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How to Get Self-Tanner Off Your Hands

Learn how to fix this common self-tanning mishap.
July 06, 2022

We know summer makes it easy to achieve a natural, bronzed glow but if you want an intentional glow, the best way to achieve it is to grab a self-tanner and embrace a UV-free option. Of course, if you’re new to the world of self-tanner, we understand there are likely some concerns you may have — stained clothes, stained sheets and orange hands are probably top of that list. So below, we’re sharing how to get self-tanner off hands — during and post-application — and how to avoid getting self-tanner on your palms in the first place. You’re welcome!

How to Get Self-Tanner Off Your Hands Before They Stain

You’ve followed all the instructions on your self-tanner bottle but still managed to get self-tanner on your palms. Don’t panic — self-tanner is easiest to remove when it’s fresh so keep reading to see our tips for cleaning up your hands after applying self-tanner.

1. Wipe Your Palms With Makeup Remover

The best way to thoroughly wash your hands post-fake tan is to use a wipe like the L’Oréal Paris Ideal All Skin Types Makeup Removing Towelettes. If you go straight to the sink and give your hands a thorough washing, you’ll end up removing all the self-tanner from your hands — leaving you with the unnatural transition of tan arms to pale hands. 

So, after you finish self-tanning, use a wipe or washcloth to carefully clean your palms and the undersides of your fingers. It’s good practice to do this every time because sometimes you can miss a few spots and this is the best way to catch them.

2. Get in the Grooves 

You’ll notice when you get a natural tan that the area between your fingers doesn’t usually pick up much color. On the contrary, if you leave self-tanner to sit in this area, it’ll likely end up extra dark as the skin there tends to be drier than in other spots. 

You can easily avoid this by taking your wipe or washcloth and carefully guiding it along the crevices between your fingers. Skipping this step is sure to be a learning experience because self-tan does not hide once it develops. 

Editor’s tip: Make sure to wipe down your nails too — sometimes self-tanner can adhere to nail polish, cuticles and under your fingernails.

How to Get Self Tanner Off Your Hands After They Stain

So, you forgot to wipe your palms post self-tan session and the color has already developed. Now you have no choice but to rock the dreaded, unnatural tan tint on the underside of your hands and between your fingers — here’s how you’re going to fix it. 

1. Wash Your Hands 

If you forgot to thoroughly clean your palms before your tan developed, washing your hands now can help naturally fade the tan that’s been left behind. If you can, try to focus your washing solely on your palms and between your fingers — but don’t expect your tan to wash away overnight. If the self-tan is really deep — reach for something more abrasive like dish soap to help break it down as you wash.

2. Exfoliate 

You can always choose to exfoliate your palms to get rid of unwanted self-tanner. That being said, make sure to use a gentle exfoliant, as your hands tend to be softer and more fragile than the skin on your body — and don’t overdo it. For a gentle scrub, grab something that you use on your face, like the L’Oréal Paris Pure Sugar Resurface & Energize Kona Coffee Scrub

Massage it into your palms in circular motions and between your fingers. Remember to give your hands a break in-between exfoliating sessions rather than attempting to remove your tanning mistake in one night

Another way to exfoliate is to grab your night serum and apply it to your hands. It’s not uncommon to find self-tan removers in the self-tanner section at the store and all of those removers contain AHAs and BHAs. We reach for these acids to remove dead skin cells, fade dark spots and improve skin tone so it’s not farfetched to say that they could help fade self-tanner, too. 

Grab a serum with acids, like the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum. Apply four to five drops to dry, clean hands and rub it all over the areas with self-tanner. Save this hack for once a day and no need to use a scrub if you’re choosing this method. It may take a few nights to achieve your desired look but the glycolic acid will definitely work to quickly fade your tan.

How to Avoid Getting Self-Tanner on Your Hands

After you’ve removed an extra dose of unwanted self-tanner from your hands, the next step is to never do that again, right? Here are a few helpful tricks you can use to banish this mishap from your routine.

1. Use a Tanning Mitt

Rather than using your hands to apply self-tanner, you definitely want to use a tanning mitt. We love this method of application because it eliminates the possibility of stained palms altogether — not to mention it makes applying and blending self-tanner really easy. When it comes to tanning your hands, put the mitt on the opposite hand, apply self-tanner only to the tops and make sure to fan your fingers and go over all the lines and crevices. 

2. Adopt the Less is More Method

It’s tempting to think you should use an extra dose of self-tanner for your hands — with normal handwashing, it’s no wonder your self-tan fades there the fastest. But applying more tanner doesn’t mean it will necessarily last and when it comes to tanning your hands, the less product you work with, the better. 

Self-tanner is limited to the color on the label so using more self-tanner in one session doesn’t always equal a darker or longer lasting tan — more times than not, it just creates a blotchy, uneven mess. A little product goes a long way and you can apply more self-tan every few days as it fades with normal hand washing.

3. Try a Self-Tanning Mist

A self-tanning mist like the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Facial Water Mist, Vitamin E sprays on — which is a great way to avoid getting self-tanner on your hands altogether. While we recommend spraying it onto a cotton pad and swiping across your face and neck to apply, the natural and gradual formula is sure to help you avoid a self-tanning mishap.

Next10 Self-Tanner Tips to Help You Get a Golden Glow Year-Round

Edited by: Reece Andavolgyi; Photo Credit: Reece Andavolgyi

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