Change the color of your arms in 3 Steps

By Sharon R. Lee

The weather is getting warmer, and if you're like me, you've been dreaming of wearing your favorite tank top with spaghetti straps.

But then I realized that my arms are pale and freckled in a very un-tank-top-like way. (I'm Irish!)

So instead of going outside to get some sun on my arms, I decided to try editing photos of them to look tan instead. Here's how:

Step 1: Get a little sun (but not too much)

The first step is to get a little sun (but not too much). Sun exposure is important for skin health, but you don't want to go overboard: the National Institutes of Health recommends no more than 15 minutes of direct sunlight per day.

I recommend doing this after you've washed your face and before applying any moisturizers or lotions. If you're worried about getting burned, wear sunglasses and keep an eye on your watch—you'll have plenty of time left when the minutes are up!

If you're especially fair-skinned, I recommend staying out for 7 or 8 minutes max; if you aren't worried about tanning at all, try for 10–12 minutes instead. Just remember that even a few minutes can make a difference in how dark your arms look!

Step 2: Edit photos of your arms to look tan

Use a photo editor to change the color of your arms. The best option is Photoshop, but if you don't want to pay for it, then GIMP or Paint.NET will work. If you're using Photoshop or GIMP, download this photo as a reference: [reference link]

  • Open up the image in your chosen editor (Photoshop) and zoom in on your arm so that it fills most of the screen (see below). Then use any tool that allows you to select colors—the eyedropper tool is easiest because it automatically selects colors based on what's under its crosshairs—and click somewhere on your arm to create an initial selection of skin tone (see above).

  • Next use either the paint bucket tool or bucket fill command (Add > Fill) with white as its default color; this should fill all parts not selected by our initial selection from step 1 above with that same skin tone color we picked earlier (see below).

Step 3: Selectively apply makeup to make it look like you're wearing a tank top with spaghetti straps

Now that you've darkened the skin on your arms, it's time to take it a step further and make it look like you're wearing a tank top with spaghetti straps.

To do this, apply bronzer directly above the armpit area only. This will keep your arms from looking like they belong to someone who's trying out for the lead role in a horror movie (except maybe if that's what you're going for).

Find a shade of bronzer that matches the tone of your natural skin color and use either a brush or makeup sponge, depending on which is most comfortable for you.*

  • Bronzers come in different forms: powders, sticks, creams, gels or mousses. Which is best? It depends on what kind of coverage you want as well as how much time or patience you have since some types can be trickier than others to apply evenly without leaving streaks behind (stick bronzers are generally easier than powders).

If you've always dreamed of being tan but you don't want to go outside in the hot sun, use this tip.

If you've always dreamed of being tan but you don't want to go outside in the hot sun, use this tip.

  • Open an app on your phone that lets you change colors in photos (for example, Adobe Photoshop Express or Pixlr) and select the color tool.

  • Select a light skin tone (a shade lighter than your actual skin color) as a base color, then select the brush tool and paint over all of your arms with this color. Be sure to let the editing software do its job—too much hand-tweaking will cause pixelation and other imperfections!

  • Use another photo editor app like PicsArt or Afterlight to add some fun filters and effects if desired—you can even make it look as though there are spaghetti straps holding up your tank top!


We hope this post helped you get a little bit more tan. You probably won't be able to fool your friends and family into thinking that you actually went outside in the sun, but it's a good way to make yourself feel better about things.

The best thing about this technique is that it doesn't take much effort at all—just a few simple steps!

Sharon R. Lee

About the author

Hi There! I'm Lee. Welcome to A Pretty Fix, a home DIY blog about making your home colorful, decorating, and helping colors ideas and fun. Here you'll find ideas, tips, and inspiration to live life more colorfully and beautifully. Hope you stick around!

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