Have you been using fake tan this year, and wondered to yourself, “Does Self-Tanner Wash Off? Self-tanner is a fantastic product that saves people from the early aging and burning effects of tanning in the sun, or at a tanning salon. However, the way that self-tanner works is quite different than a tan you would receive from sunbathing.
Does Self Tanner Wash Off?
Yes, Sort Of. Although it isn’t possible to wash off self-tanner through traditional methods, it is possible to remove it faster than it would naturally fade. Things such as exfoliating, lemon juice, baking soda, and other things can help accomplish this.
Remember that the active ingredient in most self-tanning products is a color additive called dihydroxyacetone (DHA). When this chemical touches dead skin cells a chemical reaction occurs that ultimately darkens the outer layer of your skin, simulating a tan. This differs from traditional tanning with the sun or a tanning bed, because those methods actually create pigment in the lower layer of your skin that lasts much longer.
So the idea of washing off self-tanner is actually just speeding up the shedding of skin cells that hold the dark color retained from the chemical reaction of the self-tanner.
Now let’s talk about the strategies you can actually use to wash off self-tanner, and why you might want to.
9 Ways To Remove or Wash Off Self-Tanner
There are many reasons you may want to remove self-tanner, including:
- You had a tanning mishap, and now you have streaks or splotches
- Your skin is having an adverse reaction to the self-tanning product
- You’re getting plenty of natural sunlight, and want to ease the transition from sunless tanner to real tan
- And much more…
Alright, now let’s talk about the 9 easiest ways to speed up the fading of sunless tanners.
1. Exfoliate With Body Scrub
As we talked about above, self-tanning products work by reacting with dead skin cells to darken the outer layer of your skin. It fades quickly and requires reapplication often because our cells go through a natural replenishing process.
Using an exfoliating body scrub, like the Astura Dead Sea Salt Scrub from Amazon can help remove the self-tanner quicker. This is also a really good strategy to even out mishaps with applying sunless tanner. If you ended up with streaks or splotches, using an exfoliating scrub on the uneven areas can help to balance things out and remove some of the self-tanner. This also works really well if you had a mishap while applying self-tanner to your face.
Exfoliating products are also a really important part of any good skin care routine, allowing healthy new skin cells to form, and removing oils and dirt from your skin.
2. Use Lemon Juice
This is a really popular method if you just have a small area of self-tanner that you want to remove or even out. To do this, all you have to do is put lemon juice that you can pick up at the grocery store, on a cotton ball or cotton pad, or even a q-tip, and gently dab and rub the area. The acidity of the lemon juice will help to break down the outer layer of dead skin cells currently holding color.
Some people also recommend using an exfoliating glove, like this one from Amazon, doused with some lemon juice to enhance the removal of the self-tanner. This combines the exfoliation from step 1, with the acidity of the lemon juice. This works well if you want to wash away the self-tanner from your entire body as the glove makes it easier to reach more surface area.
3. Baking Soda
You can also make a paste with either baking soda and water, or baking soda and lemon juice. These are both lightening agents, and rubbing them into your skin can help to lift the color from your skin.
There are a few companies that make products specifically to remove self-tanner. One popular one is Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser that you can pick up from Amazon. This is a great option if you have a serious mishap when applying sunless tanner, and you really want to clean things up. It’s not particularly inexpensive, but can be a fantastic option to have available if things go wrong!
St. Tropez also made a self-tan remover product and mitt for a while, but at the time of this writing, it appears it may have been discontinued.
5. White Vinegar
The nice thing about white vinegar is that you probably already have some in your home. This stuff is used for just about everything and is extremely inexpensive. It also happens to work really well for washing off self-tanner. The best way to use it for this purpose is to apply it to your skin and let it sit for about 15 minutes, then go take a shower and rinse it all off.
The acidity of the vinegar will help break down the layer of skin holding the fake tan.
6. Baby Oil
This is a great method if you have a large area whose color you want to reduce, or if you want to wash all the self-tanner off. Simply take a healthy amount of baby oil, and lather up your entire body. Then, hop in a hot bath or shower and let all the baby oil wash away (and some of the self-tanner with it). Not only does this work well at reducing the color from self-tanner, but it also feels amazing and is great for your skin.
7. Rubbing Alcohol
To be honest, this isn’t really a great option, so I would suggest doing something else on this list. However, it is actually quite effective if you’re in a bind and need to remove some streaking from your fake tan. Rubbing alcohol is very harsh on the skin, so don’t do this too often.
Essentially you’ll just want to do what you did with the lemon juice – put some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball or a cotton pad and apply it to the area you want to wash off. Then let it sit for just a few minutes, and then thoroughly rinse and wash it off with soap.
Toothpaste is probably one of the best methods out there to wash self-tanner off of your hands. It actually works with self-tanner the same way it works to remove stains from your teeth. A great toothpaste for this is Crest Baking Soda and Peroxide that you can pick up on Amazon, or at your local grocery store.
Ok, this one is cheating, and certainly isn’t a method for washing away self-tanner. However, if you did mess up a bit with your sunless tanner, and have some streaking, it can be really helpful to reapply the right kind.
First, use the methods above, such as exfoliation, to remove the streakiness from your skin. Then, reapply with a self-tanning moisturizer such as Jergens Natural Glow, to gently bring the color back to your skin and even things out.
So, although you can’t actually “wash off” self-tanner per se, you can help speed up it’s natural shedding process through the methods we talked about above. Self-tanner is a fantastic, safe, and quick solution to achieving a fantastic summer glow. If you ever have any issues with your tan, just remember this article, it’ll still be sitting here, ready to help!