According to an old saying, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

We’re not quite sure who coined this phrase and we admit that it feels a little aggro — thankfully, we’re not organizing a battle strategy or anything equally complicated — but it does apply to getting the perfect tan. We pride ourselves on the time we’ve taken to develop a formula that’s going to get you glowin’ without any danger from UV rays, but if you don’t stick to a few pre- and post-tan best practices, you’re not going to see the results you’re looking for. Basically, you plan to fail.

If it were up to us, we’d take full responsibility for your tan. You would walk in and out of any of our locations — no preparation required — then resume life as normal with your glow perfectly intact. Sadly, this can’t be the case… but we can arm you with the tools you need to ensure that your tan is at its very best for as long as possible. The six tips below are super easy, but will go a long way toward helping you get your money’s worth next time you pay us a visit (or even try a sunless at-home tanning product).

1. Shower smart. You’ll need to be a little more strategic than usual about the last shower you take prior to tanning. Plan to shower no less than eight hours before you tan, and be sure that you’ve showered within the last 24 hours. Shave as you normally would… doing so acts as an exfoliant! And speaking of exfoliating — do that. Use an exfoliant that’s not oil-based to remove as much dead skin from your body as you can.

2. Dress for success. Wear loose, dark clothing for your appointment. A more restrictive outfit may rub off some of the tanning formula, and we can’t be responsible — literally and figuratively — for any smudging on your pretty white or pastel clothes, either. Before tanning, you should skip your typical lotion, makeup, and deodorant routine. All of these products can act as a barrier to the perfect tan. We also recommend open-toed shoes!

3. Prep your skin. If you have oily or dry skin, ask us about our PH Prep sprays next time you stop by. Applying one of these before you tan can help your glow last longer and more consistently.

4. Practice post-tan patience. We know that patience is a virtue that not everyone possesses — it’s not always our best thing! — but it’s an extremely important part of the post-tanning process. You should plan to allow at least eight hours before you shower so that the formula can fully work its magic. During those hours, you should also avoid lotions, perfumes, and skin oils, which can rinse off your tan. That glow will get progressively darker over time, but don’t freak out. When the time does come to shower, the bronzer will wash off and you’ll be left with the exact shade you were hoping for.

5. Stay hydrated. Hydration is important even if you’ve gotten your glow away from the sun! Drinking lots of water and hydrating your skin daily with moisturizer (after you’ve showered, of course!) will help maintain your tan… and will make you feel a lot healthier, too.

6. Just say “no” — to moisturizers and soaps that contain sulfates and alcohol; long, hot showers; and swimming pools with lots of chlorine or salt water. All of these things will shorten the length of your tan… and we know you don’t want that.

How do you ensure that you have the perfect (and safe!) tan? Tell us on Facebook + Twitter