Sun Tan: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments and Home Remedies
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Sun Tan: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments and Home Remedies

May 19, 2021


Table of Contents –

A sun tan can put off your entire beauty regime, especially when you’re looking to attend a big event and look your best. Knowing this, we’re always very cautious when it comes to sun exposure, especially in a tropical country like ours. 

Worried about your skin condition? Get in touch with best of our skin specialists in Pune. For a skin treatment, book an appointment with our dermatologists near you +919584584111

You apply sun tan creams and lotions before stepping out during sunny hours. You take a bunch of precautionary measures while going for a beach day. You buy various beauty products which say ‘sun-protection’ on the label, without even knowing how useful or effective it would be? You also try many home remedies for tanned skin. But do you know what a sun tan is

Every skin type is different and they react to sun exposure in a different way. This guide will help you understand how to get rid of tan quickly and effectively through scientific and evidence-based treatments. 

Are you also suffering from sun tanning?

Want to know the solution immediately to treat your tanning? Feel free to ask our skin specialists and dermatologists at Clear Skin, Pune. Book a consultation with our doctors or call +91 2071177333  to visit at our skin clinic near you.

What is Tanning?

You might have noticed that often your exposed body parts such as the face, arms, hands, legs, feet, back, and neck are a shade darker than the body parts which are not exposed to sunlight. 

When skin cells are exposed to the UV rays from the sun, they kick into protection mode. The melanin from melanocytes is transferred to keratinocytes, which are the surface skin cells. As a protective mechanism, the melanin pigment blocks UV radiation from further cell damage. The melanin is piled on top of the cell’s nucleus, like an umbrella; this process occurs in all skin cells exposed to sun exposure. Therefore, tanning is visible over the exposed part of the body. 

Tanning is the process by which the skin pigment (melanin) increases in the skin after exposure to the sun leading to a darkening effect. This is the natural defence process of our body when it is exposed to sunlight. It helps protect your skin from the sun like a shield. 

People with lighter skin tones typically cannot create an adequate amount of melanin pigment, the amount that gets created isn’t as efficient, and therefore the exposed areas get skin burn.

The sun’s rays contain two types of ultraviolet radiation that reach your skin: Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). When UVA and UVB rays penetrate into the lower layer of the epidermis, it triggers cells called Melanocytes to produce more melanin; both UVA as well as UVB, are responsible for tanning.

The outer layer of our skin contains melanin which is the darkening agent. Melanin is responsible for setting the skin tone. However, it may seem like a bad thing as it’s presence decides how fair or tan one is, but melanin is a useful pigment as it protects the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When your skin is exposed to the sun’s rays, the skin produces more melanin and gets tanned. Prolonged sun exposure can also lead to skin damage like sunburns and it reduces skin elasticity, which leads to premature ageing. 

How do you know if you have a Tan?

When you notice one or two shades of variation in your complexion, it is considered as Tanning. The Fitzpatrick scale is the scale which describes our skin type and is the standard scale followed everywhere in the world. This scale is a way to estimate the response of different types of skin to ultraviolet (UV) light. As per Fitzpatrick skin types, Indians come under skin type 4 or 5. Fitzpatrick skin type 4- burns minimally and tans easily and  5th skin type rarely burns and tans easily.

Causes of Sun Tan

Tanning outside or indoors can have dangerous consequences. Tanning is evidence of DNA injury to your skin, as it damages the skin cells and speeds up visible signs of aging. Causes of sun tan depends on the skin type. Few skin types always burn and never tans, whereas some burn easily but tans with difficulty. Let’s find what are the major causes of sun tan – 

  • UVA Exposure:

These rays are the most dangerous element causing skin tan. It penetrates into the deeper skin layers, causing cellular damage. Melanocytes cell releases melanin which is responsible for the browned, darkened colour of the skin.

