Do you want to look great for a wedding, a New Year’s Eve Party, graduation, or just that special night out? You may not be stepping on the red carpet today, but why not have the same beautiful tan that your favorite celebrity has? With professional spray tanning, you can.

Instead of worrying about the potentially damaging effects of the sun, you get an all natural sunless tan that lasts from 7 to 14 days. And you can have a tan as light or as dark as you want.

You can get a fantastic spray tan both at your favorite tanning salon and at home. Many salons now offer mobile spray tanning as an option.

So how do you maximize your tanning experience?

Prepare to Tan

If you’ve never spray tanned before, you’ll probably want to try it once or twice before your special event. You’ll find the optimal level for your skin color and with the help of your salon professional, decide how you look your best.

Once you know the date of your special event, book your spray tanning appointment one or two days in advance. And you’ll want to shave or wax at least one day before your spray tan. Waxing will leave your pores open for several hours and may leave remnants of wax on your skin that could lead to an uneven looking tan.

Exfoliate your entire body the day before your spray tan. This removes any dead skin cells and helps extend your tan. Use a loofah or an exfoliating glove or mitt and concentrate on the driest areas of your body, such as knees, elbows, feet and ankles. Don’t use an oil-based exfoliate, as these products may leave a residue that blocks the tan application.

The Day of Your Spray Tanning Appointment

Shower shortly before your appointment and don’t apply any type of moisturizer to your body or face after showering. You’ll also want to avoid any type of beauty product, including deodorant, body spray, perfume or makeup. Anything on your skin may block the tanning solution and prevent optimal absorption.

Wear loose fitting, dark clothing to your tanning session, just in case some of the tanning solution comes off onto your clothes on the way home. Don’t worry, most tanning solution will come out in the wash.

And for women, you may want to go braless on the way home from your session. Wearing snug fitting clothing right after tanning can leave unwanted tan marks.

So what can you expect during the spray tanning process?

During Your Spray Tan

You may not want to wear anything at all during your session. Don’t be shy, as the less you wear, the better your results. If you prefer to cover up a little, bring an old swimsuit or underwear.

Before beginning, your salon technician will consult with you briefly about your expected results and choose the right solution for your skin type. Application will take about 10 minutes and the solution will begin to dry immediately.

You’ll find that your hands and feet appear lighter than the rest of your body, since those areas will develop more (become much darker) than other parts of your body.

How to Maintain a Long-lasting, Great-looking Tan

Wash only the palms of your hands prior to your first shower. Your salon technician will let you know how long to wait, based on the specific tanning product you’re using. Usually, you’ll want to wait at least 5 to 8 hours after your tanning session before taking that shower.

Keep the water temperature warm to cool, gently wash your body (without scrubbing), and pat yourself dry with a towel. It’s normal to see some color run off during the shower, but that’s mostly the bronzer used to calibrate the color of your tan.

Don’t exercise until after that first post-tan shower. Avoid any activity that causes excessive sweating until the tan has a chance to develop.

Moisturizing your skin is the key to extending your spray tan. Ask your salon technician about skin hydrating products that can keep your tan from fading. You may also want to try a moisturizing enhancer, designed to prolong the life of your tan.

Any type of exfoliating product will cause the tan to fade more quickly. So you’ll want to avoid shaving tanned areas for at least 48 hours following the tan application. And taking baths and soaking in hot tubs, saltwater and chlorinated pools will also shorten your tan.

Try these tips during your next spray tan and get ready to walk that red carpet. Your gorgeous, sun-kissed look will make you the envy of all your friends. And you’ll look and feel beautiful on your special day.