How To Fix, Remove & Avoid a Bad Fake Tan
How To Fix, Remove & Avoid a Bad Fake Tan

How To Fix, Remove & Avoid a Bad Fake Tan

6 minutes read

We all know that the aim of fake tan is to offer a natural, sunkissed glow. But often, things can go wrong if it’s not applied correctly – leaving us with a bad fake tan that’s looking more like we’ve smothered ourselves in fence paint rather than a heavenly glow. Tired of dealing with patchiness, streakiness and just generally bad fake tan disasters? Here, Beauty Daily dives into the reasons behind these faux tan fiascos and reveals how to fix, remove, and prevent them from happening in the future – to make your journey to a perfect, sun-kissed glow a breeze. 


What makes fake tan go patchy and streaky? 

Patchy fake tan and streaky results can be caused by various factors and knowing them will help you avoid said issues in the future. These are the main culprits behind a bad fake tan: 

Not prepping properly 

Proper preparation is the key to a flawless tan, and failing to exfoliate beforehand can result in an uneven result. When dead skin cells build-up – most commonly on the hands, feet, face, elbows, knees and ankles – you’ll find they tend to absorb excess tanning product – leaving behind dark spots and streakiness.  

Exfoliating Body Scrub 

Try: Clarins Exfoliating Body Scrub, £32, to slough away dead skin cells on the body to provide a smooth canvas for your self tan. 

Dry skin 

Dry skin is possibly the most notorious enemy of a flawless tan. Hydrated skin helps the tanning product spread evenly, while dry skin will soak it up, causing darker patches. To avoid this, keep your skin moisturised regularly, especially in any areas prone to dryness. 

Poor application 

One of the main reasons for a patchy tan is bad application, as rushing the process or using the wrong techniques can leave you with uneven colour distribution. Remember, fake tanning requires a gentle touch and precision, so take your time to apply it evenly on the skin. And for hard-to-reach places like your back, check out our guide on how to fake tan your back. 

Various parts of the body developing at different times 

The skin on your body can vary, and certain areas might develop colour faster than others. This can create an uneven look as the tan continues to develop. The key is to be patient and give your tan ample time to settle and even out, before trying to fix the perceived unevenness. If you don’t you’re likely to really mess things up. 

How to fix a patchy tanquickly

How to even out fake tan patches 

If you notice patches or darker spots on your tan, you can even them out by using a gradual tanning lotion. These lotions provide a subtle, buildable colour that helps blend the uneven areas, creating a more even toned finish. 

How to fix streaks 

Streaks are another common fake tan mishap. To tackle them, use an exfoliator to slough away uneven patches. Gently rub it on the dark streaky areas to help lift the excess tan and fix your mishap.  

Fill in the gaps 

For gaps in your tan, you can use a tanning mousse or lotion to touch up the areas you’ve missed and blend them seamlessly with the rest of your tan. 

Exfoliate darker areas 

To lighten darker patches, exfoliate the affected areas regularly. You can also apply a tan remover or exfoliating product to speed up the fading process. 

clarins tonic sugar polisher

Try: Clarins Tonic Sugar Polisher, £35, which contains rosemary, making it gentle enough for even the most sensitive of skin.  

Add colour where you’re paler 

If certain areas of your body are paler than others, use a gradual tanning lotion to add subtle colour and achieve a balanced, natural look. 

Stop your skin from drying out 

Moisturise regularly to prevent your tan from fading unevenly. Hydrated skin will hold onto the tan better and keep it looking flawless for longer. 

Try: Clarins Moisture-Rich Body Lotion, £38, which contains bitter orange flower to deeply nourish and hydrate skin.  

What should I do if fake tan stains my nails? 

If your self-tanning product accidentally stains your nails, grab a nail buffer and gently remove the tan residue. Alternatively, you can use a tan remover wipe to clean the stained areas. 

What to do if fake tan goes wrong on your hands 

The palms of the hands are prone to absorbing more tanning product, resulting in a darker colour developing, usually in patches. To rectify this mistake, use a dishwasher tablet. Not just handy for cleaning plates, the detergent is also great at removing stubborn self tan stains. Simply crush the tablet, mix it with acid rich lemon juice and rub between your palms for 2-3 minutes – then rinse.  

How to remove fake tan 

Fake tan gone wrong? If you find yourself with a fake tan that’s beyond saving, it’s time to bid farewell to your self tan fail. Thankfully there are a number of products and techniques you can use to fix a bad fake tan. 

For a comprehensive guide on how to remove a bad fake tan effectively, head over to this expert guide on how to remove fake tan. 

How to remove fake tan from hands

To remove fake tan from hands, try a mixture of baby oil and sugar. Combine equal parts and gently scrub the tan-stained areas before rinsing with warm water. This method helps exfoliate and fade the tan without using harsh ingredients.

How to remove fake tan instantly

It may be difficult to instantly remove all of your fake tan, especially if you have applied it recently. However, you can try applying a hydrating body oil or baby oil onto the tanned areas. Let it sit for a few minutes, then use a damp cloth or exfoliating mitt to gently wipe away the tan. Moisturise well to soothe the skin and prevent dryness.

How do I stop my self-tan from fading unevenly? 

Exfoliate regularly

For a tan that fades evenly, it’s important to start gently exfoliating three days after you have applied your tan – and then every day until your tan has been buffed away completely.

Moisturise daily

Moisturise daily with an oil-free body moisturiser to maintain skin’s hydration levels and prolong the life of your tan.

Top up your tan 

For a consistent and natural look, consider reapplying your tan every 3-4 days. Be sure to exfoliate before each application to remove any remnants of the previous tan and ensure an even canvas for your new glow. To top up on colour in-between sessions, try Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel, £24 – a wash-off formula that adds an instant hit of glow.  


Read next: Fake Tan That Doesn’t Smell? Here’s the Beautifully-Scented Self-Tan Picks We Love 

Your complete pregnancy safe self-tan guide   


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