How to Fix Tan Lines on the Face

by Kimberly Johnson

If your recent time in the sun has left you with more stripes than a zebra, you may be tempted to hide until they fade. But you don’t have to drop out of society because of a few tan lines. Whether you have minor tan lines or the wide-eyed look of a tanning bed addict, a little makeup and patience is all you need to look normal again.

Open a container of gentle facial scrub and apply one tablespoon to your hands. Spread the scrub over your face and massage gently using circular motions for at least 30 to 60 seconds. Rinse your face clean with cool water and dry with a towel. Repeat the exfoliation once per day to speed skin turnover, which reduces the appearance of tan lines.

Open a bottle of sunless tanner that matches the color of the tanned areas of your skin. If you have problems with breakouts, opt for a tanner specified for the face. Apply a pea-sized amount of tanning lotion to a makeup sponge and dab it over the areas of your face that are still pale. Blend the lotion in with your fingers and wait at least two hours for the color to develop.

Open a bottle of cream-based bronzer that matches the color of your tanned skin. Apply a pea-sized amount to a cotton ball and dab the bronzer over the areas where you previously applied tanner. Extend the bronzer out 1/4 inch into the tanned areas to achieve a more natural look.

Dust your face with a light layer of translucent powder using a makeup brush. The powder sets the bronzer in place so that it doesn’t smear during the day.

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Items you will need

  • Exfoliating facial scrub
  • Towel
  • Sunless tanner
  • Makeup sponge
  • Cream-based bronzer
  • Cotton ball
  • Translucent powder
  • Makeup brush
  • Aerosol foundation (optional)
  • Broad-spectrum sunscreen


  • Instead of bronzer, Allure suggests covering the tan lines with a spray foundation. Simply close your eyes and spray your entire face with the aerosol holding the bottle 6 inches from your face.
  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen over your entire face each time you go outdoors to prevent the tan lines from getting worse.


  • Avoid exfoliating if your skin is red from sunburn. Wait until the redness dissipates before beginning daily exfoliation. If skin shows signs of irritation, consult your dermatologist. Always wear sunscreen when spending time in the sun.

About the Author

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.

Photo Credits

  • Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images