How to Remove Fake Tan

How to Remove Fake Tan

The primary solution to removing fake tan is exfoliation. To further speed up the removal process you can use steam, oils, scrubs and even lemon juice or baking soda.

Fake Tan Gone Wrong

I think we can all agree fake tan is a genius invention, saving our skin from the harmful effects of tanning beds and the sun, but giving us that healthy just got back from St Tropez glow. It’s a great pick-me-up, self-care product that can lift your confidence in an instant. Gone are the days of 50 shades of orange, now your tan is customisable to you and even more foolproof than ever with the number of colours and application methods on offer. However even the best of us can sometimes go wrong with our tan, here are some of the common tan mistakes we all make and what can leave you in need of an emergency fake tan removal. 

Blotchy appearance

This is where most of us go wrong, overzealous application in these areas can lead us to a tanning nightmare, we’ve been there, hiding a patchy hand in pockets to avoid embarrassment. It’s not necessarily your fault, you see tan has a habit of clinging to dry skin, often areas such has hands, feet and elbows are the driest on our bodies, so we suggest you exfoliate before you tan, paying extra attention to these areas to lift away dead skin cells before you apply your tan. 

Poor Application

Its easily done, last-minute plans, pasty-looking legs, so you whack on a good dollop of fake tan before you head out, only to realise you’ve missed a great big streak down the back of your leg or around your ankle, we do the same with shaving all the time to, and we are literally the pros at that! A great way to avoid this is using products with a tint so you can see exactly where you have or haven’t applied your tan and any areas you may have missed, many tanning mousses and foams contain bronzers so you can see clearly where you have applied the tan, and bonus it gives you an instant glow without having to wait for it to develop. 

Crocodile Skin

Even the most even tan will fade, often resulting in patches of skin that look scaly. This isn’t your fault or the product's fault; it’s just how our skin works. Our skin cells shed every 10 days, but they don’t shed evenly—so you can be left with an uneven, scaly appearance where some skin cells have lifted away from your body and some are clinging on for another day.

Colour choice

The choice of tan available to us these days is a minefield, mists, sprays, lotions and mousses before you even get to the colour options, which are more than light, medium & dark now you have liquid gold, olive and even violet tanning mousses. Choosing the right product for your skin type & tone can be tricky. Choose wrongly and you could be left with a dirty muddy look or darker than you wanted, requiring you to get your fake tan off fast.

So, how do you remove your fake tan?


Have you experienced the pain of getting fake tan on your skin and then wanting to remove it? There's nothing worse than spending the time prepping for a night out, getting ready and then putting fake tan on so you don't look washed out. But when you do accidentally get some on your hands, face or furniture — you want to know how to get it off as quickly as possible. See our top tips below for removing fake tan.



The first step in removing your fake tan is to exfoliate your skin. This will help remove any remaining residue from your fake tan and also help prevent it from being absorbed into your skin. Use a gentle scrub on dry skin and then rinse off with warm water. Many of us will already have an exfoliant in our bathrooms, whether it’s a sugar scrub, or a cleanser with AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy acids) our exfoliating products often contain oils, and emollients as well as the scrubby bits such as a walnut shell. For instance, FFS smooth pre-shave exfoliant contains walnut husk and Almond oil a great combo for removing dead skin, impurities and deep cleansing pores, paired with our exfoliating mitt this is a great way to lift away stubborn tan in unwanted places such as knees, hands and elbows. 



Yep, you heard us right! If you can brave the bikini with your patchy tan and get yourself to the gym, a steam room can work wonders. Steaming helps open up pores so they can be cleaned and it also softens dead skin cells allowing them to be removed more easily when you exfoliate. We recommend rubbing your skin down in circular motions with a cloth or towel to help remove the colour. Don’t want to venture out with your David Dickinson mahogany glow, we understand, try a hot (be careful) steamy shower at home instead. 


Not recommended before you tan as it is a sure-fire way to waste your time, tan will not stick to skin that has oils or emollients on it. That’s why it is always recommended you shower before tanning and leave your skin clean, dry and free of products like perfumes, lotions and oils. However, when it comes to removing tan, oil is your new best friend, Coconut oil, Baby oil, or Olive oil can help lift away the unwanted tan. Oil will help soften the skin and slough away dead skin cells, simply massage it onto the skin and let sit for half an hour or more, then hop in the shower and gently exfoliate the colour away with a cloth or an exfoliating mitt. This is a great method as it is gentle on the skin and will leave you feeling silky soft.

