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Article: Does Gradual Tan Go Patchy? Making the Most of Your Glow

Does Gradual Tan Go Patchy? Making the Most of Your Glow

Does Gradual Tan Go Patchy? Making the Most of Your Glow

There’s nothing quite like glowing skin. It boosts your confidence and makes any outfit pop. 

Gradual tan works wonders to moisturise and colour your skin. And the best part? You don’t have to burn or damage your skin in the process.

So, does gradual tan go patchy? How long does it last? Are there any tips or tricks that can bypass that patchy stage altogether? 

In this article, we explore all things gradual tanning to help you keep your skin glowing for longer.

Does gradual tan go patchy?

Of all the tanning products, from self-tan mousse to at-home spray tans, gradual tan is the least likely to wind up patchy.

Why? Well, there are two reasons that gradual tans are the less-patchy option.

Firstly, gradual tanning products act both as a tanning lotion and as a moisturiser, meaning your skin is given a boost of hydration with every application. This helps gradual tans last longer and apply more evenly.

Secondly, gradual tans slowly build up through consistent use. Because of its buildable nature, you’ll have more control over where you add more tanning solution and where you add less.

If you begin seeing a patchy-prone area glowing a little harder than other spots, you simply rub in a little less next time. 

While gradual tan is more likely to apply and fade evenly, it is still possible for your gradual tan to go patchy.

It’ll all depend on the quality of the gradual tan you’re applying, how much you’ve prepared your skin before applying gradual tan, and how well you care for your new glow. 

To learn more about how gradual tan works, you can read all about it in our blog post here.

How long does gradual tan take to fade?

Generally, a gradual tan lasts about a week, but with the right preparation, your sunless glow can stick around for up to ten days.

The key is to knuckle down on preparing your skin in the weeks and days leading up to your gradual tan, and keeping your skin moisturised once you’ve applied.


How to apply gradual tan evenly

If you’re looking to side-step the awkward, patchy tan, all you’ll need is a solid prepping and application routine.


The best way to avoid a gradual tan going patchy is by exfoliating your body beforehand. This helps remove any dead skin where gradual tan tends to accumulate and appear darker.

We recommend using our Tasmanian Sand Scrub one day before you apply your gradual tan.

Simply splash your body with warm water and apply the scrub in small circular motions on your face and body (just make sure to steer clear of the delicate skin around your eyes).

Make sure to pay extra attention to patchy-prone areas like your knuckles, wrists, ankles, knees, and elbows.

For a deep exfoliation, you can pair our scrub with an exfoliating mitt.

Once your skin feels refreshed, rinse and continue with your shower routine. If you’re in need of a shave, this is the perfect time to whip out your razor.


An equally crucial step in the preparation process is to make sure you hydrate your skin with an oil-free moisturiser after your deep exfoliation.

And keep it up! Your gradual tan may go patchy if you let your skin dry out.

The best gradual tanning results come from keeping your skin as hydrated as possible.


Once your body is thoroughly dry and moisturised, it’s time to apply your gradual tan. Simply apply with your hands (unless you really want to use a tanning mitt).

Glide the gradual tan along your whole body evenly and smoothly, making sure not to miss any spots.

The more even and consistent your application, the less likely your gradual tan will go patchy.


Voila! Now all you need to do is wear some loose-fitting clothes and wait for your sunless glow to develop.
Take a look at our blog post on how to avoid an orange tan for more tips on how to best prepare for self-tanning.

How to fix patchy gradual tan

So you’ve followed the above steps but somehow it’s still ended up patchy? (Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us!) 

There are a few tips and tricks you can try to smooth out a gradual tan that’s gone patchy.

Gently scrub excess tan

Does your gradual tan look splotchy in some areas? If it looks like you have a build-up of gradual tanning lotion, we have a nifty trick for you.

Grab a clean exfoliating glove and gently buff and scrub at areas where your gradual tan appears thickest. This should remove any build-up and help restore an even tan.

Try not to remove too much tan from surrounding areas where your tan is nice and even.

Even out your patchy tan with more product

In some cases, it’s easier to add than to take away. If your gradual tan is patchy, with lighter streaks funking up your glow, try adding gradual tan to the lighter areas.

Let it develop for a few hours and see if this has helped even out your sunless glow.

If you’re in a rush and don’t have hours up your sleeve, there’s one trick you can try.

Apply a thin layer of Self-Tan Mousse with a tanning mitt to even out your gradual tan one hour before you need to leave the house. By the time you’ve finished getting ready, your gradual tan should be smooth and even.

Start fresh

If your gradual tan is patchy in more places than not, it might be time to start afresh.

Set aside a few minutes before you hop into the shower and lather your body in coconut or baby oil. After five minutes, grab an exfoliating glove and gently scrub away at your patchy tan.

Once you’ve given your skin a good once over, hop into a warm shower or bath and wash away the build-up you’ve lifted.

Does gradual tan come off when you shave?

Shaving removes any hairs, peach fuzz and dead skin cells from its tracks. Depending on how dry and flakey your skin is, shaving may also scrape your gradual tan off in the process.

That’s why when it comes to shaving and sunless tans, it’s always best to do your pruning before your application.

Whether you’ve simply forgotten or your gradual tan has lasted so long that you’re in need of another trim, it won’t be the end of the world if you shave with gradual tan on.

The trick to shaving without removing gradual tan is to make sure your skin is hydrated.

You can achieve this by using a non-oil-based moisturiser daily in between your gradual tan application.

It’s also best to use a fresh blade and avoid blunt shavers that are more prone to scraping.

Your gradual tan is less likely to scrape off with a shaver two or more days after your application, so if you can wait 48 hours before shaving, that would be the best.

Does gradual tan wash off in the shower?

If you’re worried about hopping into the shower and seeing your beautiful tan wash away, we’re here to let you know that won’t happen (unless you’ve just applied your gradual tan!).

There are still a few things you should consider to help your gradual tan last during and after your shower.

First, wait at least eight hours after your application before you take a shower. This will let your colour develop evenly and avoid any awkward streaks or patches.

It’s also important to use a soap or body wash that’s gentle on your skin and preferably chemical-free. Harsh body washes have the power to strip tans, which is not ideal.

Next, ditch the loofah unless you want to say goodbye to your sunless glow.

Lastly, while water won’t wash away your gradual tan, it may dry out your skin (which is the next worst thing).

To prevent your skin from flaking and making your gradual tan patchy, make sure to moisturise straight after you shower. 

Does gradual tan come off in the pool?

Unfortunately, the chlorine in swimming pools and gradual tans don’t mix so well.

Chlorine, like other chemicals, can interfere with your tan and cause stripping, lifting and patching. While it won’t happen immediately, it will cut the life of your gradual tan short.

If taking a dip in a pool is as much a part of your self-care routine as gradual tanning, make sure to thoroughly moisturise your body before jumping in to give your tan the best chance of lasting.

Make the most of your glow

Hopefully, this article shows you that you can skip that awkward patchy tan phase and enjoy more of the wonderful glow that comes with gradual tan.

Remember, while gradual tan can go patchy, the right prep and moisturising routine can help your gradual tan last, free from streaks, splotches and patches.

Looking for more insightful info on all things sunless tans? You can peruse our blogs here, or if you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, ask away here. Or, if it’s our full products list you’d like to see, click here.

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