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Bronzed & Confused? The Myth-Busting Guide to Removing Sun Tan

Ready, set, glow! Tan removal in action.

Sun Tan SOS: How Long Does it Take to Remove a Tan?

Got a tan and wondering how long it takes to fade?

Well, us Indians understand the struggle of dealing with tanned skin all too well. So today I’m going to debunk tanning myths and provide derm-approved tips to bring back that natural glow.

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How Long Does It Take To Remove Sun Tan?

How Long Does It Take To Remove Sun Tan?

It depends on how intense the tan is, your skin type, and how much your skin has been exposed to the sun.

  • Fairer skin tends to lose its tan faster than darker skin.
  • Deeper tans take longer to fade than lighter ones.
  • If you keep soaking up the sun after you get tanned,

Typically, a sun tan naturally fades within 1-4 weeks. To fade a tan, the key is to protect your skin from the sun.

How to Protect Your Skin?

  1. Sunscreen: Sunscreen is the most important step to protect your skin from UV rays.
  2. Sun-protective gear: Use long-sleeved wear, a hat, sunglasses, and even an umbrella.
  3. Avoid peak sun hours: Avoid direct sun exposure when you can, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM, the sun’s peak hours.

By following these steps, you can say goodbye to that tan in 7-14 days! 

Why Do We Get Tan in the Sun?

Why Do We Get Tan?

To know what works and what doesn’t in fading a tan, you need to know why it happens.

When your skin gets damaged by the sun’s rays, it tries to protect itself by making more pigment (melanin). This pigment is spread to the skin cells. 

It’s a way to guard against harmful UV rays, especially UVB rays. Most of the sun’s rays reaching your skin are UVA, and melanin can’t protect well against them.

Does Exfoliating Remove Sun Tan?

Does Exfoliating Remove Sun Tan?

Yes, exfoliating can help fade the tan. But it’s not an overnight fix.

Why Does It Work to Fade Tan?

Sun tan occurs when your skin produces the pigment melanin. They are also produced in the deeper layers of your skin. 

  • However, scrubbing can remove the outermost layer of dead skin. In this way, it can help to fade your tan a bit and brighten your skin.
  • It also speeds up the turnover of skin cells. This means that old tanned skin cells will be soon replaced by new skin cells.

Now let’s break down some exfoliating myths-

  • Too much pressure will not remove the tan quickly. Always be gentle.
  • As tempting as it is, over-exfoliating can damage your skin barrier. So do it once or twice a week.
  • New to chemical peels? Start low! Jumping to a higher concentration may harm your skin. Slow and steady wins the race.
  • If you’re unsure about what to do, reach out to a dermatologist. They will examine your skin and guide you on the best way to tackle this tan issue.

Does Aloe Vera Remove Sun Tan?

Does Aloe Vera Remove Sun Tan?

Yes, aloe vera can help fade a tan a bit. But if you think it’s magic, it’s not.

Why Does It Work to Fade Tan?

  • The exfoliant salicylic acid is found in aloe vera gel. Thus it helps remove dead skin cells that are part of the tanned skin.
  • It helps to soothe and hydrate the tanned areas that might feel irritated.
  • It is packed with antioxidants like vitamins A(beta-carotene), C, and E. Thus it helps in fighting against the free radicals that might cause tan.

How to Use?

  • Apply a thin layer of aloe vera gel to clean, dry skin.
  • Leave it for 15-20 minutes.
  • Rinse with cool water or pat dry.

Pro Tip-

Though you can use aloe vera gel more than once a day don’t overdo it.

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Does Multani Mitti Remove Sun Tan?

Does Multani Mitti Remove Sun Tan?

Yes, multani mitti (Fuller’s earth) can help remove sun tan. But again, don’t expect unrealistic results.

Why Does It Work to Fade Tan?

Multani mitti gives your skin a gentle scrub. Thus it helps in getting rid of dead skin cells present in the upper layer of your skin. 

This reveals a lighter layer of skin underneath, making the tan appear slightly faded.

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Does Glycolic Acid Remove Sun Tan?

Does Glycolic Acid Remove Sun Tan?

Glycolic acid is a chemical exfoliant. You already know how exfoliating works in fading the tan. 

It helps to remove the surface layer of dead skin cells and promotes cell turnover.

So be realistic about your expectations.

Pro Tip: 

  • If you’re new to glycolic acid, start with a lower concentration. However, if you’re not sure where to start, consult a dermatologist.
  • You can use 6% for your face and 12% for your body.

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Does Vitamin C Remove Sun Tan?

Does Vitamin C Remove Sun Tan?

Vitamin C can help fade the tan. But again, this is not an overnight magic.

Why Does It Work to Fade Tan?

  • Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals that cause tanning and sun damage to skin.
  • Study says that vitamin C helps control tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in the production of melanin.
  • Vitamin C is also a mild exfoliator.
  • It also gives your skin better sun protection when you use it with sunscreen.

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Does Waxing Remove Sun Tan?

Does Waxing Remove Sun Tan?

