It’s safe to assume that nobody is a fan of a tan resulting from over-exposure to the sun. It’s a different matter if your skin is extremely pale and you manage to tan it naturally and evenly. But in most cases, sun tans are patchy and irregular, causing blemishes and dark spots as a result of skin damage. Prolonged sun damage is usually hard to treat, which is why it is important to try to prevent sun damage from occurring in the first place. Besides causing dark patches and spots, sun damage also leads to premature wrinkles! So slather on some sunscreen, and read this guide on how to remove tan.
Okay, let’s start with a science lesson. It’s common knowledge that the sun is a massive star that is the most important source of energy for life on earth, as it emits light and heat. One of the types of rays emitted by the sun are harmful to our skin and responsible for skin damage, namely Ultraviolet A rays (or UVA). UVA rays penetrate the lower layers of the surface of the skin, which triggers cells to produce melanin. Melanin is the brown pigment that causes tanning and is the body's way of protecting our skin from burning.
In one word- YES! There is no ‘safe’ amount of tanning. If your skin has tanned, it means that harmful UVA rays have already pierced deep into your skin. Why is this harmful? Because this kind of skin damage can lead to major skin ailments like skin cancer in the future. Which is why we need to stress on PREVENTING sun damage before it occurs. If you are exposed to direct sunlight for long hours during the day, you need to take extra precautions to safeguard your skin. Read on to know more.
Long-term skin damage, that has occured over a period of several years, is usually irreversible. However, if you have minor tanning from limited exposure to the sun, there are ways to minimise that tan and try to regain your glowing complexion. You can proceed to treat your tan in two ways:
Home remedies are your best bet if your tan is extremely light and if you don’t want to spend a bomb on products from the market. These ingredients will be readily available in your kitchen and won’t cause any adverse reactions on your skin.
If your tan is severe, there’s only so much that home remedies can do. If you’ve noticed a lot of dark patches and spots on your skin, you need to invest in some good products to treat the tan and protect skin from further sun tanning during summers.
Still wondering how to remove tan naturally! We’ve combined a list of the best home remedies and products that can help you get rid of your tan. Here’s our carefully-curated list:
Since curd is a milk product, it helps moisturise your skin and keep it healthy. Therefore, it is one of the best home remedies to remove tan. It clears dead skin cells (which helps lighten the tan) and makes your pores squeaky clean.
Step 1: If you have oranges at home, peel off the skin and chop them up into tiny pieces.
Step 2: Toss them into a bowl of curd and give it a good mix.
Step 3: Apply it to your skin and let it dry for 10-15 minutes.
Step 4: Wash it off with cold water and pat dry after.
Repeat this once every week for best results
Both ingredients are inexpensive and easily found in your kitchen. Since both turmeric and lemon are known for their brightening properties, when mixed together, you just know that your skin is going to be bright and glowy.
Step 1: In a bowl, add 1½ tablespoon of turmeric.
Step 2: Add a little more than a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Step 3: Mix them well and apply the yellow paste on your face.
Step 4: Leave it to dry for about 5-10 minutes.
Step 5: Wash your face with room temperature water.
Twice a month should be enough for you to achieve desirable results
For a radiant glow and smooth skin, you’ve got to give papaya a shot! Not only is this fruit delicious to eat, it’s also one of the *best* remedies for de-tanning your skin. Honey, with its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties will help soothe and moisturise your skin.
Step 1: Take a ripe papaya and mash it to a pulp.
Step 2: Empty the pulp into a bowl.
Step 3: Drizzle some honey over it and use your fingertips to apply the mask.
Step 4: Leave the paste to dry on your face or affected areas for a good 10-15 minutes.
Step 5: Wipe the mask off using a warm damp towel.
Try this once every two weeks
Lemon is known for its brightening effects, but whoever thought that potatoes could have beauty benefits, right? Apparently, they’re quite effective when it comes to de-tanning.
Step 1: Chop a potato into fine slices
Step 2: Sprinkle lemon juice over the potato slices.
Step 3: Place them on your face, sit back and relax.
Step 4: Take off the slices only after half an hour.
Step 5: Wipe your face using a warm damp napkin.
Doing this twice a month will help your skin regain its bright complexion
This sticky plant-based gel fights wrinkles, fine lines and acts as a healing layer on your skin. It also moisturises and fights acne like a pro! While natural aloe vera gel straight from the plant would be ideal, if you don’t have a plant in your backyard, this affordable gel by Lakme will do the trick. You can either apply it as it is, or add a lemon for added benefits. Try this:
Step 1: Pour some cool aloe gel into a bowl.
Step 2: Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and mix well.
Step 3: Dip your fingers into the gel, and apply it on your face and body.
Step 4: Leave it on for a good 30 minutes.
Step 5: Wash it off with warm water after.
You can use this mixture whenever your skin feels heated and irritated.
