It’s pretty incredible that, thanks to the wonders of fake tan, we can achieve a bronzed, sun-kissed glow all year long without spending hours destroying our skin under UV rays. That glow-in-a-bottle is a magical thing, but whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned pro, there’s one thing all self-tanners fear: the dreaded orange effect. So, how can you avoid an orange tan? We break down why your fake tan might be turning orange and share tips for achieving the best (non-orange) fake tan.
Do Spray Tans Make You Orange?
Spray tans really shouldn’t make you orange, but they can do so depending on how you prepare your skin, which tanning formula you choose, and how you apply the tan.
That unsightly orange tinge was particularly common in the early days of fake tanning when tanning brands were working with relatively basic formulas. Let’s be honest, at one point or another, most of us have headed in for a spray tan with the highest of hopes only to come out looking like Anne Hathaway in that Bride Wars scene. We’ve all been there.
There are a few reasons why a spray tan, or any fake tan for that matter, might leave you a little orange.
The Spray Tan Solution Itself
The magical ingredient inside all tanning solutions is called dihydroxyacetone. A mouthful, we know, so it’s more commonly referred to as DHA.
DHA is the agent that interacts with the outer layer of our skin and causes the skin to darken. Too much DHA, however, can cause discolouration.
So, it’s important that DHA is perfectly balanced out by the other ingredients in the tanning formula. This prevents oversaturation.
Fortunately, as fake tan formulas have developed over the years, many spray tanning products now have this balance right.
Some brands, Three Warriors included, have created solutions specifically formulated to deliver bronzed, olive undertones rather than orange undertones.
It goes without saying that picking a tanning solution from a trusted brand with a transparent ingredient list is the first step to avoiding an orange tan.
Your Skin Isn’t Correctly Prepared
The real secret to a smooth, natural-looking, and long-lasting tan is the preparation of the skin itself.
When you prepare your skin properly, you minimise the risk of having tan gather in drier areas of the body such as the elbows, kneecaps, and ankles. This is usually where the orange effect is at its most intense.
You essentially want your skin to act as a blank canvas that your fake tan can effortlessly glide onto. We’ll explain exactly how to prepare your skin for a fake tan a little later on.
The Tan is Too Dark
If the tanning solution is too dark for your skin tone, or if it’s applied too heavily, it can appear orange on the skin.
It’s important to choose a formula and product that will work for your skin tone. For example, if you have a fair complexion, we’d generally recommend opting for a gradual tanning lotion or a thin coat of a tanning mousse for a lighter tan. We’d also recommend rinsing off your tan after the minimum amount of time, which is usually around an hour.
Alternatively, if you have a darker skin tone, you could safely opt for a thicker coat of a tanning mousse or spray tan and leave it on overnight. This will allow the colour to develop and deepen properly for your skin tone.
The key is to be patient with your tan. Remember, fake tan develops over time, so don’t be tricked into applying several coats when the colour doesn’t show up right away.
How to Get a Brown Tan Instead of Orange
We can all agree that when we whip out the fake tan, we’re after a fake tan that’s brown — not orange.
So, what steps can you take to ensure your tan comes out glowy, bronzed, and sunkissed instead of Oompa Loompa-esque?
We unpack them below.
Prep is Key
As mentioned, preparation is an important part of the tanning process. Adequate preparation will help you achieve a smooth glowy tan rather than a streaky orange one.
To create that blank canvas we talked about, follow the below steps.
Be sure to adhere to the recommended timeline; this makes all the difference. The timeline ensures your skin is calm and soothed before application.
1 Week to 24 Hours Prior – Complete any hair, nails, facial, and massage appointments prior to tanning. These services often use different oils and products that can strip the tan from the skin if you have them done after you’ve tanned.
24 Hours Prior – Remove all body hair (if desired) regardless of whether you’re getting a spray tan or applying a self-tanner at home. This will allow your skin to recover properly from any inflammation or redness.
4 Hours Prior – Exfoliate the skin the day before or the day of your tan. We recommend using a gentle exfoliator like our Tasmanian Sand Scrub, which works to both hydrate the skin and rid it of dirt and dead cells.
1 to 4 Hours Prior – Shower a maximum of four hours before you tan. This will clear all dirt, sweat, lotions, perfumes, and oil residue from the skin. Don’t moisturise or add any products to the skin prior to tanning. For best results, you’ll need a clean, dry base.
Choose the Right Formula
The next step is to choose a well-balanced formula with green and purple undertones. These base tones neutralise the orange colouring that DHA can produce, so you’ll be left with that desired bronzed look.
Our Three Warriors formula does just that. The formula contains no orange tones as we’ve perfected the balance between DHA and the other organic ingredients to produce a natural sun-kissed look.
The formula contains only all-natural ingredients sourced from the shores of Tasmania. Every product is free from harmful chemicals, synthetic fragrances, parabens, petrochemicals, or artificial dyes. The formula is better for both your skin and the environment.
