The Expert Guide On How To Remove Fake Tan
The Expert Guide On How To Remove Fake Tan

The Expert Guide On How To Remove Fake Tan

13 minutes read

You were all systems go for achieving that faux tropical glow with our expert fake tan tips. Now, less than 24-hours later you’re frantically asking Google for answers to: ‘What removes fake tan fast?’ 

If this sums you up: A brightly-hued carrot-esq face and body, patchy knees, elbows and palms, or legs that sport stripes like mint humbugs – then let us help you out of this fake tan nightmare. (Note to self – bookmark this page.) 

We asked tanning experts to share simple ways on how to get fake tan off fast so you can glow on with your life.  

How do you fix self-tanner mistakes?

So firstly, pat yourself on the back for sunless tanning – as we all know there is no such thing as a healthy UV-based tan and sunburn is a sign of skin cell damage. Now here’s the advice on how to remove any unwanted tanning mistakes.  

What removes fake tan?

If you made some rookie mistakes, think: inferior product, the wrong shade or formulation for you, or perhaps you didn’t follow the spa gurus guide – to achieve pro results at home. Whatever the reason – here is the tried and tested way of removing fake tan:

  • Use a dedicated self-tan remover product.
  • Soak in oil and buff with an exfoliating mitt.
  • Head to the steam room, pool or sauna.
  • Use a scrub or a product containing an acid – such as salicylic acid or AHA. Scroll for the details.

Close up body scrub

1. Steam

Convert your bathroom into a DIY steam bath. If you are a fitness club member, you can make use of their high tech facilities, steam or sauna rooms. The warm and humid environment causes pores to open wide and effectively removes dirt that might have accumulated underneath. It also encourages dead skin cells to flake away hence reducing the colour of your tan.

2. Oils

If you don’t already know, self-tanning products contain colour additive dihydroxyacetone (DHA). When applied topically, it reacts with dead cells in the epidermis and simulates a tan. Oils, on the other hand, break down DHA and can fade fake tan faster. 

(And yes, baby oil may remove fake tan)

It does, so lather up or soak yourself in oil. And you don’t just have to opt for baby oil, either. You can also use coconut or olive oil, which should be left on the skin for 10 minutes before washing off. 

If you want to add a bit of self-care and relaxation into this method, use bath oil or a shower gel with essential oils such as Clarins Tonic Bath and Shower Concentrate, £23. This bath and shower cleansing concentrate activates when used in hot, steamy showers and gives you added wellness benefits. It is formulated with essential oils, rosemary and geranium known for removing dead skin cells and peppermint known for its ultra-cleansing abilities. Leave it for 30 mins to absorb.

3. Exfoliate

Exfoliation comes next. Use exfoliating mitts, loofah, or washcloth and gently rub your skin in circular motions to loosen the tan and exfoliate. Remove dead skin cells and remaining self-tanning residue with Clarins Exfoliating Body Scrub, £32 and apply Clarins Moisture-Rich Body Lotion, £36 for maximum nourishment and hydration. 

For the face, use Clarins Gentle Peeling Smooth Away Cream, £26 or a Clarins Nourishing Oil Scrub, £26 followed by your usual skincare routine. Facial exfoliators eliminate dead skin cells and impurities. 

Clarins’ beauty coach Rebecca Jones recommends exfoliating the face and body every two weeks to remove tan thoroughly. 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.”

Word of Caution: Self-tanner dyes or stains the outermost layers of skin, and it makes perfect sense that exfoliation is the key to removing tan build-up. However, experts warn against over-exfoliating. Deep exfoliation can irritate and harm the skin, so be patient and slow down. 

Read Next: How to fake tan your back

How To Remove Fake Tan Using An Exfoliating Mitt

Removing fake tan can be a challenge, but it can be a lot easier with the right tools. An exfoliating mitt is excellent for removing fake tan and is easy to use. Wet the glove, add some exfoliating scrub, and then rub it all over your skin. 

Try: Bare By Vogue Tanning luxury Exfoliating Mitt, £7.30

A rougher than average mitt that helps you do the dirty work of removing a tan – plus the black material won’t easily stain. 

Try these tips to get fake tan off fast:

1. Baking soda

Baking soda exfoliates dead cells and unclogs pores and can be used if you don’t have a body scrub to hand. Here’s what you need to do: 

  • Take two tablespoons of baking soda and mix it with a little bit of coconut oil, olive oil, or water to make a paste consistency. 
  • Gently scrub in a circular motion, leave for a few minutes and rinse off. It’s great for knuckles, elbows and knees. 
  • However, go easy on softer skin as baking soda can remove the protective oil barrier and alter pH – meaning the good bacteria will be disrupted  and skin can be prone to dryness and infections. 

