How To Fix Fake Tan Mistakes: Expert Tips

Need to fix a fake tan mistake? We’ve been there, too! We asked the experts for advice

By Diane Small

Fake tan. Fake bake. Faux tanning. Call it what you will, but apparently Brits love the stuff more than anyone. And no wonder!

With the weather being miserable most of the time, there’s very little sun to give us that bronze glow we all crave. So, many of us turn to the bottle (skincare bottle, people!) to remedy that.

If you’re an Eluxe reader, you’ll know why it’s super important to use only an organic or all natural tanning product.

But even if you’re using the purest products of the pure, let’s face it: self tanning can be tricky. No wonder there are around 400 searches a day on how to fix self tanning mistakes!

For that reason, we asked the experts at Beauty Daily by Clarins for their advice on how to fix fake tan flaws fast.

What could go wrong?

Clarins’ beauty coach Rebecca Jones knows it’s no secret that self-tanning can sometimes go terribly wrong. It can end up too dark, too orange, or with obvious streaks. Or maybe you’re stuck with a darker buildup around the knees, ankles, and fingers. Yikes!

That’s usually as a result of:

  • not applying the product correctly
  • having extremely dry skin
  • not exfoliating well enough before application
  • having fake tan buildup in some parts of your body more than others

But luckily, you can correct these tanning mistakes pretty easily. More easily than you’d think!

Read on to see how.

Expert tips to correct self tanning mistakes

fix fake tan mistakes

1. First, steam

Steaming is a crucial part of the process to correct fake tan mistakes that’s often overlooked. Humid environments cause pores to open wide, encouraging dirt and dead skin cells to slough away. This is essential for overly tanned skin! Turn a bathroom into a DIY steam bath by simply turning up the heat in the shower, or book into a sauna room if need be.

2. Alternatively, hit the gym

Need to get those pores wide open, but no access to a steam room or hot shower? Well, that’s a great excuse to get on the treadmill! Excessive sweating will open pores wide enough to remove fake tanning products quickly. Immediately after your workout, follow steps 3 and 4, below.

3. Then, use oil

Most fake tans contain DHA, which can be broken down faster by oils. Whether almond, coconut or olive oil, just rub it into freshly steamed skin. Leave it on for 10 minutes before washing up. For a more luxurious experience, try jumping straight into a bath or shower filled with bath or essential oils for 30 minutes.

4. Now, exfoliate

Not only a key element of pre-tan prep, exfoliation is also handy for fixing fake tan mistakes. Simply rub the affected area in circular motions with mitts, a loofah or a washcloth to slough off the last unwanted tones. 

Be careful not to over-exfoliate and irritate skin though: keep circles slow and never scrub for best results.

5. Use a DIY paste if need be

Using a DIY paste with baking soda has helped some people to remove tanner that’s gone awry.

  1. Mix 2–3 tbsp. baking soda with about 1/4 cup coconut oil.
  2. Apply this mixture to the parts of your skin most affected by the fake tanning mistake.
  3. Let it absorb, then use a wet washcloth to remove it.
  4. Repeat this twice per day until your skin reaches its typical colour.

Note: You might dry out your skin by doing this. Moisturise!

6. Moisturise

As mentioned above, your skin has just been through a lot! Give it some extra TLC by slathering on your favourite organic moisturiser or body lotion.

7. Avoid future build-ups

Clarins’ beauty coach Rebecca Jones further recommends exfoliating the face and body every two weeks to remove tan build-up. She says: “This way, it will thoroughly cleanse and exfoliate the body and would make a clean canvas and remove dead skin cells so that the (new) tan will blend and absorb more evenly.” 

Common questions about fake tanning mistakes

how to fix fake tan mistakes

Can I remove self-tanner from my face?

Yes! But you should definitely use a different technique on your face than your body. The skin on your face is much more sensitive and has a higher cell turnover rate. In fact, a typical self tanner will likely only last 2-4 days on your face.

Generally, to fix fake tan mistakes on the face, all you need is to exfoliate well. Use an exfoliating wipe, mitt, or product, such as a cream that contains AHA.

Do you need to wait before re-applying self-tanner?

Nope! Once you’ve fixed your fake tanning mistakes, just make sure the remover products are fully rinsed off before applying a fresh layer of fake bake. However, be sure to read the label first. If the specific tanner you use suggests waiting up to 24 hours, do so! Of course, always remember to moisturise after applying a fresh tan.

How do I remove spray tan from the palms of my hands?

If you don’t wear rubber gloves while the product is applied, you’re almost guaranteed to have a nasty reminder of your tanning product on your hands.

Almost all self-tanning products use the same active ingredient: dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA is the only FDA-approved ingredient for sunless tanning on the market. It works quickly to “stain” the top layer of your skin. Sadly,  you can’t always see the effects right away. So, even if you wash your hands after applying self-tanner, you might be horrified to notice orange palms that appear 4 to 6 hours later.

Try soaking your hands in warm water for awhile, taking a swim in a chlorinated pool, or applying lemon juice to your hands. This will help to penetrate and lighten the skin layer there.

How do I remove spray tan from my drier bits?

If you’ve got tanning lotion streaks on your drier bits, you’re not alone. Elbows, ankles, knees and knuckles are the most vulnerable places. The dry skin cells there tend to soak up fake tanning products.

To get fake tan off of your drier bits, your best bet is to exfoliate the skin there like crazy with a sponge, towel, or cream. Again, don’t forget to moisturise after!

Have you had any experience fix fake tan mistakes yourself? Let us know in the comments, below!

Diane Small
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