How To Fix A Self Tanner Streak Quickly

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By Ashlyn Noah
March 9, 2022

There is nothing more annoying and frustrating than having to fix a self-tan build-up or a weird streaky dark section. You likely tried so hard to not over-apply your lotion and there’s still streaky residue or darker, orange spots somewhere on your body.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing is a norm when it comes to traditional self-tanner. The chemicals and dyes found in these products are prone to inconsistencies and it’s easy to make unintentional mistakes. 

We, of course, recommend ditching those products all together and trying out Naru Organics self-tanner instead. Our formula is streak free, contains no dyes and will not stain your hands. 

However, if the deed is done, and you are trying to fix a streak caused by a traditional self-tanner in a pinch, we’ve got you covered.

Instead of trying to start over completely or hide the build-up, here are some tricks you can try to follow to fix the affected areas. 

DIY Methods to Fix Streaks

Try Exfoliating the Streaky Area

Skincare is important for the nourishment and health of your skin, but it can also be used to gently remove the skin cells that are holding the self-tanner. 

Self-tanning product sit on your top layer of skin and can be easy to remove with an exfoliating body sugar scrub or exfoliator mitt. Just be sure to be gentle on your skin!

If you do decide to exfoliate the areas that are holding excessive product, do not exfoliate the rest of your body. Since you’re trying to remove or lessen the tone of the sunless tan in the discolored areas, exfoliating other areas will maintain these inconsistencies.

Lemon Juice & Baking Soda

Sometimes the easiest solution is one found in common household and natural products.

The acid in lemons can help to strip the tan streaks while mixing it with baking soda assists as a natural exfoliant. When you mix these two together, it will create a bubbly paste that you can slather on your skin to remove the discoloration. 

Note: Do NOT use this solution on your face! Your face skin is too delicate for these ingredients. Instead, try using cover-up until the inconsistencies lessen. 

If you use this DIY option, leave the paste on your skin for a few minutes before rubbing it off with a warm washcloth. If it strips off too much of the tan, you can try reapplying your product. 

Baby Oil

Do you have sensitive skin? If so, baby oil might be the best option to serve as your self-tan fix.

Baby oil is gentle on the skin when stripping away self-tanning discoloration. It acts as another exfoliator and moisturizer in lieu of your traditional body scrub. 

Just like above, if you decide to use baby oil, slather it on the affected area and leave it on for a few minutes before wiping it off with a warm washcloth. 

Some baby oil products contain moisturizing elements in their ingredients which can also be beneficial to give your skin some moisturizer if you haven’t been using a lotion. 

Note: Once again, exercise caution in applying this to your face. Some people may do fine with baby oil, but it can clog some people’s pores and cause acne! 


Did you know that when you shave, the topmost layer of your skin is removed as well? Since self-tanning products primarily sit on this layer, shaving can remove your tan and/or any streaky areas. 

There is a rule of thumb with traditional self-tanners to wait a couple days before shaving after applying your self-tanning product since you don’t want to remove the product too quickly. However, in this case, if you notice streaks right away, shave as soon as you can to get ahead of the discoloration, and give yourself a chance to reapply correctly.

Hair Removal Cream 

Similarly to shaving, if you use Nair or any other hair removal cream at home, this can be good solution to wipe away your tan, allowing you to start over.

To use it effectively, follow the instructions on the box. 

Warm Washcloth

A warm washcloth is one of the best methods of easily and quickly removing self-tanner streaks if you notice any discoloration or build up early in your application process, with the need for any additional tools. However, this is best used right away if you can tell that you have applied too much product to one area.

If that’s the case and you need to buff out any areas where you went overkill, wet a washcloth and gently rub the mousse or lotion off of the areas. 

Pat dry your affected skin areas and continue your application with a little less fervor! 

Whitening Toothpaste

If you have an old toothbrush laying around, you can repurpose it as a small scrubbing brush to remove discoloration of a traditional sunless tanner with whitening toothpaste. 

Rub the whitening toothpaste on the affected area of skin for a few minutes to give the toothpaste enough time to penetrate the skin and  the self-tanner.

By rubbing the brush and some paste in a circular motion on the skin, it acts as an exfoliator to remove unwanted build-up.

Some whitening toothpaste products use baking soda in the mix of their formula. It’s safe to use as a toothpaste and it helps to use as a DIY exfoliator in this situation. 

Store-Bought Self-Tanner Remover

If you don’t feel like making a DIY tan remover, there are self-tanner remover mousses and tan remover wipes you can purchase at the store. 

However, most of the leading tan remover products contain a lot of chemicals to remove the most extreme streaks from self-tanning mistakes, so we can’t recommend these unless it’s an emergency or you are truly desperate. 

How To Apply A Sunless Tanner Right The First Time

While there are options out there for you to correct mistakes knowing how to apply your traditional self-tanner right the first time can make all the difference in rarely having to buff out any mistakes. 

Of course, we recommend avoiding all this ruckus entirely and opting to use Naru Organics self tanner, which leaves a streak-free natural looking self tan every time! 

However, if you are trying to finish up a bottle of your old stuff, or are committed to your traditional brand, read on for some tips for application. 

Tips for Applying Traditional Self Tanner

One of the best ways to reduce the amount of discoloration build-up that can be left behind is to go light with the amount of product you use. Certain areas such as the ankles, elbows, and wrists should use less product than your arms and legs.

Instead of applying more product on the delicate areas, try to buff out the product from your arms and legs and stretch it out thin once you get to those areas, including the knees.

Additionally, it’s important you exfoliate beforehand with a high-quality body scrub and/or an exfoliator mitt so you wipe away the dead skin cells and clean out your pores. Exfoliation preps your skin perfectly for the best application. 

Here’s another expert tanning tip to reduce chances of build-up: skip the moisturizer. 

Many people want to put their typical moisturizer on right after the shower, but that is actually loading more product onto the skin that actually make your sunless tan appear darker than it is.

Your skin should be completely dry and moisturizer-free before you apply your self-tanning mousse. If you feel like your skin would really benefit from some moisturizing, look for a sunless tanner lotion that contains moisturizing ingredients, or wait to apply your lotion until you’ve given your tan adequate time to dry.


While there’s no perfect solution to the streaks and weirdness that traditional self tanners can cause, hopefully this list can resolve any glaring issues you are having. 

Unfortunately, this is a typical problem with self tanners, and no amount of prep or meticulous application can stop these mistakes from happening.

Wouldn’t it be easy to use Naru Organics self-tanner instead? 

Note: Want to give yourself an even, natural-looking sunless tan without exposing your skin to toxic chemicals, dyes or synthetic fragrances? Get Naru Organics self tanner and try the very first flawless self tan with no nasty ingredients. Learn more now!
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Ashlyn Noah

Ashlyn Noah is an author in the skin care industry.