Those warm summer days are a nice change after having to deal with months of long, cold winter weather! We cannot deny that the summer season has its own unique set of beauty problems.

Between trying to keep our hair frizz-free due to the ever-increasing sea air humidity levels and constantly worrying about removing tan lines or patchy skin, we sure do have our work cut out for us. Knowing how to remove a tan can be a summer season concern.

Before we dig into skin tan removal treatments, here’s what you should know about tanning.

Tanning Defined

Simply put, tanning is the irregular coloring of the skin’s surface after prolonged exposure to the sun.

When we are exposed to UV rays, these penetrate our skin. The body’s melanin production action (the chemical responsible for skin pigmentation) is triggered.

This occurs because your skin is attempting to protect itself from the sun’s UV rays and the chances of burning that come with it. Sadly, the melanin-producing mechanism isn’t always 100% successful.

Comprehending the timing and methodology behind tanning, plus the tools for prevention will help you understand why you occasionally tan when you least expect it.

The more you’re exposed to UV rays, the darker your tan will become and the longer the struggle will be to get rid of tan lines.

Real Versus Fake: Types Of Tan

Types Of Tan
There are two types of tan: natural suntan due to UV ray exposure and fake tan from applying specific products.

Natural Suntan – It is a mechanism your body triggers in your skin to attempt to protect you from dangerous UV rays.

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that not all tans offer sun protection! There are two types of natural tans[1], and they’re associated with two types of UV rays – UVB and UVA.

They produce distinct classifications of tan on your skin, and these also form during different periods.

Fake Tan – Opposite to natural tans, fake tanning has never been as exciting as it is now. The sunless-tan industry is thriving, with unique, new, and more refined products coming to market at a fast rate.

The fake tan market now includes top-notch products, medications, sunless options, lotions, tanning beds, airbrushing techniques, and many more tanning alternatives. It is no wonder that people find it hard to decide on what route to go with when choosing sunless tans.

Tip: When opting for fake tan solutions, it’s advisable to learn the level of difficulty and how to remove fake tan before making a final decision.

What Causes Skin Tanning?

Causes Skin Tanning

There are various causes of skin tanning, some natural and others synthetic. Let’s take a look:

  • Natural Suntan Pigment Darkening – This tan occurs because your skin starts to produce more melanin pigment due to UV exposure. This indicates that you may be blessed with sufficient natural sun protection[2], but of course, the price we pay for this action is DNA damage. Natural suntans give your skin a minor SPF coverage that is nowhere close to the SPF30 sunblock products that are recommended.
  • Airbrushing – When getting an airbrush tan, you’ll be using the services of a tanning specialist who will most likely use a solution containing dihydroxyacetone (commonly known as DHA). DHA is a substance extracted from sugarcane, which when in contact with the surface of the skin, will react with the amino acids present in the top layers of the skin. This action creates a darkening effect, yet when the cells start to renew, and the fake tan will begin to fade.
  • Bronzers – These products have a limited lifespan and are worn for 1 to 2 days before beginning to fade after being washed off. Bronzers come in various forms, such as gels, sticks, sprays, and powders.
  • Sprays: These products routinely come packaged in a bottle that’s easily sprayable onto the skin. Similar to make-up foundations, they come in a variety of skin tones and colors to complement diverse skin types.
  • Powders: In most cases, powders are applied to the skin with an applicator or mitt, allowing the user to achieve an even layer of coverage.
  • Gels: These products are a lot harder to apply because of their thick consistency and tend to leave uneven streaks and tan lines. It’s advisable to avoid tanning gels if you want to achieve even coverage and don’t want to spend hours correcting and have to remove fake tan.
  • Tanning Mists – These types of tanning products are somewhat similar to sprays, the only real difference is that their composition is lighter and not as thick. Tanning mists are used for touch-ups and not as a base tan. These products are probably the easiest to remove and are a great option if you want to be able to remove sun tan from your face overnight.
  • Tanning Beds – Tanning beds are popular since they allow individuals to get a tan throughout the year, not only during the sunny summer months.

    Tanning beds work with a specific type of lamp that creates UVB and UVA rays that are responsible for skin tans. Yet, even though these tanning options may seem like a great idea at first, prolonged use and exposure can lead to skin cancer and damaged skin barriers.

    Because tanning beds mimic a natural form of tanning, it can make it harder to get rid of tan lines.

  • Tanning Pills – Tanning pills work internally to change the skin’s tone on the surface. When you consume a tanning pill, it begins to dissolve within the surface layers of fat, ultimately changing the skin’s color. These types of supplements contain an ingredient called canthaxanthin, a chemical that can be found in animals and plants.

8 Ways To Remove A Tan Naturally At Home

Remove A Tan Naturally
You can try the following at-home remedies to help fade or remove tan on the skin, whether real or fake.

Let’s start with the two best forms on how to remove a tan that’s natural or originates from sun exposure:

1. Exfoliation

Exfoliating the skin gently can aid in the removal of dead pigmented skin cells. This can reduce the appearance of a suntan. Individuals with sensitive and dry skin may find it more comfortable to use a chemical exfoliator or simple washcloth, while people with somewhat thicker or oilier skin could opt for mechanical exfoliation methods and stronger chemical peels.

It’s important to try and exfoliate as gently as possible[3] to minimize the appearance of skin irritation and rashes and safely get rid of tan.

