How do you get rid of fake tan in 5 minutes?

We get it. While you love the look and feel of a fresh self-tan, sometimes you just don’t want it to stick around forever. Maybe you skipped the prep and ended up super streaky, or you forgot the tanning mitt and your muddy palms are telling the tale. Or maybe you just want to remove the last traces of a great-but-fading fake tan before reapplying a fresh layer (which you should definitely do!). 

There are a few different reasons you might want a clean-skin slate and, thankfully, there are just as many ways to return to your natural hue. From hitting the local pool to scrubbing your heart out and raiding the pantry for a DIY fix, here’s how to remove fake tan – fast.

How to remove an all-over tan

Unhappy with your fake tan or just want to fast-track the fade before your weekly self-tanning sesh? You’ll need water and a bit of elbow grease for removing a tan evenly from top to toe.

In the bath

Jump in a warm bath, and make sure you fill ‘er up with baby oil! Oil helps break down the tanning agent DHA – so it’s your BFF if you want to remove your colour. To supercharge your soak, you can also rub baby oil into the skin and let it marinate for 30-60 minutes before bathing and exfoliating. 

Once in the tub, soak until your fingers are looking pruney and give yourself an energetic sloughing with an exfoliating mitt. Use in a vigorous circular motion to shed dead skin cells, remove unwanted colour and boost circulation (and your natural glow!).

In the shower

If you don’t have a bath, don’t stress. You can also easily farewell your fake tan by jumping in the shower with an exfoliating mitt or sugar scrub. Alternatively, you can mix a little bit of bath oil into your scrub for extra DHA-defeating action. Pay particular attention to tough, dry areas like the knees, elbows and feet, which tend to soak up extra colour. Repeat a few times until you’re back to your natural skin tone – and ready for a fresh application of Sunny Honey!

One of the easiest ways to tap into this trend? Adding tan drops to your skincare for (faux)sun-kissed radiance and a hydrated complexion. (Psst. Keep your eyes peeled for a new shade coming soon to the C&E range!)

Tan-remover tools you should try

Want a super-quick fix for a tanning disaster? Specialist tan-removing products have a time and a place, and there are various wipes and waters that help to shift stubborn colour using ingredients like oils and glycolic acid.

Using kitchen ingredients to remove a fake tan

Sometimes you don’t have fancy tan-remover wipes on hand, though, and need to make do with what’s in your own home. Thankfully, there are a few kitchen staples that are just as good at getting the job done! 

Baking soda isn’t only great at whitening teeth, it can also help you ditch a dodgy tan job. To tackle streaks on your hands and feet, try mixing two tablespoons of the good stuff in a little water to make a paste. Rub it in, leave for a few minutes to work its magic, then rinse thoroughly. 

Yesterday’s spray tan a bit of a lemon? Provided you exercise caution and spot test first, you might be able to use trusty old citrus fruits to lift unwanted colour. Try using lemon and sugar to create a DIY tan removing scrub, or combine lemon or lime juice with baking soda for a fast-acting fake tan remover. Rub onto your body with a warm washer, then rinse thoroughly. 

Another winning kitchen combo? Olive oil and sugar. Whitening toothpaste can also be applied to too dark areas for a few minutes, and white or apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball can also work wonders.

How to remove fake tan from your face

More care should naturally be taken when dealing with your face, and we don’t recommend using any of the tan-removal techniques discussed above. Instead, stick with using a liquid exfoliator with AHAs or BHAs that will speed up skin cell turnover. Your night-time retinol routine will also help ensure an even fade, so stick with your serums and wait it out.

Tips for removing fake tan from your back

Applying fake tan to your back is one of life’s bigger challenges, so it goes without saying that it’s also one of the trickier areas when it comes to removing a tan. Soaking in the tub – with oil – is a great way to target this area. 

As for exfoliation, if you’re not a natural-born contortionist you can pop your exfoliating mitt on a wooden spoon and secure with a hair tie for extra reach.

A handy tan removing hack for water babies

Want to have a bit of fun while your tan fades? Chlorine is a known tan-fader, so head to your local pool or find a buddy with a hot tub. If, on the other hand you want to prolong your faux glow, ignore everything we just said and keep that bronzed bod on dry land.

More things to help fade a fake tan

Sweating it out is another great way to soften a self-tan. So, get that bronzed body to the gym, or hit the steam room or sauna to shift those streaks. 

How to look after your skin after removing fake tan

Some self-tans (not Sunny Honey!) can be quite drying, and some of the tan-removal methods used above (hello, lemon) can sap the skin of even MORE moisture. You’ll also likely miss that faux glow, and find your skin is a little on the dull side. It’s therefore super important to treat your skin with some extra TLC post tan removal.

This means feeding it with glow-giving, hydrating ingredients – like the brightening amino acids and antioxidants and nourishing coconut and cacao oils in our velvety Body Moisture Whip!

When to reapply tan 

While it can be tempting to just layer one tan over another, it really IS important to remove any lingering colour first. This will ensure a beautiful even colour and help prevent streaks, patches and an uneven fade. 

Happy (faux) tanning!

Check out more tan tips & tricks here!

Written by: Pip Jarvis

Edited By: Vidhya

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What removes fake tan instantly?

Try using lemon and sugar to create a DIY tan removing scrub, or combine lemon or lime juice with baking soda for a fast-acting fake tan remover. Rub onto your body with a warm washer, then rinse thoroughly. Another winning kitchen combo? Olive oil and sugar.

How quickly does fake tan fade?

Whether you've never fake tanned before or do it as part of your weekly routine, you no doubt want your tan to last as long as possible. Luckily for you, with good preparation and careful application, self tanner can last up to 10 days.