Ask Grace: How Can I Stop My Tan From Going Patchy?

Hi Grace, 

It’s nearly summer and I still haven’t worked out how to get the perfect tan. Mine always ends up patchy and I don’t know what I should be doing. I’ve heard about different tanning routines, but I don’t know where to start with mine. Help!! 


Like all things in beauty, tanning really isn’t actually as simple as it looks. Ideally you want to aim for a tan that fades gradually and evenly, which is easier said than done, Patchiness occurs when tan fades unevenly, which can be caused by not properly preparing skin for tan and by not maintaining tan correctly once it’s been applied. 

Start by cleansing and exfoliating skin 12-24 hours before you tan. Tan often settles in areas where skin is dry so the rougher texture causes tan to look patchy. Use a scrub or exfoliating glove to buff dry and rough areas.  

When you apply your tan, always use a tanning mitt for the smoothest application and a seamless blend. Ensure that you apply tan evenly across your body and don’t be tempted to apply multiple layers, since this can also contribute to patchiness. Once applied, check for any darker areas and blot over them with your mitt to lift excess product. 

If tan still develops with patchiness, use an exfoliator to buff away any too-dark spots. To avoid over-exfoliating and removing tan altogether, avoid scrubs and instead soak a cotton pad in a gentle acid-based toner and lightly wipe until tan begins to fade. Don’t be tempted to darken light patches with more tan – this will results in an even more uneven effect as time progresses. 

It’s important to keep on top of dry skin once your tan is on. Even if you don’t consider your skin to be overly dry, moisturising daily will help to maintain your tan for longer. 

One of the most common causes of patchy tan is when people apply more tan before the first layer has had chance to properly fade. If you’re ready to top up your tan, don’t be tempted to just apply more tan over the existing tan. Make sure you remove the first layer first (with exfoliation or a tan removal product) then begin the process from scratch. 

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