Vine Vera has explained why UV tanning can be dangerous, and how the best way to get an attractive tanned-skin look is to use self-tanning products that temporarily dye your skin with harmless dark pigments instead of burning it (remember, even if you don’t turn red, a UV tan is your skin’s defensive response to being damaged, meaning that you have to damage your skin to get one, risking peeling, wrinkling, or even melanoma). But what do you do if a self-tan goes horribly awry? You’ve probably heard horror stories about self-tanning turning people’s hands orange, making them way too dark, or turning out streaky and uneven. The good news is there are relatively easy ways to remove or lighten your self-tan quickly so that you can fix your mistakes or try over again from the beginning.
If your self-tanning product turns your hands a vivid orange (a common problem since you use your hands to apply the product, meaning your hands are exposed to more of it and are exposed longer), simply mix up a whole lemon’s worth of lemon juice with a few tablespoons of salt in a bowl, then rub it in thoroughly for several minutes, as if washing your hands. If you have cuts or scrapes on your hands you’re worried about stinging with the lemon juice, apply a pain-relief spray or gel to them beforehand. Wash your hands with soap and water afterward.
Darker than You Wanted
This problem is easier to fix than you might think. Just massage yourself (or have someone else to it for you) with a liberal amount of body oil. Coconut or olive oil work well, as does any type of massage oil. Massage it in really well, then soak in a hot bath.
Streaks and Blotches
Streaky, blotchy self-tans have a similar fix to overly-dark ones. Instead of a pure oil, use a body scrub that contains a lot of oil, but also make sure it’s got fine-grained particles or massage beads to help loosen things up and allow the pigments on your skin to more evenly redistribute.
How to Avoid Mistakes Ahead of Time
It’s wonderful to be able to fix your mistakes when you make them, but Vine Vera needs to take a moment to explain how you can avoid all of this in the first place, which will make things much easier on yourself next time you want to self-tan.
It’s important to prepare your skin for self-tanning ahead of time.This means removing body hair—whether by shaving, waxing, or epilating—wherever you have it, especially on the legs, but also on the arms or anywhere else it crops up on your body. It also means exfoliation, preferably a couple days ahead of time, but it can be done right before in a pinch. You can exfoliate with a store-bought scrub or any number of hommade options like sugar scrubs (for example, try mixing some brown sugar with just enough melted coconut oil to make a thick paste). Really massage it in to remove dead skin cells, making a smooth surface the self-tanning product will better be able to grip to.
Apply the tanning product slowly and carefully, rubbing it in completely for even coverage. If you’re impatient and work too fast, you’re basically asking for streaks and splotches.