How to Remove a Fake Spray-On Tan

by Sarah Vrba

Spray tans adhere to the top layers of skin.

David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

Smooth, even, natural-looking spray-on tans require high quality products and flawless application. Splotchy and uneven color, however, can occur for a couple of reasons -- when you haven't exfoliated and moisturized beforehand, or used the wrong formula. Some spray tans produce an orange, dark or dusty color on fair and olive skin types, creating an unnatural, bright final appearance. A fake tan will eventually fade on its own, but a few techniques can improve its appearance.

Natural Exfoliation

Use a scrub to remove the top layer of a spray-on tan. Mix together 3/4 cup of lemon juice with a cup of raw sugar, or use baking soda for a gentler scrub. Apply the mixture over your entire body and rub it in gentle circles using an exfoliating mitt to encourage exfoliation. Don’t scrub too roughly -- strive for an even removal and avoid damaging your skin. Focus the scrub on stubborn areas, such as the elbows and toes, and rinse off the scrub immediately once you have finished. Repeat the scrubbing process every few days to encourage the tan to fade gradually.

Spa and Sauna

Take the edge off of a spray-tan by going for a swim in a chlorinated pool for about 20 minutes. The chlorine will evenly soften and break down the spray-on tan over your whole body. Follow up the swim with a 10-minute session in a steam sauna; the moisture can weaken the tan. If all else fails, go to a spa or salon and request an exfoliating body scrub or wrap for an even body treatment to remove the top layer of tint.

Soak Away Streaks

After exfoliating, you may still have a layer of color on your skin. A good soak in the tub should help. Run a warm bath and add a few tablespoons of bath oil to the water. Sit in the mixture for 20 minutes, gently wiping your body with a loofah or wash cloth as you soak. Apply a rich moisturizing lotion to your entire body after the bath to continue the removal process. Repeat the moisturizing bathing process every day for a gentle, slow reduction in the color.

Chemical Removers

If natural remedies fail and expediency is your goal, use stronger chemical mixtures to remove a spray tan. Store-bought spray-tan removers require an even application over the entire tan and gentle scrubbing as the chemicals do their work. These solutions work more effectively within the first four hours after the spray-on tan has been applied. Always rinse off after using these chemical products. Use hair-removal cream on small areas that have splotchy or stubborn color. For example, spray the hair-removal cream on your elbows, toes or ankles. Allow the product to set for a couple of minutes, then wipe it off with a soft cloth. Avoid sensitive areas and apply only once a week to avoid irritation and damage to your skin.

Photo Credits

  • David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Sarah Vrba has been a writer and editor since 2006. She has contributed to "Seed," "AND Magazine," Care2 Causes and "202 Magazine," among other outlets, focusing on fashion, pop culture, style and identity. Vrba holds an M.A. in history with an emphasis on gender and fashion in the 19th century.