A lot of people love that sun-kissed look, whether it comes from a bottle, a spray, or from the sun itself. Self-tanners have the benefit of being temporary and don’t pose the same risks of skin cancer that prolonged exposure to the sun brings with it. Of course, a little bit of vitamin D from direct sunlight can do a body good. Just be sure not to overdo it, and always wear sunscreen, so you can build color a little bit at a time.
If you are opting for a self-tanning lotion or spray, there are certain things to keep in mind. No doubt you’ve heard that what goes up must come down, and when it comes to self-tanners, what goes on must come off. A lot of how smooth that process goes is up to you. You may have seen those unsightly streaks – either on your own skin or someone else’s – and wondered how to avoid that look. It can happen during the application, or even if you manage to get that part down pat, there’s still a strong chance that the color will fade unevenly.
How can you avoid those uneven patches of pigment, you ask? Well, there are several suggestions you’ll find below, since removing a tan has a ton to do with prepping your skin for self-tanner in the first place. Before we get to tips on how to remove a tan, there are a few things to know about self-tanning products, and best practices to ensure the desired results.
Most sunless tanners have the same active ingredient, and that’s dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA is a 3-carbon sugar that causes a chemical reaction with amino acids in the skin cells, which produces a darkening effect on the epidermis, or outermost layer of skin. You can usually see a change in color within an hour after application, and it may continue to darken up to 24 hours. These types of tans will last about a week with one application, but you can add additional layers if you want to extend the length of your look, or desire a darker color. The tan fades as dead skin cells rub off. And it’s important to note that while DHA provides some UV protection, it usually only works for the few hours immediately after you apply it. For this reason, it is still critical to use sunscreen.
Now before we get to removal, we thought we’d do a quick review of what to do when putting it on. If it’s your first time with a self tanner, you need to do a few things to ensure that you get an even application. You want to prepare the skin first. The way you do that is by gently exfoliating your body with a loofah or scrub. Next, you can use an acidic toner to remove residues from soaps that might mess with that chemical reaction of the aforementioned amino acids and DHA. It doesn’t hurt to moisturize first, otherwise the self-tanner will soak into those drier areas. Be careful with bendy body parts like elbows and knees, and wipe off any excess tanner before it has time to take too much in. Wash your hands well and wait at least 20 minutes for everything to dry before you cover yourself with any clothing.
That’s the gist of getting a good self-tan going. That, or spending a little time in the sun, remembering to limit the time and apply SPF early and often. Now we can get to why you might have clicked your way on over here and dig into some details. It’s time to give you 5 easy ways to remove a tan in 20 minutes!
1. Lemon, honey & sugar is sure to do the trick
While it may sound like you’re gathering some ingredients for a nice iced tea, these are actually a few go-to items to help erase a streaky or fading tan. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, helps to lighten skin because it naturally exfoliates the epidermis, thereby removing skin cells that have the darker pigmentation of the self-tanner. Since vitamin C is also an antioxidant, it may help combat early signs of aging and reduce skin damage. However, it’s important to know that lemon juice can increase your skin’s risk of sunburn, so do not apply it if you’re planning on heading outside soon.
Honey is also a natural exfoliator, and in addition it has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that may even help reduce redness, inflammation, and breakouts. For most people honey is healing and soothing to the skin, but you should do a patch test before you pour it all over yourself like an overzealous Winnie the Pooh. Oh bother, indeed.
The last ingredient in this mix is some sugar, to add a physical exfoliation component along with the chemical exfoliation happening with the honey and lemon juice. So make Def Leppard proud, and pour some sugar on you.
First, though, you’ll squeeze some fresh lemon juice into a bowl (enough to cover all the parts where you’re planning to apply). Then sprinkle in a little sugar and a generous portion of honey. You want it to be thin and spreadable, without being too watery that it just drips off immediately. Mix it up and spread it on your skin. Being in a bathroom or somewhere without carpet is probably ideal while you do this. Leave it on for 20 minutes. Next, step into the shower (if you’re not already there), and stand back as you let the steam from the hot water surround you. Start to scrub the lemon-honey-sugar into your skin, then turn down the temperature to finish rinsing it off.
And away goes trouble – and that tan – down the drain!
2. You say tomato, I say tomato juice for removing a tan
You may have imbibed tomato juice all by itself, or enjoyed it in a bloody mary mix, but when was the last time you poured some on your skin? Well, using tomatoes or tomato juice for removing a tan does indeed have some potential. People have used tomatoes as brightening agents because they are rich in antioxidants. Since antioxidants fight free radicals that damage skin cells, that means tomatoes and tomato juice may also combat early signs of aging like those fine lines and wrinkles. Also, just like lemon juice, tomatoes contain ascorbic acid, which means it can help with exfoliation.
For this tan-removing mix, we recommend pairing tomatoes with yogurt. Again, there’s no need to worry, you don’t have to consume this crazy combination! It’s a topical treatment.
Yogurt helps to soften skin, given the lactic acid it contains. The lactic acid will help remove the dead skin cells, exposing the newer, more youthful-looking skin underneath. It also can increase elasticity and help lock in the moisture.
