Vacation is fun, until you realize your skin has turned two shades darker due to suntan! Isn't it? But don't you worry, because there are effective methods to get rid of the tanned skin.
With the right skin care approach, you no longer have to worry about stepping out on the beach. Let's dig in to know more.
What Expert Says
“Ingredients like arbutin, niacinamide, licorice extract and grape seed extract can help in reducing skin tan.”
Dr. Harish Koutam, Chief Dermatologist, SkinKraft
What is Tanning?
Tanning is the process of melanin (skin pigment) increase caused by exposure to sunlight. This is the body's natural way of shielding the skin from sun damage.
Your body releases melanin just under your skin’s surface when exposed to harsh sunlight. This helps to absorb the radiation from UV rays. So the higher the UV rays exposure, the higher the pigmentation, and the darker the tan.
Areas prone to tan:
Causes of Skin Tan
The solar spectrum (sunlight) consists of UV (ultraviolet) rays at three wavelengths
1. UV A
These rays are said to be the most dangerous element responsible for causing skin tan. The UVA rays penetrate the deeper layers of your skin, thus damaging the cells. Melanocytes cells release melanin which causes the brown, dark colour of your skin.
2. UV B
UVB rays usually harm the upper layers of your skin. Exposure to these rats surges in summer and lessens during the winter. Unlike UVA rays, UVB doesn't trigger melanocytes. However, it induces damage to DNA that further boosts the production of melanin.
3. UV C
When UVA rays penetrate the layers of the skin, they signal the melanocytes (skin’s cells) to produce excess melanin (skin-darkening pigment). This further darkens due to oxidation and causes skin tanning. 
Types Of Tan
There are different types of skin tan and reactions to the sun based on your skin color.
Reaction To Sun Exposure
Level Of Tanning
White to light beige
Tans to light brown
Tans to moderate brown
Tans to dark brown
Dark brown or black
Tan Removal Treatments
Suntan harms the immune system and can lead to further skin damage and aging. So you must fight it with the right tan removal treatments. “Ingredients like arbutin, niacinamide, licorice extract, grape seed extract can help in reducing skin tan,” says Dr. Harish Koutam, Chief Dermatologist at SkinKraft.
A. Laser Toning
A dermatologist uses a laser device to break down the melanin pigment and minimize skin tan. Lasers (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) are sources of high-intensity monochromatic coherent light. 
When used on the skin, this light energy converts into heat energy to target a specific chromophore (skin pigment-melanin) without harming the surrounding tissue. They penetrate the deeper layers of the skin to get rid of the excess melanin.
B. Chemical Peels
Chemical peels use glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid or carbolic acid (phenol). Based on the intensity, chemical peels are classified as:
1. Superficial peel
2. Medium peel
3. Deep peel
Microdermabrasion  is a tan removal treatment to exfoliate the dead skin cells that contain excess accumulated melanin pigment. It promotes new cells to regenerate more quickly than they would ordinarily. The result - skin that looks firmer, more toned and more youthful. There are two methods:
Tiny particles are sprayed on your face through a wand.
Your skin is exfoliated with direct contact by an applicator.
D. Tan Removal Creams
Most tan removal creams available in the market lightens the upper layers of the skin. A good face tan removal cream or serum penetrates the deeper layers of the skin to inhibit the enzymatic activities that cause melanin production.
E. Lightening Actives
Lightening actives are chemical ingredients that promote skin lightening by fighting tanned skin. Licorice, niacinamide, vitamin C, and Kojic acid are some lightening actives that are effective face tan removal treatments. So what exactly are they?
Licorice root consists of glabridin and liquiritin, which helps with skin tanning issues.
2. Vitamin C
The enzyme tyrosinase aids in melanin production in the skin. Vitamin C works as a tyrosinase inhibitor, thereby reducing melanin and skin tanning.
3. Kojic Acid
Kojic acid is derived from a mushroom-like fungus produced during fermentation. It prohibits the production of melanin and penetrates the upper layers of the skin, causing a lightening effect. 
Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, can be used to remove tan and lighten the skin. It is effective as it decreases the amount of melanin transferred by pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) to the surface by more than half.
F. Face Pack
wax, face wash: De-tan face packs help in the removal of tanned skin cells accumulated in your body after exposure to the sun’s UV rays. They don't make the skin fairer, but help make the skin even-toned.
These treatments contain natural ingredients like papaya, lemon, and tomato or chemical ingredients like lactic acid, niacinamide, willow bark extract, etc. They help in lightening the upper layers of the skin.
An effective technique, gentle exfoliation helps in removing the pigmented dead skin cells from your skin’s surface. This results in a clearer, even skin tone, thus reducing the appearance of a tan.
People with sensitive skin can opt for chemical exfoliation techniques that involve chemicals such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids that dissolve dead skin cells. While those with oily skin may go for mechanical exfoliation methods that involve using brushes or sponges to clear off dead skin cells.
Make sure to exfoliate gently. Over-exfoliating can turn your skin red, cause dark spots, and lead to breakouts
Bleaching is an effective and instant tan removal solution. It helps to remove the dead skin cells, hydrates the skin, and lightens the skin tone. When you rinse off the bleaching cream, the upper layer of your skin is exfoliated, which makes it look visibly bright and glowing.
