If you want a little healthy bronze boost, you may find yourself turning to spray tans. This sunless tanning option is great all year round, but it doesn't come without proper maintenance aside from getting a spray tan every one to two weeks (if you're committing to a longterm glow).
Between tan sessions, you need to ensure your color lasts as long as possible but also completely scrub it off before getting a fresh spray. This can prove to be more difficult than it sounds—you don't want to end up with creepy-looking color patches, after all. So in the interest of keeping you faux tan looking top-notch—and dishing on a few secrets—we turned spray-tan gurus, St. Tropez finishing expert Sophie Evans and Blair James, co-founder of Bondi Sans for their best advice. As it turns out, you barely have to buy anything at all to successfully remove your tan and prepare for the next one. That’s right—quite a few of the necessary products can be found in your fridge, medicine cabinet, or pantry.
Below, two tanning experts share their top tips on how to remove a spray tan.
Use Tan Remover
When it comes to how to get rid of a spray tan, one of the most effective ways to do so is by using a tan remover. Try Bondi Sans' Tan Eraser ($24) or St. Tropez’s Tan Remover Prep and Maintain Mousse ($19). "The mousse contains cotton extract, bicarbonate soda, and urea to exfoliate the skin and remove all traces of self-tan," explains Evans of St. Tropez's remover. "It contains aloe vera to leave the skin hydrated and nourished and probiotic yogurt to make the skin the perfect Ph balance for immediate self-tan application." This means after removal, you can immediately get a new spray tan or apply self-tanner.
Apply either remover liberally over dry skin and gently massage onto the skin. Then, wait about five minutes before taking a shower or bath and rinsing off the product.
Apply Hair Removal Cream
Waxing and hair removal creams will take off an old spray tan—and new for that matter. “Hair removal cream is very effective. Apply it with a cotton swab onto darker areas, leave the formula for half the time recommended on the bottle, then remove," says Evans. Try using Nair's Shower Power Sensitive Formula Hair Removal Cream with Coconut Oil and Vitamin E ($12). "If you leave the hair-removal cream for the full time, it can create lighter patches—you want to make the skin match throughout.”
If you decide to wax, wait until the next day to get a fresh faux tan and give your hair follicles a chance to settle down, otherwise, you may get a spotty tanned look.
Try Baby Oil
Don't have hair remover on-hand? One common household item could come of use: baby oil. Drench your skin in baby oil, like Johnson's Original Baby Oil ($4), and leave it on for five to 10 minutes—but no longer. "If left longer you will actually lock in the old tan," she explains.
Once the time is up, take a hot shower or bath, then use an exfoliating mitt or cloth and lift off the old tan. "Oils plump up the skin's surface and make your skin susceptible to exfoliation and removal of unwanted self-tans and other products," Evans explains.
Keep Your Skin Hydrated
As your spray tan starts to fade and you're dealing with a lingering hue, make sure to keep your skin hydrated daily. "To avoid any patchiness or harsh discoloration, we recommend moisturizing your skin on a daily basis. This keeps the skin hydrated, allowing the tan to fade away gradually and naturally—making it less work for you to remove at the end," says James. Try using Bondi Sans' Body Moisturizer ($15).
Exfoliate a Lingering Tan
You should exfoliate your tan regularly to prevent a buildup of color and keep your spray tan even. "I highly recommend lightly exfoliating every two to three days while your tan is fresh," says Evans.
Try using St. Tropez's Tan Enhancing Body Polish ($18), which contains microbeads that won't rip or tear at your tan. "It gently polishes the skin and keeps the tan even, so use it around problem areas like where you wear tight clothing and around the underarms and the neck," Evans explains.
If you lightly polish every few days, she adds that you can then top your spray tan with a light, gradual tanner like St. Tropez’s Gradual Tan Watermelon Infusion Everyday Moisture Miracle Body Lotion ($25) to hydrate and boost your glow.
As a rule of thumb, Evans advises removing all old spray or self-tanner every two to four weeks and starting fresh again.
Use a Mitt
Speaking of exfoliation, sometimes a scrub can't do the job alone. That's where Bondi Sans' Exfoliation Mitt ($9) comes in. Pair it with Bondi Sans' Body Scrub ($16) and use it "in the shower to gently scrub any old skin holding on to stubborn tan," says James. "The formula is gentle on the skin, yet able to remove any unwanted tan left around difficult areas such as the ankles, knees, and elbows."
Head to the Pool
If you want to enjoy the day while helping to remove your spray tan, go for a swim! While this isn't something we'd recommend if you're trying to preserve your tan, the chlorine will help break down any lingering spray tan from your skin.
Mix Lemon Juice with Baking Soda
There are DIY options for removing lingering spray tan as well, one of which is baking soda and lemon juice. Evans explains that this combination can be used to remove your tan entirely. “Saturate your skin, then leave the concoction for about five minutes. Remove it with a cleansing wipe—exfoliating cleansing wipes will yield the best results!”
Use a Bath Oil
Remember that baby oil we talked about earlier? Well, since oil can help break down your fake tan, it should come as no surprise that soaking in a bath oil can have the same effect. Bonus: This is a great way to remove your spray tan while indulging in a bit of well-deserved self-care. Try adding L'Occitane's Almond Shower Oil ($25) to your bath.
Sweat It Out
While typically you'd aim to avoid an intense sweat session as this can cause your tan to become patchy, it's a great method for helping to remove a lingering spray tan. So, head to the gym to try that kickboxing class you keep talking about—or skip the workout and sit in the sauna for the same effect.