How to remove fake tan (one of life’s most important lessons)

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  • Because it can go wrong SO easily

    We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve frantically looked up how to remove fake tan before.

    Be it a tanning disaster – obvious tell-tale lines on your wrists, stripes a tiger would be proud of or fingers that are so multi-tonal you consider wearing gloves to work (in July) – or simply getting rid of a patchy four-day-old tan, the art of fake tan removal is something that everyone should know.

    Even if you’ve invested in the best fake tan out there and swotted up on all the fake tan tips we could possibly give you, chances are you’re not going to get it right 100% of the time. But don’t worry, you’re not alone and it’s completely possible to put things right.

    Luckily, there are several things you can do to remove a terracotta disaster and give yourself a more naturally sun-kissed glow. We spoke to Jules Von Hep, fake tan guru, celebrity spray tanner and founder of Isle of Paradise, who’s shared all the tips and tricks on fake tan removal you could possibly ask for.

    How to remove fake tan

    First things first, don’t ‘Don’t panic scrub. You’ll end up taking the tan off in patches and it’ll become a snowballing effect,’ Jules warns.

    Instead, try using a light body polish (choose from the best body scrubs) mixed with a tiny amount of bath or massage oil and repeat this a couple of times for an even all-over fade.

    Oil breaks down the DHA (colour element) in tanning fluid – a good thing to remember if you’ve just had a cracking spray tan; don’t moisturise your body with anything containing oils afterwards.

    Alternatively, make a trip down to your local swimming pool if you don’t mind being a bit stripy in public. ‘The chlorine will break down the tan,’ explains Jules. ‘In the showers afterwards, take a pair of exfoliating gloves and work in circular motions. Steam rooms and saunas will soften the tan, too.’

    Soap & Glory Exfoliating Scrub Gloves, £4.50, Boots

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    If it’s all gone to pot and you need to get rid of your tan straight away, then look no further than Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser. When this super product first launched it sold out in three hours which goes to show how many of us want to know how to remove fake tan.

    It can be used on old tans or freshly applied bronze; simply pump onto skin, smooth over the area you want to diffuse, leave for five minutes, then wipe away with a damp cloth. It’s that easy.

    Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser, £14.99, Lookfantastic

    how to remove fake tan Bondi Sands

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    How to remove fake tan streaks

    If your self-tanning session has turned into a streaky mess, don’t panic. The easiest way to wave goodbye to mismatched colours on your limbs is to run a bath and fill it up with a bath oil, which will soften the tan. Whilst you’re in there, use a remover mitt in circular motions – it will ensure that any stubborn patches are evenly removed.

    How to remove fake tan from hands and feet

    Orange, patchy hands and blotchy feet are often the biggest giveaway that you’ve been hitting bottle, but luckily there’s a kitchen cupboard staple could be the answer to your prayers.

    Add two tablespoons of baking soda to some water and mix to create a paste. Then rub this it over your hands or feet, leaving it on for a few minutes and ensuring you haven’t missed any particularly bad creases, before washing it off.

    How to remove fake tan patches before applying more

    If you’re a regular, self-confessed tanning addict who can’t go a day without a bit of colour, then it’s actually so important that you are removing your old tan before applying your new one.

    Jules, being the clever chap that he is, created Isle of Paradise Over It Magic Self-Tan Eraser, which works best on three-day old tan. It contains glycolic acid to exfoliate skin. Mist your entire body, until skin is saturated, wait five minutes, then jump in the shower and buff it off with a sponge or a flannel.

    Isle of Paradise Over It Magic Self-Tan Eraser, £17.95, Lookfantastic

    how to remove fake tan isle of paradise

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    How to remove fake tan quickly

    Vaguely remember hearing something about lemons and brushing it off as an old wives tale? Turns out there’s something in it. ‘The old faithful combination of lemons and sugar mixed together will work to an extent, but you really need a mitt or glove to get deeper,’ Jules advises.

    It’s also worth investing in ModelCo’s Exfoliate Double Sided Body Wipes – they’re an essential item in the at-home tanning kit. First you use the granulated exfoliating side, which breaks down the tan, then the smooth side for the final bit of removal.

    Read our guide on how to remove or improve your fake tan fast on Fabled next

    How to remove fake tan from clothes

    Getting fake tan stains on your favourite, goes-with-everything, white shirt or your super spenny The White Company bedsheets can be an absolute nightmare. You need to try and remove the stain while it is still wet.

    Reversing the fabric and running it under cold water will help to loosen the product, but try not to rub it as you could end up smearing it and making it far worse. Instead, mix warm water and some detergent and sponge onto the affected area, repeating until the stain has disappeared.

    So there we have it. We have just solved all future fake tan disasters from happening.

    Well perhaps not all. There’ll always be one…

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