Reapplying sunscreen is kind of like getting eight hours of sleep, eating our veggies, or getting our daily exercise—we know we're supposed to do it, but we might not always get it done. So, ending up with a tan line or two after some fun in the sun is par for the course. And it can actually be kind of cute, a reminder of how it feels to get sun-kissed in our favorite bikini, as we dream of the next beach day.
The problem is some tan lines tend to be a bit drastic. Think farmer's tan or the consequence of wearing a backless mock-neck swimsuit—not the best look. For these cases, we reached out to a couple of skin and makeup experts to learn how to minimize tan lines. From traditional methods like applying body makeup with a kabuki brush to less conventional practices like rubbing potato slices on your skin, here are some tan line–erasing hacks that'll make your stripes disappear in no time.
Keep scrolling for the genius tricks.
The first step to fading a tan line is exfoliation, says Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skincare Collection. To do this, she recommends using a clean washcloth and body scrub.
If you don't have time to run out and get a scrub, you can quickly make one at home with equal parts brown sugar and olive oil, plus a bit of raw honey.
To fix traditional tan lines, St. Tropez's skin-finishing expert Sophie Evans says to "paint [self-tanning] lotion heavily onto your tan lines, being as meticulous as possible. Leave on for eight hours (or overnight), and then shower it off." Once dry, look to see if your lines are even. If so, leave them be. If not, she says to use a gentle exfoliator to soften the lines' appearance. When filling in your tan lines, she recommends using a kabuki brush for large lines and a concealer brush for smaller areas and edges.
Vitamin C has been proven to lighten skin. Vargas claims potatoes, which are rich in vitamin C, are great for fading a tan. In order to do this, she recommends blending potatoes into a mask and applying it to the darker outer edges of your line. Let the mask sit for 20 to 30 minutes before wiping it off. Don't have a blender? Vargas says you can also apply slices of potatoes to your skin for similar results.
When all else fails, reach for foundation, says esthetician Graceanne Svendsen. Simply fill in the tan line with a camouflaging foundation like Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation, which is gentle enough to use on irritated, sun-tanned skin. Set the makeup with powder to avoid smears and smudges, and you're good to go.
Sanadi RM, Deshmukh RS. The effect of Vitamin C on melanin pigmentation - a systematic review. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol. 2020;24(2):374-382. doi:10.4103/jomfp.JOMFP_207_20