How To Get Rid of Tan Lines (Summer 2019)
Tanning is sometimes akin to a rite of passage for young women and men all over the world, and many people often associate it with beauty. We always want to look beautiful and bronze – especially for special events such as weddings.
Generally, people think a tan makes them appear thinner and more attractive to the opposite sex.
Then there are the dreaded tan lines that interrupt that continuous golden color. Many people lie in tanning beds so they can wear fewer clothes and reduce the number of tan lines that can develop.
Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid tan lines. But what can you do to minimize them?
We’ll help you understand why you tan or burn in the first place and show you how to get rid of tan lines. We’ll also provide some helpful tips for tanning.
- Why Do We Tan?
- Why Do We Burn or Tan?
- Why Should We Tan?
- Healthy Tanning Tips
- Best Ways to Remove Tan Lines
- Remedies You Should Avoid
Why Do We Tan?
Some countries such as China find fair skin beautiful, but fair-skinned Americans often prefer to be tanned. Despite warnings about skin cancer, many people will go to great lengths to get the perfect tan.
Americans associate tans with certain social meanings such as leisure, sexual attractiveness, and health. Many people have commented that they receive more compliments when they come home from vacation with a tan.
Dr. Gad Saad performed a study where he applied the evolution of psychology to understanding the tanning behavior of people. Interestingly, single, young women tan the most, yet they are more educated than their male counterparts on the dangers of sun exposure.
A 2010 paper in Dermatologic Surgery illustrated the results of a study where researchers took pictures of 45 women and put them on a website called Hot or Not. On this website, people rate the attractiveness of photos submitted on a scale of 1-10.
The scientists edited the photos and added tanned versions of the same pictures to the website. 12 of the people pictured saw increases in their attractiveness when tanned, and only 2 saw a decrease in attractiveness.
So, it seems that cultural settings may have an effect on people’s perception of beauty associated with tanning. In some cultures, a tan indicates a lower social status, and in others, people see tanning as desirable.
In ancient Greece, fair skin indicated a person of higher social class. It wouldn’t be until the 20th century that a summer tan became the symbol of prestige in society.
Why Do We Burn or Tan?
Beyond aesthetics, the process of tanning has scientific implications. A tan protects people from solar radiation. Researcher Ellen Quillen of the Department of Genetics at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute says that exposure to ultraviolet radiation produces a biological response in our body.
Sunbathing causes some melanocytes, which are cells in our skin, to protect us from damage caused by solar radiation. The skin generates melanin that creates a protective shield against light rays. The rays of the sun activate the cells that produce melanin, and as a result, the pigment absorbs the radiation making us tan.
The more threatened your skin thinks it is, the more pigment it secretes to shield it. The more pigment produced, the darker your skin gets. As a result, your skin gets darker the longer you’re in the sun. These cellular changes mutate our DNA and damage our skin on a microscopic level that can eventually lead to cancer and other skin abnormalities.
Dark-skinned people are still susceptible to cancer and other sun damage even if they never burn. They can also get wrinkles from skin damage just as easily as fair-skinned people.
Darker-skinned people secrete more melanin and are less sensitive to solar radiation. Melanin levels are different for each ethnic group.
Skin types range from 1-6 with 1 being someone who is sensitive to the sun and 6 being people with extremely dark skin who rarely burn. Genetic components passed down through generations make certain ethnic groups darker than others.
People with lighter skin can’t protect themselves from UV rays as well as darker-skinned people. For this reason, fair-skinned people should bolster their skin’s natural defense with the liberal application of sunscreen.
Whether you’re dark-skinned or fair-skinned, you can still get tan lines. Fair-skinned people often get dark tan lines from bad sunburns because their skin has less protection and doesn’t tan as well.
Don’t forget freckles! Besides burning or tanning, many people get uneven color patches known as freckles.
Why Should We Tan?
Despite all of the discussion on cancer and damaging UV rays, the sun is an excellent source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for our skin, bones, and teeth. The sun also boosts our serotonin levels, and serotonin helps alleviate anxiety.
