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The Right Way to Remove Self-Tanning Cream

The Right Way to Remove Self-Tanning Cream

Whether you’re looking to get rid of uneven patches or simply remove the remainder of your self-tan, we’ve got plenty of tips and tricks to help you do it quickly, easily, and effectively.

Applying self-tanner is tricky business, and it’s not uncommon to end up looking orange, patchy, and streaky. On the plus side, you don’t have to deal with fake tan mishaps for longer than a day — provided that you know how to remove self-tanning cream properly.

Here are a few easy ways to remove your faux glow if things haven’t turned out the way you desired.



One of the best methods for removing fake tan is exfoliating your skin using a body scrub, washcloth, or exfoliating mitt. Exfoliation sloughs away dead skin cells and product residue, helping to fix tanning mistakes and remove old tan — while leaving skin instantly smoother.

If you’re opting for a scrub, look for a sugar scrub that’s gentle on the skin rather than a product containing large exfoliating particles like nut shells, which can cause tears in the skin. Using circular motions, buff away the tanner and rinse off with warm water.

Finish with a lightweight body lotion or moisturizing serum like Rainbow’s Hydrate Serum to seal in moisture and keep skin smooth, soft, and dewy for the rest of the day. Exfoliation can be drying to the skin, so it’s always important to moisturize afterwards.


Apply a DIY Tan Remover

If you don’t have a tan eraser on hand, don’t worry. You can make your own — using the contents of your refrigerator. Mix together a few tablespoons of baking soda with a splash of lemon juice until you get a paste. Massage it into your skin and rinse off in the shower. It’s a quick, easy, and affordable hack for removing self-tanner — without needing to fork out for a tan remover mousse. While self-tanner remover products are great for quickly fixing tanning mishaps, they’ll set you back at least $20.


Slather Your Skin in Baby Oil

Baby oil is the best product you can turn to for toning down an intense tan. If your tan looks too bright, too orange, or too dark, turn to baby oil to take it down a few notches. Raw oils like coconut oil also work well here if you don’t have baby oil on hand, but if you want the best results, baby oil is your go-to!

“When you put oil on your skin, it plumps it up and makes it more susceptible to exfoliation,” says St. Tropez celebrity tanning artist Sophie Evans. “You’ll see—it will take the color down a shade or two.”

For best results, lather up with some baby oil, leave it on for several minutes, and then rinse it off in the shower with a washcloth or loofah. In addition to leave you with a more natural-looking tan, the baby oil will leave your skin feeling soft and smooth.


Rub On Some Whitening Toothpaste

You can quickly lift uneven patches of spray tan and sunless tanning cream by rubbing on some whitening toothpaste. This fake tan removal method is best for smaller areas like your elbows, ankles, and between your fingers. Avoid using it on larger areas of skin to prevent drying out your skin.

Simply rub it on the affected areas, leave it on for a couple of minutes, and then rinse thoroughly with warm water.


Apply Hair Removal Cream

Surprisingly, depilatory creams like Veet work really well for removing color and correcting tanning mistakes. It’s an expert-approved tanning tip that works like a charm!

Hair removal creams contain active ingredients like calcium hydroxide or potassium thioglycolate, which exfoliate skin, removing the skin’s top layer — and your tanning product. Coat your skin with depilatory cream and leave it on for half the recommended time so you don’t end up irritating your skin. If you’ve got sensitive skin, leave it on for even less time to prevent irritation.


Head to the Sauna

The most relaxing way to remove fake tan? Head to the sauna! According to dermatologists, steam is great for softening self-tan and dislodging stains. Plus, it’s a great way to catch up on some well-deserved TLC!

For best results, try to stay in the sauna for at least half an hour to let the heat and humidity get rid of those tan stains. Once you’ve finished, rub your skin in circular motions using a wet washcloth to remove any remaining buildup and residue. Finish with a nourishing body butter or lotion.


Give Glycolic Acid a Go

Dealing with a fake tanning disaster? Glycolic acid is great for fake tan removal. It’s a chemical exfoliant (AHA) that works by exfoliating the top layer of skin — where your fake tan sits. By removing this layer, glycolic acid helps to buff away the color, promoting an even and streak-free complexion.

You’ll find glycolic acid in a range of skincare products, including cleansers, toners, serums, and masks. We recommend using Rainbow’s GLOW Mask, a face + body mask made with glycolic acid and bakuchiol to quickly get the job done! Apply a thin layer of mask to affected areas, leave it on for 10-15 minutes, and rinse. You can also use it to prep your skin for self-tan for an even, natural-looking faux glow. Suitable for all skin types!


Re-Do Your Tan

Sometimes, it can be better to re-apply self-tanner rather than removing it — especially if you have streaks.

“This won’t erase the streak but will apply new tan to the areas you missed and blend it in more with the areas you didn’t miss,” says Jules Von Hep, Founder of Isle of Paradise. “Alternatively, you can apply some self-tan just to the areas that were missed, either by using a flat foundation brush or a beauty blender. […] Remember this will take 4-6 hours to develop.”


Tanning mistakes happen to all of us. Fortunately, there are plenty of quick fixes you can try for removing streaky, patchy tans and achieving that sunkissed bod of your dreams.



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