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  5. How To Remove Tan From Your Face and Skin?

Vacation is fun, until you realize your skin has turned two shades darker due to suntan! Don’t you worry, because there are effective methods to get rid of tanned skin. With the right skin care approach, you no longer have to worry about stepping out on the beach.

The first step before starting any skincare regimen is understanding your skin and the science behind your individual concerns. So let’s look at all the causes, types and treatments for tanning.

1. 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.

Areas Prone To Tan

  • Face
  • Arms
  • Hands
  • Legs
  • Feet
  • Back
  • Neck

2. Causes of Tan

The solar spectrum (sunlight) consists of UV (ultraviolet) rays at three wavelengths -

  • UV A
  • UV B
  • 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), which further darkens due to oxidation and causes tanning.[1]

3. Types Of Tan

There are different types of tan and reactions to the sun based on your skin color.

Skin Color

Reaction to Sun Exposure

Level of Tanning

Pale white

Always burns

No tan

White to light beige

Burns easily

Minimal tan 


Burns moderately

Tans to light brown

Light brown

Burns minimally

Tans to moderate brown

Moderate brown

Rarely burns

Tans to dark brown 

Dark brown or black

Never burns

Tans profusely

4. Tan Removal Treatments

Suntan harms the immune system and can lead to further skin damage and aging. So you must analyze your skin type and fight it with the right tan removal treatments accordingly.

You can try one of these treatments to exfoliate dead skin cells and wash out excess melanin:

A. Laser Toning

A dermatologist uses a laser device to break down the melanin pigment and minimize the tan. Lasers (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) are sources of high-intensity monochromatic coherent light.[2]

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

These are used to remove the superficial dead skin layers that have accumulated excess melanin.

Chemical peels use glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, or carbolic acid (phenol). Based on the intensity, chemical peels are classified as:[3]

  • Superficial peel
  • Medium peel
  • Deep peel

C. Microdermabrasions

Microdermabrasion [4] exfoliates 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:

Crystal Microdermabrasion: Tiny particles are sprayed on your face through a wand.

Diamond-tip Microdermabrasion: Your skin is exfoliated with direct contact by an applicator.

D. Tan Removal Creams:

Most tan removal creams available in the market lighten the upper layers of the skin. A good 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 tan. Licorice, niacinamide, vitamin C, and Kojic acid are some lightening actives that are effective tan removal ingredients. So what exactly are they?

1. Licorice

Licorice root consists of glabridin and liquiritin, which helps with 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 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.

4. Niacinamide

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.

G. Home Remedies:

1. Lemon Juice and Honey:

Lemon juice has a bleaching property that is effective in removing suntan. 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.

Note: 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 to get rid of sun tan. 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 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. Other Natural Ingredients to Get Rid of Tan:

  • Tomato and yogurt
  • Orange juice and yogurt
  • Oatmeal and buttermilk
  • Potato juice
  • Aloe vera
  • Ice cubes
  • Bitter gourd
  • Multani mitti

5. How to Prevent Sun Tanning?

  • Cover yourself fully while going out during the day.
  • Use hats, sunglasses, stoles, etc.[6]
  • Avoid going outdoors during peak hours of sunlight (10 am to 2 pm)

The above preventive measures are not scientifically proven. But people have been holding a firm belief in them for ages.

6. 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, depending on the intensity of the tan.

Is Tanning a Sign of Skin Damage?

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.[8]

7. Skincare Routine to Remove Tan

A good skincare routine can go a long way in tan removal and keeping the skin healthy. The best way to go about it is by knowing your skin. The following skin care for tanned skin is a simple three-step process to repair and renew your skin.

Skin Care Product

What It Does

Ideal Properties


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, non-occlusive, should not clog your pores

Skin lightening serum

Removes tan, lightens the skin and improves overall skin complexion.

Must remove the tan from within 


Your skin is unique. So should your skincare be. SkinKraft customized skincare customizes your skincare regimen based on a unique SkinID™ questionnaire.

Based on your responses, SkinKraft recommends:

  • Your customized cleanser
  • Your customized moisturizer
  • Your active to treat tan

Looking for skincare that suits your skin and removes your stubborn tan? Switch to customized skincare today.

Begin by knowing your skin