Fake tans come in a range of applications and colors, so you can choose the intensity of your tan before it goes on. Yet, if it comes out a little warmer than expected, you can tone it down by choosing your clothing and makeup carefully. With the popularity of fake tans boosted by more awareness of the dangers of overexposure to the sun, many brands have brought out colors that suit very fair skins. These offer a pale golden warmth, rather than a deep mahogany, so choose a lighter-colored formula when maintaining your fake tan and you should be able to gradually fade the warmth out.

Color Wheel

Using a basic color wheel to guide choices can help in changing the look of skin. For makeup and clothing, people often pick opposing colors on the color wheel, called complementary colors. These make each other stand out; for example, red and green look vibrant together. So to highlight a deep tan, you might choose a turquoise bikini because orange and blue are complementary colors. If your tan came out too orange, avoid wearing that turquoise bikini, or any bright blues next to the skin; these will only make the orange look brighter.

Other Colors to Avoid

Following this logic, colors close to each other stand out less when worn together. Yet wearing a lot of orange near an orange fake tan just intensifies the overall hue. So avoid wearing tangerine or coral next to the skin. Similarly, avoid brights that are traditionally worn to accentuate a tan, such as white, tomato red, shrimp, cobalt and neon shades.


You can play down the vibrancy of your fake tan but still wear light summer shades by choosing the right tones. Light neutrals such as beige, pale silver-gray, butter-yellow or cream, tone the overall color down. These are also light and summery, so will not look out of place in the heat. Diaphanous fabrics in these colors allow a tan to come through, but deaden the orange glow. So you could choose a fabric such as cheesecloth, fine linen or chiffon in one of these shades to show off your skin subtly.


Bright lip colors accentuate a tan, but can also make it look more intended rather than an orange accident. Choosing a bright color you like often takes trial and error. A vibrant true-red or hot pink lip color provide summer brightness without actually making your skin color look more orange. Wearing these turns an orange fake tan into a holiday statement look. Avoid plum lips which will clash with a deep tan, or bright orange such as coral or tomato.

For a lip product that plays the color of your tan down, choose a clear lilac-pink, shiny gold or beige. Sheer formulas, such as lip-gloss work even better. If you want to wear cheek color, choose a pale gold that highlights without adding warmth, or a sheer lilac-pink that yields cute rosy cheeks without added heat. As with clothing, bright turquoise or cobalt eye shadow and liner will only emphasize the warmth in a tan, so opt for cool neutrals until your color fades a little.