Best Tips to Fix a Spray Tan

Best Tips to Fix a Spray Tan – Tastrophe

You researched for hours last week to find a great spray tan artist to do your spray tan.  You’ve spent all morning exfoliating, shaving, and prepping yourself for this spray tan.  You picked all the right clothes to wear before, during, and after the spray tan.  Now, the spray tan is done and it’s finally time to take a look in the mirror.  WTF… Really?!?!?  You asked for a light-golden glow, but instead you look like you’ve been living on a deserted island for an entire summer!  What in the world could you possible do now??  The event is in less than two days! Don’t worry we have collected the best tips to fix a spray tan!

Has this ever happened to you?  Or worse… is this you right now?!? 

Don’t worry… Take a deep breath… and read on…

To be honest, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to completely erase the tan.  BUT… we can probably take that super dark tan down to something closer to what you were looking for in the first place.  Here are some things you can try!


So first, let’s talk about the most obvious choice for toning down a too dark spray tan. I’ll start with a VERY true story. I booked a spray tan with a new spray tan artist that a friend of mine had recommended because my usual go-to girl was booked. My friends were throwing me a bachelorette party on Saturday night so naturally I booked the spray tan for Friday night. The spray tan artist comes over, does the usual routine and starts to pack up.

As I’m finishing drying, I walk into my room and catch a glimpse of a COMPLETELY GREEN MONSTER. Not yellow, not orange, not brown, but green. I panicked a little (a lot), asked if this was what it was supposed to look like (knowing full well it was not!) and the spray tan artist had a look of sheer terror in her eyes as she realized she used ultra-dark body building tanning solution on accident, que the chaos.

Our immediate decision was to fight fire with fire and by fire I mean water. I immediately jumped into the shower, and without using any soap or scrubs or mitts, I used my hands to emulsify the water into the spray tan all over my body. The water was turning black as it ran down the drain, it was literally insane. I got out of the shower, blotted myself dry and hopped into bed as there was really nothing else I could do at this point. This whole process from tan to shower to bed was sadly about 2 hours but believe me when I tell you that the next morning my tan was perfect. I still don’t really understand how this is possible, it just is. It was honestly the most beautiful tan I have ever gotten. Really all I’m trying to convey with this story is – water is the number 1 enemy of a spray tan within the first 12 hours. While a shower isn’t really recommended for fixing streaks or blotchiness, it can work wonders in certain situations. Moral of this story is, if you desperately need to tone down the color of the tan before it has completely developed, shower. A nice long shower just might be one of the easiest tips to fix a spray tan on this list.

Baby Oil

Ok, here’s the deal.  Spray tanning solutions are generally oil based…so… that means that using another oil based product may be able to help remove the unwanted spray tan.  We just have to make sure that the oil we’re going to use for this is very gently on skin… I mean the spray tan did go EVERYWHERE right?  The best kind of super gentle oil that’s soft on skin is baby oil.  Who knew right?  The same stuff that your mom used to moisturize you (or that stuff you used to moisturize your baby) can be used to save the day. 

If you’re just trying to even out some very specific areas like a big ol’ streak down your forearm you’ll want to find a nice soft cloth.  It’s best to use a very soft 100% cotton cloth or even a flannel wipe.  I like to use a flannel cloth or gentle blotting cloth personally.  You can also use a spray tanning mitt if you have one.  While the excess spray tan may wash off of fabric, it’s best to use something you won’t mind staining.  With your cloth folded a few times in your hand, pour a small cap full of body oil (yup, body oil) on it and make sure it’s not spilling all over the place.  Softly and gently rub the oiled cloth on the spot that you’d like to even out.  Remember, we’re just trying to even out a small area so be sure to check the cloth often to make sure that you haven’t removed too much of the spray tan.

If you’re just too tan all over, but would be happy to just tone the overall tan down a notch – baby oil and a soft cotton, a flannel wipe, or a spray tanning mitt are here to help again.  This time, you’re going to want to rub a good amount of baby oil all over your body with your hands.  Be sure to apply an even coat and try not to miss a spot.  Don’t worry, it’s just baby oil.  You’ll want to keep this baby oil on for about 30 minutes.  Right before these 30 minutes are up, go ahead and run a nice hot bath.  If you have any scented oils for your bath, feel free to put some in the tub.  When the tub is at your favorite level, go ahead and get in a soak.  So far so good right??  It’s just a nice hot bath!  Ok, now that you’ve soaked for a good 10-15 minutes grab that soft cotton or flannel wipe and gently rub your body.  If at all possible, start to rub the wipe on a part of your body that would normally be covered in clothing.  This will let you see how much spray tan is coming off and help you judge how much you’ll need to rub to get to the proper shade.


