any kind. This is to enable your skin to absorb the chemicals and allow time for your tan to develop.


The skin will continue to darken up to 24 hours after the tanning session, but it is safe to shower after 6 hours – check with your tanning shop because products vary.

Don’t spend too long under the shower, and don’t use any scrubs or soapy products as these will increase the rate of exfoliation – the gradual removal of dead skin from the surface of your body.

You shouldn’t have the shower too hot.

The same goes for hot tubs – as this opens up the pores of your skin, allowing more water to get under the dead layer on the surface. Lukewarm is fine. If you have to wash your hair, try not to get the shampoo on your skin, and avoid oily products.

When you get out of the shower, just dab your skin with a soft towel – don’t rub as this will just remove the dead skin bringing some of that tan with it.

How do you keep a spray tan on while swimming?

Keep soaks in a hot tub or pool to 30 minutes or less to avoid lightening or altering a spray tan. It is not the chemicals in the hot tub or pool that fade your skin after a spray tan; it is the process of exfoliation and spending long amounts of time in a pool or hot tub that speeds up exfoliation.

Exfoliation happens naturally all the time though.

The reason your skin goes wrinkly after a while is because water seeps under the dead skin cells and fills the pockets beneath the surface layer. This separates the layers so when the skin dries out, the dead top layer flakes away.

This is how a spray tan works.

The initial spray is a water-soluble brown tint to color the skin, and this will wash away after your first shower. The second spray is dihydroxyacetone or DHA, and this is what gives you a prolonged tan. This can take up to 8 hours to develop, but it will last 5-7 days, depending on your exfoliation rate.

So now you can see why a long soak or swim can spoil your spray tan.

If you want to prolong your tan, exfoliate before spraying and use a high factor sunscreen lotion while swimming. Limit your time in the water to 15 minutes and pat your skin dry with a soft towel when you get out.

Moisturizer will help stop the skin from drying off too quickly.

Is a tanning bed or spray tan better for getting in a hot tub?

A tanning bed is better for a hot tub than a spray tan. But only due to the adverse effects of a spray tan on the water chemistry and possible staining of the acrylic shell. Both tanning methods will be affected equally by the water and chemicals.

A tanning bed or sunbed uses ultraviolet (UV) light radiation to replicate the sun, releasing the chemical melanin in your body, which causes the skin to tan.

Spray tans work because the DHA reacts with proteins in the outer layers of your skin, causing it to darken. Don’t make the mistake of confusing this DHA with another one known as docosahexaenoic acid – an entirely different chemical found in fish oil.

Both sunbed tans and spray tans last as long as it takes for your skin to exfoliate completely, so both are likely to fade after a prolonged soak in a hot tub.

As for which one is better, spray tans have an adverse effect by:

  • Discoloring and clouding the water
  • Staining the sides of your hot tub
  • Causing a chemical imbalance in the water

So, if you use a tanning bed, you will cause less harm to your hot tub but more harm to your skin. Most medical experts say that a spray tan is the healthiest way to get a tan because UV radiation is known to cause skin cancer.

How to clean fake tan residue from a hot tub

To clean a hot tub of fake tan residue, start by cutting the power and draining the water. Then spray glass cleaner everywhere the shell is stained. Wipe clean, rinse with the hose, and refill the hot tub and return power to it.

And if it seems really gunked on or stained, add a little baking soda to the Windex for a mild lightening and abrasive cleaner.

But don’t worry. We’ll review those steps in detail below.

If you’ve already used your hot tub after having a spray tan, you may find some discoloration of the sides of the tub as well as the water. This is most likely caused by the initial water-soluble brown tint used in the spray tan process.

There are many products you can use to clean a hot tub, even Windex. In fact, I wrote a recent article about using Windex to clean a hot tub.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

You can use household soap or liquid detergent, but you must be sure to remove all the residue using hot water and white vinegar, or they will cling to the surface of your hot tub and cause the water to foam.

You will probably have to empty the tub and change the water, because it will become cloudy and no amount of sanitizer is going to clear that, so this is what you should do:

  • Pump out the water using a submersible pump – it’s much quicker than using the drain tap.
  • Spray the surface of the tub with Windex or a similar product.
  • For tough stains, mix a little baking soda with water to make a paste and rub this in.
  • Wipe clean with a soft cloth or towel. 
  • Hose down the surfaces to remove any residue and leave it to dry.
  • Wipe down with a sponge soaked in a solution of hot water and white vinegar
  • Once dry, refill your hot tub.

You might want to take this opportunity to flush out the pipes as well.

Use Ok Yuk Healthy Hot Tub Cleaner from Amazon just before you empty the tub and run the jets for an hour. This will remove contaminants and improve filtration when you refill.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. Using a hot tub after having a spray tan is not recommended as it will shorten the life of your tan and could lead to staining the sides of the tub and clouding the water.

But if you still want to use your hot tub, leave it at least 24 hours after tanning and shower first to get rid of the water-soluble layer. Turn the temperature right down, and don’t stay in longer than 15 minutes.

If there is anything I missed, or you have any questions on this subject, just drop me a line, and I will do my best to answer it. And don’t forget to check out the other related articles here on my site. Just click on the links.

Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels

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Jeff Campbell