A tan gone wrong doesn’t only result from falling asleep on the beach in the sun. Whether you get yours at a salon or apply a self-tanner at home, an accident or two are bound to happen, so you need to be prepared to fix it.

The worst parts about a spray tan accident are the hands and feet, so let’s get started with these.

How to Remove Spray Tans from Hands

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the FDA-approved ingredient for sunless tanning, is the active ingredient in almost all self-tanning products. It has the ability to stain the top layer of your skin quite quickly, and sometimes the effects don’t show right away.

That’s why you may notice streaks that appear on your skin up to 4 or 6 hours later after applying the self-tanner, even if you wash your hands.

And to get DHA off of your hands, you have to exfoliate your skin with a sponge, towel, or exfoliating cream. You should use a loofah with a salt or sugar scrub and work your way around the areas affected by the spray tan in a circular motion.

If you don’t have a scrub, you can create your own at home. Simply mix a quarter of a cup of raw sugar with half a cup of sorbolene cream for the same results. Don't scrub until your skin becomes red, so you don't create abrasions on the surface. 

You should repeat this exfoliation process once every morning and afternoon, and a considerable difference should appear in no more than two days.

Moreover, you can soak your hands in warm water, apply lemon juice to penetrate and lighten the skin layer, or take a dip into a chlorinated pool.

The ascorbic acid in lemon cuts into the tanning product and causes it to fade. It would be best if you left it to sit on your skin for an hour, give or take, and repeat the process up to three times a day.

Finally, a very effective and easy option would be to invest in a tan-removing product such as the X-TAN Sunless Tan Remover Exfoliating Spray. This alternative works twice as fast as any DIY method and is half as complicated.

1. Darker Areas: Ankles, Elbows, Wrists, and Knees

Ankles, knees, elbows, and wrists all tend to have drier skin than other parts of the body, and these parts work on absorbing self-tanning products and grabbing them to leave dark marks behind.

In case this happens, and you need to fix it, you should dampen the skin and apply a little baking soda directly to the darker area. Then, gently scrub the area until the color softens and fades.

Hydrogen peroxide is another alternative. You can place a small amount of hydrogen peroxide on a cotton pad and rub it onto the dark areas of the skin until the color beings to fade away. After that, you should rinse and moisturize the area well.

2. Removing Fake Tan from Fingernails and Toenails

It can be a very difficult task to remove self-tanner from your nails, so make sure you protect them before you spray any of the tanning product. You can do so by applying a coat of clear nail polish to prevent the spray tan from soaking into your dry nail.

If the deed is already done, then you should try nail polish remover to take sunless tan off of your nails. However, you shouldn’t be expecting an easy battle.

Despite all this, it could be even harder to remove the sunless tan from your cuticles. In this case, try to soak your fingers in denture cleaner to safely remove the spray tan without causing any harm or irritation to your skin.

How to Avoid Spray Tans Gone Wrong in the First Place

First of all, you shouldn’t feel bad about messing up your spray tanning experience. We’ve all been there and done that. But you shouldn’t fall for the same mistakes again. Here are a couple of things you should pay attention to in order to avoid any mishaps during your spray tanning sessions.

The best time to apply a spray tan product is right after a bath or a shower when your skin is still well-hydrated. This enables the self-tanner to glide more easily over your skin and prevent it from grabbing into dry areas such as the knees, elbows, hands, and feet.

Furthermore, the drier your skin is, the more prone it will be to absorb more of the self-tanning product and creating an uneven tank with dark areas.

That’s why you should take a nice shower and exfoliate well before you apply your spray tan.

Finally, if you’re self-tanning, make sure that you use enough lotion or mousse to prevent the spray from dragging and creating streaks over your skin.

The Proper Way to Apply Self-Tanner at Home

If you’re using one of those aerosol style self-tan products at home, make sure you’re applying it in an area that can be washed down. This is because these products produce particles that can float in the air and get to surfaces that you might not intend to get them on.

Stand on a towel or a washable rug before you apply the spray to keep your feet clean, then spray the self-tanner on your legs in the bathtub. Walk in the tub to guarantee the sunless tanner gets on the bottom of your feet.

Then, stand on the towel again when you’re applying the sunless tanning mousse or lotion, and keep a damp washcloth by your side to wipe away any areas that the sunless tanning product gets accidentally.

Moreover, make sure you apply the self-tanner product at least eight hours before taking a bath or shower. That’s just another reason why you should take a shower before you apply the product.

Moreover, using a tanning mitt keeps your hands clean and ensures that you only cover the areas that you intend to. Those mitts even allow you to blend to get a more even application of the self-tanner.

To apply self-tanner to your hands and feet, use a stipple brush after applying the product to your body.

Final Thoughts

Although perfecting your fake tan can seem a little tough at first, with enough practice, you’ll be able to apply it easily with no darker areas or unevenness. Just follow the tips and stay dedicated to your tan.

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