By Dianna Mazzone
Updated Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:15 pm

So, you've bitten the bullet and booked yourself a spray tan. Congrats, you're thisclose to looking like you just got back from a tropical vacation. But before you bronze, there are a few steps to take to ensure your faux glow doesn’t look too faux, says makeup artist and air bronzer Catiana Van Dinh of New York City's Paul Labrecque Salon. Follow her pre-tan tips for realistic results:

Manage Your Appointments

If you've got a spray tan on the books, you'll want to shift other appointments—namely those for hair removal—accordingly. "Any sort of hair removal like laser or waxing should take place at least one to two days before your spray tan," says Van Dinh. "Since these services disrupt the surface of the skin, scheduling them too closely to a spray tan can result in a less-even looking result."

Scope Out Your Shade

A day or so before your spray sesh, take some time to consider what shade you're after, says Van Dinh. If you're going for naturally glow-y, look at yourself in beach vacation photos (and even consider bringing them to your appointment). Using a photo for comparison makes it easier to assess if you're happy with the results, or if you'd like your tech to add more layers of color to acheive a deeper bronze.

Prep Your Skin

If nothing else, exfoliate before your appointment. Van Dinh reccomends doing so in the shower one to two hours before arriving. By sloughing off dead skin cells and smoothing rough patches, you're setting yourself up for the longest-lasting, most even tan. Both physical—think a seed-based scrub—and chemical exfoliators do the trick, says Van Dinh.

Make Strategic Wardrobe Choices

The worst thing you can do post-spray tan is put on tight-fitting clothes, says Van Dinh. It can cause the tanning pigment to transfer, which not only makes for a lot of laundry, but leaves your skin looking patchy. Instead, wear loose, flowy garments to your appointment so that you’re set up for success.