How to Lighten the Color of Self Tanner

Don't let freakishly dark tanner keep you off the beach.
... David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

Self tanner is a godsend for those with pasty white complexions, allowing them to develop a sun-bronzed glow in only a few hours. However, the application process can often leave you looking like a Halloween pumpkin or unnaturally dark. If you are stuck inside because your skin color scares small children, there are some ways to remedy the issue. Try some at-home treatments to lighten the color of the tanner to a more human shade.

Fill a bowl with 1 to 2 cups of baking soda, depending on how much of your body you are trying to lighten. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the bowl, and stir the mixture with a spoon until a thick paste forms.

Step into a shower or bathtub before applying the mixture since it is a bit messy. The mixture will also lighten any items that it spills on, so use caution around colorful bathroom mats or washcloths.

Spread the baking soda paste thickly over all areas of your tan that you wish to lighten.

Wait five minutes to allow the paste to begin removing some of the tanner color. Rub your skin gently using a white washcloth, moving it in circular motions to exfoliate dead skin cells and lighten the tanner color.

Rinse off thoroughly using warm water to remove all traces of baking soda. Pat your skin dry using a towel.

Examine your skin using a brightly lit mirror to identify any areas of tanner that still remain too dark.

Apply a pea-sized amount of whitening toothpaste to your finger, then spread it thickly over any remaining areas of tanner that are too dark. Rub the toothpaste in gently, using circular motions. Wait two to three minutes, and then rinse well with water to remove the toothpaste.

  • Instead of whitening toothpaste, you can use vodka, lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide to lighten self-tanner color.
  • Another option to lighten tanner color is soaking in a lukewarm bath containing 3 teaspoons of baby oil for at least 20 minutes.

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.