How To Remove Fake Tan

You went to your favorite spray tan salon or decided to apply self-tanner at home and at some point, in the bronzing process, you stepped in the overspray on the floor or were rubbing the self-tanning mousse in without a mitt and your hands or feet now have fake tan on them. Yuck!

I call this a “sunless tanning accident” and it happens more than you would think.

If you are left wondering how to remove fake tan from the soles of your feet or the palms of your hands read on for some expert removal tips and tricks.

How to remove spray tan from your hands and feet SunSpray blog postWithin this post there may be affiliate links to the products I am referring to. If you purchase a product through one of my links it will NOT cost you anything. Read my full disclosure here.

How to Avoid Fake Tan Disasters

Self-tanning accidents are very common. There are simple ways, however, to avoid these mistakes.

Check out a few professional spray tan artists tips below:

The best time to apply your sunless tanning product is right after your bath or shower when your skin is still hydrated. This allows your self-tanner to glide over your skin and not grab into dry areas (such as knees, elbows, hands, and feet).

Dry skin absorbs more of the self-tanning product creating dark areas and unevenness.

Take a nice shower or bath and exfoliate before you apply your self-tanner at home or before heading out to your favorite spray tanning studio for your weekly appointment.  Your fake tan will be smoother and evener.

How to apply self tanner at home

If you are using an aerosol style self-tan product at home, make sure that you are in an area that can be washed down. Aerosol sunless tanning products can float in the air and get on surfaces that you may not want them on.  Read trashing your bathroom-yuck!

Stand on a clean towel before applying the spray tan to keep your feet clean.

Spraying self-tanner on your legs in the bathtub and walking around in the tub guarantees sunless tanner on the bottom of your feet.  Aerosol sunless tanning sprays for at home use are NOT my favorite.  Too messy.

Again stand on a clean towel when applying your sunless tanning lotion or mousse and have a damp washcloth ready to wipe away any areas that you may not want the sunless tanning product on, such as your feet or hands, BEFORE it sets in.

Apply your self-tanner at least eight hours prior to taking a shower or bath. Many people prefer to apply their sunless tanner at night or have their spray tanning appointment after work for this reason.

Self tanner mitt

Use a tanning mitt to apply sunless mousse or lotion. I love this one as it comes with 2 sizes so you can get into all the little spots on hands and feet!

Shop this self tanning mitt set on Amazon

Using a self tanning mitt keeps the fake tan off your hands and allows you to blend for a more even application.

Pro Tip: After applying your sunless tanning mousse or lotion to your body, use a stipple brush to apply self-tanner to your hands without getting sunless tanner on your palms and blending seamlessly into your wrist.

This is the perfect brush for blending your fake tan to perfection.

Shop this blending brush on Amazon

How To Remove Fake Tan Quickly

When removing self-tanner from your skin it is always important to remember to be gentle to keep your skin as healthy as possible during this process.

Don’t panic scrub.

You’ll end up taking the sunless tan off unevenly. Better to do two gentle light exfoliations than one heavy one and end up with red, rashy, raw skin.

Make sure to moisturize your skin after using any sunless tan removal product.

How To Get Rid Of Fake Tan

  • Take a long soak in the tub
  • Go swimming
  • Hop into a hot tub
  • Head into the steam room or sauna

Water and chlorine break down sunless tans. In the shower, after your soak, swim, or steam take your exfoliating gloves or exfoliating towel and work in gentle circular motions.

My favorite exfoliating towels!

Shop these exfoliating towels on Amazon

A fake tan by its very nature is temporary and will fade away within a few days with a little gentle exfoliating.

Remove Spray Tan From Dry Areas of the Body

One of the hardest places to remove self-tanner from the body is dry areas of the skin where sunless tanning products grab, leaving uneven spots. Removing sunless tanner from dry areas can seem impossible, but there are several ways to handle the problem on these parts of the skin. First, the faster you are at removing the color BEFORE it sets in the better results you will have to get it off.

Removing Fake Tan From Hands and Feet

Your feet and hands usually have a dryer skin texture than the rest of your body. This is why when I am spraying you that I keep the mist light.  Too much sunless tanner will grab and look dirty on your hands and feet.

The name of the game here “Less is MORE”.

When you apply your self-tanner at home just use a little bit and blend it well, use a mitt or a brush and wash your hands or wipe the palms with a damp washcloth to remove any sunless tanning product on them.

If the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet have self-tanner on them, try a one of the fake tan removing products listed below to remove it from your skin.

Keep reading for more techniques and products that can help this common problem.

Remove Fake Tan from Ankles, Elbows, Wrists, and Knees

Ankles, knees, elbows, and wrists all tend to be drier skin, and they don’t usually absorb self-tanner like the rest of the skin. These areas tend to “grab” sunless tanning products leaving dark marks behind.

One natural method to remove sunless tan is to dampen the skin and apply a little baking soda directly to the darker area and gently scrub until the color is softened.

Another option you can try is hydrogen peroxide. Place a small amount of hydrogen peroxide on a cotton pad and rub onto the dark areas of the skin until the color fades a bit. Then rinse and moisturize the area.

Removing Spray Tan from Fingernails and Toenails

Unpainted fingernails and toenails can be discolored from a sunless tanner. It can be difficult to remove self-tanner from your nails. So protecting them before your spray tan or self-tan application is best. Try nail polish remover to take sunless tan off of your nails if you forget, sometimes the stains can be stubborn.

