How to remove fake tan at home (one of life’s most important lessons)

We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve had to frantically look up how to remove fake tan.

You might have had a tanning disaster – patchy wrists, stripes a tiger would be proud of or fingers so multi-tonal you genuinely consider wearing gloves in summer. Or you might simply want to get rid of a four-day-old glow that’s looking a little worse for wear. The art of fake tan removal is something that everyone should know.

Even if you’ve invested in the best fake tan and swotted up on all the fake tan tips, chances are you’re not going to get it right 100% of the time. But don’t worry, you’re not alone and it’s perfectly possible to rectify.

There are several things you can do to give yourself a more natural-looking and even glow. We spoke to Jules Von Hep, fake tan guru, celebrity spray tanner and founder of Isle of Paradise, for all the fake tan removal tips and tricks you could possibly ask for.

How to remove fake tan at home

First things first: ‘Don’t panic scrub,’ Jules warns. ‘You’ll end up taking the tan off in patches and it’ll become a snowballing effect.’

Instead, try using a light body polish (choose from our round up of the best body scrubs) mixed with a tiny amount of bath or massage oil and repeat a couple of times for an even, all-over fade.

Oil helps to break down the DHA (colour element) in self-tanning fluid. This is a good thing to bear in mind if you’ve just had a cracking spray tan; don’t moisturise your body with anything containing oil afterwards.

Alternatively, make a trip down to your local swimming pool if you don’t mind being a bit stripy in public. ‘The chlorine will break down the tan,’ explains Jules. ‘In the showers afterwards, take a pair of exfoliating gloves and work in circular motions. Steam rooms and saunas will soften the tan, too.’

If it’s all gone to pot and you need to get rid of your tan straight away, tanning brands now have products specifically developed to break colour down. That way you can remove fake tan quickly.

Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser was one of the first to market and sold out within three hours of its first launch. Which just goes to show how many of us want to remove and improve fake tan.

It can be used on old tans or freshly applied bronze; simply pump onto skin, smooth over the area you want to diffuse, leave for five minutes, then wipe away with a damp cloth. It’s that easy.

How do you get fake tan off without a tan remover?

Patchy hands and blotchy feet are often the biggest giveaway that your tanning sesh has gone wrong, but a kitchen cupboard staple could be the answer to your prayers.

Add two tablespoons of baking soda to some water and mix to create a paste. Rub this over your hands or feet, leaving it on for a few minutes to ensure you haven’t missed any particularly bad creases. Then wash it off.

The easiest way to wave goodbye to streakiness on your limbs is to run a bath and fill it up with a bath oil. This will soften the tan. While you’re in there, use a remover mitt in circular motions. It will ensure that any stubborn patches are evenly removed.

woman stretching with a tan - how to remove fake tan

How to remove fake tan patches before re-applying

If you’re a regular, self-confessed tanning addict who can’t go a day slathering on some more glow, then it’s actually so important that you are removing your old tan before applying your new one.

Being the clever chap that he is, Jules created Isle of Paradise’s Over It, which works best on a three-day old tan. It also contains glycolic acid to exfoliate skin. Mist your entire body until your skin is saturated, wait five minutes, then jump in the shower and buff it off with a sponge or a flannel.

How to remove fake tan with lemon juice

Vaguely remember hearing something about lemons and brushing it off as an old wives tale? Turns out there’s something in it. ‘The old faithful combination of lemons and sugar mixed together will work to an extent, but you really need a mitt or glove to get deeper,’ Jules explains.

It’s also worth investing in an exfoliating mitt that will help to remove tan build up or mistakes. It’s an essential item in the at-home tanning kit.

How to remove fake tan from clothes

Getting fake tan stains on your favourite, goes-with-everything, white shirt or your super spenny The White Company bedsheets can be an absolute nightmare. You need to try and remove the stain while it is still wet.

Reversing the fabric and running it under cold water will help to loosen the product, but try not to rub it as you could end up smearing it and making it far worse. Instead, mix warm water and some detergent and sponge onto the affected area, repeating until the stain has disappeared.

So there we have it. We’ve just solved all future fake tan disasters from happening. Well, perhaps not all. There’ll always be one…

Keep scrolling for a few fake tan removal essentials below.