How To Apply & Remove Self-Tanner Safely, So Your Skin Doesn't End Up Super Splotchy

As a self-proclaimed self-tanning addict, I know a thing or two about the anxieties that come with tanning yourself. Before becoming really familiar with the self-tanners that worked best for me, my two main concerns were 1) "Will I look orange?" and 2) "Will I get streaks?" Thankfully, I now have my weekly self-tanning applications down to a science. But I still find myself wondering how to remove self-tanner safely — you know, so it fades evenly, without looking like a splotchy mess that takes forever to fade on its own?

While there are a lot of at-home tips and tricks out there on the internet, we can't always be sure that these ways are 100 percent safe and OK for your skin. So, I went straight to the experts and enlisted the help of Jules Von Hep, celebrity spray tanner and co-founder of Isle of Paradise, to find out exactly how to remove self-tanner to avoid that all-too-common cracked, splotchy post-self-tanner skin.

Apply a clear self-tanner in the morning.

First things first. According to Von Hep, if a splotchy tan is one of your biggest concerns, you should use a self-tanner that goes on clear and apply it in the morning.

"If you’re nervous about splotches and streaks I recommend tanning in the day time. Use a product that doesn’t contain guide color and check your skin on the hour, every hour. ([By] hovering a phone over your skin, you can see any streaks forming using the HD lens.)" says Von Hep. "You’ll soon see any areas you might have missed, and while the tan is still developing you can add a touch more to the areas you may have missed or blend using a dry face cloth."

Clear self-tanners, like Isle of Paradise's Self-Tanning Waters ($28, Sephora), may not look like the self-tanners you're used to slathering on, but their clear, water-based formula makes application a breeze and, well, a lot less messy.

Make sure your skin stays hydrated.

In the days following the tan application, Von Hep suggests staying hydrated inside and out as a way to prevent the tan from fading unevenly.

"Ensure the tan is hydrated by moisturizing with an aloe vera rich body butter and drink plenty of water — this will prevent the tan from 'cracking,'" he says.

Start exfoliating the tan four days after application.

If you haven't gathered by now, building and maintaining bronzed skin really is an art form, as is the timing for when you should start to remove the tan. To help your tan to fade evenly, Von Hep says you should begin exfoliating your skin using a gentle exfoliating body wash a few days after the initial application.

'Tease the tan off the skin after four days using an exfoliating body wash," he says. "This won’t strip the tan; it will just take the very top layer off, so it will minimize the chance of any patchiness."

Use a legitimate tan remover when you want to remove your self-tanner.

OK, so, when I heard that Ashley Graham uses windex to remove self-tanner, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about trying it myself. But, again, as someone who uses self-tanner at least once a week, I knew that using the chemical-filled cleaning solution on my skin is far from safe and would most likely cause my skin to freak out sooner or later — and that's at the very least.

Naturally, though, Von Hep understands the self-tanning woes we all face and developed Isle of Paradise's Over It Spray ($27, Sephora). "The glycolic micellar [water-infused] tan remover strips off old tan and creates a uniform base for the tan to be applied onto," he says. So now, anyone using Windex can retire that method and only bring it out for cleaning windows and mirrors.

To use the spray, Von Hep advises that you "spray onto the skin, allow a lather to form when rubbing in and leave for five minutes. [Then] shower using exfoliating gloves." And voila! The tan is safely and evenly removed — no harsh chemicals necessary.

Give your skin a break.

For those self-tanning regulars out there, as a general rule, Von Hep suggests applying self-tanner only once a week, and perhaps even longer in between sessions if the tan is super dark. "The darker the tan, the longer it will last on the skin," he says.

When your skin is in need of a breather, however, and you still want to look bronzed, take a break from applying your normal self-tanner for two weeks, and instead, use Isle of Paradise's Disco Tan Instant Wash-Off Body Bronzer ($22, Sephora). "This will give you the illusion that you are tan, whilst giving your skin a break during this time," says Von Hep.