Each product includes:
- Aloe Vera – To lock in moisture, soothe the skin, and create a soft and calm complexion
- Avocado Oil – To enrich the skin with vitamins A, D, and E
- Chamomile Extract – A natural anti-inflammatory and stress reliever
Apply it Right: Achieving the Best Non-Orange Fake Tan
To achieve the best non-orange fake tan, you’ll need to choose the right product for your skin tone and apply it correctly.
The three main tanning products you’ll come across are gradual tan, tanning mousse, and spray tans. Each is applied differently, and each will deliver a slightly different result.
Gradual tan is essentially a body lotion with a built-in bronzed glow. Sound like a dream? It feels and looks like one, too!
These products are super easy to apply and deliver the most subtle colour of all three options. The best part is that gradual tan is a buildable product. This means it’s designed to be used multiple times throughout the week, and the colour will slowly build the more layers you add on.
This means you can control the depth of the tan and therefore easily avoid that deep orange look.
First, follow the preparation instructions above. Then apply the gradual tan by adding a generous amount to your hand or tanning mitt. Gently massage it into the skin. Don’t be shy — cover every surface! This will give you the most natural look.
Gradual tan doesn’t transfer onto clothing, so there’s no need to wash it off. Simply let it dry and you’re good to go! Your gradual tan will develop over the next 24 hours or so.
To deepen the colour, apply another coat every other day until you’ve achieved your desired colour.
Tanning mousse delivers a more immediate, deep tan. The trick with tanning mousse is to go lightly — your colour will develop over several hours, so don’t be fooled into adding multiple layers at once.
Squeeze the mousse onto a tanning mitt and apply it to the body in smooth, circular motions.
Top tip: to avoid orange patches, go light on the ankles, elbows, knees, knuckles, and nose. These areas are the most absorbent and will darken quickly.
The more mousse you apply, the deeper the tan will be. Similarly, the longer you leave it on, the darker it will develop.
Wash off after about an hour and a half for a lighter glow, or sleep in it overnight for the darkest tan.
A good rule of thumb is the lighter, the better — especially if you’re a beginner. Much like with the mousse, give your tan some time to develop before considering another layer. This will minimise the risk of going too dark too soon and coming out carrot-like.
Keep the spray gun 20 to 30cm away from your body and spray in a downwards motion (from your thighs to your calves, then to your feet). Use slow, steady, and controlled sweeps to avoid streaking.
As with the tanning mousse, apply only a small amount to those super absorbent areas.
Depending on how dark you want your tan, you can wash it off within the hour or keep it on overnight. Check in with your tan every hour and remember — you can always add another layer, but you can’t take a layer off!
How to Get Rid of Orange Tan
As we know, the best way to avoid an orange tan is to use the right formula, product, and preparation and application techniques.
However, if you do find yourself looking like a tall drink of orange juice, there are a few things you can do to tone down the colour.
These home remedies will help to lighten particularly orange patches.
Oil Up – Yep, oil works wonders. Apply baby oil or coconut oil to the affected areas and let it soak into the skin for about half an hour. Then, take a bath or shower and gently exfoliate. The oil will help to loosen the skin cells that have absorbed the tan.
- Bi-Carb and Baking Soda – This is ideal if you’re orange all over. Mix up two tablespoons of baking or bi-carb soda with warm water (this will create a paste, not entirely unlike Ross’s paste pants in Friends). Apply the paste to the affected areas and leave it on for 20 minutes or so, before rinsing it off in the shower. You can exfoliate at this point as well.
- Lemon Juice – The acidity within lemons works wonders for lightening fake tan. Apply lemon juice to the affected areas, or add slices of lemon to your bath water and soak away. It can be helpful to rub lemon on your hands if you have those all-too-common orange palms.
- Vinegar – The same acidic theory applies to vinegar. Dip a cotton ball in vinegar and dab onto the orange areas of the skin. This will help to dissolve the fake tan. Just make sure you rinse it off after two minutes or so.
Toothpaste – This sounds a little crazy, but go with it. Toothpaste is particularly useful when your fingers and toes are looking a little orange. Rub some toothpaste onto these areas and leave it on for 15 minutes to half an hour. This will help to remove any staining.
- Exfoliate – It’s time to bring out your Tasmanian Sand Scrub again. Exfoliating helps to sweep away the cells from the skin’s outer layer. The tan only penetrates these outer skin cells, so once they’re gone, so is the tan. Exfoliate gently on particularly dark areas to create a more even look.
If all else fails, your best bet is to remove the tan and start again. This means a big ol’ exfoliating and soaking session.
Make sure you give your skin some much-needed love after all that scrubbing by lathering up with some hydrating, soothing moisturiser.
Bronze it Up
Now that you know how to achieve the very best, non-range fake tan, it’s time to get your glow on.
For new-timers, we generally recommend opting for the gradual tanning lotion. It’s designed to prevent the orange look you’re fearing, so you can apply it worry-free.
For our seasoned pros, we know a good tanning mousse or spray is a go-to. Just remember to give your skin some love beforehand and go lightly!