  • UVB Exposure:

UVB rays usually harm or burn the upper skin layers. Exposure to UVB surges during the summer and decreases during winter months, as the Earth’s ozone layer can block a majority of UV-B rays depending on the weather. Unlike UVA, it doesn’t trigger melanocytes. It prompts the DNA to get damage that further boosts melanin production.

Skin Types and how they react to the sun

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

  • Pale White – This skin type always burns in exposure to the sun but never tans.
  • White to light beige – It burns easily in sun exposure and yields minimal tanning.
  • Beige – This skin type burns moderately when exposed to the sun with a tan of light brown.
  • Light brown skin – It burns minimally and tans the skin into moderate brown.
  • Moderate brown skin – This skin type is blessed as it rarely burns. Such skins tans to dark brown which might need tan removal treatment in future.
  • Dark brown or black skin – As these skin types have a high amount of melanin, it never burns and tans profusely when exposed to the sun.

Sunless Tanning

Often people misinterpret the term Sunless tanning. In India, summers usually consist of scorching heat and people think that indirect exposure to such heat can lead to tan or so-called sunless tanning. 

Sunless tanning is not a natural phenomenon. It is rather a practical alternative of getting tanned in an artificial way. There are numerous sunless tanning products called self-tanners, which can give your skin a tanned look without exposing it to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. 

How does Sunscreen help?

Excessive Sun exposure causes DNA injury and ages the skin. Worst of all, prolonged and excessive sun exposure can lead to skin cancer. You need to take precautionary measures before stepping out on a sunny day. Here’s where a sunscreen lotion can help you.

Sunscreens block or lower the effect of the harmful sun rays. There are different types of sunscreens with different SPF numbers. Well, SPF number on a sunscreen shows the level of UVB protection it is capable of giving. Sunscreens with a higher SPF number provide a strong defence against the UV rays. 

For regular use, wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even on cloudy or rainy days. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, both. You can also wear a hat or scarf and sunglasses that provide protection against ultraviolet radiations.

How To Remove Sun Tan From Face And Body?

Sun tan is a growing problem everywhere. Due to global warming, the ozone layer in the atmosphere is getting affected and UV rays are easily penetrating through it. But achieving a glowing and healthy skin is no longer difficult. 

Nowadays, dermatologists can help you reverse the effects of excessive sun exposure with modern skincare procedures. Your unwanted tan, tan lines, itchiness and discolouration can be completely removed to help reveal your even, bright skin underneath. 

Consult a dermatologist to understand your skin type and seek tan removal treatment recommendations accordingly. The areas prone to suntan that need regular de-tanning treatment include the face, arms & legs, hands & feet, back, and neck.

Home Remedies to Remove Sun Tan

Important Note: If you are allergic to any of these natural ingredients, do not attempt these home remedies. Consult your dermatologist if your skin is sensitive to a particular ingredient, to avoid any kinds of harsh reactions. 

Sun tan seems like a temporary issue and often with the use of many natural ingredients and home remedies, one can get rid of sun tan. Although these are ineffective in cases of pigmentation. Home remedies usually have a slight lightening effect if applied the right way. 

Here are a few home remedies for sun tan removal:

  • One of the easiest tan removal home remedies is aloe vera. Apply aloe vera gel on the affected area to help get rid of dark spots due to sun tanning.
  • Apply a layer of lemon juice mixed with honey to remove sun tan and smoothen skin texture. You can also add some sugar to the lemon juice and scrub your skin gently to slough off dead cells from the surface.
  • Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants that help in brightening skin. Yoghurt on the other hand contains lactic acid which softens the skin. Mix raw tomato juice and yoghurt to form a paste. You can use this paste on your tanned face, neck, and face, and wash off after 20 minutes.
  • Directly apply cucumber juice with the help of a cotton ball. Cucumber is highly beneficial for tanned and sunburnt skin. Cucumber is a natural tan removal ingredient that not only helps in skin lightening but also has a cooling effect.
  • Mix papaya and honey to lighten the skin and make it a paste or gel. Papaya is rich in natural enzymes that have skin bleaching and exfoliating properties. Honey on the other hand is a natural moisturiser and a skin-soothing agent. Honey is also rich in antioxidants that remove free radicals from the skin which cause ageing.
  • Mix oatmeal and buttermilk and form a paste and apply on the tanned skin. Rub the paste for some time and leave it for 20 minutes. Oatmeal has excellent exfoliating and skin cleansing properties. Whereas, Buttermilk is rich in lactic acid which can soften the skin and improve skin tone
  • Sandalwood or Chandan is a miracle ingredient when it comes to instant tan removal from the face. It is pretty much a one-stop solution to all other types of skin woes too. Being gentle and cooling, sandalwood removes tan from the face and improves the texture and tone of your skin as well.
  • Potato juice is a powerful bleaching agent. It can lighten sun tan, as well as, minimize dark circles. Apply the juice on tanned areas of your face and leave it for 15 minutes. Wash it off with cold water. 

When to Consult a Doctor for Sun Tan?

If you notice that certain parts of your skin exposed to sun, is facing a darker complexion than the other parts of your skin then it is an indication of sun tanning. Consult a doctor for sun tan treatment if the tan is severe with blisters or if your sun tan is not responding to any home remedies.

How Long Will It Take For Tan To Go Away?

If you are opting for sun tan removal treatment, then it might take some time depending on the severity. Normally it takes roughly four to six weeks to return to the original complexion post the sun tanning removal process. Though in some cases, you start to lose the tan almost immediately after treatment. However, If the suntan is chronic or if it’s present on exposed unprotected skin for years (along with repeated tanning) then it is difficult to get rid of tanning completely.

Sun Tan Removal Treatments

Sun Tan Removal Treatments

Apart from the accumulation of pigmented cells, tanning also causes an increase in the dead skin cell layers. This makes the skin look dull, thick, and dry. Besides, it may also result in the formation of sunspots, fine lines, wrinkles, and can even cause skin cancer. However, tan skin removal is possible with the following tried and tested procedures. Pigment reducing topical medicines, that contain ingredients like hydroquinone, can help lighten dark skin patches; these dark patches can be caused due to melasma, hyperpigmentation, liver spots, age spots, or freckles. The topical medicines are used because they block the discoloration process in the skin. Ensure that you use it as directed by your doctor. 

Topical Applications – There are numerous tan removal creams or gels that contain retinoids, vitamins C, E, and other antioxidants. These are known to be the best tan removal creams recommended by dermatologists as they increase collagen and lighten spots to remove tan from hands and face. Moreover, the alpha and beta hydroxy acids in the acid exfoliate dead skin cells and stimulate new skin cell formation. The best tan removal creams go beyond the upper layer to reach deeper into the skin to contain the production of melanin.

Chemical Peels– The use of chemical peels enables the removal of the upper dead skin cells. This is a popular tan skin removal process that aids in new skin cell formation by removing the upper tanned skin layers. These de-tanning peels use glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, or carbolic acid (phenol) and are available in different concentration strengths. 

Microdermabrasion– Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive, tan skin removal process that involves manual exfoliation of the top layer of the epidermis. The removal of the tanned epidermal layer gives way to new, healthy-looking skin. Suited to any skin type and completely painless, this procedure is deemed to be the best way to remove tanning from the face as it increases new cell formation, reduces scarring and smoothes your facial skin as well.

Laser Therapy – Stubborn tans and pigmentation can be removed using laser therapy. This tan removal treatment uses light to repair and regenerate damaged skin cells. In this procedure, damaged skin is exposed to a low-level red laser, which penetrates the skin up to three inches. This induces the skin to produce fresh and healthy skin cells, thereby improving the skin’s aesthetic appeal. This tan treatment process involves the use of Fractional Q switched 1064 Nd YAG laser for tan skin removal. Skin specialists recommend this sun tanning removal technique to treat pigmentation and advanced skin tan problems.