2. Sweat

If you want to remove your tan, sweat it out. It might be a good excuse to keep yourself moving and take out those matching workout outfits. Excessive sweating will slide your tan right off. Go for a swim in the sea or pool afterwards for a double tan stripping action. 

3. Head to the swimming pool

Chlorine can help to fade or remove fake tan, but it is not a guaranteed method and may not work for everyone. Chlorine is a strong oxidising agent that can break down the ingredients in fake tan, leading to the colour fading or becoming patchy.

However, it is important to note that exposing your skin to chlorine can also cause dryness and irritation, so it is not recommended as a sole method for removing fake tan. Additionally, if you have sensitive skin or any open cuts or wounds, exposure to chlorine can be particularly uncomfortable.

remove fake tan at home

How to remove an all-over tan

​​Removing an all-over tan can be a challenge. However, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier. Start by using a gentle exfoliator to remove any dead skin cells. Then, use a moisturiser to hydrate your skin. If you have any dark spots, you can use a skin lightener to help reduce their appearance. Finally, use sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun.

What is a fake tan remover?

A fake tan remover is specially crafted to erase self-tanner or fake tan from your skin. These products break down the tan’s active ingredient, DHA (dihydroxyacetone), responsible for the tan color. Fake tan removers, available as gels, lotions, or sprays, typically contain glycolic acid, lactic acid, or urea for exfoliation and tan removal.

To use, apply the remover, wait 10-15 minutes, then gently scrub with a cloth or exfoliating mitt. Rinse with warm water and moisturize.

Follow the instructions closely and do a patch test as some removers can irritate or dry the skin if used improperly.

The best products to remove fake tan

TRY: Tan Luxe Glyco Water Self Tan Eraser, £24

Tan Luxe Glyco Water Self Tan Eraser, £24

When used with a mitt, this can be super effective at toning down the streaks. 


TRY: Body by utan Super-Strength Tan Remover, £15.99

Body by utan Super-Strength Tan Remover, £15.99

Perfect for removing a 3-day old self-tan and prepping the body for another bronzing session. 


Does fake tan develop after washing it off?

Yes – fake tan does continue to develop on the skin after it has been washed off. The colour that fake tan instantly adds to the skin is often just a ‘guide colour’, which gives you an idea of the shade and where you are applying it. It is the DHA (a chemical found in fake tan) that is responsible for adding pigment to the skin, and it stays on the skin even after washing. Therefore, depending on the product and the strength of the DHA in it, your tan could continue to develop for up to 24 hours.

How to remove fake tan from your hands

Fake tan can often cling to the skin on the fingers and can be difficult to remove. Here are some tips for removing fake tan from fingers:

  1. Use a gentle exfoliating scrub: A gentle exfoliating scrub can help to remove fake tan from fingers. 
  2. Try lemon juice: Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent that can help to lighten fake tan stains on the skin. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice onto a cotton ball and apply it to the affected area. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse with warm water.
  3. Apply a fake tan remover and wear some rubber or plastic gloves to help the product penetrate. Moisturise thoroughly as hydrated skin helps to tame the darkness

How to remove fake tan from your face

If you want to remove fake tan from your face, there are a variety of methods. 

Use a chemical exfoliant: This can be a salicylic or glycolic acid-based cleanser or toner – try Peter Thomas Roth 3% Glycolic Acid Cleanser, £32.50.

Use a gentle abrasive facial scrub: Clarins Pure Scrub, £26 contains lava beads that very gently dislodge dead skin cells whilst deep cleansing pores so skin looks purified and feels clean. 


Face masks or moisturiser that promote cell renewal are a great idea as this will make the skin cells turnover and speed up the shedding process. Try Clarins Beauty Flash Peel, £38 with a blend of 5.7% naturally exfoliating Glycolic Acid (AHA) and 0.5% purifying and soothing Salicylic Acid (BHA), this no-rinse, lovely smelling gel-serum textured mask will help skin will look refined and renewed.  

Read Next: How to exfoliate your face whatever your skin type


How to remove fake tan from your legs and arms

Salon owners agree that the last remnants of fake tan can be removed by coating your arms, legs and body with oil, then soaking in the bath and when you get out, grab an old towel and gently rub the oil and skin to remove.


How long does it take for self-tanner to go away?

Many elements come into play; it depends on the formula, intensity of the pigments, plus your skin type and tone. For example, a drier skin type might soak up and hold onto the tan for longer and it clings onto rougher skin texture like elbow and knees for longer. 

