how to remove self tanner

How to Remove Self Tanner (Quick & Easy Solutions!)

Self tanners provide a convenient way to achieve sun-kissed color without exposure to UV rays. But what happens when your perfect faux glow turns into streaky, uneven patches or you want to remove the color before it’s had a chance to fully develop? Removing self tanner doesn’t have to be complicated or damaging to your skin. With the right products and techniques, you can safely fade or take off self tanner.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the best techniques on how to remove self tanner, catering to various types like instant bronzers and gradual self tanners. Additionally, we’ll share essential tips to help you steer clear of common self tanning pitfalls, ensuring your application is flawless every time.

How Self Tanner Works?

To understand how to remove self tanner, it helps to know what’s in it and how it reacts on the skin. Self tanning products impart color through an active ingredient called DHA (dihydroxyacetone). DHA interacts with amino acids on the outer layer of skin to produce a tan hue. This color typically develops over 2-4 hours and continues to darken over the next 24-48 hours. The darker the shade, the higher the concentration of DHA.

Self tanners also contain:

  • Erythrulose – Another browning agent similar to DHA.
  • Dyes/pigments – Provide instant but temporary color while DHA reaction occurs. Often cause orange undertones.
  • Moisturizers – Hydrate and smooth skin.
  • Fragrance – Mask chemical self tanner smells.
  • Anti-aging ingredients – Help improve skin over time.
  • pH balancers – Optimize formula for application.

How to Remove Self Tanner?

Home Remedies

You likely already have products in your home that can help gently lift self tanner over several days. Home remedies include:

Exfoliate Daily

  • Scrubbing with a loofah, dry brush, or exfoliating gloves helps slough off stained surface skin cells. Focus on knees, elbows, hands, and feet.
  • Use a sugar or salt scrub to further exfoliate. The grains dissolve as you scrub.
  • Chemical exfoliators with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) increase cell turnover to fade color faster.

Baking Soda Paste

  • Mix baking soda and water to form thick paste. Apply to self tanner you want to remove.
  • Let sit 5-10 minutes before scrubbing with washcloth. Rinse clean.

Lemon Juice

  • Rub fresh lemon juice on skin and let sit 10-15 minutes before rinsing. Avoid sun exposure after.
  • Dilute with water if lemon causes irritation.

Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Wipe skin with cotton ball soaked in apple cider vinegar. Rinse after 5-10 minutes.
  • Add a cup to bath water and soak to gradually lift tan over time.

Hydrogen Peroxide

  • Apply 3% hydrogen peroxide with a cotton ball on tan you want to fade.
  • Rinse after 5 minutes. Repeat once daily.

Tomato Paste

  • Apply a thick layer of tomato paste to skin. Let sit 10-15 minutes then rinse clean.
  • Tomato’s acidity and enzymes help break down self tanner.

White Vinegar

  • Mix equal parts white vinegar and water and apply to skin with washcloth or cotton pad.
  • Let sit 10 minutes before rinsing off.

Coconut Oil

  • Gently massage coconut oil into skin to hydrate and gently fade color over several applications.
  • Use steam from shower to create coconut oil “mask” to loosen self tan.


  • Chlorine and salt water can cause self tan to fade faster.
  • Avoid wearing lotion before swimming which creates a barrier.

Commercial Self Tanner Remover Products

For fast removal, commercial products quickly lift self tanning actives from skin:

Glycolic Acid Wipes

  • Wipes pre-soaked in AHA glycolic acid solution easily swipe away self tanner.
  • Use once or twice daily until color fades.

Self Tanner Eraser

  • Spray-on “erasers” like Self Tan Eraser by Tanologist contain alcohol to dissolve self tanner.
  • Apply liberally to tan you want removed and lightly scrub with soft cloth.

Self Tanner Remover Mitts

  • Exfoliating mitts pre-loaded with self tanner remover solution simplify application.
  • Gently buff skin in circular motions until tan fades.

Tanning Water/Primers

  • Clear tanning water products lift and balance out self tanner.
  • Apply like toner to help remove color or prep skin before re-tanning.

Makeup Remover Wipes

  • Look for wipes containing alcohol denat to quickly dissolve self tanner.
  • Use gentle pressure and repeat applications to lift color.

Body Scrubs

  • Try an exfoliating body scrub with glycolic or salicylic acid.
  • Scrub skin in shower and rinse tan residue down the drain.

The Right Removal Method for Each Self Tanner Type

Not all self tanners are created equal. Here’s how to tailor the removal method to the specific type of self tanner:

Instant Self Tanners

  • Bronzing mousses, gels, lotions that provide instant but temporary color.
  • Removal: Daily exfoliating and use of glycolic wipes fades color quickly.

Developing Self Tanners

  • Lotions that impart color over 2-4 hours that continues to darken.
  • Removal: Exfoliate regularly. Apply lemon juice or remover daily until faded.

Self Tanning Drops

  • Concentrated drops mixed into moisturizers for buildable color.
  • Removal: Dilute drops to taper color. Swim, exfoliate, and moisturize to lift.

Gradual Self Tanners

  • Lotions that deliver subtle color over a few days with repeated use.
  • Removal: Color fades within a week. Exfoliate to speed up process.

Self Tanning Wipes

  • Single use wipes provide instant bronzing effect on skin.
  • Removal: Wipes color fades in about 3 days with cleansing and exfoliating.

Self Tanning Mist

  • Light spray formulas provide touch-free application.
  • Removal: Rinse with tanning water or toner. Gently exfoliate to remove.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you have sensitive skin or require fast removal, seek professional spray tanning removal. Salons offer services that quickly and effectively strip self tanner:

Self Tanner Removal Service

  • Technician applies product to dissolve tanner then uses steamer and exfoliating mitt for full removal in one session.

Detoxifying Tanning Peel

  • Glycolic acid peel treatment performed by esthetician lifts away develop tan.

LED Light Therapy

  • Red and blue LED lights applied in salon help speed up self tanner fading process.

Laser Tattoo Removal

  • As a last resort, a technician can use a Q-Switch laser to target and destroy self tanning pigments.

Self tanning allows you to build and customize a natural-looking bronze glow. But with the right techniques and products, removing self tanner can be simple. Now that you know how to reverse and erase unwanted tanning results, you can fearlessly try new self tanning formulas and techniques to achieve your perfect sun-kissed skin.

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