When you want something with a little more kick, but still want to be as gentle on your skin as possible we can use some exfoliating scrubs.  The good news is that these scrubs are AWESOME for your skin so it’s really a win-win! 

The first one we can try is something you can probably make with stuff you already have in your home!  Here are some fun tips to try and fix your spray tan that all you DIYers will enjoy. You’ll want to start with a half cup of lemon juice and a half cup of baking soda if you don’t have baking soda, you can try with ¾ cup of lemon juice and one cup of sugar.  Mix these items together in a shatterproof mixing bowl until you have a nice paste.  Hop in the shower and apply this paste all over your body and start scrubbing.  Be sure to be as even as possible and don’t scrub for too long because you’ll want to take a peek at your progress.  After a few minutes, you’ll want to run a warm shower and start rinsing yourself off.  When you’re all finished go take a look in a mirror, was it enough?  If not, go ahead and repeat these steps.  Feel free to scrub a little longer and repeat these steps a few times until you’ve reached your desired results. 

Not really a big “make it yourself” person?  No big deal, you can still get very similar results from a store bought scrub.  You’ll want to find a scrub that has gritty particles, which can often be found at drugstores.  If you want something that’s going to work and make your skin look great at the same time you’ll want to find an all-natural scrub or a scrub for sensitive skin. The main factor here is the amount of grit in the scrub, you really just want to make sure you find something that is suitable for your skin and works effectively to remove skin cells.

Stuff Around the House

Don’t like the idea of using baby oil?  Not a huge fan of scrubs either?  I get it, you do, but you don’t want to leave your house with that tan and you can’t wait for that Amazon Prime shipment right?  Here are some tips and tricks of stuff you can use to fix that spray tan that might be laying around your house to help!

Do you have any lemons lying around or maybe you have some limes left over from your last margarita night?  They can work wonders!  They’re acidic, which is good to remove the spray tan, but their mild so your skin won’t be too mad at you.  Grab some lemons or some limes and start squeezing.  You’ll want to get a good half cup to a full cup of juice.  Grab a soft cotton cloth, a flannel wipe, or a spray tanning mitt and douse it with your juice.  Place this damp cloth on a microwave safe dish and just pop it in the microwave.  Microwaves are different so start by heating it up for about 2 minutes and be VERY careful when you check on it.  You don’t want to burn yourself, but you do want it to be nice and warm.  Again, please be very very very careful when you grab your cloth out of the microwave because you don’t want to get burnt.  Now that you’re comfortably holding your warm lemon/lime cloth, go ahead and rub it all over the tan.  Pay close attention to how much is coming off and repeat this a few times until your spray tan has gone down a few notches.

No lime or lemon juice; got it.  Do you have any shaving cream?  Of course you do.  Shaving cream rubbed on your spray tan might help a little, but it’s the shaving that we’re after.  This will work best for streaks, uneven sections, or if your legs are just too dark.  Go ahead and rub them with shaving cream and let it sit for a good 5-10 minutes.  Shave them.  I know I know, you just shaved, it’s a huge part of preparing for a spray tan.  Shaving is similar to exfoliating and that’s what we’re after.  Shaving your legs does two things… the shaving cream itself will remove some of the spray tan and shaving will do some exfoliating which will help remove some more spray tan.

Do you have any hair removal cream in your bathroom vanity?  Well if you do, you can use that to tone down a spray tan also.  It’s best to use a reliable hair removal cream to avoid any unwanted side effects or skin irritation, but whatever you have should do the trick.  You’ll want to follow the instructions on the bottle as you would for a normal use, but instead of trying to get rid of some unwanted hair, you’ll be getting rid of some unwanted tan!  I’m sure this goes without saying, but it is hair removal cream.  Sooooo… you may not want to put it on any part of your body that you don’t mind removing hair from too!

Our last “home remedy” is to use what your dentist asks you to use at least twice a day:  toothpaste.  This is a good one for tan streaks on your wrists or hands.  It’s also good if you have any streaks on your ankles or feet.  All you have to do is rub some toothpaste over the streaky area, let set for a few minutes, and then rinse.  Super easy!  Plus, your hands or feet will have a nice minty scent!  Just be sure to use the plain white toothpaste.  That stripy stuff or even the sparkly blue kind won’t have the same effect on a tan.