POPxo recommends: Lakme 9 to 5 Naturale Aloe Aqua Gel (Rs 200)
Yes, scrub can also be used for tan removal. Infact, a scrub is undoubtedly the best way to rid yourself of a stubborn tan, because the outer tanned skin cells will slowly (but steadily) get exfoliated away over time. Using this scrub by Ponds, which also has brightening properties, will speed up the process! Here’s how you can use it:
Step 1: Squeeze a pea-sized amount of the product onto your fingers
Step 2: Spread it evenly all over your face
Step 3: Gently scrub your face in upward, circular motions, for about 1-2 minutes
Step 4: Leave on the mask for another 2 minutes for added brightening properties
Step 5: Wash it off with lukewarm water
Use this scrub every other day for best results
POPxo recommends: Ponds White Beauty Tan Removal Scrub (Rs 135)
If your tan is severe, home remedies won’t do quite the trick. So amp up your skincare and try this pack specifically formulated for tan removal. Besides the brightening and de-tanning effect, it also helps hydrate, nourish, calm and heal the skin, which is *just* what you need after a severe sun tan! Here’s how you can use this product:
Step 1: Using the back of a spoon or a mask tool (if you have one), scoop enough product out
Step 2: Spread the product evenly all over your face
Step 3: Set a timer, and let the product sit on your face for around 15-20 minutes
Step 4: Wash off the product with lukewarm water
Use this mixture once a week for best results
POPxo recommends: O3+ D-TAN Pack (Rs 1350)
Let’s face it, if your tan is severe, a mixture sitting on your face for 15-20 minutes isn’t going to treat it, no matter how many times you repeat the procedure. For a long term solution to your problem, we suggest using a serum especially targeting your problem. Try this brightening serum from Neutrogena, that also evens out your skin’s texture and prevents signs of anti-aging. Here’s how you can incorporate it into your skincare regime:
Step 1: Wash your face with your usual cleanser and pat it dry
Step 2: Saturate a cotton pad in your daily toner and swipe it across your face for extra hydration and to wipe off any additional grime
Step 3: Now that your face is thoroughly cleansed, add two pumps of the serum to your fingertips and apply it generously on your face and neck
Step 4: Follow it up with your daily moisturiser
You can follow this routine daily, just make sure you only use the serum at night!
POPxo recommends: Neutrogena Fine Fairness Brightening Serum (Rs 849)
DIY masks and face packs can only do so much for you. If you need to rid yourself of a tan asap thanks to an upcoming event, look no further! Formulated with a unique Micropatch Technology, this mask releases brightening actives into the skin. It is a potent mix of scutellaria baicalensis, mulberry, saxifraga sarmentosa and grape, and the consistency is silky and gel-like, which makes it glide over your face. According to many users, you’ll almost notice instant results! How should you use it? Read on:
Step 1: Wash your face with your regular cleanser and pat dry your face
Step 2: Use your fingers to spread an even layer of this mask all over your face and neck
Step 3: Leave it on for 15 minutes, and then wash it off with lukewarm water
Step 4: Follow it up with moisturiser, and sunscreen if you use this in the morning
Use it once a week for best results
POPxo recommends: Kaya Insta Brightening Micro Mask (Rs 1750)
Let’s get one thing straight: a tan is the first sign of skin damage, and is usually symptomatic of a bigger problem. The darkening of your skin is just your body’s reaction to the sun damaging your skin. While it is true that the tan will eventually lighten over time, owing to the new skin cells that will be generated, consistent sun damage over the years might darken your skin permanently.
However, while tans might fade, the damage caused to your skin is likely permanent. Not only does it lower your immunity, making you susceptible to illnesses, it also causes wrinkles, saggy skin and discolouration. Hence, it is always essential to protect your skin from harmful UVA rays. Read the answer to the next question to find out how you can do that.
The first and foremost thing to do when trying to prevent sun damage and tanning of the skin, would be, you guessed it, to avoid going out in the direct sun altogether. Sadly, the sun’s rays are so harmful that prevention is the only thing that will save your skin. Avoid venturing out during peak afternoon - from 12pm to 4pm. If you must be out in the sun, make sure your skin is not directly exposed to it - wear a hat, carry an umbrella or cover your face with a scarf.
Once you are adequately covered and protected from direct sunlight, the next extremely essential step would be to apply a sunscreen with a high SPF, and re-apply it every two hours without fail. The sunscreen can minimise damage caused by the harmful UVA rays, and prevent signs of premature ageing such as wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.
Besides that, make sure you consume extra amounts of water if you’re going out in the sun. This will help prevent your skin from drying up and keep you hydrated.
We know what you’re thinking- is it even *possible* to get rid of a tan in such a short period of time? The answer depends on how severe and recent your tan is. While it is unlikely that you will be able to reverse years of damage overnight, if you just want to undo the last few hours you spent at the beach before a big event the next day, then yes, that is entirely possible. Most DIY face masks usually do the trick for light tanning, so here’s a list of some of our favourites
1. Rub a tomato all over the affected area and leave it on overnight. Tomato has natural acids, which help to gently exfoliate the dead cells from the skin, revealing a newer, tan-free layer.
2. Take half a cucumber, slice it, and toss it into the blender. Add the juice of one lemon, and blend the two together. Now, apply this pulp to the affected area and leave it on overnight. The brightening properties of the lemon and the cooling properties of the cucumber will put you straight on the road to recovery!
3. Thinly slice some potatoes and place them all over the affected area. Potatoes have lightening properties. It would help even more if the potato was earlier stored in the fridge, as the cooling sensation will calm your skin.
The bottom line is: the sun’s always out to get you, so don’t forget your sunscreen, kids!
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This story was updated in February 2019.