12 Tips For Getting Rid Of Your Lingering Spray Tan

Sunless tanning — whether you choose an at-home tanning product or a salon spray tan — is an easy and convenient way to get that sun-kissed glow all year round. Spray tans offer a safer alternative to baking in the sun or sitting in a tanning bed when you want a little color, not to mention how quick and efficient it is to get one. What used to require hours of sunbathing can now be safely achieved at your local tanning studio, in a fraction of that time.


With a little preparation, your skin is ready for a beautiful bronzing that can last anywhere from seven to ten days, depending on the shade of your tan. Because you should always wait for a spray tan to be completely gone from your skin before getting sprayed again, it can be frustrating when your tan is lingering in certain spots on your body.

Anyone who has experience with spray tanning knows that sometimes it doesn't always give you that 'just came back from a tropical vacation' look, nor does it always fade at the same rate across your body. Even those who follow all the preparation tips can end up with blotchy, or streaky spots on their skin that just won't go away. Fortunately, you don't suffer through a bad application or blotches of color, because we have tips to help you get rid of that pesky, lingering spray tan.


Use exfoliating mitts

We all know how important it is to properly exfoliate your skin before you get a spray tan to ensure even coverage, but using an exfoliating mitt after can also help get rid of any bits of lingering color as your tan is fading. For optimal results, you'll want to create some friction between your skin and the exfoliating mitt, E! News reports. To do this, they suggest you soak for about five minutes before you start to exfoliate. 


You can then use your mitt in a rigorous circular motion to help slough off any dry skin on those areas that still have color on them. You'll want to be cautious of how much pressure you're using so you don't damage your skin. Not only will you scrub off that pesky tan, but you'll also give yourself a nice, natural glow by increasing your body's circulation. The bonus is this will also help get your skin ready for the next time you head to the tanning salon.

Soak in a warm bath

Not only can you relax and indulge in some well-deserved self-care by taking a long, hot bath, but the water can help soak off that stubborn tan, too. According to Artesian Tan, most tanning solutions just sit on the top few layers of your skin, so indulging in a nice, long, warm bath can help soften your skin enough to loosen up any areas on your body that have some stubborn spray tan remnants. 


Soaking in warm water helps to break down the color faster than not soaking the skin. The heat and steam of the hot bath can help open your pores, releasing any of the trapped tanning pigment that's causing streaks and blotches. This also helps get rid of any stains with minimal scrubbing. Conversely, you should avoid spending any length of time in a bath or shower immediately after getting your spray tan to help your tan last as long as possible.

Purchase spray tan eraser

There are products for sale that can help expedite this process for you if you don't own an exfoliating mitt, or you don't feel like making a homemade remedy. Spray tan erasers are sold to effectively remove your spray tan without excessive scrubbing, or exfoliating, which can result in skin irritation. They're typically made with ingredients like glycolic acid, oils, and other gentle products that won't make your skin feel red and raw after use. Instead, they help to break down the pigment in the spray tan solution, reports Cosmetify.


With most of these products, you simply apply liberally to your skin, wait about five minutes or so, and then rinse off in the shower using a washcloth. According to Airbrush Guru, many of these products work to hydrate your skin while they remove your tan, so they're great to use especially if you're planning for your next tanning session. If you're a fan of regular spray tanning, a spray tan eraser may be a product that's worth investing in.

Mix and apply baking soda and dish soap

If you were hoping to skip a trip to the store, and not shell out your hard-earned cash on a spray tan eraser, there are some homemade remedies that people swear by to help get rid of those pesky blotches and streaks your spray tan left behind. A quick trip to your kitchen may produce all of the ingredients you need to make this at-home solution. According to BeautyCrew, mixing equal parts baking soda and dish soap together can create a paste that can help get rid of spray tan stains.


Apply the paste to the affected areas and use a loofah or nail brush to scrub until the spray tan is gone. You should use this method with caution since both baking soda and dish soap can be harsh on your skin. It's suggested that you do a patch test first to make sure you don't have an adverse reaction before applying it more liberally.

Mix and apply baking soda and lemon juice

If the thought of scrubbing your skin with a paste made using your kitchen dish soap doesn't appeal to you, you can create a similar paste using lemon juice instead, according to Be Bronze Studio. They suggest mixing the lemon juice with baking soda until you form a coarse paste. Hop in the shower and apply the natural exfoliant to your affected skin. 


The citric acid and Vitamin C found in the lemon juice act as a natural lightening agent, while the baking soda serves as an exfoliant. Combining the two ingredients gives you a nice, homemade scrub that is probably a bit gentler on your skin than using something like dish soap. Shower as usual after using the paste and watch that discoloration disappear. Again, because everyone's skin is different, applying a bit of the paste to a test patch of skin first is always suggested.

Apply baby oil

Baby oil (or olive oil) is often effective in helping to remove a stubborn spray tan. St. Tropez finishing expert Sophie Evans told Byrdie that you should liberally apply baby oil to spots where your spray tan is lingering for anywhere between five and ten minutes, maximum. "If left longer you will actually lock in the old tan," she warned. Once you've waited the requisite amount of time, shower, as usual, to wash the oil from the skin, while gently exfoliating to help remove the leftover tan. "Oils plump up the skin's surface and make your skin susceptible to exfoliation and removal of unwanted self-tans and other products," she explained. 


