How to Remove Self-Tan: Expert Tips:

14 Oct, 2022

Using self-tan is a great way to get that year-round sun-kissed look without having to spend time in the sun. But what happens if you get it wrong? Knowing how to remove self-tan can be a real lifesaver.

Whether you’ve accidentally tanned the palms of your hands, used a product that’s too dark for you or simply want to start from scratch, we’ve got the expert tips you need to get rid of self-tanner quickly and easily — without ruining your skin. By following our simple guide, you’ll be able to get rid of self-tan in no time at all.

When to remove self-tan

There are a few different reasons why you might want to remove your self-tan and it generally has to do with the product you used or the application process you followed. Here are the most common reasons people want to remove self-tanner:

Streakiness / Patchiness:

If your self-tanner is streaky, it’s probably because you didn’t apply it evenly. As some products don’t have a tint, it can be tricky to tell if you’ve missed a spot. Even the most experienced self-tanners can sometimes end up with streaks, so don’t worry — it happens to the best of us!

Wrong Shade:

Maybe you’ve used a product that’s too dark for your skin tone and now you look orange rather than a sun-kissed goddess. Choosing the right shade of self-tanner for your skin tone is important, so make sure you do your research before you buy. It may still take some trial and error to find the perfect shade for you, but it’s all worth it in the end.

Blotchy hands, knees, ankles and/or elbows:

These are the areas that you need to be extra careful with when applying self-tanner, as they can often absorb too much product and end up looking patchy. Use a smaller amount of product in these areas, and make sure you blend it in well. It’s a good idea to meticulously exfoliate these areas before you apply self-tanner, to create a smooth and even surface.


Even the best self-tanner will eventually start to fade, so you may find that you need to remove it and start again. This is usually due to the natural exfoliation process of your skin, so make sure you moisturise regularly to prolong the life of your tan.

How to remove self-tan from your face

Self-tan products usually last a bit longer on the body than on the face. That’s because the skin on our faces renews itself faster than the skin on other parts of our bodies. So if you’re not happy with how your self-tan looks, you can usually remove it pretty easily.

To avoid having to remove self-tan from your face too often, try adding a few face tanning drops to your regular moisturiser. This will build up a gradual tan that’s less likely to streak or look patchy. Just be sure to start with a very small amount and increase it gradually until you find the perfect ratio for your skin.

If you do find that you need to remove self-tan from your face, the best way to do it is with a gentle exfoliator. This will slough off any dead skin cells that might be clinging to the self-tanner and will even out your skin tone. Just be careful not to overdo it, as exfoliating too often can lead to dry and irritated skin. A liquid exfoliator with AHAs or BHAs is a great choice, as it will help speed up skin cell turnover and retinol serums will ensure your self-tan fades evenly.

Read: How to tan your face

How to remove self-tan from your hands and feet

The skin on our hands and feet is thicker and drier than the skin on other parts of our bodies, so self-tan can sometimes cling to these areas and look patchy. If this happens, don’t worry – you can usually fix it pretty easily.

To remove or lessen the appearance of your self-tan, apply a lactic acid skincare product to the surface of your hands or feet, followed by an exfoliating make-up wipe. It won’t completely remove it, but it will help to fade the tan quickly.

Before applying self-tan, always make sure you exfoliate and moisturise your hands and feet thoroughly. As soon as you’ve applied self-tan, use a dry towel to wipe the soles of your feet/palms of your hands and in-between your fingers and toes. Use the towel to buff away any excess self-tan from your knuckles, too.

How to remove self-tan from your arms and legs

Self-tan can be particularly stubborn on the arms and legs and you may find that exfoliating and using a tan corrector specifically designed for self-tan removal works best. Exfoliating will help to lift the self-tanner from your skin and a tan remover will help to break down the self-tanner for removal.

If you had to remove your self-tan because of streaks and patchiness, make sure you apply an even layer of self-tanner next time, using a tanning mitt to blend it in well. Remember to exfoliate thoroughly before you apply self-tanner to create a smooth and even surface.

How to remove self-tan from your back

Let’s be honest, applying self-tan to the back is everyone’s nemesis. From the awkward positions, we have to contort our bodies into, down to the feeling we’ve literally just had a workout once it’s all over, there’s no wonder it’s the last place we want to have to go over again.

