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The best fake tan removers and how to use them

August 18th 2021 / 0 comment


Say bye-bye to blotchy self-tan with our guide to the best removing products – from sprays to bath bombs

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Whether you’re looking to remove your fake tan completely to start afresh or erase any little streaks (they happen to the best of us) we’re happy to report there’s a whole host of products out there that make light working of removing self-tan.

We've all been guilty of going at our knees and elbows with exfoliating mitts until they were red raw in the hope of banishing patchy tan, but these creams, mist and bubble baths and even a bath bomb (yes!) make it easier to go back to a blank canvas and to get rid of brown palms if you apply without a mitt.

How does self-tan remover work?

If you look on the ingredients list of fake tan remover you’ll see many of them include oils as this breaks down the DHA (the tanning colour element) in tanning fluid. At the same time, most of the products do require you to use an exfoliating mitt as well as the product to really help wave goodbye to your tan and loosen the skin cells holding onto the DHA – a combination of oils and manual exfoliation seems a winner.

Some products also include glycolic acid as this removes dead cells from the skin to reveal fresh (tan free) skin below.

The celebrity-approved one


St.Tropez Tan Remover Mousse, £11.60

Loved by model Ashley Graham, St Tropez's tan remover makes light work of tan removing. Just pump onto your skin, rub any stubborn areas with an exfoliator mitten, leave for five minutes and then shower off. Not only is your skin a blank canvas, it's also smooth and exfoliated for your next tan application. It includes cotton extract and probiotics to make it kind to sensitive skin and is one of the quickest fixes we're tried for banishing leftover tan.

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The water one

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Sienna X Eraser, Self-Tan Remover & Mitt, £19.99

This formula includes aloe vera to moisturise the skin and willow bark to exfoliate dead cells and tan particles; apply the tan remover to your mitt then rub it on your skin in circles (like you do when applying tan in the first place). Apply extra pressure to areas where tan builds up such as knees and ankle (or anywhere your skin is a bit drier) before hopping into the shower and washing it all off. Once your skin is dry you can reapply fresh tan right away if you so wish.

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The spray one

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Isle of Paradise Over It Remover, £17.95

This spray-on remover fuses glycolic acid and micellar water to gently resurface the skin, removing dead skin cells and fake tan remnants from the top layer of your body. Spritz it all over your body, or just on the offending patches, lather it up with your hands and leave for five minutes before rinsing off in the shower to wash your old tan down the drain. Other ingredients include a bevvy of oils including castor oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and sage oil, all coming together to soothe the skin and banish the tan.

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The exfoliating one

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Tan-Luxe Glyco Water Self-Tan Eraser, £22

The same as above, this uses three per cent glycolic acid to dissolve self-tan residue- simply spray on and then wipe off to reveal soft skin underneath. Not a physical exfoliant like you might be used to buffing your body with, this still prepares the skin for a new tan.

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The relaxing one

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Rose and Caramel Purity Self Tan Removing Bubble Bath, £23

For a less labour intensive tan remover, this is the way to go. Simply pour 50ml of the unscented bubble bath into your tub, lie back for 20 minutes then buff your skin with the exfoliating mitts provided to say 'see ya' to your tan. If you have any particularly stubborn patches of tan you can apply the liquid straight to your body. Cocamidopropyl betaine is the ingredient in this that rids your body of tan - derived from coconut oil it helps to ease off the colour.

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The self-tan removing bath bomb

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Lusso Tan Bath Bomb, £8.50

We love an all singing all dancing bath bomb and while this doesn’t leave a glittery trail in its wake, it does remove self-tan so we can’t complain. Simply drop it in your bath water and sink in. The longer you soak for the better this will remove tan – and the more hydration your skin will reap from nourishing ingredients including vitamin E and avocado oil. Our editorial director Victoria keeps hers to one side and uses it like a soap when the tan gets on her palms ("I hate using a tanning mitt," she says).

For guaranteed total removal, go over your limbs with exfoliating gloves to tackle harder to remover areas. If you prefer a straight forward remover, Lusso also sells tan eraser, £7.25, a foaming cleanser that promises to remove unwanted tan in minutes thanks to natural active ingredients that remove old tan to prevent any build-up.

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The foam one

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Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser, £14.99

This fun foamy self-tan remover has a bit of that hair dye smell to it, but don’t let that put you off - it’s one of the most gentle we tried. A few pumps of the product is enough to melt your tan away; just apply, leave for five minutes and they wipe off with a flannel - no excessive scrubbing required. Castor oil in the ingredients line up dissolves oils alongside dimethyl isosorbide which is used to dissolve colour.

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The skin-softening one

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Bali Body Self Tan Remover, £18.95

Another foam, this remover prides itself on being extra nourishing to the skin thanks to aloe vera and glycerin. The rose extract in the formula removes unwanted tan residue while jojoba oil works to provide intense hydration. The brand recommends using it with an exfoliating mitt to remove stubborn build-up and smooth the skin ready for your next application.

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