How To Remove Self Tanner

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Blotchy, streaky, or uneven looking skin tone, what’s going on with your skin? A fading self tanner or badly applied one can make your skin look pretty weird and as a result, catch a lot of stares for the wrong reason but don’t worry we know your skin doesn’t usually look that way, in fact, we have some smart and effective ways to have you looking normal again.

But first, let’s try to avoid a bad self-tan shall we — exfoliate and hydrate! These are key prepping practices that should always be done before you apply any self tanner. Next, find a good self-tanning lotion, then moderately smooth over your body, one small area at a time and blend the solution into the skin as if you are giving yourself a nice romantic massage or just until the lotion is properly absorbed.

Self-tanners are colored/tinted so you can literally see how the lotion covers; it’s the perfect opportunity to make sure you apply it evenly. 

Now, in all cases when wearing self-tanners, there comes a point when we advise to freshen up the coverage and color for a brighter natural look and that’s by removing the old gunk and reapplying a new layer.

With that being said, here are 18 self tanner removal ideas.

Caution: you may break a sweat for this one so perhaps a few light stretches before hopping in the shower wouldn’t be such a bad idea. During a warm shower, offload a nice slab of exfoliating scrub in the palm of your hand and glide it over your skin, add pressure and rub the mixture in deep circular motions all over your body repeatedly to remove the self tanner.

Exfoliating Mitten:
A very effective implement to the exfoliating process, you should definitely grab a pair. There are no cool tips for picking the best mitt; I’d say go with your favorite color.

Windex Foaming Glass Cleaner:
Okay, relax your eyes now, you read right. Windex is actually an excellent way to remove self-tanner from pretty much anywhere on your body and it works quickly too. Simply spray the Windex to cover the areas where it’s needed and let it sit for 30 seconds or so. The self-tanner will completely dissolve from your skin so you need to make sure that you want to get rid of everything. It’s in no way good for your skin but it is definitely effective, if you have a desperate need to get your complexion back to its normal state then Windex it is.

White Vinegar:
In today’s world, vinegar can be considered our modern day magic potion. It’s no joke, vinegar gets your pots shiny, glassware brighter, counters and floors cleaner. So trust me, it will work on your skin. It’s great on stains of many kinds and even the dyes in self-tanners.

Toner with Astringent:
Look for a skin toner with higher percentages of alcohol (up to 60%) along with astringents and antiseptic ingredients. The stronger the better it will be to remove residual self–tanner but as you can imagine, it may be irritating and damaging to the skin. I guess it’s the price you have to pay to get the job done right.

Lemon Juice & Baking Soda:
Create a paste with the two and apply to your skin. Estimate how much is needed for how much self-tanner you want to remove, this may be a challenge and honestly, I really can’t help you with that. All I know is that lemon juice and baking soda are both good lightening agents that will break up the dyes in the self-tanner and weaken its staining power. See demonstration video:

Acetone & Toothpaste:
I know, now it sounds like we’re just making stuff up, but this really works. Even though this may be harsh on your skin, it is quite effective. I would only recommend this remedy if you’re really having trouble removing your self-tanner. However, it is better suited for removing self- tanner that has gotten under your nails. Use with a nailbrush to scrub away unsightly tanner from under your nails and cuticle area.

Rubbing Alcohol & Toothpaste:
Rubbing alcohol can also be used with toothpaste but is also quite capable on its own (acetone as well). On its own, use a cotton ball or pad to fully absorb the rubbing alcohol. Wipe away the self-tanner or its remainder on the areas where is needed. Rubbing alcohol isn’t as harsh as acetone but will dry out your skin nonetheless, so if you don’t want your skin feeling like paper after, you should definitely shower afterward then moisturize.

Self-Tanner Remover:
Yup, there is such a thing. So if you don’t want to be bothered with concocting a home remedy of your own, simply snag a bottle or bar of tan remover soap from your local drug or department store and get cracking. Word of advice: Have this soap close by before or right after you apply the self-tanner, tanner removers are most active when used within four hours of the application.

Soak in a Warm Soapy Bath:
My favorite and a great excuse to have some me-time. Fill up the tub (considering you have one) with warm water, add bath foam and just lay there for at least 30 minutes. Use this opportunity to add bath salts and oils to your bubble bath. Also, use a loofah or exfoliating mitten during your bath for even better removal results.

