Spray Tan Turned Green? Here’s Why

Fake tan got you more ‘green goblin’ than ‘bronzed goddess?’

Here’s why it happened and what to do now.

In this article:

  1. Why fake tan goes green

  2. Does green fake tan wash off?

  3. How to fix a green spray tan

  4. Can I wear a fake tan that’s gone green?

Why fake tan can turn green

We’ve all heard of that friend of a friend whose spray tan turned her Shrek-like the night before prom. Either that or you have experienced green underarms or random spots of green straight after a spray tan, so let us explain why your spray tan turned green.

Any spray tan brand can turn green, and the reason it does so is that it has oxidised.

“Oxidation occurs due to heat or air exposure.”

For instance, not placing the lid on the bottle correctly, or perhaps you have left your tan in a warm room or next to the radiator.

So, will your green spray tan or self-applied fake tan turn brown? Read on for more information on why this has happened.

In a Nutshell: How to prevent your spray tan from going green

It’s infrequent for a spray tan to turn green, and the problem usually lies with just how green you look. If your body is entirely green or green-tinged, the problem lies in the tanning salon’s fake tan.

However, if you only have specific areas that are green such as your armpits, your face, or small patches, it is because you have not appropriately prepped for your spray tan.

  • Sweat turns green after tanning; use a large quality (fluffy) fan brush to dust talc over inner elbows, under breasts and underarms.
  • Shower off all your deodorant and perfume: How to prepare for a spray tan
  • Don’t moisturise or wear body oils
  • Don’t wear clothes that will cause sweating, e.g. no jeans or leggings: What to wear after a spray tan.
  • Ensure you wash all soap, shower or shaving gel off your skin before spray tanning
  • Ask your spray tanning salon where and how they keep their solution
  • Go to a busy spray tanning salon or beauty salon as this will mean they renew their stock often, and it won’t be out of date

Help, I’m Green All Over!

Are you imagining it? Are your eyes playing tricks on you? Are you more olive than Bondi brown? For example, if you have a green tinge to your skin after a spray tan or applying a bottle of false tan, the tanning salon or shop hasn’t stored their spray tan solution correctly.

Spray tan solution needs to be kept in a cool dark place and must be used within six months of purchase; otherwise, it will go off.

Spray tan goes out of date due to ‘oxidisation’. Oxidisation is the gain of oxygen to a substance, resulting in a greenish spray tan that won’t make you as brown.

An interesting fact about fake tans is that they all have different base colour ingredients such as blue, red, violet, caramel or green-based tones.

Most tans are red and green-based. Red is the first colour to degrade, and when the red goes, green is the only colour leftover, and hey Presto, or should I say ‘pesto’, that’s why you look like a sci-fi character!

Some tans do have a slight olive tinge when the initial spray tanning begins, but by the time the body is complete, our client looks brown.

This happens with our Vita Liberata or Moroccan Express spray tan, and the reason for this is it turns you brown very fast, which means they need to neutralise ANY potential orange tones with olive undertones.

However, once our client has been thoroughly sprayed, they become a gorgeous caramel brown colour.

Our advice if this happens to you

Just leave it to develop. Green fake tan usually washes off in the morning to a brown colour; however, it’s a bit worrying and embarrassing. To prevent this from happening in future, you could ask your therapist where and how they store their tan.

In a busy beauty salon or spray tan studio, it will be unlikely that they will have an out-of-date solution, but a quieter salon that doesn’t perform many spray tans may have had their tan spray stock for a good while, which means it could be past its shelf date.

Green lady after spray tan
Maybe this trend could catch on.

Green in Certain Areas After Tanning

If your underarms have turned green, it’s because your deodorant or antiperspirant hasn’t been washed off properly.

Products like deodorants, moisturisers, perfumes and make-up cause a reaction with spray tans, and instantly it turns green.

Fortunately, this will wash off the next day, and it won’t affect the final colour of your spray tan.

Before a spray tan, it’s best not to moisturise at all, as you could risk going green. Moisturiser will also create a barrier on your skin, which means the spray tan might not take very well, making your final colour lighter than expected.

Make sure you go to a good spray tanning salon or beauty salon that will apply the appropriate amount of barrier cream to your dry areas, such as your knees and elbows.

Sometimes after a shower, especially if you have dry patches on your skin, shower gel might not budge. This will result in a green reaction in the area where the shower gel or soap hasn’t washed off. To prevent this from happening, make sure you rinse your body thoroughly before your spray tanning session.

Does green fake tan wash off?

In most cases, yes, the green fake tan will wash off, especially if it is just green because you had deodorant or moisturiser on (see above).
If the false tan is off, however, and you are entirely green, once you’ve washed it off, the green sci-fi look usually goes down the drain, and you will be left with a brown tan.

Thankfully you have gotten rid of your Gamora green, and you’ve been left with a brown tan. The reason fake tan goes green is that it’s gone past its sell date, and also, for this reason, that means the DHA ingredient has lost some strength. DHA is the simple carbohydrate inside fake tan bottles that turns you brown. So if your sunless tanner has gone green, this may mean you might not get just as brown as you usually get.

How to fix a green spray tan 

If you read the above, you will know which problem you have. For example, if your tan has green patches where you have put moisturiser, deodorant, sweat or perfumes on, leave your spray tan on your skin. If the spray tan has gone off and you are entirely green, it is unlikely that you won’t be left brown when you wash it off.

  • keep your tan in the fridge
  • Buy tan from a busy, popular shop to guarantee that their products have a quick sale turnover before their sell-by date is up.
  • Bin your bottled tan if it’s over six months old

Can I wear a fake tan that’s gone green?

There’s the tiniest risk of it turning brown/olive toned in the morning, but in my experience, it usually goes brown. However, if you feel extra cautious, test a bit out on your back and see if it washes off to brown in the morning!

If you’re wondering how long fake tan bottles last once opened, the answer is usually six months to 1 year. The best way to make your false tan bottle last is to store them in the fridge or a dark and cool cupboard.