2. Skin Lightening Products

Some specific ingredients are recommended by specialists as effective skin lightening products. These products may need several applications before results become noticeable and the process of skin tan removal begins. Products with the following active ingredients[4] may serve to lighten skin tan: azelaic acid, retinoids, kojic acid, vitamin c, and glycolic acid.

Now, let’s move on to the next batch on how to remove fake tan products. The following mixtures are worth trying:

3. Lemon and Honey Juice

This is an all-time fan favorite when it comes to at-home remedies for skin tan removal. Lemon juice contains natural ingredients that help lighten the skin’s tone, whereas honey will help combat the acidity – keeping your skin nicely moisturized to bypass skin irritation.

4. Baking Soda

Because fake tans dye the uppermost layers of skin, the best removal solution would be exfoliation to promote the skin’s natural renewal process. Mixing baking soda with water to create a thick paste can be an effective way to remove fake tan or streaky patches.

5. Buttermilk and Oatmeal

Oatmeal contains exfoliating and cleansing properties. The lactic acid content in buttermilk can also help make your skin supple and soft while improving the skin’s surface. A combination of these two ingredients is a match made in heaven, especially when paired with other more abrasive methods to remove tan on the skin.

6. Tomato Juice

This may come as no surprise, but people have been using tomato juice as a skin-lightening agent for a while now because they’re known to be rich in powerful antioxidants that may also help get rid of tan. Antioxidants help fight free radicals[5] in the body that produce skin cell damage.

Consuming extra tomato juice can serve as a great addition to any skin tan removal protocol as it will help combat the signs of aging, wrinkles, and damage.

7. Over-The-Counter Fake Tan Removers

Most stores also carry all-natural products specifically formulated to help remove fake tan. These often include lotions, soaps, and exfoliation gloves.

8. Water

Going for a dip in the ocean promotes a natural skin tan removal process. This is due to the saltwater and exfoliating effect of sand on the skin’s surface. And, if you don’t have access to a beach nearby, simply hop in a chlorinated pool!

If neither of these is an option, then try to take hot showers regularly, while making sure to exfoliate often and moisturize after. This is a tried and tested method of skin tan removal.

What To Avoid When Trying To Get Rid Of Tan On The Skin

Get Rid Of Tan On The Skin
Many social media influencers or bloggers will offer advice on how to remove a tan, yet not all of the suggestions are good. Our skin is a delicate organ, and it’s important to refrain from products that are known irritants. It will just cause inflammation that will make matters worse.

The following are some skin tan removal methods to avoid:

Skin Bleaching Products – Bleaching products can be irritating to the skin and influence pigmentation. Many online forums promote these products as a great way to remove sun tan from the face overnight – yet when you see this advice, run the other way!

Too Much Lemon – Straight lemon juice can be remarkably acidic and may damage the skin’s barrier. If you want to use lemon juice to help get rid of tan lines, make sure to dilute it in water, and don’t forget to rinse the lemon juice off. This could reduce the risk of skin inflammation.

Over-Exfoliation – Overdoing it can irritate, cause skin inflammation and temporary rashes, and provoke acne breakouts. People with darker complexions may also find that over-exfoliating to remove tan on the skin can create dark spots on the surface.

Ways To Prevent Natural Tanning

Don’t let the summer warmth or fake tan product of choice eat away your skin’s natural glow. Use the following tips to help prevent sunburns and get rid of tan.

  • Try to avoid going out in the midday heat and minimize exposure to sun rays. If you have to be out during these times, seek shaded areas to protect yourself from tanning.
  • Apply SPF 30 (or higher) lotion or sunblock, eye creams, and lip balm if you know you’re going to be exposed to sun rays for an extended period. If you find it hard to source SPF 50, then try to get some with at least 30.
  • Try to get into the habit of applying sun protection whenever you’re heading out, even during the colder and cloudier winter weather. Sun lotion needs to be reapplied every two hours for maximum efficacy.
  • Drink a minimum of 20 full glasses of water a day during the hotter summer months, as this can help prevent the skin from getting overly dry and promote a hydrated look. You can also add more fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables into your diet.
  • If you plan on getting in and out of the sea or swimming pool, then you’ll need to make sure you’re reapplying sun protection cream every 20 minutes. Another important thing to note is that if you’re bathing in a chlorinated swimming pool, it’s a good idea to hop in a shower right after, especially if you’re staying out in the sun. This is because chlorine will worsen your tan.


Most people will tan within a period of 1 to 2 hours of being in the sun.

While no tan will last forever, with proper care you can lengthen the life of your tan by a couple of days. Tans will last up to 7 to 10 days before the skin begins to innately exfoliate and renew.

A tan begins to fade naturally as tanned skin starts to shed and be replaced by new cells. There are steps people can take to remove tan on the skin at a faster rate.

Try some of the steps mentioned above to remove fake tan overnight. When it comes to a natural tan exfoliation and moisturizing, regularly can help to reduce a tan's lifespan.

Also, ingredients like baking soda, lemon diluted in water, buttermilk, and oatmeal can help to remove sun tan from your face overnight naturally.


These are a handful of ways in which you may be able to get rid of tan naturally. However, it’s important to note that you may need to be a little patient as some of these remedies might take a few days to show results, especially when used to remedy natural suntans.