The Dermatologist-Approved Way To Get Self-Tanner Off Your Hands

Photographed by Poppy Thorpe.
There's absolutely no shame in trying to bring some sunshine into your self-isolation reality with the help of self-tanner — especially as the weather gets warmer outside. One upside of faking your summer glow this year is that your skin will be better off, but if your faux tan sesh has resulted in orange-tinged, very bronzed palms, don't freak out.
Instead of trying to scrub layers of skin off with an old pumice stone (don't do this), we've enlisted an expert to give us a step-by-step guide of how to gently — yet effectively — return your hands to your normal skin tone. Follow these expert tips, and fixing a tan mishap on your hands will be done in no time.

1. Soak your hands

According to Morgan Rabach, MD, board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical NYC, the first thing to do is soak your hands for at least 15 minutes in warm water. Then, instead of adding soap or body wash, add a couple drops of bath oil (olive oil works, too) to create a hydrating soak for a few additional minutes. "The oil will help loosen extra tanner," she explains.

2. Buff with a towel

"After the soak, use a washcloth on those areas," Dr. Rabach says. No need to scrub vigorously — if it's a little damp, circular motions should help gently soften the color.

3. Opt for a self-tan remover

Brands make them for a reason, so after your soak, give one a go. Many self-tan erasers are infused with exfoliating ingredients like glycolic acid to help slough off skin cells, making them an easy-peasy way to remove too much tanner anywhere on your body.

4. Get unconventional (if needed)

If the previous steps didn't get the job done, then it might be time to try something stronger. "Depilatory creams that remove hair can also take away self tanner," Dr. Rabach says. You might not have touched the stuff since your teen years, but on the off chance that you don't have a remover, but do happen to have a bottle of Nair lying around, it's worth a shot. (Just be sure to follow the directions.) Another idea: "Lemon juice works well, or any toner with AHAs or BHAs," advises New York City-based dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. As for next time, don't forget an applicator mitt.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. The product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

More from Skin Care

R29 Original Series