Intense pulsed light (IPL)- Also called photofacial, this anti-tan treatment method uses light to remove pigmented spots and improves the colour and texture of the skin. The device coagulates and evacuates the blood vessels present beneath the skin surface and stimulates collagen production from fibroblast cells. A gel is applied to the skin after which an intensely bright light is pulsed through a chilled sapphire gem which is connected to the face. 

Dermatologists state this as one of the best ways to remove tanning from the face as it can correct many skin conditions with minimal downtime. Moreover, it helps to make way for a cleaner, smoother, and youthful skin through. Roughly one to five sessions are recommended to see any visible effects on the skin.

Hear from our Doctors

Why choose ClearSkin?

Your day out in the sun could turn disastrous with the appearance of dark spots and an unevenly toned complexion. We can help you recover your skin tone through evidence-based treatment methods, patient education,skin care monitoring, and we are transparent about the expected results to ensure patient satisfaction. We pride ourselves in giving patients great care and guidance during the pre and post-op stages, instead of treating it as a one-time session.

We practice the safest, quickest and most effective procedures for treating skin pigmentation and tan removal, ensuring a relatively painless experience. 

Sun Tan FAQs: All Your Queries Answered

Is Skin Tanning Permanent?

This is a common fear among most seeking removal of blotches, spots, and pigmentation due to sun tanning. However, the effect of tan is never permanent as the skin naturally exfoliates with time giving way to new cell formation. Besides, treating the skin regularly with exfoliation methods and applying skin-lightening creams can keep sun tanning problems at bay.

How to get rid of hyperpigmentation due to sun exposure?

Sunburn & hyper-pigmentation due to sun-exposure happens all the time. Pigmentation is one of the biggest problems which are very commonly seen in everyone. Here are a few tips for sun tan removal – 

  • Use a sunblock of broad-spectrum SPF 30, physical cream.
  • Use 3 times a day, if staying inside also.
  • Always apply sunscreen 20 mins before going out.
  • If you are going out in the hot sun, come and then apply raw aloe vera gel to get rid of pigmentations sunburn.
  • Apply ice packs on the sunburn area, as that it can reduce the redness immediately and prevent permanent damage to the skin.

Does sunscreen reduce tan?

Yes, Sunscreen is a key part for pigmentation but sunscreen alone cannot help you to reduce pigmentation. You have to use medications and some treatments according to your skin type. So that you can get rid of the pigmentation. You can try tan removal treatment like Chemical peels, Microdermabrasion, Laser toning, Creams, Face wash and cleansing lotion, and/or Home remedies.

How to prevent tanning of skin?

Longer sun exposure without photoprotection leads to further damage to the skin in terms of fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation etc. To avoid these complications, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen on exposed areas of skin daily, throughout the year, even when indoors. Look out for ‘broad spectrum’ on the label, which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. 

Broad spectrum sunscreen protects you from UVA and UVB rays, it also means that the UVA protection is proportional to the UVB protection. Broad spectrum sunscreens contain active minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. It sits on top of the skin and deflects the sun’s rays.

To protect the lips, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. When outdoors, reapply sunscreen on exposed areas more often, especially after swimming and heavy perspiration. Always remember the two hours reapply rule for adequate skin protection during the daytime.

What other precautions you must take while seeking sun tan removal treatment?

Though there are no specifications of do’s and don’ts, it is best to avoid:

  • Going out in the sun during treatment
  • Sunbeds
  • Using tan-accelerating creams
  • Applying too much make-up to cover the tan
For treating your skin condition, feel free to get in touch with one of our best dermatologists in Pune. You can also call on +919584584111 to book an appointment at one of our skin clinics near you.


Dr Dhanraj Chavan

About the Author: Dr Dhanraj Chavan

Dr. Dhanraj Chavan is a globally trained, young, and dynamic dermatologist. He is a Consultant Dermatologist and Varicose Vein Specialist at Clear Skin, VeinMD, and HairMD.

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