This is a great method to try because not only can you quickly get rid of those annoying stains and blotches, but you'll moisturize your skin at the same time. This is not a recommended method if you are hoping to get another spray tan the same day, because oils and lotions can actually create a barrier on the skin, impacting the results.

Mix and apply lemon juice and sugar

As we mentioned earlier, lemon juice can help lighten a spray tan that's too dark, or help eliminate stains on those areas of the body where it just won't seem to go away. If you think baking soda may be too harsh for your skin, but love the idea of making a remedy at home, try mixing lemon juice with sugar to create your own scrub. 


This all-natural exfoliant can help eliminate that lingering tan on your skin. Coco & Eve suggests using this mixture on affected areas before showering as usual. Even though this is chemical free, you still want to test this scrub first to make sure your skin doesn't react negatively to the lemon juice. 

Not only is this an easy mix to make at home, but it's an effective way to help gently scrub those old, dead skin cells from your body while still being gentle on your pocketbook. You can also use a scrub like this to prepare your skin for your next spray tan or just as a natural, chemical-free body scrub.

Use a Magic Eraser

This is definitely one of the most debatable methods to rid yourself of a pesky spray tan, and one that should probably be the last resort. But many users claim it can be effective. According to Good Looking Tan, a magic eraser works just like an exfoliator to scrub away those old skin cells and rid your skin of that lingering spray tan. They suggest dampening the magic eraser and then very gently rubbing it on the affected area of the skin. 


This should be used very sparingly as repeated use of a magic eraser on your skin can cause lasting damage. This method is not recommended for use on your face or other areas where your skin is more sensitive. Rather, it's more for areas like your knees, elbows, and ankles where the skin can be a bit thicker. If you're struggling with a few lingering spots that just won't go away, this option may do the trick.

Try dry brushing

Dry brushing is a technique that works well to help exfoliate the skin and get rid of those old, dry skin cells. "Dry brushing unclogs pores in the exfoliation process. It also helps detoxify your skin by increasing blood circulation and promoting lymph flow/drainage," dermatologist Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal told Cleveland Clinic.


It's no surprise then that using your dry brush to get rid of any leftover spray tan is a method that will also leave your skin looking beautiful. Dry brushing is also said to be gentler on the skin than exfoliating in a hot shower because it increases blood flow and circulation, while the hot water can strip your skin of moisture. Dr. Khetarpal does warn against using a dry brush on your face since the skin there is more sensitive and suggests it's best to dry brush before taking a shower so you can wash away all those dead skin cells that your dry brush helped to remove.

Go for a swim

If you've just gotten your spray tan, your tanning artist has probably warned you against swimming in a chlorinated pool. That's because chlorine is one chemical that will cause your brand-new spray tan to fade quickly. That also means, though, that it's a great way to help get rid of any lingering color when you're ready to remove it.


Tao Clean suggests taking a dip in a chlorinated pool right around the time your old spray tan is starting to get blotchy, to help get rid of those pesky, problem areas. You know, right at that time when your tan is fading evenly on most parts of your body but hanging on in areas like your elbows or ankles, where the skin tends to be thicker. A little light exfoliating in the shower, immediately after your swim, should help get rid of those spots and prepare your skin for your next spray tan.

Sit in a steam room or sauna

If you have a membership to a gym or access to a facility with a steam room or sauna, you can use the space to get rid of your tan. According to Beauty Daily by Clarins, the steam in the humid environment causes your pores to open, effectively removing any dirt or spray tan particles still lingering, or trapped underneath. The humidity also encourages the dead skin cells to flake away, which in turn helps to fade the tan. 


No gym or spa access? Don't worry, you can create this environment at home by running your bath or shower at the highest heat and keeping the door closed. Sitting in this environment can help prepare your skin for easy removal of that top layer of skin. After sitting in the steam, bathe normally while gently using a washcloth on the affected areas to rub off the stained areas. If you want to skip the steam but still want these kinds of results, hit the gym for a sweaty workout.

Apply retinol

Avoiding products containing retinol is advised before getting a spray tan because they can cause your spray tan to fade and reduce the life of your tan. "If you're using a retinol, or any face or body products that have AHAs in them, like glycolic, lactic, and citric acids, avoid them for at least 24 hours before your spray tan," celebrity spray tanner and co-founder of Isle of Paradise Jules Von Hep explained to Marie Claire. "They cause your skin to exfoliate on a deeper, cellular level, which can cause the pigment to fade faster." 


For that same reason, though, these products are also a great way to get rid of any unwanted blotches or streaks left over from your tan, especially on the face. Many of the methods suggested in this post can be harsher on the delicate skin on your face, but if you've been a retinol user it can be a safe and ideal solution to fading any color that still remains. If you've never used retinol before, it's best to do a patch test first to ensure there are no adverse reactions.