Does Exfoliating Remove a Tan? Read this BEFORE starting

woman exfoliating legs

If you want to remove a tan you might think exfoliating is something that will help remove the tan but is that true?

Exfoliating will help remove a tan, but it will not completely remove it if the tan is natural. A tan that is created by a spray tan or self-tanner can be more easily removed by exfoliating.

Below we will go into this in more detail, so you know all the important information.

Does Exfoliating Get Rid of Tan?

As we briefly mentioned above exfoliating can help remove or make a tan fade, but this depends a lot on what kind of tan you have. Therefore, it’s important that we break down each of the different kinds of tans and how exfoliating will affect each tan if any.

Natural Tan (sun tan)

The first kind of tan that we want to talk about is a natural tan derived from the sun. When you exfoliate a natural tan it will usually help make the tan fade. It can also help remove the tan completely, but this is usually only the case when the tan itself is more minimal or subtle.

If you have a deeper tan from the sun chances our that exfoliating it will make the tan fade somewhat, but the skin will still have that tanned effect.

That’s because exfoliating helps remove the top layer of your skin. But usually, a deeper tan will embed deeper into the skin than just the surface layer of skin, so simply exfoliating is not enough to remove the tan completely. But it does help speed up and allow your tan to fade and diminish more quickly.

Spray Tan

A tan that has been developed by a spray tan will typically remove more easily than one that is derived from UV light from the sun.

When you exfoliate a tan like this it will remove more easily. Depending on when the tan was applied along with the color it could be removed in 1-2 exfoliating sessions.

This is because a spray tan interacts with just the surface level of the skin so therefore it removes more easily because exfoliation helps remove this surface level of skin quite effectively.


Self-tanner works typically the same as spray tan. This assumes that self-tanner uses DHA which causes a reaction with the skin which makes the skin develop into a darker and more tanned look.

When you exfoliate the skin it helps remove the tan but sometimes it may take multiple exfoliation sessions to remove it completely.

Tanning Bed

A tan that comes from a tanning bed has a similar effect as one that you have developed naturally from the sun.

This means that exfoliating a tan like this will make the tan fade, but it will not likely remove it in 1 exfoliation session. It may need 2 or more sessions to get the tan completely removed. Where you exfoliated will more likely than not cause the tan to fade than remove it completely. If your tan is not too intense and more subtle then 1 exfoliation session may be enough to remove it though this is typically not the case.


A tan that is derived from a bronzer only can be removed easily with exfoliation though it is not needed. When we compare a bronzer to a typical self-tanner. The main difference is that the self-tanner has DHA included usually. The DHA makes the skin develop a darker and more tanned look so when your skin is washed the tan remains.

The difference with bronzer is that it can be washed off when using the shower. You don’t even need to exfoliate the skin to remove it, but you can if you prefer.

Interested Related Questions

Will My Tan Go Away If I Exfoliate?

Exfoliating will usually help fade or remove a tan depending on what kind of tan it is. Exfoliating is more likely to remove a tan from a spray tan or self-tanner and is more likely to fade a tan from sun tanning or a tanning bed.

Will Exfoliating Ruin My Natural Tan?

Exfoliating is more likely to fade a natural tan. If you only do gentle exfoliation it’s unlikely to ruin your natural tan.

Does Exfoliation Lighten Skin?

Exfoliation can lighten skin that has a tan. Because exfoliation will help to remove or fade a tan that has developed. If you don’t have a tan it might slightly appear to lighten the skin.

This is usually because fresh and new skin cells after exfoliation are more likely to be lighter in color than the older surface level skin which may be damaged or wore from the sun or environment.

Which Scrub is Best for Tan Removal?

The more abrasive the scrub the more likely it will be better for removing a tan. From our experience we much preferred this body scrub from OUAI.

We liked it because it’s natural and offers for a more intense exfoliation that really helps remove the surface level skin especially well. It also moisturizes the skin which helps stop the skin from drying out from the exfoliation.

Don’t forget to check our article –  How to Exfoliate Before a Spray Tan.

Scroll to Top