Why is My Self Tanner Green? (And What Can You Do?)

green self tanner

I’m sure everybody reading this has experienced, or knows someone who has experience, an alarming green color on their skin after applying self-tanner. So, you probably want to know, why is my self tanner green?

A green tan can arise if the product is out of date, if it hasn’t been stored correctly, or if you haven’t properly prepared your skin prior to tanning.

Whilst there are ways to avoid your self-tanner going green, by storing products correctly and cleaning your skin thoroughly before application, it’s not always possible to spot the color before it’s on your skin. In this case, you will find yourself asking ‘How do I fix my green fake tan?’

The good news is that green tans are (mostly) easy to fix. The green color should wash off in the shower and the longer lasting, dihydroxyacetone (DHA) based color should continue to develop normally.

Let’s explore why self-tanner turns green, how to prevent it, and how to fix it, below.

Why is My Self Tanner Green?

There are three reasons that your self-tanner is green: it’s past its expiry date, it hasn’t been stored well, or the skin has not been properly prepped for tanning. Let’s have a look at these reasons in more detail.

Expiry Date

The most common reason that self-tanner turns green is because it is past its expiry date. Most products last between six months and a year, so if you have had a bottle hanging around since last summer, it’s probably time to replace it.

The green color in expired fake tan is a result of the other base color components (usually reds) breaking down, and only leaving behind the green base. Green bases are used in fake tans to counteract the orange tones, so are essential when the bottle is fresh. Once the other colors have broken down, however, the green leftover is not so desirable.

Improper Storage

A green color in the self-tanner product itself can be a result of oxidization. This is a process of heat or oxygen in the air reacting with the chemicals in the product, leading to a green color.

Leaving the lid off a bottle of self-tanner, or leaving it out in the sun, will almost certainly lead to a greenish product, so make sure you store your products properly.

If you visit a salon for your spray tans and you are nervous about a green color, you can ask them how they store their products and ask to hear about their hygiene routines to be extra safe. You could also read some online reviews to see if anyone has had a ‘green experience’ though typically that shouldn’t happen.

Lack of Skin Preparation

Before you have a spray tan, whether you visit a salon or use products at home, it is essential to properly prepare your skin. This means washing off all products that you have on first.

The chemicals in self-tanner can react with lotions, deodorants, perfumes, and aerosols. This reaction will result in a green color appearing on your skin immediately after applying the self-tanner.

What Can I Do if My Self Tanner is Green?

Thankfully, in most cases, the green tan will wash away when you have a shower. If you’re in a panic and asking yourself ‘will my green tan turn brown?’ then you can breathe a sigh of relief, because it is likely that it will.

If your tan is green because the product has oxidized or is out of date, and you are green all over, it might seem impossible that a shower will wash it off. Whilst there is a slight risk of an olive color staying behind, the vibrant green will wash off, because it comes mainly from the cosmetic layer of color.

Remember that whilst the DHA will not develop into a green color, meaning that your tan should become brown after you shower off the product, the DHA might have weakened if the product is past its expiry date. This will result in a less deep brown than you were expecting.

If you have green patches from the product reacting with deodorant, perfume, or lotion on the skin, the best thing to do is wash it off with soap. Luckily, it is as simple as that!

How Can I Stop My Self Tanner Going Green?

You’ll be happy to hear that there are some simple solutions to prevent fake tan turning green. If we look at the causes individually, we can find prevention methods for each.

The most obvious solution to stop self-tanner turning green is to make sure you use the product within the time period before the expiration date. Most fake tan products last for between six months and one year, but there should be a specific date on the bottle.

If you have visited a salon and think the spray they used was out of date, you can return to ask them. As I mentioned earlier, this will be rare, especially in busy salons, but it is possible. If they discover that the spray tan they used on you was in fact out of date, they should offer you a freebie as an apology, so it’s worth going back to check.

If you’re keeping bottles of self-tanner at home, make sure you store them correctly to prevent it turning green. Remembering that the green color can be a result of oxidization, it is highly important to keep lids tightly sealed on your bottles, to stop air getting in.

It is also a good idea to store self-tanner in a cool, dark, and dry place. A dark cupboard in your bedroom would be a great option. Stopping the product from overheating will greatly help to increase its lifetime.

Finally, make sure you prepare your skin properly to avoid any green patches arising after using self-tanner. This means washing off any products from your skin (including makeup, deodorant and perfume) prior to applying fake tan.

You should also always exfoliate your skin the day before using self-tanner, to remove any dead skin cells. Whilst you absolutely should keep your skin hydrated with a high-quality lotion after exfoliation, make sure you wash it off before applying the tanning product.

Related Questions

Will My Tan Still Work if It’s Green?

In the majority of cases, yes, your tan will still work if it’s green. The green color should wash off with the cosmetic layer in the shower, and the DHA component should continue to develop, leaving you with a tan.

It is important to remember, however, that if the product has expired, the DHA will be weaker, so the tan may not be as deep as you had hoped for.

How Do You Know if Sunless Tanner is Expired?

You should be able to tell by the color of the product. If the product is green, it’s definitely time to replace the bottle. Expired sunless tanner can also lose all color, if even the green has broken down.

Remember that most self-tanners expire after six months to a year, so even if you don’t see a green color, it’s worth replacing the bottle if it’s been sitting there for a long time.

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