How to Remove Fake Tan

February 8, 2024

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So you applied a bit too much self-tanner and now have an unnaturally dark or uneven fake tan. Don’t panic! While preventing mistakes is ideal, correcting them is easy with the right removal methods. This article covers tips for safely and effectively exfoliating away botched or unwanted fake tans using common household ingredients and store-bought eraser products. With some gentle scrubbing and skin care, you’ll have that fake tan fading in no time.

Common Causes of Uneven or Unwanted Self-Tanner

Why does fake tan sometimes turn out blotchy, spotty, or just too dark? Here are some of the most common culprits:

  • Applying too much self-tanner product
  • Failing to properly prep and exfoliate skin beforehand
  • Not allowing enough time for an even development
  • Using lower quality or expired tanning products
  • Sweating, swimming, or activities after application
  • Using different formulas on different areas of skin
  • Neglecting proper tanning hygiene and maintenance

Benefits of Properly Removing Fake Tan

Getting rid of an undesirable fake tan provides benefits beyond just changing your skin tone. Proper exfoliation gives the opportunity to:

  • Reset and nourish skin
  • Start fresh with a more tailored tanning approach
  • Correct tanning mistakes before they intensify
  • Avoid damaging skin with excessive scrubbing
  • Learn better tanning and skin care habits
  • Boost confidence by looking your best

So don’t feel shy about promptly tackling any fake tanning mishaps!

Methods to Remove Fake Tanner

Ready to undo that botched tan? Here are some DIY home options and store-bought products that safely lift away self-tanner:


The most common method relies on physically or chemically exfoliating skin to slough off the tinted skin cells. Be gentle and gradual to avoid irritation!

Physical options:

  • Sugar/Salt Scrub – Mix with oil or lemon juice and gently massage over skin
  • Baking Soda Scrub – Creates micro-exfoliation; activates when mixed with water or acid
  • Exfoliating Brushes & Mitts – Use gentle circular motions when scrubbing

Chemical Options:

  • Glycolic Acid – An alpha-hydroxy-acid that dissolves dead skin cells
  • Lactic Acid
  • Citric Acids – Natural acids found in lemon, lime, and other citrus juices

Skin Softeners

Oils help dissolve self-tanner for easier removal. Generously apply to skin and allow to soak before scrubbing.

  • Baby Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Olive Oil

Self-Tanner Remover Products

Specialty cleansers and erasers target tanning agent DHA:

  • Remover mousses – Apply before showering
  • Eraser wipes – Single use pads to spot treat
  • Tan correction gels – Used after tanner fades for removing last traces of tan

When to Remove Self-Tanner

It’s best to start the fake tan removal process as soon as possible once an unwanted result occurs. Here’s a general timeline:

  • Immediately – For significant mistakes, begin gently scrubbing right away before tan fully sets
  • 2-3 Days After – Tanner continues developing 48+ hours after application
  • At First Fading – Lighter scrubbing becomes an option once fading begins naturally

Keep in mind results won’t be instant. Complete removal takes consistent but gentle effort over a few days. Avoid damaging skin from harsh abrasion.

Tips for Safely Removing Fake Tan

To avoid irritation, dryness, or harming skin while removing fake tan:

✔️ Gently scrub using soft circular motions

✔️ Apply creamy moisturizers afterward to restore skin

✔️ Use oils first to dissolve tan before scrubbing

✔️ Adjust pressure based on skin sensitivity

✔️ Stay properly hydrated

✔️ Repeat removal if needed versus harsh scrubbing in 1 session

Precautions When Removing Self-Tanners

While fake tan removal is low risk, keep these precautions in mind:

❌ Over-exfoliation causing extreme dryness or bleeding

❌ Using harsh acidic ingredients that burn skin

❌ Allowing removal products to affect hair, eyes, etc

❌ Damage from overly aggressive scrub brushes

If irritation occurs, stop and allow skin to heal before continuing the removal process. Seek medical help for severe reactions.

Can You Remove a Tan Naturally?

Absolutely! Many household staples provide safe, natural ways to erase fake tan:

  • Lemon juice – Contains citric acid that fades tan
  • Apple cider vinegar (ACV) – Gently exfoliates and brightens
  • Baking soda – Creates micro-scrub effect; activates when mixed with water
  • Sugar – An economical physical exfoliant option
  • Coconut oil – Helps dissolve self-tanner for removal

When using natural ingredients:

  • First do a test patch to check skin sensitivity
  • Always mix with water if using lemon juice or ACV to dilute acidity
  • Combine with gentle circular massage motions for best effect

5 FAQs About Removing Fake Tan

Still have questions about getting rid of self-tanner? Here are some common questions answered:

What removes fake tan the fastest?

Specialized tan eraser products from brands like Tanologist contain the most potent combinations of oils, acids, and exfoliants that swiftly break down and lift away fake tanning agents. However, simple household ingredients can also effectively remove tan when used properly.

Can you get rid of fake tan in 1 day?

It’s challenging to fully remove darker fake tan in just 1 day, but lightening and fading can begin immediately through gentle, repeated exfoliating sessions. Consistent effort over 2-3 days is more realistic for completely reversing an unwanted tan.

Is baking soda good for removing fake tan?

Yes! Baking soda makes an excellent natural fake tan exfoliant. It creates micro-abrasion to slough off tinted skin cells. Mix with a small amount of water or lemon juice to form a spreadable paste. Apply to skin and let sit several minutes before gently rinsing.

How long does it take tan remover to work?

Fake tan removal products normally require 5-10 minutes after application to fully penetrate and dissolve away tanner. Eraser wipes act more quickly since the pad directly absorbs lifted color as you wipe. Allow mousse removers and gels time to soak in before rinsing.

Can you put fake tan over old tan without removing?

Applying self-tanner over remnants of old tan generally leads to uneven results. Properly removing as much old tan as possible creates the ideal blank canvas for fresh, uniform coverage. Exfoliate away any last traces prior to re-tanning.

In Summary

  • Botched or overdone fake tans creating uneven skin tones can be remedied through proper removal techniques
  • Gently exfoliating using both physical and chemical options safely lifts away unwanted self-tanner
  • Natural ingredients like lemon juice, ACV and baking soda make affordable home tan erasers
  • Commercial removers and pre-tan preparation products also effectively strip self-tanner
  • Take care not to over-abrade skin during the removal process
  • With some consistency removing fake tan takes 2-3 days, after which you can start fresh!

Safely stripping away a failed fake tan session provides the chance to begin again using lessons learned. Care for your skin in the process, and don’t shy away from promptly tackling tanning mishaps to get your best glow yet!

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