Using wax to remove sun tan is not a good idea. Waxing only helps in removing the top layer of tanned skin cells. So, your skin might look a little brighter.

But remember that waxing can irritate your tanned skin. So think before you wax.

Does Salicylic Acid Remove Sun Tan?

Does Salicylic Acid Remove Sun Tan?

Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant. It helps your skin to shed the top layer and unclogs pores. This can reveal brighter skin, making your tan appear slightly less noticeable. 

But it can’t reach the melanin that sits deep within your skin.

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Does Retinol Remove Sun Tan?

Retinoids or over-the-counter retinol can help you fade tan and get back your natural skin tone.

It boosts cell turnover and increases collagen production. Thus your tanned skin cells get replaced by new, brighter skin cells soon.

Pro Tip- Choose lower concentrations (0.5-1%) and start slow, maybe once or twice a week. 

Always wear sunscreen well if you are using retinol.

If you’re unsure about whether retinol is for you or not, it’s best to consult a dermatologist. 

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Does Coconut Oil Remove Sun Tan?

Mixed evidence suggests applying coconut oil could gradually fade a tan, but scientific proof is lacking. 

It hydrates your skin but doesn’t directly remove tan-causing melanin. 

What it does is slightly exfoliate the outer layer of dead skin cells. So your skin appears a bit brighter.

Pro Tip- 

  • Coconut oil is highly comedogenic. So if you have oily skin, you shouldn’t use it anyway. 
  • Though coconut oil has some natural SPF, it’s not enough to protect your skin from the sun.

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Does Lemon Remove Sun Tan?

Lemon juice has been a popular home remedy for sun tan.

It is known for its natural bleaching and exfoliating properties. Applying lemon juice may have a slight brightening effect. 

But again, it can’t reach the melanin deep within your skin, responsible for the tan.

Pro Tip-

The acids present in lemon juice could irritate your skin, especially for sensitive skin.

Lemon juice can increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.

How to Fade Your Tan: Dermatologist Approved Tips

How to Fade Your Tan Dermatologist Approved Tips

Now you know what works and what does not for removing tan. Here is what dermatologists want you to know to remove tan. Here are some tips and recommendations from the top dermatologists-

1. The 2-Finger Sunscreen Rule

The key is to protect your skin from the sun. So sunscreen first. It’s so important. Apply the right amount and follow the 2-finger rule. Use two finger lengths of sunscreen for your face.

2. Reapply Sunscreen

Don’t forget to reapply if you are outdoors, heavily sweating, in humid weather, or after swimming.

3. Give Your Skin Time

Have some patience, give some time.

4. Limit Use of AHAs

Don’t use many exfoliants. Particularly AHAs can increase your skin sensitivity to the sun. This means your skin will tan further.

5. Exfoliate Mindfully for Deeper Skin Tones

For deeper skin tones, you must not do a lot of exfoliants. As that can make your skin even more hyperpigmentation-prone.

6. Avoid Bleaching

Stay away from skin bleaching as its chemicals can damage your skin barrier.

7. Try Curd Besan Magic

You can use the Indian home remedy curd besan. It’s a kind of exfoliant that can help slightly fade the tan.

8. Say No to Physical Scrubs

Dermatologists don’t suggest using physical scrubs as they can damage your skin barrier.

10. Don’t Fall for Quick Fixes

No cream can remove tan overnight. So claims of quick fixes with de-tan masks or creams are misleading. They might make your facial hair look golden, giving the illusion of slightly brighter skin.

11. Boost Cell Turnover with Night Creams

Some creams aid in cell turnover, shedding dead skin cells and promoting new ones. Use them at night. But always remember to apply sunscreen during the daytime.

Using these creams without sunscreen makes your skin more prone to tanning. So sunscreen is essential. Dr. Aanchal recommends face de-tanning creams like 


Glycol 6,


For best results, use them consistently for at least 4 weeks.

12. Prevent Darkening

If your skin easily darkens, you can use serums with kojic acid, alpha arbutin, butyl resorcinol, or vitamin C. Add them into your routine to tackle this issue.

13. Seek Expert Advice

For more advanced methods, like chemical peels and laser toning, consult a dermatologist.


Can I Remove Tan in One Day?

Removing a tan in just one day is completely unrealistic. Your tan is your skin’s natural response to sun exposure, and it takes time for your skin to naturally fade it. However, methods like retinol, vitamin C, and exfoliating can help lighten and fade tan faster.

Why Do I Get Tan So Easily?

Get tanned easily? Here’s why:
Melanin: If you have deeper skin tones, your skin has more melanin pigments. This causes faster and deeper tans.
Environmental Factors: Strong UV rays, especially during high sun exposure times, can accelerate tanning.
Skin Type: Oily skin is more prone to getting tanned easily.
Genetics: Your genes can play a role.
Remember that tanning does not equal protecting your skin, so always use sunscreen!

Final Thoughts

So, to get rid of that sun tan, just be patient. And remember that sun protection is the key whether you want to prevent tan or want to fade it.

Forget about the myths, let your skin do its thing. And soon enough, your natural glow will be back.

Image Source: Instagram @athiyashetty

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