To avoid fake tan mistakes, watch Clarins Self-Tan Masterclass on how to properly apply your self-tan for that covetable summer glow. Summer is just around the corner; make sure your sun care essentials are ready. Head to your nearest Clarins counter for summer glow-up tips from your trusted local beauty advisor. 

Will massage oil remove fake tan?

Yes, a massage oil will break down the DHA. A spa day is the worst case scenario when it comes to fake tan longevity. Ideally you need to avoid swimming in a chlorinated pool, using the jacuzzi, sauna or steam room and yes, that lovely massage therapy should be avoided too.

How do you get fake tan off in 10 minutes?

It depends on the formula and condition of your skin. The quickest steps are the basic (olive, coconut or baby) oil, soak in the tub, then use an exfoliating body mitt and body scrub or the specialist products designed to remove fake tan efficiently. In ten minutes though? Could be a stretch.

What removes fake tan quickly?

There are a few ways to remove fake tan quickly. One is to use a body scrub to exfoliate the skin. This will remove the top layer of skin that contains the fake tan. Another way is to use a body wash that contains salicylic acid or the oil method above.

How to get rid of small dots from self-tanner?

Sometimes small dots can form on the skin after application. This is usually caused by the self-tanner not being completely absorbed by the skin and dry patches or uneven skin tone. To remove excess from the brown spot use a self-tan remover on a cotton bud or pad and just touch up those mistakes only. That will leave the rest of your glow intact.

How to look after your skin after removing fake tan

You must be gentle with your skin after fake tanning to prevent any dryness or irritation. Moisturise regularly, avoid water, exfoliate gently, and you can use a gradual tanner every few days to maintain your sun-kissed glow. It’s about healthy cell turnover and moisturising well post shower or bath. If skin is feeling a little dry – then try a shea-butter loaded formula – 

It’s an excellent emollient that will help to soften and smooth the skin by filling in the gaps between skin cells and trapping moisture. Shea butter is particularly effective as an emollient because it is rich in fatty acids, which help to nourish and moisturise the skin. It is also high in vitamins A and E, which have antioxidant properties that can help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals and prep it for your next tan. 



How to apply self-tan correctly?


How to remove fake tan from your clothes

It is not always easy to remove fake tan from your clothes. However, there are a few methods that you can try. The first is to use a stain remover. If the fake tan is still wet, you can use a wet cloth to remove it. If the fake tan is dry, you can use a brush or a vacuum cleaner to remove it.

Removing fake tan from clothes can be a challenging task, depending on the fabric and the age of stain. Try these top 5 tips:

  1. Spot clean with a solution of vinegar and water: Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water, and apply the solution directly to the stain using a clean cloth. Let it sit for a few minutes, then gently rub the stain with a soft-bristled brush. Rinse the garment with cold water and repeat the process if necessary.
  2. Try adding dishwasher liquid directly on the stain and wash as usual. 
  3. Use baking soda and water: Mix baking soda and water to form a paste, then apply it to the stained area. Let it sit for a few minutes, then gently rub the stain with a soft-bristled brush. Rinse the garment with cold water and repeat the process if necessary.
  4. Try using lemon juice: Apply lemon juice directly to the stain, then let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse the garment with cold water and repeat the process if necessary.
  5. Use a stain remover: If the above methods do not work, you can try using a stain remover specifically designed for fake tan stains. Follow the instructions on the product carefully.

How to remove fake tan from a toilet seat?

It’s easy to contaminate your lovely white bathroom with self tan. So depending on your toilet seat material – you could try a magic eraser sponge or a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda mixed with water and gently remove with a cloth. 

Fake tan myths

Myth: Use a dishwasher tablet

No, it is not recommended to use dishwasher tabs to remove fake tan from the body. Dishwasher tabs are formulated for cleaning dishes and contain harsh chemicals that can irritate or damage the skin. They may also cause skin dryness and can lead to more problems.

Myth: Remove fake tan from hands with toothpaste

Toothpaste is not a recommended method for removing fake tan from the hands. Toothpaste is designed to clean teeth, and while it may contain mild abrasives that can help remove surface stains, it is not formulated for use on the skin and can irk the epidermis.

Myth: Washing up liquid removes fake tan?

Washing up liquid will help to remove fake tan – however this is designed for cutting through grease and grime on dishes, they can contain strong chemicals that are not designed or safe to be used on the skin and might lead to dryness and rashes. So, no it’s not recommended. 

More ‘Skin Myths’ can be found here.

Read Next: Your complete pregnancy self-tan guide

Explore more Skincare Tips

How To Fix, Remove & Avoid a Bad Fake Tan

The Right Skincare Routine Order 

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