However, do not do regular bleaching as the chemical ingredients in it might harm your skin.
I. Home Remedies
The following skin lightening home remedies are been used by people since ages, but do not contain any scientific proof.
1. Lemon juice and Honey
Lemon juice is considered an old and effective method to remove tan. Lemon juice has a bleaching property that helps to remove tan from skin. Honey keeps the skin soft and supple. Take one tablespoon of lemon juice and add some honey to it. Apply it to your skin and keep it for half an hour. Wash it off.
Lemon juice has to be applied in a diluted form and must be washed if used topically. Stepping out in the sun with lemon or other citrus fruits on your skin can cause irritation. Also, in case of irritation, usage needs to be discontinued.
2. Turmeric and Bengal Gram Face Pack
This is our Indian grandmothers’ tip on how to remove tan from face and skin. Mix a tablespoon of bengal gram powder with a teaspoon of turmeric, some lemon juice and curd to form a thick paste. Apply on the face and neck, leave it on for half an hour and wash it off. All the ingredients are natural, de-tanning ingredients.
3. Papaya and Honey
Papaya is a common de-tan home remedy. It contains papain enzyme, known to lighten the skin while honey helps to keep the skin supple. Mash a handful of papaya with honey and apply it on the face. Leave it on for 20 min and wash it off.
4. Potato Juice
The juice extracted from potatoes is a powerful bleaching agent. It can lighten sun tan as well as your dark circles. Peel off the skin of a potato and grind it in a blender. Apply it on tanned areas of your face and leave it for 15 minutes. Wash it off with cold water.
5. Coconut Milk
Highly nourishing and hydrating for the skin, coconut milk restores the lost moisture. Its vitamin C content and mild acids help in removing tan. Soak a cotton ball in fresh coconut milk and apply it all over your face. Leave it dry completely and later wash off using a mild cleanser.
6. Saffron and Milk
Saffron contains skin-soothing and lightening properties that make it an effective ingredient for removing tan. It contains bioactive compounds that protect skin from harmful UV rays, thus, reversing the effects of tan. Soak a few strands of saffron in milk/cream, strain it after two hours, and apply it to the tanned area. Wash off with water after 10-15 minutes.
7. Oatmeal and Buttermilk
Oatmeal has great exfoliating properties while buttermilk, rich in lactic acid, removes tan, and improves skin tone. Soak 2 teaspoons of oats or oatmeal in ½ cup of water and keep it for 5 minutes. Add 2-3 teaspoons of butter to it. Mix them well till i5 forms a paste. Apply it to the tanned areas and rub it gently. Keep it for 20 minutes and wash it off later.
Other Natural Ingredients For Tan Removal are:
- Tomato and yogurt
- Orange juice and yogurt
- Aloe vera
- Ice cubes
- Bitter gourd
- Multani mitti
How To Prevent Sun Tanning?
- Cover yourself fully while going out during the day.
- Use hats, sunglasses, stoles, etc.
- Avoid going outdoors during peak hours of sunlight (10 am to 2 pm)
- Apply sunscreen before stepping out and reapply it every two hours. 
- Stay hydrated. Drink at least 15-20 glasses of water a day during summers to prevent your skin from getting dehydrated. Eat healthy fibre-rich foods like green fruits and vegetables.
- If you regularly spend time exposed to the sun or inside the swimming pool often, make sure you apply protection creams every 20 minutes.
- Choose sun-friendly cosmetics. Apply a moisturizer during the day. Instead of using cream-based makeup, choose mineral-based ingredients.
- Wash your face at least twice daily.
- Consume healthy, fibre-rich foods like vegetables and fruits to boost your skin’s immunity and prevent sun damage from within.
The above preventive measures are not scientifically proven. But people have been holding a firm belief in them for ages.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tan
Why do I tan so easily?
If you have a darker skin tone (more melanin), you tend to tan easily. The melanin (brown pigment) containing melanocytes spread out across the sun-exposed skin to cover and protect the skin from more damage.
How long does it take for a tan to go away?
It takes 1-4 weeks for the suntan to fade away with the right skin tan removal treatment, depending on the intensity of the tan.
Is skin tanning a sign of skin damage?
Skin tanning increases the risk of exposure to harmful sun rays, which in turn may lead to skin cancer. It is a myth that tan shields your skin from sunburn or other skin damage.
While most dermatologists recommend a minimum of SPF 15 for skin protection, tanned skin provides a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of only about 2 to 4.
Skincare Routine To Remove Tan
A good skincare routine can go a long way in tan removal and keeping the skin healthy. The following skin care for tanned skin is a simple three-step process to repair and renew your skin.
What it does
Washes away the dirt, dust, excess oils and makeup residue
Gentle, deep cleansing action
Repairs and maintains the skin barrier by offering hydration
Non-greasy, should not clog your pores
Skin lightening serum
Removes tan, lightens the skin and improves overall skin complexion
Must remove the tan from the skin’s inner surface
The first and best way to get rid of a tan is to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays. A tan usually fades away on its own as your skin naturally sheds the tanned skin cells and replaces them with new cells. However, if you want to lighten its appearance, you can go for treatments, tan removal creams, or easy home remedies. Besides these, make sure to eat nutritious, healthy foods and follow a proper skincare routine to keep your skin healthy and glowing.
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