The best way to remove fake tan

Because fake tan removal is an essential life skill, especially at this time of year

how to remove fake tan

by Louella Berryman |

It's a pain all fake-tanners have had to experience - when you've done a bit of a dodgy job and the fake tan just will not come off. If we added up all the hours we've spent trying to remove fake tan, we'd definitely be in triple figures.

You've got streaks on your legs, patches on your elbows and lets not even talk about the pores on your face.

It's a dead giveaway (what do you mean? I've definitely been sunning myself in Greece, not binge-watching Normal People in bed) and it's not what we had in mind for our summer look.

Beyond the initial EMERGENCY, the next question is: how do you remove your fake tan disaster?

Gentle exfoliation

One of the easiest ways to remove your fake tan is to use an exfoliator or some exfoliating gloves to buff away that product build up.

Exfoliating scrubs buff away the dead skin cells that have been dyed by the tan, creating a more even look.

Make sure to take a shower or bath before you exfoliate, this opens up your pores and softens skin, making it easier to scrub away that tan.

We spoke to cosmetic surgeon and skin expert Dr Lucy Glancey about her top exfoliation tips: "Firstly, you need to exfoliate the skin and look to use one containing oil," she says.

"Use a loofah brush, or exfoliating gloves and work in circular motions all over the body.

"Try not to over scrub the body as you will only irritate the skin, especially if you have overly sensitive skin. You can also add some extra massage oil into the mix which helps break down the DHA (colour element) in tanning fluid."

Look! Even more hot beauty stories

The Pillow Talk dupes you NEED in your life

9 brow gels so good they could pass for brow lamination

We've found the best Estée Lauder Double Wear foundation dupes

Take a steamy hot bath

"A long soak in the bath with bath oil will also help to soften the tan," says Dr Lucy.

Soaking in a hot bath won't remove your tan on its own, but it will help with the tan-removal process.

The moist air and heat will open pores where the tan is embedded and make tan removal much easier.

This is a great step to take before exfoliating, especially if you add a few drops of body oil. Plus, it's an excuse to pamper yourself and have a soak with a good book.

Moisturise with body oil

Another way to banish bad tan is by moisturising with your favourite body oil. Apply the oil, massaging all over, and leave it to soak in for 30 minutes.

The oil helps loosen dead skin cells, making them easier to buff off with an exfoliator.

Use lemon juice

This is a great way to remove tan quickly, especially if you don't want a full-body tan removal.

We asked Dr Lucy whether this one actually works - turns out it does, who knew?

"Another home remedy is lemon juice," says Dr Lucy.

"Grab a lemon and mix with sugar to create an exfoliator. The lemon juice will remove dark pigmentation from the skin. Again go easy on the scrubbing.

"Toothpaste has also been proven to help fade tan," she says.

"Simply put a small amount of toothpaste onto a toothbrush and in a circular motion gently rub away the tan. You can also add a small amount of water to the toothpaste before thoroughly rinsing."

However, be mindful that lemons contain vitamin C, which makes skin more sensitive to sunlight.

Make sure you apply SPF generously after using lemon to remove fake tan if you're planning on going out in the sun.

Greg Lake Vicky Pattison Geordie Shore
Gone a bit heavy on the tan, Vick? ©Getty

Try a bicarb scrub

Everyone's probably got a tub of this miracle stuff knocking around and luckily it's great for removing patchy tan.

Dr Lucy recommends bicarb as a great fake-tan removing home remedy: "Add two tablespoons of baking soda to some water and mix to create a paste. you can rub it over the worst areas such as hands or feet, leave on for a few minutes before rinsing off."

Go for a swim

Okay, so you probably can't do this one in the moment, but chlorine actually helps to remove fake tan.

Take a dip, then use a gentle exfoliator in the shower post-swim.