Unfortunately, it’s also easier to make mistakes when self-tanning your back. If you find yourself with a streaky or patchy self-tan on your back, fill your bathtub with warm water and oil and have a soak. Then, using a loofah or exfoliating glove, gently scrub the area in a circular motion until the self-tan starts to fade.

A great trick is to pop your exfoliating mitt on a wooden spoon and secure it with a hair tie. Using this trick with a tanning mitt can also help you self-tan your back evenly and reach all those hard-to-get-to spots. Just keep an eye on what you’re doing in a mirror and you should be able to have a golden, patch-free back.

Read: How to self-tan your back like a pro

10 Tips to remove self-tan instantly

In a hurry? Here are 10 ways to remove self-tan quickly and easily:

Use a tan corrector

Use a tan eraser or remover specifically designed for self-tan removal. These products will help to break down the self-tanner so that it can be easily removed. Tan Eraser Drops are a great tool to use if you need to remove self-tan quickly.

They give you plenty of flexibility, as they can help you correct, lighten and remove self-tan as desired. Plus, you’ll be able to target specific areas, which can be difficult with other methods.


Exfoliating removes dead skin cells and any self-tanner that has built up on the surface of your skin. Use a gentle exfoliating scrub or mitt to avoid irritating your skin and make sure to focus on any areas where the self-tanner has pooled or is patchy. Bonus points if your exfoliator contains AHAs or BHAs, as these will help to further break down the self-tanner.

Go for a steam

If your gym has a steam room, make use of it! If not, it may be the perfect excuse for a spa day. The steam will open up your pores and loosen the self-tanner so that it can be easily removed.

At home, you can use a face steamer or create a DIY version by boiling water and holding your head over the pot with a towel draped over your head to trap the steam.

Have a swim

If you have access to a pool, take a dip. Swimming is a great way to remove self-tanner as the chlorine in the water will help to break it down. This works by drying out your skin, which will make your self-tan wear off much faster.

Oil up

If you have oil to hand (olive, coconut, or baby oil) use it to remove self-tanner. Simply massage the oil into your skin in circular motions and allow it to work its magic for at least 30 minutes before rinsing off with warm water and exfoliating.

Make a baking soda paste

Baking soda is a great natural exfoliant that can be used to remove self-tanner if you don’t have sensitive skin. Simply mix together baking soda and water (or lemon juice/coconut oil) to form a paste, then apply it to your skin and let it sit for 10 minutes before exfoliating.

Use toothpaste

Toothpaste can also be used as an effective self-tan remover, thanks to its mildly abrasive and whitening properties. Apply a small amount of whitening toothpaste to a cotton ball and rub it over any areas where you want to remove your self-tanner. Leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing off with warm water or exfoliating with a mitt.

Try lemon juice

Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent, which makes it perfect for removing self-tan. This method is great for removing patches or buildups of self-tanner. Simply cut a lemon in half and massage it over any areas you want to lighten for a couple of minutes.

Go for vinegar

While this may not be the best-smelling way to remove fake tan, the acidity in the vinegar will help to break down the self-tanner so that it can be easily removed. Simply dab vinegar onto the areas you want to treat with a cotton ball and leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing off.

Reach for an exfoliating mitt

If you want to remove self-tan without any harsh chemicals, an exfoliating mitt is the way to go. While exfoliators will help to remove dead skin cells and any self-tanner that has built up on the surface of your skin, an exfoliating mitt will take things one step further by working deeper into the skin.

When to reapply self-tan

Now that you know how to remove self-tanner, you might be wondering when the best time to reapply is. If you want to maintain a consistent tan, it’s best to reapply every 3-5 days. This will make sure that your tan is always looking fresh and even. If you’re only looking for a temporary fix, you can reapply as often as needed.

To Sum Up

Self-tanning is a process that can take a bit of trial and error to get right. However, once you find a method that works for you, it’s easy to achieve and maintain a beautiful, bronzed complexion all year round.

If you do make a mistake, don’t fret! There are plenty of ways to remove self-tanner so that you can start fresh. Whichever method you choose, make sure to do it gently to avoid irritating your skin. Remember, going for quality products and following the directions carefully can help you avoid the dreaded self-tanner fail. So make sure to browse our self-tan products for a perfect finish, every time.

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