Take a Long Swim:
We recommend a trip to the beach but if that’s not an option for you then the pool will just have to do. Let’s talk about the beach though; soaking in salt water combined with the rubbing effects of the sand on your skin will definitely get that self-tanner off once and for all!

Baby Oil:
While this will not entirely remove your self-tanner, it will lighten darkly applied one. Also if you happen to notice unevenness or streaks after your self-tanner develops, you can dampen a wash clothe with baby oil and wipe away at the darker areas on your skin. For full coverage removal/ lightening and even better results, generously lather with the baby oil and let it sit on your skin for 10 to 15 minutes. The baby oil breaks down the potency just enough to remove the top layers of the self-tanner from the skin.

Use Sugar:
Oh yes, sugar works. If you happen to have some coarse brown sugar lying around somewhere in your kitchen cupboards, then that would be the preferred choice. Sugar can act as an exfoliating scrub but isn’t as effective since it dissolves eventually. So you can mix sugar with a bit of Vaseline to prolong its use and also a bit of lemon juice to help lift the self-tanner and scrub away. Damp your skin first and rub the sugar scrub in circular motions over your body. See demonstration video:

Nail Polish Remover:
Okay okay, this one may seem a little far fetched, but nail polish remover is in fact similarly created with ingredients that are found in acetone. The removal capabilities are excellent but I wouldn’t recommend prolonged exposure on the skin. If you happen to have some blotches and streaks to clean up after your self-tanner has developed, then nail polish remover is a good alternative to do this.

Try Lava Soap:
If you’ve never heard of this before, I’m here to tell you, this is a heavy-duty soap that you will find in any mechanic’s shop. Lava soap is designed to remove grease, grime, oil, paint, ink, and even adhesives. So there is no doubt that it will take off a little self-tanner. Give it a try!

Wet Wipes:
Cosmetic wipes or makeup remover wipes are a little coarser than traditional wipes plus they are laden with ingredients to break down chemicals found in cosmetics to properly cleanse your skin. You can also dab on some rubbing alcohol, toner or vinegar to boost the removal power up a couple of notches.

Sweat Sweat Sweat:
Go for a run, hit the gym, layout in a sauna or steam room. However you can work up a good sweat, this is the time to do so. This may not remove a bad self-tan entirely but it will definitely lighten it. Repetition of these activities and /or a combination of them will be more effective, so get busy. Use a towel to wipe away sweat as you go along.

Stain Remover Laundry Detergent:
OxiClean, Shout, Tide; these are a couple of options to try. These laundry soaps are designed to fight stains and dyes in fabric and may work on other surfaces including your skin. Smooth over your body and just let the soap soak there for a while before washing off. If that doesn’t do the job, you can add baking soda or perhaps vinegar and try again. Also using an exfoliating mitten wouldn’t hurt.

Whatever method you choose to remove your self tanner, good luck!



Mandi Colburn
Mandi Colburn
I am the lead writer for TanningReviews. I love writing, the outdoors and working out to get me in beach-ready shape.

2 thoughts on “How To Remove Self Tanner”

  1. I use self tanner religiously. But I have always struggled with removing it. I usually remove all of my old tan once a week. I went as far as using a magic eraser once? and yes, I have even tried Windex. Not my brightest moment…by far? but after reading this article, I collected apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, homemade sugar scrub, exfoliating gloves, baby wipes, and some of that orange pumice scrub that my husband uses to remove grease from his hands…..I….WAS….ON…A…MISSION?. Apple cider vinegar does nothing for removing tan( for me anyways) . Baby wipes were equally useless. So then, I climbed in the shower and slathered the oil all over myself and waited about 20 minutes. I lathered regular bar soap onto my exfoliating gloves and went to work…and it removed most of the tan. But the game changed ( for me of course) was the pumice soap. The pumice is very fine, and gentle. And it buffed away the rest of the tan. And now I’m back to being fabulously tan????

    • you thank you for this!!! there is absolutely nothing worse than stubborn tan and i’m definitely gonna try this. – tysm ????


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