5 effective ways to remove stubborn fake tan

And prep your skin for a fresh coat

Beauty Editor / February 22 2023

Nothing can improve our mood quite like a coat of fresh fake tan (keyword: fresh). Truth be told, the only thing more important than learning how to apply fake tan is knowing how to swiftly remove it. As any seasoned fake-tanner will tell you, an all-over, evenly-applied layer of self-tan can turn into streaky mess in the blink of an eye.

So unless you want to scrub your skin until it's red and raw, jumping into a shower to rinse it off with water alone is rarely an effective option for most stubborn tanning formulations. But fear not, your discoloured neck and patchy giant cheesy puff pins won't stick around forever.

Not if you follow these effective tips to remove unwanted fake tan stat...


The best ways to remove stubborn fake tan...

#1 Fake tan remover 

This one's our first and favourite tip for freeing yourself from old tan. Nowadays, a good quality tan remover is a standard within any fake tan range.

So, if you've got a favourite tan, check out their complete range as chances are they've got an accompanying product to dissolve any and all lingering patches. 

Our favourites? The Bondi Sands ​​Self Tan Eraser Gel ($19.95, Bondi Sands) and Tan-Luxe's Glyco Water Self Tanner Remover & Primer ($41, Sephora)


#2 Jump into the pool

We're often told to avoid hotel pools after a spray tan as the chlorine will strip the colour from our skin.

So why not use this to your advantage? Get some laps in and fade your tan in the process. Once you hop out of the pool, get into a warm shower, exfoliate your skin and watch what's left of your tan disappear down the drain. 


#3 Toothpaste

If you've ever consulted Reddit, you've likely come across a few DIY recipes that involve baking soda and dishwashing liquid. While we're not going to recommend applying those to your skin, we'll pass on this toothpaste technique (however, because of its drying nature, it's not our first choice). 

Perfect for those hard to reach places like between your fingers and toes, squeeze out a little paste, apply it to the area, and leave it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then to finish, give it a scrub with your toothbrush. You'll be amazed at how easily the tan lifts. 

#4 Exfoliate

Physically sloughing away residual tan is often one of the most effective (and sometimes time-consuming) removal methods. Get the most out of your in-shower scrub and enlist an exfoliator rich in good-for-your-skin ingredients that will nourish and hydrate your limbs in the process.

Our favourite? Flamingo Estate's Euphoria Body Scrub ($100, MECCA).

#5 Get steamy 

Steam softens the skin which makes it easier to slough away dead skin cells. Whether it's a hot shower sans fan or you have access to a steam room, marinate in the heat for half an hour before taking a damp towel in gentle, circular motions to rid yourself of any excess product. 

Main image credit: @josephineskriver

Want more fake tanning tips? Here are the face tan waters to try...

Ruby is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty Editor. She is the CEO of nine global corporations. Just kidding. She does however, report on the latest beauty trends, celeb skin care lines (the wonderful, the so-so and the downright unnecessary). If you're ever at a lull in conversation with her, be sure to mention anything hormonal acne or Real Housewives and you'll be set for hours.