If you are finding it hard to remove the sunless tan from your nails or cuticles, try soaking your fingers in denture cleaner. This can safely remove the spray tan without harming or irritating your skin.

To prevent staining in the future a coat of clear nail polish will keep the spray tan from soaking into the dry nails.

DIY Exfoliator

Let’s have some fun!  We LOVE our beauty products and pampering! And even though we are talking about our pretty tans being a little messed up it’s a good excuse to grab a few of our favorite products and spend a minute pampering ourselves.

Below I have included a fun DIY exfoliating scrub and a few sunless tan removal products I found on Amazon.  Check them out and let me know what you think.

Related Articles:

DIY Exfoliating Scrub To Remove Old Fake Tan From Your Hands and Feet:

DIY Sugar Scrub

Make a DIY exfoliating scrub by mixing together one cup of fine sugar or baking soda, 1/2 cup of sweet almond oil and 8-10 drops of your favorite essential oil in a plastic container. Lavender is great for relaxing!

Hop into the tub, take a little soak and get your skin all steamy. Then grab your favorite exfoliating towel or mitt (I have links to my favorite towel up above) and add a generous amount of your homemade exfoliating scrub onto your feet. Rub in gentle circular motions with your exfoliating towel or mitt. This will remove dead skin cells and take care of removing some of the old spray tan. Rinse and dry your feet then apply your favorite lotion.

Regular exfoliation and hydrating of your skin, especially in areas such as feet and ankles with remove and soften the skin making your sunless tanner much easier to blend as there won’t be the dry skin patches for it to stick to.

DIY Foot Scrub

Rub a good amount of sweet almond oil or coconut oil into each foot. Apply several coats of the oil until your feet are liberally covered in the oil. Put your feet up and relax allowing the oil to soak into your feet for 30 minutes.

I would hang out in the bathroom when you do this or put on cotton socks, so you do not slip.

Run a nice warm bath.

Get into the tub, and rub each foot with your exfoliating towel or mitt, working your way in circular motions across your foot. Gently rub to scrub off any remaining sunless tanner. You may use a gentle shower gel or soap on your exfoliating cloth as you buff your feet if you wish.

Dry your feet, and check them over to see if there is any remaining color.

If there is still spray tan on your feet (or hands) soak a cotton pad with hydrogen peroxide and rub over any remaining color. This should remove any color that is left over.

Events To Spray Tan For:

Best Spray Tan Removal Products:

Kathryn’s Top 7 Best Spray Tan Removal Products

If you are into spray tanning and self-tanning at home then having a couple of fake tan removing products on hand is probably a good idea.  You NEVER know when a sunless tanning accident could occur and you need to act FAST. There are many great beauty products formulated just to remove self-tanner.

Check out my list of favorites below.

Arabica Coffee Scrub with Coconut and Shea Butter

Shop this exfoliating scrub on Amazon

You know how much I love natural products and COFFEE, this scrub contains both!!! Coffee, sea salt and coconut combine with shea butter into an all natural exfoliating scrub gently removes old spray tan and moisturizes your skin.  Paraben free.

NuFACE Prep-n-Glow Cloths

Shop these exfoliating wipes on Amazon

These exfoliating wipes are convenient to have on hand for removing sunless tan from your hands and feet or any other area that you might have gotten a little too much on. Smooth on one side with exfoliating microdots on the other, they are the perfect polish and smooth for fake tan blending touch-ups.

Exfoliating Bath Cloth

Shop these exfoliating towels on Amazon

I have had these in my shower for several years and I LOVE LOVE them! They are great for pre-tan exfoliating and for removing my old sunless tan at the end of its life.  My favorite part is that I can exfoliate my back all by myself (no having to call my husband to help) also they are washable!

Baiden Tan Mitten

Shop this exfoliating mitt on Amazon

Prefer an exfoliating mitt?  Give this one a try. It was formulated JUST for sunless tanning and all the issues that come with not being properly exfoliated. Can be used for exfoliating before your sunless tan is applied or for removing old fake tan. Perfect for those tough areas like hands and feet.

Bronze Buffer Self-Tan Remover

Shop these self tan remover sponges on Amazon

These little magic erasers are amazing! Use them to fade and blend away streaks and dark areas. Smooth built up fake tan so you don’t have patchy areas. Be gentle though. These are POWERFUL!

Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser

Shop this self-tan erasing foam on Amazon

I LOVE this erasing foam.  I have it in my shop and use it when my clients come in and have been playing with the self-tanner at home.  It helps to quickly and easily fade out uneven areas and remove the stuck fake tan patches or messed up hands and feet. The company calls it magic in a bottle and I agree! It’s gentle and takes just 5 minutes before you wash it off along with your uneven self-tanner. The only problem here is that it’s so popular that Bondi Sands keeps selling out.

Unreal Tan Eraser Gel

Shop this sunless tan eraser on Amazon

This gel can be used for exfoliating before a tan or for helping to fade or remove an old sunless tan. You do have to follow the instructions and there is a 10-15 minute wait time with the product on your skin.  One of the recommended uses is to help remove the pro level tans for bodybuilders and professional dancers. I know a few ladies and gents that would love to have this on hand after a competition.

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