To make this tan-removal mixture, remove the skin from a raw tomato, and blend it together with 2 teaspoons of plain yogurt. Greek yogurt works well, since the consistency is a little less drippy than some other options. Apply this paste to all the parts of your body that have the tan you’d like to remove. Leave on your skin for a full 15 minutes, and then wash it off. You can do this every two days until your tan fades like a distant memory of unwanted stains and streaks that exist only in your mind.
3. Try some papaya, honey
Papaya and honey, that is! Papaya has been found to have several beneficial properties that positively impact the health of your skin, and the same can be said for honey. Found in several natural exfoliating products such as papaya, papain is a protein-dissolving enzyme that helps shed dead skin cells. This, of course, is key to removing an unwanted tan. With vitamin C and lycopene present in papaya as well, it works against inflammation and oxidative damage, which means more good news if you’re a fan of younger-looking, healthy skin.
Put papaya together with honey (which, as we mentioned above, can help heal and smooth the skin), and you have a sweet mix that moisturizes and exfoliates all at the same time.
Cut up a quarter of a papaya into cubes. You’ll only need about a quarter for this recipe, but while you’re at it, you probably just want to chop up the whole thing and set some aside for a smoothie or fruit salad for later. Place the cubes in a bowl and add a teaspoon of honey. If you’re hoping to find a higher concentration of antibiotic properties, opt for Manuka honey. We’ve gone into more detail about this type of honey in a previous post about DIY lip masks, if you want to make the most of that Manuka!
Mash up the papaya and honey with a fork until you smooth it into a satisfactory consistency for spreading all over. Then, do just that! Make sure to cover all the tanned skin you’re hoping to lighten, and then let dry. Wait 20 minutes, and then rinse off thoroughly with warm water. Make sure to moisturize afterward, and maybe even go make that papaya smoothie! Mmm.
4. An oatmeal and buttermilk breakfast for your body
Once again we have a yummy food that doubles as an excellent exfoliant. You’ve seen them in a box, you’ve seen them in your bowl, now it’s time to spread some on your body…it’s your breakfast buddy, the one, the only, the oatmeal! As yet another antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substance on our list, it helps skin to heal and repair itself from damage done by environmental elements. In this recipe, the main thing we’re including it for is its ability to help exfoliate.
Then we bring in the buttermilk for it’s lactic acid, which can lead to lightening of tanned skin. You can always apply it straight on the skin, soaking cotton balls or a washcloth in buttermilk and smoothing it over the areas that you’d like to lighten, but in this recipe, combining it with oatmeal makes it that much more effective. It puts the exfoliating and lightening components together to maximize color removal.
If this recipe will be used for your entire body, begin by soaking a rounded ½ cup of oatmeal in water for about five minutes. Then add ½ cup of buttermilk in and mix. Spread all over and rub it into your skin. Let it sit for 20 minutes, and then wash off completely. If you opt for this tan-removal recipe, you might want to take the activity outside, as oatmeal is likely to clog drains. Find an outdoor lounge chair to wait out those 20 minutes, and then spray yourself off with a hose. Maybe it’ll bring back memories of some of those slip and slide days. Follow up with a good moisturizer, to make sure skin stays nice and soft.
5. Water is life
“Water is life” is a maxim in several languages, and certain types of water will do the trick for that tan that may have gone awry. Whether it’s an uneven fade, or stains, or streaks, there’s something about a swim in that salt-water ocean that can reset it all. Getting tossed around in those salty waves gives you a natural scrub down. And if you don’t have access to the beach, a chlorinated pool can also have a similar effect in removing a bit of unwanted color. For those who can’t get to the ocean or a pool, there’s always your own steamy shower, which, along with some of the recipes above, can help you remove a troublesome tan.
And just for fun, here are a few bonus DIY recipes to remove a tan in 20 minutes or less, especially on stubborn skin like that on your hands and feet.
One important reminder before you try to correct your self-tanner situation with any of the above recipes is to ask yourself if you’ve let enough time pass for everything to even out. Sometimes we can get a little self-critical, and we may be paying attention to details no one else would ever notice – that slight smudge on your third toe, for example, is probably not going to garner that much unwanted attention. So if you’ve recently applied some self-tanner, be cool for a hot minute. Also, you may have noticed that most of the ways to remove a tan involve exfoliation. That is all well and good, but don’t get carried away and scrub off all your skin in a fit of dissatisfaction.
After all of these tan-removal recipes, you definitely need to moisturize, as you do when applying a tanner in the first place. You should look for moisturizers that work their way into the skin to hydrate from within. Viviane Woodard’s Intensive Hydration Set does just that, infusing the skin with moisture by delivering hydration at the deepest layers and sealing it in. The Intensive Hydration Complex is a water-based wonder of a moisturizer that encourages cell regeneration, and is packed with emollients to soften the skin. It’s exactly what will quench your skin’s thirst after any of the above recipes which prep the skin for maximum moisture absorption. The second step in the Intensive Hydration set is equally as important and will give your entire body a healthy glow. The Intensive Hydration Mist contains hyaluronic acid which plumps up your skin cells and just feels fantastic, especially if you were a little “extra” with that exfoliation. In fact, you can spritz yourself with this mist many times a day and the only side-effect will be sighing, “ahhh.”
For over 60 years, Viviane Woodard has represented “The Purity of Skincare.” We are the leading beauty brand for water-based skin care products and promote the importance of good skin hydration. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest for skin care tips, product discounts and more.