How to Get Rid of a Spray Tan

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A lot of people who are looking for that sun-kissed bronze glow have embraced spray tans as a safer alternative to tanning in the sun and tanning beds But like everything else, spray tans can have their drawbacks, too.

Spray tan results can vary widely between products, people’s different skin tones and melanin content, and the person applying them. You can often end up with streaking, uneven color, an unnatural orange goblin hue, or staining on parts of your body that you didn’t want ‘tanned’, like your palms. This will lead many to wonder how to get rid of a spray tan.

In this article, we are going to show you how to remove a spray tan. We’ll look at some different ways you can accelerate this process.

Maybe your spray tan didn’t turn out like you thought it would, or it started out great but is now cracking or fadeing unevenly.

You’re not going to want to wait around for it to fade on its own.


How Does Spray Tan Work?

It’s important to understand how spray tan colors your skin so you know how to go about removing it.

The active ingredient in all spray tans is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA works by creating a chemical reaction with dead cells on the skin’s surface layer to temporarily darken the skin and simulate a tan. 

Can fake tan permanently stain your skin?

You’ll be happy to know that a spray tan cannot permanently stain your skin.

Because the DHA in the spray tan reacts only with the surface skin cells, your spray tan will only ever last as long as it takes your top layer of skin cells to turn over.

The outermost layer of skin cells constantly detach and fall off, and are replaced by new skin cells underneath.

This process of skin cell turnover generally takes 7 to 10 days, which is why most spray tans will last 7-10 days.

How to Get Rid of a Spray Tan

You will be happy to know that you are not going to have to wait that 7 to 10 days for your spray tan to fade and that there are quite a few ways to remove a spray tan. Let’s go over the ways you can remove a spray tan.

1. Bath & Baby Oil

For best results, apply baby oil all over your spray-tanned areas and let it soak in for 30 minutes. Baby oil helps to break down the DHA and works to loosen the dead skin cells that have been ‘tanned’.

Then fill ‘er up! Add baby oil to your bathwater.

Soak in the tub until your fingers start to get pruney. Then with an exfoliating mitt, go to town on all of the areas covered by the spray tan.

Using a vigorous circular motion will help slough off the dead skin cells, removing your tan while having the added benefit of boosting circulation.

2. Shower & Sugar Scrub

Not to worry if you don’t have a bathtub, you can also use a sugar scrub and exfoliate in the shower. Don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy store-bought sugar scrub!

You can literally make one in about 30 seconds by mixing sugar, a few tablespoons of lemon juice, and a bit of baby oil.

Take an exfoliating mitt and scrub, scrub, scrub.

3. Baking Soda & Water

A simple slurry of baking soda and water, mixed to a pasty consistency, is not only good for whitening teeth! It may also help you get rid of that spray tan.

Apply the paste to spray-tanned areas and let sit for several minutes, then rinse off.

How Can I Remove Spray Tan From My Back?!

Unless you’re the featured act at cirqu-du-soleil, you may not be able to contort yourself into a pretzel and reach every area.

And assuming you don’t have a VERY close and personal friend to give you a hand for those hard-to-reach places, simply take a long wooden spoon or a spatula and use an elastic band to attach your exfoliating mitt. It may not be pretty, but it works!

It’s the same basic premise as applying self-tanner to your back, but in this case, you’re removing the tanner!

Fake Tan Removers

Isle of Paradise Over it Self Tan Eraser

IF you don’t want to bother with a home remedy, you can purchase a ready-made spray tan remover.

There are spray tan removers available that promise quick spray tan removal with no fuss. But if you look closely at the consumer reviews of these products, not all is as it seems.

1. Isle of Paradise Over It

Isle of Paradise Over It Magic Self Tan Eraser - Exfoliating Glycolic Micellar Water, Vegan and Cruelty Free, 6.76 Fl Oz
  • THE LOWDOWN | Isle of Paradise Over It:...
  • EXFOLIATING | Formulated with naturally...
  • FAST-ACTING | Isle of Paradise Over It...
  • BRIGHTEN & HYDRATE | Over It is...
  • TO USE | To remove self- tan: Use at...

Despite this product scoring top marks in the consumer rating category, there were a lot of really bad consumer reviews and comments for this product. It wasn’t until closer inspection that it became clear that a large portion of the negative reviews was for Isle of Paradise self-tanner, not the tan removal product.

Ms Cha, from the UK, one of the few people who were actually rating the product in question, gave Isle of Paradise Over It Magic Self-Tan Eraser 4.0 out of 5 stars, saying: “With a bit of elbow grease does the job”.

2. Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser

Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser, 6.76 Fl Oz
  • Our soothing aloe vera formula...
  • ABOUT THE BRAND: Inspired by...
  • CAREFULLY FORMULATED: Free of harsh...
  • WHY YOU NEED THIS: Formulated with...

Haney87 rated this product a 5 out of 5 stars and said: “Honestly works WELL! Time saver! …For a tan that is not fresh, anything after a few days old- this stuff REALLY DOES the trick for easy removal!”. Catnip from the US echoes Haney87’s sentiment with 5/5 stars and a resounding: “Yassssss!” and then went on to say: “Some spots that are especially dry, you may need to keep it on for ten minutes or reapply, but what a difference.”

There were also reviewers who complained about the dispensing mechanism that didn’t always work.

3. St. Tropez Prep and Maintain Tan Remover Mousse

St.Tropez Tan Remover Mousse & Primer, 2-in-1 Prep and Maintain, Detox and Prime Skin, Sensitive Skin, Vegan, Natural & Cruelty Free, 6.7 Fl Oz
  • Item Package Length: 4.826cm
  • Item Package Width: 5.334cm
  • Item Package Height: 18.288cm
  • Item Package Weight: 0.294kg

The St. Tropez Prep & Maintain Tan Remover Mousse received reviews from both ends of the spectrum ranging from K. Hicks in the US giving it a 4/5 stars saying: “Works almost perfectly!…. Almost completely back to square one” (She also mentioned she’d left the product on for 10 minutes, not the recommended 5), and A. Franzese, rating it 5 out of 5 stars, commenting:  “Works as advertised… It doesn’t remove all of the self tanner, but definitely gets a majority off. I would highly recommend for anyone who removes self tanner often”.

Things to take into consideration about product reviews

The thing you have to remember about product reviews is that, although they are a good starting point in terms of helping you to decide if it’s a product you want to buy, they don’t always give you an accurate reflection of the product.

Case in point: Isle of Paradise Over It Magic Self Tan Eraser – a whole heap of the bad reviews were for a different product.

And sometimes people are not getting the results they wanted because they are not using the product properly. Most tan removal products instruct users to wait three days after a new spray tan to use the remover.

It makes you wonder how many people gave the product they tried a bad review because it didn’t work when they used it the same day they got their spray tan.

How To Remove Fake Tan From Eyebrows

This is a tough one. You should have applied petroleum jelly or a barrier cream to your eyebrows before you started. But if you forgot to do that, you may find that your brows are lighter or have a reddish tint.

If you scrub scrub scrub, you may end up taking away the self-tanner on your skin around your brows, leaving two streaks of light skin.


Your best bet is to exfoliate the area and use lemon juice to extract any self-tanner from your brows. But make sure you don’t let the lemon juice drip into your eyes! If you need to, cover up any light spots with makeup.

Take Away

Now that you have a newfound wealth of different methods to remove your spray tan, regardless of the method you choose, waiting a few days after you got your spray tan will yield better results.

And to avoid getting in the position where you want to remove a bad spray tan, be sure you properly prep yourself before getting the spray tan! This will help ensure that the results are good!

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).