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Self-tanner removal tips

One of the benefits of many self-tanners is that they don’t wash off in the shower. Instead, they fade over time. But as self-tanner fades, it can result in a patchy tan. At that point, you might want to remove the tanner and apply a fresh layer. 

While it may be tricky to fully remove self-tanner before it fades on its own, there are a few things you can do to speed up the process.

What do you need to remove self-tanner?

Removing self-tanner doesn’t need to be overcomplicated or expensive. All you need is:

  • Access to a bath and/or shower
  • Some moisturizing body wash.
  • An exfoliation glove or cloth
  • Some moisturizer for when you are done

You probably have most of these tools at home. While you can get by without a bath, you can’t scrimp on moisturizer. This is because self-tanner and the exfoliation required to remove it dries out the skin. 

If your self-tanner application was very recent, you might want to try a tan extender instead. Trying to remove self-tanner shortly after application can result in noticeable patches left on the skin.

How to fully remove self-tanner

Even after following the steps below, you may be left with faded patches of self-tanner on drier areas of skin, such as the elbows or wrists. If that’s the case, simply follow the same steps the next day to remove the last traces of self-tanner.

Step 1: Have a relaxing bath

While filling your tub with warm, soapy water, take a generous dollop of moisturizing shower gel in one hand and mix it in, rubbing your hands under the flowing tap water. Adding shower gel or body cleanser to the bathwater helps soften the skin, letting tan come off easier.

Soak in the tub for 15 minutes, then rub a patch of skin vigorously with your thumb. If you start to see the tan coming off, it’s time to move to the next step. 

Step 2: Scrub in the shower 

Once the shower is on, apply exfoliating shower gel to your hands, loofah or sponge. 

Next, scrub deep into the skin in a circular motion to remove the top or loose layers of tan. It’s best to start from your hands and feet and work your way in. 

You can keep the shower on or off while you scrub. Either way, rinse thoroughly before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Exfoliate the skin

After you have rinsed off, grab an exfoliation cloth or glove and move over each tanned area until you see your natural skin tone return. Exfoliate vigorously, but not so hard that you break or damage the skin.

Start at your feet and progressively move up your legs. Similarly, start at your hands or wrists and move up your arms to make sure you cover all areas. 

Step 4: Moisturize 

Both the self-tanner and its removal can dry out your skin, so moisturize after you dry off from the shower. Cover all body areas so your skin can rehydrate and repair consistently. 

Step 5: Aftercare

If any patches of tan remain, try baby oil to remove them. Just apply some oil to the skin and gently rub it with your exfoliator. 

Moisturize thoroughly for four or five days after the process so your skin fully hydrates. 

Some people like to remove tan to put more back on. If that’s you, apply moisturizer to your skin before applying a new layer of self-tanner.

What you need to buy for removing self-tanner

Best EcoTools EcoPouf Loofah

EcoTools EcoPouf Loofah

Made entirely from recycled material, this affordable loofah comes with a hanging ribbon so it can dry easily after use. The dense layers make it durable and long lasting.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Best Earth Therapeutics Hydro Exfoliating Gloves

Earth Therapeutics Hydro Exfoliating Gloves

These gloves provide deep exfoliation without being too harsh on the skin. They’re made with anti-microbial weave to keep them clean and free from bacteria over multiple uses.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Best Olay Daily Exfoliating Sea Salt Body Wash

Olay Daily Exfoliating Sea Salt Body Wash

The sea salt ingredients in this body wash provide thorough exfoliation. At the same time, Olay’s Lock-in-Moisture technology moisturizes deep into your skin without leaving a residue. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion

This moisturizer is made with oats to soothe your skin without leaving any greasy residue. It is ideal for normal to dry skin and is fragrance-free.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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