How to Remove Self Tanner: 9 Home Remedies

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Last Updated: May 10, 2021

Whether you want a sun-kissed glow or a deep, rich tan, self tanners can give you quick color without involving harmful UV rays. But, self tanner doesn’t always fade evenly, and if you pick the wrong kind or don’t know how to properly apply self tanner, it can leave your skin looking orange or streaky. Yikes! 

Nobody likes a fake-tan mishap, so how do you remove self tanner when things go wrong? 

Ahead we’ll share 9 home remedies that will get rid of your self tan in no time (and at a low cost!) Keep reading to find out how to remove self tanner for a clean slate. 

How to Remove Self Tanner

Whether you’re looking to remove fake tan from your whole body or just want to get rid of any excess color from your hands, these home remedies will solve your problem asap. Plus, you’re likely to have a lot of these products on hand already!


This is probably the most common way to remove self tanner at home. Exfoliating your skin will remove any dead skin cells holding onto the color you’re trying to get rid of. The best way to exfoliate is to use an exfoliating scrub with a loofah, sponge, or exfoliating mitt. 

Exfoliating a tan might not completely remove your tan the first time, so you may need to give it a few tries before you panic. Since exfoliating your skin can cause dryness, it’s best to do it no more than once a day, and moisturize often. 

If you don’t have any exfoliating scrub lying around, there are plenty of options online, like this affordable scrub from Dove

Lemon Juice

In order to use lemon juice to remove fake tan, soak a cotton ball or cotton swab in some lemon juice and dab at the color you want to remove. This works best for smaller areas of skin, such as your hands and feet. 

Since lemon juice is so acidic, it’s not ideal to apply to your whole body. It can also be harsh if you have sensitive skin, so be mindful when applying.

Baking Soda 

Mix together a few tablespoons of water with baking soda for a super simple DIY self-tanner remover. This will typically only cause the tan to fade, so we suggest following up with exfoliation for best results.

For an even stronger paste, add in some lemon juice!


It might sound odd, but most toothpastes (especially whitening toothpastes) can remove self tanner like it does stains on your teeth. Dab it onto the areas you want to lighten your tan and rinse it off after a few minutes.

Like lemon juice, however, this is probably only best when used for small areas of skin, like removing any excess color from your hands.

Baby Oil

Baby oil is great for removing tan from your whole body: it’s gentle enough for sensitive skin and lifts color away quickly. 

Lather yourself in baby oil and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. Jump into the bath or shower afterward to rinse it off, and voila!

Baby Wipes

If you have any baby wipes sitting around, they may come in handy if you need a quick fix after applying self tanner. They aren’t super effective, but if your tan hasn’t completely dried yet, they can help remove any unwanted pigment, especially from your hands or ankles. 

Rubbing Alcohol

Like lemon juice, rubbing alcohol can lift away color from your skin, but it can also be a little harsh. It’s best to avoid applying this to large areas of skin to keep from over drying. 

A little bit on a cotton ball, however, can go a long way in lightening the color on your hands and feet. 

Hair Removal Cream

When you think about removing self tanner, using a hair removing cream probably isn’t the first thing to pop into your head. It can, however, help dissolve away unwanted fake tan from your skin. 

This is an especially great method for the palms of your hands or around your ankles. Follow the directions on the bottle to apply, and repeat if necessary. 

Here are a couple hair removal creams if you’re in the market for one: Veet Hair Removal Gel and Nair Hair Remover Cream.

Sugar + Coconut Oil Scrub

If you’re really into DIY, this scrub is perfect to remove self tanner. To make, just mix ½ a cup of sugar with ¼ a cup of coconut oil. Rub this onto your skin and rinse thoroughly to help remove your fake tan.

Be sure to store this in a container with a lid to use for next time!


We hope this guide on how to remove self tanner helps you prep your skin for your next fake tan or remove any unwanted streaks! 

Although these at-home methods to remove self tanner are tried-and-true, there are store-bought solutions you can buy if you’re not into DIY-ing. Check out these top-rated self-tanner removers from brands like St. Tropez or Bondi Sands!

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