7 tips on how to get rid of the fake tan smell.
Why does fake tan smell?
The distinctive self-tanner scent is caused by DHA (Dihydroxyacetone) which is the main active ingredient in all self-tanners. DHA is derived from plant sources including red beets and sugar cane. The darkness of your product depends on the concentration of DHA in the solution.
In order words, the more DHA, the darker your tan will be.
DHA reacts with the upper layer of your skin and causes the skin to go brown, we explain how fake tan works in this article.
During this reaction, the DHA also reacts with the Amino Acids in your skin which causes the unpleasant tanner smell. This smell comes from the reaction between your skin and the tanner. This means that you won’t notice this scent if you smell a bottle of fake tan, but when you apply the fake tanner to your skin, you will smell it.
This also means that the strength of the smell depends on your personal body chemistry and it varies from person to person!
Can I choose a non-DHA self-tanner?
So, if it’s the DHA that causes the odour, then surely I can just use a DHA-free tanner? The answer to that is, you can, and there are a few brands that exist which can give you a light tan without smelling like a biscuit.
But there are a few caveats you should know about.
The colour isn’t as deep as DHA-based tanners and its likely that it won’t last as long.
Furthermore, your choice of DHA-free tanners is much more limited than their DHA-based counterparts and tend to be a little more expensive.
So, if you want to stick to DHA-based fake tan, there are still some tricks you can use to reduce or even completely eliminate the DHA smell.
7 tips on how to avoid the fake tan smell
1. Use scented self-tanners
There are a huge number of tanners on the market which have fragrances or scents added to them to mask the smell. This is a great way to cover up the smell of the tanner whilst the colour guide is developing.
However, you’ll find that once you take a shower, the fragrance is washed off, but the tanner smell remains. You will still need to use one of our other tips listed below once you’ve taken the shower.
Users with sensitive skin should also be careful. A lot of artificial fragrances can irritate sensitive skin so keep that in mind when choosing your product. If you're having trouble knowing what fake tanner is right for you then take our free quiz by clicking the button below. We'll send you a free personalised booklet with tanning tips and ingredients to look out for based on your individual skin.
2. Apply perfumes and other scented products
Once your fake tanning product has dried on your skin, you can apply a perfume or other scented product. These perfumes won’t get rid of the smell, but they are great at covering it up.
If you are applying a spray-on perfume, it is recommended that you spray a cloud and walk through it.
Don't spray directly onto the skin. The area where the perfume hits the skin can go white. Alternatively, you can spray it on hair, clothing, or bedding. Just be careful not to stain your fabrics.
You can also use a scented bodywash when you shower off after the tan, it's a well-known fact that citrus scents work particularly well. Vanilla can work well too. Just make sure that the water isn’t too warm, so the tan doesn’t run off too much.
3. Shower sooner
The longer the DHA stays on your skin, the stronger the scent will get. If you really don’t want a strong scent, then you can consider washing the colour guide off a little sooner. It will mean you tan will be lighter, but for some people it's worth the sacrifice!
We explain how long you should wait before showering off a self-tanning colour guide in this article.
4. Exfoliate before self-tanning
Ok, so this tip won’t itself get rid of the fake tan smell. But it allows you to do something which will help stop the tanner odour.
When you apply the fake tanner, the DHA is absorbed by your skin, whether dead skin or normal skin. Therefore, you shouldn’t vigorously scrub after tanning, because it will lift some of the dead skin cells covered by the tan which will make your tan go patchy.
But if you manage to exfoliate before tanning, this means the dead skin cells are already exfoliated before application and the tanner will absorb deeper into your skin.
The result? When you shower after your tan, you can scrub more deeply to get that DHA smell off.
5. Dust some baby powder onto the skin
After applying the fake tan, dust some baby powder onto your skin. This helps absorb the odour and so reduce its potency. Also, dusting baby powder onto creased areas (Armpits, elbows, knees) helps to keep the colour more uniform.
6. Choose a product with lower DHA
As DHA is the main cause of that distinct tanning odour, it makes sense that less DHA on your skin means less smell.
So, if you really want to avoid the smell then consider dropping down to a product with less DHA. It will mean sacrificing a bit of colour, but sometimes it's worth it!
Unsure on what tone to select for your skin? We wrote an article on this here. In the article you'll find a table which will help you select the right tanner for your skin type.
7. Wash with a deodorising bar of soap
One of the main reasons the fake tanner smell appears is due to the reaction between the DHA and the amino acids in your skin. The DHA also reacts with bacteria which is found in your sweat.
The role of a deodorising bar of soap is to kill the bacteria on the surface of your skin which stops your sweat smelling. If this bacteria is killed, it also stops the smell resulting from the reaction between bacteria and the DHA.
How to get rid of the fake tan smell from a room
If you apply a lot of fake tan at home, then sometimes that fake tan smell can linger for a while in a particular room. This will usually happen if you have spilled some solution, or some of the excess spray has gone on the floor or your furniture.
No one wants to have that fake tan smell in your room when you have guests round. So we’ve given you some of our best tips to get rid of that smell below.
Spray the room with your favourite scent
Usually, citrus scents are the best to cover up the tanner smell. You should try to spray surfaces and fabrics to help lock in the citrus smell.
Clean the floor with disinfectant
This might seem obvious. But sometimes tiny tanner particles can get into your carpet without you realizing. If the scent is still lingering, then it’s probably because you have some tanning solution hidden in your carpet. Give it a deep clean and you might find the scent is weakened.
Wipe all surfaces with some soap
This is similar to the point listed above, if you have tiny tanner particles on your furniture or tables, then it’s likely to cause the tanner smell to linger in your room.
Put baking soda on your mattress and vacuum it off
If you sleep with the colour guide on, sometimes the solution can get into your mattress. Rubbing in some baking soda on any stained parts of your mattress can help get rid of that smell.
If the baking soda doesn’t work, then try a watered-down vinegar solution. Use one part vinegar to two parts water and rub it into the stained areas.
Leave any objects outside to breathe
The fake tanner smell not only absorbs into your furniture and carpet, but it can absorb into any objects you have around the house.
When you clean your carpet and other surfaces, take some time to put chairs or other large items outside for a day. It can help to get rid of the last bits of fake tanner smell.
The bottom line
The fake tan smell is a necessary evil. It's a by-product of the reaction which causes your skin to darken and so is hard to avoid.
However the tips above should help you reduce the smell and make the application a little more pleasant.
At Unreal we allow you to choose the fragrance for your product. We also make sure that those with sensitive skin don't have artificial fragrances. We explain why artificial fragrances are bad for sensitive skin in this article.
You can find out more by taking our quiz. In return, we'll send you a free personalised tanning booklet with tanning tips tailored to your skin type. Click the button below to take our quiz and receive your free booklet.