Baking Soda

A great solution if you don’t want to dash to the shops looking like an Oompa Loompa, as it’s something most of us have lurking in the back of the cupboard from 2018 when you decided to channel your inner Lorraine Pascoe and bake some red velvet cupcakes. Like all these methods baking soda acts as an exfoliant to lift away the dead skin cells that are holding on to the tan pigment. Mix with a little water or coconut oil to form a paste and rub in circular motions on the stained areas, leave for a few minutes and rinse away.

Lemon Juice

Now for this one, we advise you to test this on a small area first as it can be a little too much for sensitive skin, or any part of the body where you may have damaged skin or cuts, Ouch!  You can do this 2 ways depending on the size of the area you want to remedy. If you are looking to remove a large area of muddy, green or dirty-looking tan then we suggest pouring some fresh lemon juice into a hot bath and soaking for 15-20 mins, the lemon juice acts as a natural exfoliant and the hot water will help it act faster, you can aid this process by gently rubbing with a muslin cloth or flannel. 

Another great method for smaller areas is to dampen a clean flannel or cloth then squeeze the juice of a lemon directly onto it and microwave the cloth for up to 2 minutes (ensuring there is no plastic or metallic elements on the tags or stitching first, if in doubt avoid this method) Let it cool slightly then gently rub in a circular motion on the skin, the warmth helps to fade the tan quicker.

Fake tan tips for beginners


As always prevention is better than the cure, so we have compiled our top tips to help you achieve a flawless foolproof glow from head to toe. 

  1. 1. Prep! We cannot stress this enough. Hop in the shower and exfoliate paying special attention to knees, elbows, feet, ankles and hands, if you choose to shave, we recommend doing this 24 hours before you plan to tan. Rinse away your scrub or exfoliant thoroughly as many of these products contain oils and your skin needs to be clean, neutral and free from perfumes and fragrances. Using a pH-balanced & free shower gel can help.
  2. 2. If you always struggle with your elbows and other dry areas then you can use a little lotion as a barrier to protect these areas from absorbing too much tan, again we recommend a light fragrance-free formula is best.
  3. 3. Use a good quality mitt to apply your tan, not only will these ensure a streak-free finish, but they will protect your hands from staining.
  4. 4. Apply tan on the mitt then to your skin, not to the skin and then buff with a mitt as this can cause pooling and staining in areas you have applied the tan directly to.
  5. 5. Apply to the larger area of your body first, then use the excess product on the mitt to lightly swipe over problem areas such as feet, knees, and hands.
  6. 6. Wash your hands thoroughly paying extra attention around the nail beds, under the nails, between fingers and where you palm meets your wrist.
  7. 7. Once your hands are washed you can put a little tan product onto a kabuki brush and buff in circular motions lightly over the fingers and wrists to seamlessly blend your tan.
  8. 8. We recommend the kabuki brush method for your face too as it allows you more precision and the ability to contour with your tan.


Does fake tan stain clothes?

One thing to remember when applying tanning products to your skin, they can stain your clothing and furnishings. If you’ve been rushing it's likely you have dropped a splodge of fake tan on your carpet or clothes, it happens to us all. If you do happen to get fake tan on anything but yourself then you need to act quickly.

For clothing or furniture with fabric then we recommend that you treat it with an anti-stain product such as laundry detergent or stain remover first before trying anything else because these products contain enzymes that will help break down the proteins in fake tan stains so that they can be washed away easily by water alone without damaging the fibres in your furniture or clothing. If you don't have access to those things, then try using some soap and warm water and dab the area, no frantic rubbing just dabbing the stain away.




Still, find the prospect of fake tanning daunting, or had a nightmare experience that has put you off fake taking forever? Fear not, we may have a solution for you.

Customisable fake tan drops. The beauty of these is that you are in control of your depth of colour, and you can use them with products you are already used to using. For application to your face, we recommend mixing 2-6 drops with your usual daily face cream, 2 drops will give a subtle glow and 6 drops will give a deeper bronzed finish, you can also apply this with our kabuki brush and add more drops to areas you may want to contour such as cheekbones and jaw line, the dense but soft bristles of the brush allow you to buff into the skin for a seamless finish. For a full body application, we recommend 4-12 drops with your usual daily moisturiser and as with all tanning products use a mitt to protect your hands and wash your hands thoroughly after application.