6 Ways to Remove Self-Tanner Streaks for an Even Finish

tan legs on the beach

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If you've ever applied a sunless tanner, you've likely been left with a few streaks that are difficult to remove. But fear not—there are several ways to remove those dreaded streaks.

According to Jules Von Hep, global tanning director for Tan-Luxe and the go-to tanner for many an A-lister, the best way to avoid streaks is by applying self-tanner correctly in the first place. "Whether you're using a mousse, spray, oil, or whatever, you should always blend with a mitt," he says. Of course, not all of us follow the rules. So we asked Von Hep for the best ways to remove self-tanner streaks once they're already there.

Meet the Expert

Use a Clay Mask

Sometimes, it's not just a streak or two—it's all over your body (aka the most nightmarish situation to find yourself in). From your elbows to your legs, you've ended up with not quite the color or shade you were hoping for. You have officially become the thing you feared the most: The One With Ross's Tan. For this emergency, Von Hep recommends that you get a body clay mask (he likes The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Mask, $29). While he says he knows this is "all dependent on time, a body clay mask will draw out impurities and suck the color out of the tan."

Use a Product Specifically Created to Remove Self Tanner

There are also products specifically made for removing sunless tanner, including the Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser ($24). This product promises to remove the self-tanner in just five minutes without a lot of scrubbing. For those pressed for time, he also gave me another tip that I didn't know about: If you go to the gym, go into the steam room, or go swimming—any chlorinated water will help reduce the tan.

Moisturize Ahead of Time

There are so many tell-tale signs of a bad tan, but the biggest has to be when someone hasn't properly blended between the fingers, ankles, elbows, knuckles, and nails. To avoid this, Von Hep recommends ensuring you moisturize all those areas before applying, and you can even apply lip balm on your nails to prevent staining. "Those places are like sponges," he says. 

You can also apply Norvell Pro-Blending DHA Barrier Cream ($26) to those hot spots before you use your self-tanner to prevent over-staining and streaks.

Try a DIY Mix of Baking Soda, Oil, and Lemon Juice

However, we all slip up sometimes, so to rectify any self-tan mishaps on all those small places, Von Hep has a great homemade concoction that will lift the color—and it does actually require a squeeze of lemon juice. Mix baking soda (two teaspoons), body oil (a couple of drops), and lemon juice (half a squeezed lemon), and rub where you want to remove the tan. The baking soda will "bubble up and remove the color," Von Hep says.

Mix an Exfoliator With an Oil

Happily, the face isn't usually a problem. Our expert says: "The tan fades so quickly because we smile and move our faces a lot." But to get rid of it quickly, mix an exfoliator with cleansing oil. Want to ensure your face looks more natural next time? "I would always apply two coats on the body but only do one on the face," Von Hep tells us. He loves Tan-Luxe's The Water spray tan ($48), which he holds at arm's length for a natural-looking tan.

Add More Self Tanner and Blend

If you have a massive streak on your leg, there's an incredible trick that you'll think is a lifesaver. "Put tanner on a small makeup sponge and apply around the streak," Von Hep says. "Then take a dry towel and blend in the two areas, and wait for it to develop." If you would rather remove the tan completely and start over, try Isle of Paradise Over It Magic Self-Tan Eraser ($30). You simply spray it on your legs, wait five minutes and then wash it off.

Finally, if you're still struggling with your application, try a gradual tan. "Tanning is one of those things that's so about confidence—and practice makes perfect. If you're nervous start with, ease yourself in with easier products," Von Hep says. Try Tan-Luxe The Gradual Illuminating Gradual Tan Lotion ($30) for a subtle glow.

Article Sources
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  1. Gomes C de SF. Healing and edible clays: a review of basic concepts, benefits and risks. Environ Geochem Health. 2018;40(5):1739-1765.

  2. Milstone LM. Scaly skin and bath pH: Rediscovering baking soda. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2010;62(5):885-886.

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