What Should You Do If Your Spray Tan Is Too Dark? Here's What An Expert Recommends

The good news? You got a tan without exposing yourself to harsh UVA rays. The bad news? Your spray tan makes you look like Magda from There's Something About Mary. If you're wondering what should you do if your spray tan is too dark, here's the rundown.

I spoke with Alyssa Hilliard, aesthetician and tanning expert from VersaSpa and Mystic Tan to learn how to avoid a bad spray tan job. She informs me that the first step to fixing a bad spray tan is to make sure your salon chooses the right formula for you, based on your skin tone. But if the damage is already done, there's plenty of ways you can lift and lighten your color.

First, water is your friend: Whether you're soaking up in a chlorine pool or in your bathtub, going for a dip will lift off color. While any water will do, chlorine is better for deteriorating your tan quickly. The sooner you jump in, the better, but be careful — you may take off the entire tan instead of just lightening it.

"If you do get too dark, slather on coconut oil or baby oil and sit for 10 minutes then jump in the shower and exfoliate," Hilliard tells me. "Oil lifts the top layer of color and makes skin easier to exfoliate so it will lighten your tan. You can also soak in a baking soda bath. Baking soda softens your skin so it's easier to slough away the outer layer and it has lightening properties. Pour two to three cups into the bath and soak for 30 minutes, then use a washcloth or loofah to scrub."

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, $7.57, Jet

So, what's the lesson to be learned? First of all, don't panic and know that this isn't permanent! Second, water, exfoliants, and oil-based moisturizers are your friends, and will help lighten the color quickly.

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Tango Spray Tan Removal Cloth, $21.95, Tango Cloth

The next time you find yourself a few shades darker than you had hoped, avoiding having a meltdown and remember to not scrub too vigorously — doing so will likely take off the color in patches. You'll be worse off than when you started!


Instead, gently exfoliate with a DIY solution or a tan-removing product. You'll be the perfect shade of tan in no time!

Image: Jovana Rikalo/Stocksy; Courtesy of Brands; Giphy