How to Remove Sunless Tanner Streaks

by Barbie Carpenter ; Updated September 28, 2017

When that faux glow goes on a little too dark or appears uneven, you want to adjust the color so that your skin looks naturally sun kissed. Target that streaky color, darker knees and elbows or an overall too-dark fake tan with a few strategies you can use at home.

Buff the Streaks Away

Exfoliating before you apply self-tanner is ideal, but a gentle scrub after a failed self-tanning session can help you tweak your skin tone. Massage an exfoliating scrub into the too dark or streaky spots. Then, moisturize the now-faded blotchy areas -- adding some hydration to these dry spots can promote self-tanner fading as well.


  • For especially hard-to-erase dark spots, slip on a pair of exfoliating gloves, cover them in your favorite exfoliator and massage it into your skin. This double exfoliating action will lighten even the toughest spots.

Create a Homemade Lightening Paste

Head to the kitchen and mix up a paste that can lift and lighten a self-tanner that is just too dark. Combine baking soda with enough lemon juice to make a thick paste. Obviously, the more skin you have to cover, the more of this mixture you'll need to create. Massage the paste onto those too-dark areas in the shower, and rinse it away once you've neutralized those streaky spots.


  • If you're desperate to soften dark spots and don't have time for a shower, cut a lemon in half, and rub the lemon directly on the dark spot for about two minutes. It'll help lighten the self-tanner when you're in a hurry.

Brighten Dark Spots

Whitening toothpaste offers similar lightening effects. While you don't want to douse your skin in toothpaste, this technique works well for small dark spots on the face, hands or feet. Simply cover a cotton swab in some toothpaste, massage it into the dark spot and rinse it away once the faux tan has faded.

Soak the Tan Away

If your self-tanner is too dark or streaky from head to toe, a soak can help promote fading and restore your natural skin tone.

  • Fill up a tub with warm water, and add a few capfuls of baby oil. Soak for about 20 minutes, and you'll step out of the tub with a less prominent fake tan.
  • If you have access to a pool, go for a swim. The chlorine has a similar fading effect and can soften your self-tanner color.

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About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.