Time for the Gym or Even a Spa

Do you prefer the idea of trying to tone down your spray tan with something a little more active?  Not really interested in experimenting in your bathroom?  No problem, here are a few more tips to try and fix your spray tan while having a little fun too!

Do you have a pool at home?  Maybe you have a pool in your community or apartment complex?  How about your gym?  Well, if you do, you might be in luck.  All you’ll have to do is make sure that it’s a chlorinated pool and not a salt water pool.  Sorry, that kiddie pool that you might be thinking of filling up with your garden hose in the backyard just isn’t going to work!  Did you find a chlorinated pool?  Sweet, just jump in and have some fun!  The chlorine that’s in the pool keeping it clean will also help to remove some of the spray tan off your skin.  Be sure to check on the fading spray tan often so you don’t wash too much away. 

You will also want to be mindful of the towel you use to dry off and the manner in which you get dry.  If you are going to use a towel, you may want to use a dark towel because the spray tan may come off onto the towel.  When you dry yourself off, be sure to use a blotting motion and not rub the towel on your body so that you don’t develop new streaks or patches that are too light.  If possible, air drying would be best.  By the way, if you go outside and are in the sun you’ll want to be sure to be mindful of UV exposure.  Just because you look tan from a spray tan, doesn’t mean that your skin is ready for the sun.  Staying in the shade would be your best bet.

Does a sauna sound relaxing and invigorating all at the same time?  If you have access to one, it could be your best friend right now.  If you’re a regular at the sauna, just do your same routine.  The spray tan will come off little by little.  Just be sure to use a dark towel and dark clothing since the spray tan solution will be coming off.  As you’re in the sauna or on your way out, be sure to blot dry instead of wiping the towel against your skin.  This will help prevent creating new streaks or patches that are now too light.  If you can air dry, that would be best.  If you prefer a steam room instead, I understand, go for it.  The tips about a dark towel and clothing along with blot drying or air drying still apply.

Time to Get Serious!

Not interested in making a baking soda and lemon juice concoction?  Don’t have any hair removal cream or plain white toothpaste laying around the house?  Definitely not going to a pool or a gym for a sauna or steam room?  I hear ya, we still have a few tips left to fix that stubborn spray tan. There are many products you can buy that are specifically designed just for this occasion. 

A beauty wipe or cleansing wipe could be your best friend right now.  Makeup removal wipes are not only great for wiping your eye makeup off, but will also get rid of some excess spray tan.  There are also more specific products, like hyaluronic acid exfoliating wipes if you’d like to keep some at home.  These are great to use when the spray tan is starting to fade and you just want it gone.  If you can’t get to any of these quickly, you might even try using some baby wipes, they aren’t going to work as good as the hyaluronic acid exfoliating wipes or makeup removal wipes, but baby wipes will definitely work in a pinch.

There are also various products available that are designed specifically to remove spray tans and self-tanners.  Products like tan erasing gel or tan removing foam work great!  However, please note that these types of products are intended to be used very soon after the tanning solution was applied to your skin.  They are not going to work well if the spray tan is already developed.  So if you have found a stubborn streak the day after your spray tan, these aren’t really going to do much.  You’ll want to try some of the other items we talked about earlier in the article instead.  These products say that they’ll work within four hours of your spray tan, but the best time to use them is really within one hour of the application.

Wrapping Up Our Tips to Fix A Spray Tan – Tastrophe

Unfortunately, there isn’t a silver bullet to get rid of this scary spray tan monster.  But… there are definitely ways to tame this beast!  Honestly, by picking one or two of the items we talked about you’ll probably end up loving your tan!  We’ve talked about toning down the color of a spray tan that’s just too damn dark with over 10 different expert tips and tricks.  We can make our own home remedies from stuff that we already have around the house like baby oil, lemon/lime juice, and even some shaving cream.  We can get some awesome scrubs for your skin that’ll help with adjusting the spray tan’s color and really make your skin feel amazing.  It doesn’t have to be all work and no play since we can have some fun while getting a handle on this spray tan by jumping in a pool or relaxing in your favorite sauna!  We were also able to talk about a bunch of amazing products that are designed specifically to remove a spray tan. I hope this list of tips to fix a spray tan helped, let us know what you think in the comments below.

Interested in learning more about the do’s and don’ts of all things spray tanning? Head over to our most inclusive article The Ultimate Spray Tanning Guide for all the goods!

Happy Spray Tanning!!

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