Check out heat's ultimate fake tan kit (including fake tan removing essentials)

We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links


heat's fake tan essentials

how to remove fake tan
1 of 8

Turn your favourite body wash into a scrub with these ace gloves.Pros: Exfoliating is one of the best ways to remove fake tan and it is recommended that you exfoliate once a week (even if you don't tan) for that smooth bod. Cons: Don't scrub too hard, especially if you have sensitive skin. Reviews say: "The gloves are quite tough, which is really what I wanted but for sensitive skin you will need to be gentle."

how to remove fake tan
2 of 8

This body oil smells like the absolute dream.Pros: Did we say it smells divine? Cons: If you're not a fan of feeling a little greasy (until it all soaks in). Reviews say: "I swear this stuff has made my skin the softest it's has EVER been. I put it on at night after my shower and it keeps my skin super soft like my skin just soaks it up and absorbs all the goodness."

how to remove fake tan
3 of 8
CREDIT: Amazon

How cute is the tropical print on this top-notch fake tan mitt? Get us on hols asap.Con: Amazing value for money! Pro: It's waterproof and will protect your hands from the dreaded fake tan stains. Reviews say: "So soft and easy to use ! Great value for money."

how to remove fake tan
4 of 8
CREDIT: LookFantastic

For patch-free feet, a pumice stone is essential.Con: Pumice stones can be a little bit scary, but you'll soon get used to it. This one is also on the small side. Pro: Essential to keeping those feet nice and smooth AND does wonders for those tricky bits of tan that just don't wanna come off. Reviews say: "Having spent a future on foot scrubs, files etc this has been by far the best buy- does exactly what it says it does!"

how to remove fake tan
5 of 8
CREDIT: Superdrug

A thick, gorgeous moisturiser with vitamin E is all your dry elbows need.Con: Can be thick. Pro: The price is amazing for the benefits you get. Reviews say: "A thick cream that works to keep skin from getting dry, but absorbs really well without any greasy residue."

how to remove fake tan
6 of 8
CREDIT: LookFantastic

This remover is super speedy - working in just five minutes. Perfect for last-minute huns.Con: This remover is perfect for those who want to get rid of things fast - but it might not do the job as well as other more intense methods.**** Pro: Works so well in such a short time. Reviews say: "Ladies (and gents) let me tell you this stuff is revolutionary. I put it on while my bath is running and it literally melts off when I get in."

how to remove fake tan
7 of 8
CREDIT: LookFantastic

Coffee scrub is the queen of body scrubs, if you don't mind smelling a little like a latte.Pro: This is vegan and cruelty free. Con: If you don't like the glorious smell of coffee beans, this one just isn't for you. Reviews say: "Love using this scrub in between new layers of fake tan, really gives my skin a great exfoliate without being to harsh on the skin."

how to remove fake tan
8 of 8
CREDIT: LookFantastic

This gentle chemical exfoliator takes the work out of all that scrubbing - a quick fix for tan addicts.Pro: Another product that will work in MINUTES. Con: It's on the pricey side of the products we've recommended. Reviews say: "Wouldn't be without it as part of my routine now!"

Now watch: Which Love Islanders had work done twice in two weeks before entering the villa? find out...🍑 👀

How to remove fake tan quickly

Using lemon is a great way to remove fake tan quickly - simply dilute some lemon juice in water and apply to the area, or create a lemon scrub with sugar.

How to remove fake tan on your face

Using a retinol product regularly is a great way to make sure fake tan fades evenly on your face. Retinol speeds up the cell turnover on your face, meaning dead cells dyed by the tan will be removed more quickly.


The most glorious fake tans to make you look like you've been on holiday

The best cruelty-free and vegan fake tans to give you that summer glow

Molly-Mae Hague's fake tan: the flawless tanning range that fans have gone WILD for

How to remove fake tan on your feet

Go at those patchy toes with some hot water and a pumice stone. You can use a gentle exfoliator too.

How to remove fake tan from clothes

This is a nightmare all fake tanners will experience at some point during their fake tan career.

The best thing to do is to tackle the stain while it's wet. Run the stain under cold water, but avoid smearing the stain and making it worse. Then sponge off the stain with a mix of warm water and detergent. Good luck to you, fake tan soldier.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us
Now playing
Listen Live
I'm Good by David Guetta and Bebe Rexha