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How to remove self tanner when it turns out streaky or orange

Sunless tan mistakes are easy to make: Here's how to fix them from a pro.


Sometimes self-tan products can result in weird lines and streaks -- here's how to fix them.

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Orange color, streaks, blotchy color, dark hands and feet are just a few examples of the cringeworthy results you can get from a botched sunless tan. And once you're left with the embarrassing results, they can be really difficult to get rid of. But not all faux-tans have to be this way. 

The key to getting a great sunless tan is finding a great product, having patience and being willing to try new techniques to ensure your tan looks really good. But if you find yourself with a less-than-ideal glow, there are several things you can do to remove the tan ASAP so you can try again later. 

Below, I've tapped a faux-tan pro, Sarah Burdge, the owner of Spray Tan in Ten NYC. Burdge has been in the sunless tanning business for years and knows a thing or two about how to get a great natural tan -- or remove them when things go wrong.

Keep reading below for her best tips to take care of streaks, orange skin or other mishaps. Burdge says the below tips have not only been around for a long time, and she's seen them work well with her own clients. 

DIY self tanner remover

Burdge says this technique is the one that she's seen the best results with. It's simple, affordable and you probably already have the ingredients at home. 

How to do it: "Mix lemon juice, a little baking soda and a small amount of baby oil together," Burdge says. "Let this sit on your skin for around five to 10 minutes. You can either use a makeup wipe -- or I prefer a scrub mitt and it should all come off. This mixture breaks down the tan quickly making it an easy removal."

Self-tanner remover products

"If you aren't into DIY solutions, there are a few products on the market you can use to help break down the tan," Burdge says. "They typically take a few uses, but it's not a bad idea to have a bottle laying around if you are an avid spray tanner." She recommends the following products.


St. Tropez Tan Remover Mousse promises to remove all traces of a tan in one use. You're supposed to apply the foam all over the area where you want to remove the tan, let it sit for five minutes, then rinse off.


Tanologist Tan Eraser doubles as a tan remover and to prime and exfoliate your skin before applying tanning products or getting a spray tan. The brand recommends using the product about three days after you applied a tan -- which may not be ideal if you have streaks you need to take care of ASAP. To use, you apply and wait five minutes, then rinse and buff off in the shower.

Exfoliating mitt

Exfoliation is key, whether you're about to apply a new layer of self tanner, or you're trying to take care of an older tan. Certain products, like an exfoliation mitt, can help you exfoliate the skin faster than just showering.

"I always recommend this mitt to my clients to remove any lingering tan before their next appointment and it is a miracle worker," Burdge says. 

The $28 Supracor Bath Mitt has two sides -- one is softer and the other is more firm. You can use the firm side to help massage your skin and improve circulation, and the softer side helps slough away dead skin and excess color from the tan.

Sugar and oil scrub

You can purchase sugar and oil-based body scrubs almost anywhere. The sugar works as a great natural exfoliant, and the oil helps soften your skin as you remove the tan. A few good picks are Herbivore Botanicals, Sephora Collection Sugar Body Scrub and Fresh Beauty Brown Sugar Body Polish.

If you'd rather not buy a scrub and want to DIY, sugar scrubs are ridiculously easy to make at home. Just grab some sugar -- white or brown sugar will do, but make sure it's gritty and not fine, powdered sugar. Then mix it into a jar or bowl with some oil -- you can use olive oil, coconut oil or anything you have on hand. The general ratio is about ½ cup oil to 1 cup sugar. 

Hop in a pool, hot tub or sauna


Soaking in a pool or hot tub can help remove the tan if other methods did not work.

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If you've tried everything and can't seem to get the tan to budge, Burdge recommends soaking in a pool or jacuzzi if you have access to one. She says soaking for at least an hour can help take care of a tan. "It might come off streaky but it helps break it down," Burdge says. "Also a sauna can help."

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.