I hope, for your sake, that you are only reading this article due to curiosity.
If you’re reading this article because you desperately need to learn how to remove your spray tan then you have my sympathy, but luckily I can help!
How does a spray tan actually tan my skin?
Much like a bad date that won’t take a hint, a terrible spray tan can linger for days. This is due to the active tanning agent in the solution known as DHA. DHA is a derivative of the sugars primarily found in sugar cane and sugar beets; when formulated properly, DHA will react with the amino acids in the topmost layer of your skin to create a beautiful, natural-looking tan. When not formulated properly, DHA makes you look like you lost a fight to an apricot.
A few things that negatively affect your spray tan results:
Oil in a spray tan solution can cause it to become sticky or tacking feeling when applied to your skin. Oil can also be a clear indication that the DHA in the solution was not blended to optimal performance and thus needs the oil to counteract its natural drying effect; this can also mean that, because the DHA wasn’t perfectly formulated, the solution might more easily make your tan look unnatural when compared to a higher-quality solution.
Alcohol in a solution often is one culprit behind a spray tan looking patchy or fading unevenly.
Caffeine, fragrance oils, caramel, argan oil, coconut oil, zinc, aloe vera, aluminum, pomegranate, banana, apple, cinnamon, erythrulose, vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, moisturizers, etc. None of these things are needed in the creation of a spray tan solution; these gimmicks can actually cause your solution to perform more poorly versus a solution that avoids those ingredients.
But proper formulation isn’t the only thing that goes into a spray tan looking great and setting properly: a lot of what effects a sunless tan depends on you and your spray tan consultant.
If you aren’t preparing for your spray tan properly, or if you aren’t maintaining your tan through a good skincare regimen, then your tan could look less natural or fade more quickly than you’d wish.
Improper tanning technique can cause streaks or patches
Sometimes the technique that the person who spray tanned you with can be the reason that your tan came out strange. Did they hesitate over a certain part of your body and overspray that area? Did they miss a part of your body entirely, or spray too close and cause rivulets and runs?
Too much solution was used
Another grave error that some spray tan consultants have made in the past is that they’ve used too much solution. This translates into too much DHA coming in contact with your skin, which can oversaturate your skin and cause it to turn an unnatural color.
I recommend using about 2 ounces of solution per application
Too high of a DHA percentage
Another reason your spray tan might look bad is that you were sprayed with a solution with a DHA percentage that was too strong for your skin type.
Remember: if you are looking for a deeper, darker tan, it doesn’t always mean that you need a higher percentage. DHA can be blended to be darker, no matter the percentage.
How long does it take for a spray tan to fade?/How to remove a spray tan
Spray tan turnover via skin
The slowest way to rid yourself of your tan is simply to wait. Unfortunately, this can take from 5-15 days before you are finally free of the horrid color.
These creams are designed to return your skin to its most natural state, ensuring that your tan will fade much faster than usual, but these creams are more for preparing your skin for a spray tan than for removing the tan once applied. Exfoliating creams can help remove some color from your tan, but nothing will remove the color completely.
Homemade/DIY spray tan removal Ideas
Essentially these work as homemade exfoliant options, I’ve included a few of the most effective here:
1. Salts and lemon scrubs/sugar and lemon scrubs/Baking soda and lemon scrubs: these work to a certain degree, but won’t take ALL of the tan off, but some is better than none!
Mix together one cup of raw sugar and ¾ cup of lemon juice then dab on cotton ball to apply
Note–the lemon juice must be fresh squeezed to work
2. Baking soda and apple cider vinegar: works the same, and has the same results, as Lemon scrubs: Mix, then dab on cotton ball to apply.
3. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser: I’ve heard this works to help scrub out a bad spray tan, but be VERY careful when using it as it contains harsh chemicals and could do more damage than it’s worth!
Exfoliating gloves and mittens can help remove your tan more significantly than creams, or can be great in conjunction with creams. There are some out there, while a bit expensive, that can take a surprising amount of the color from your bad spray tan.
Other solutions: Exfoliate and then respray
One other thing you can try is to exfoliate with one of the above methods and get another spray tan on top of it. Oftentimes this can help blend and hide the bad tan within the new spray tan, but please note that you absolutely need to exfoliate thoroughly before doing this so that you avoid giving yourself lizard skin (uneven-looking fading).
Remember, to achieve the best possible spray tan results:
2. Avoid oils, alcohols, and unnecessary ingredients in your spray tan solution
3. Use the correct percentage for your skin type
4. Use only about 2 ounces of spray tan solution
5. Maintain healthy skin with a daily moisturizing regimen