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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 the tanned skin.

With the right skin care approach, you no longer have to worry about stepping out on the beach.

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

Causes of Skin Tan

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

1. UV A

2. UV B

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. [1]

Types Of Tan

There are different types of skin 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

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. 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 skin 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

This kind of tan removal treatment is used to remove the superficial dead skin layers that have accumulated excess melanin. [3]

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

woman relaxing in a spa bed

C. Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion [4] 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:

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 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?

1. Licorice

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.

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

The following skin lightening home remedies are being used by people since ages, but do not contain any scientific proofs.

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.

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 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.

papaya oil with papaya

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.

Other Natural Ingredients For Tan Removal

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

How To Prevent Sun Tanning?[6]

  • 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)

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.

Skincare 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, 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

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:

1. Your customized cleanser

2. Your customized moisturizer

3. Your active to treat tan

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

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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