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Tandoori Tans – What to do When Disaster Strikes!

tanning disaster

tanning disaster


Dealing with a Tanning Disaster?

We all know the old adage, prevention is better than cure. But in tanning terms, needing a cure can mean the difference of looking like a bronzed goddess and being mortified that you look like an orangutan. In tanning terms, what exactly does this mean?

Prevention – To avoid results that scream fake tan disaster, it’s critical to protect any areas of skin that you don’t want tanned, or tanned too heavily. When applying your own fake tan, arm (or palm) yourself with an inexpensive applicator mitt. Pumping your product onto the mitt instead of your hands, will not only help you apply your tan with flawless professional ease, but it will also mean you don’t end up with orange palms. She Knows loves the Custom Tan applicator mitt. It’s washable and reusable and only $12.95 available at

If you are receiving you golden glow from a professional spray tan technician, ensure you apply barrier cream to any rough patches of skin prior to your application. Tan is notorious for grabbing onto any hardened skin, which is why it’s critical to thoroughly exfoliate your skin prior to any fake tan.
So how does it all go wrong?

If your skin ends up more tangerine than tanned, one of two things has likely happened

1) A poor quality tanning ingredient; and/or
2) over application

The ingredient which actually tans your skin is called DHA (dihydroxyacetone). DHA, like all beauty products comes in varying qualities. The cheaper the DHA, the lesser the product mimics a natural tan, and looks more like a colour you’d rather paint your nails with. Any inexperienced gal can determine a poor quality DHA. It usually carries that unmistakable fake tan smell, or could be so heavily masked with fragrance in an attempt to drown out the smell of the DHA. Seek out a product made with organic ingredients. As a general rule of thumb, the better the ingredients used, the less the smell. We love Custom Tan’s self tanning and instant bronzer mousse. Twice voted Australia’s Best Self Tan, we can’t go past its fragrance-free silky foam formula.

Whether it’s a spray tan or a self tan application, the golden rule with tanning is that more is not more. Sunless tanning is designed to be natural, and therefore should not be over-applied. DHA is designed to react with the skin and not to be continuously slathered on top of it self. Once you have fake tan build up, you risk compromising the colour. Heidi Reid, Founder of Custom Tan says “you should always leave a spray tan appointment touch dry. The application should be subtle, and will continue to develop over time. If your tan is running or leaves bubbles of solution on your skin, the technician has applied too much. Your tan should look and feel like a regular cosmetic. You shouldn’t walk out wet or ridiculously dark compared to your normal skin tone”.

Banish unwanted tan with these fail proof methods

It’s true that the tan is only going to stay put as long as the skin cells that have been tanned stay on your body. So this is where you will want to start doing all the activities that are suggested you avoid when wanting to keep your fake tan on. Heidi suggests first trying your luck with the natural methods.
For an all over tan disaster relief strategy – If exercise is your style, do a hard workout, which forces your body to sweat. As you sweat, your tan should be removed. If you’d prefer the sweat free option lather your skin in baby oil, leave it for as long as possible and then take a long hot bath. The combination of the baby oil and the extended time in the hot bath, will cause your skin to replenish itself. Before getting out of the bath you should be able to wipe your tan off with a firm rub of a facecloth.

Want to spot reduce?

A handy tool for spot reducing is a tan remover mitt. These work the same way as the facecloth, although have a courser grain. Make sure the area has been well soaked with water, and is nice and moist, before rubbing with the tanning mitt. Subtle reddening of the skin is fine – scratching your skin isn’t.

If you don’t have a mitt, try applying lemon juice, or failing that lime. The acidity of the juice will help to remove the colour from the skin. You can also mix up a paste combining baking soda and water, apply the paste to your skin, and when it has dried, remove it with a wet face cloth.

Failing these natural methods, as a last resort you could try hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is used in bleaches and also in hair lightening products. Use with extreme caution, and only apply a small amount.
Stay tuned for our article on ‘The Only Self Tanning Tips you’ll ever need’ so you never have to worry about fixing disasters again.


Heidi Reid is the Founder of Custom Tan (twice voted Australia’s best self tan). As the Queen of Tan, Heidi has developed the Custom Tan range using the highest grade eco-cert organic ingredients and is happy to provide commentary on all things related to achieving a flawless faux glow.



Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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