I work at a tanning salon and I'm gonna tell you a few things right now......
First of all, you can't wash off a tan. Unless we're talking mystic or anything with DHA or cosmetic bronzers. But if you just go in a normal UV tanning bed and go home and take a shower, you won't wash off your tan. That's impossible. If you see color running off of you into the drain, that is from your lotion and you will still develop color because of the UV rays penetrating into the deeper layers of your skin.
Exfoliating will not take away your tan/color (we're still talking regular UV beds here). Your surface skin cells are dead therefore they do not get tan. The color you are seeing is in the melanin, which is found in the deeper layers of your skin (just like msfigure said!
). Now, if you use a lotion with DHA (which is what mystic tans are mostly made of) or bronzer then yes, exfoliating can strip off your bronze color, but it will not change the melanin.
By using a lotion (any lotion) you absorb much more UV rays, so never tan without being moisturized!
Tingle lotions do make you appear darker at first, but that is just temporary. All it is doing is stimulating the skin cells and making the blood circulate to your skin quicker. I hate tingle lotions lol but I'm a wuss! I work at Desert Sun Tanning.....Everyone should go tan there!
Over 80 locations, mostly in WA, and a few in OR (where I work!) and Northern CA. If anyone has any questions on tanning/skincare feel free to ask me! The esthetician in me is just dying to answer you
Okay I'm done blabbing now.