Also, many people like to prepare for vacation sunlight by tanning indoors to get a base tan. Base tans can prevent severe sunburns for those planning to be in natural sunlight more often than usual.
Don’t be afraid of the sun. As long as you are responsible, you can enjoy it and know that you understand more about why we tan. Let’s talk about healthy tanning tips.
Healthy Tanning Tips
Summer is coming, and now that we know that the sun has some great health benefits, let’s discuss how to tan healthily. Healthy tanning is a natural way to avoid tan lines because it focuses on keeping your skin safe and avoiding overexposure.
1. Avoid Tanning Beds if Possible
Yes, it’s sad but true. Despite the myth circulating that you can get a healthy tan from a tanning bed, it is incorrect. The problem is that tanning beds put out tremendous amounts of UVA rays and almost no UVB. UVB rays are the ones that stimulate Vitamin D production. UVA rays increase your skin cancer risk by as much as 75 percent.
2. Exfoliate Your Skin
To achieve the optimal tan, exfoliate before you go out into the sun. Exfoliating removes dead skin cells from the top layer of your skin, uncovering fresh skin. Additionally, exfoliating can prevent acne, even your skin tone, and extract oil and dirt clogging your pores.
There are many inexpensive ways to exfoliate such as oatmeal, salt, or sugar scrubs. The build-up of dead skin keeps your tan from lasting a long time. Removing dead skin also helps you tan easier because your tan emerges and fades evenly.
3. Wear the Right Sunscreen
Many tanning devotees believe that you can’t tan with sunscreen, but this is not true. SPF or sun protection factor actually extends the amount of time that you can lay in the sun’s rays without suffering more skin damage.
Check your sunscreen’s label for terminology consistent with “filters approximately 97 percent of UVB rays.” While UVB provides Vitamin D, you only need a small amount for health benefits. Too much UVB rays can lead to skin damage and cancer as well.
To adequately protect yourself choose SPF 30 over SPF 50 because the later makes you feel like your blocking more rays when in reality it only blocks about 1 percent more. It can also have a chalky consistency making you not want to reapply it. If you have very dark skin such as black or Indian, SPF15 should be sufficient.
SPF isn’t the only ingredient essential to sunscreen. Look for “broad spectrum” or the word “high” plus the UVA logo as well. Higher SPF numbers don’t offer UVA protection. Broad spectrum products protect you from UVA and UVB rays.
Apply 2 mg/cm2 of sunscreen to the skin that you plan to expose to the sun. Make sure you put your sunscreen on 15-30 minutes before your sun exposure and reapply it approximately 15 to 30 minutes after you’re out in the sun. Some medical experts advise you to reapply it every two hours and others say only reapply it if you swim or play in the water.
If you still want to baste your skin to that rich bronze here’s an article on the best tanning oils for 2019. These oils are the best on the market but still help keep your skin healthy.
4. Don’t Overexpose Your Skin
A healthy tan comes from restraint, not overexposure to the sun. Tanning gradually versus marathon sessions is much healthier and reduces your chances for skin cancer and other problems associated with the sun. Everyone has a unique melanin cut-off time. This time typically runs between 2-3 hours but is much less for people with fair skin.
A ½ an hour to 1 hour in the sun every day allows your body to secret enough melanin to help you the next time you decide to tan. UV rays are strongest from 10 am to 4 pm during summer days so be smart when picking a time to sunbathe. Taking breaks from the sun also reduces your sunburn risk making your tan healthier and last longer. Sit under an umbrella or go inside for a break.
5. Eat Foods that are Sun Friendly
The skin has its own SPF, lycopene. You can find this antioxidant in orange and red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes. Lycopene can boost your protection by 33 percent so eat foods rich in it, especially if you plan to be out in the sun.
Polyphenols are also antioxidants that are sun-friendly. Green tea contains this type of antioxidants.
Most people are happy to know that dark chocolate helps protect you from sunburn because its filled with flavonoids. Many also believe that caffeine decreases your skin cancer risk. The best form of caffeine is a shot of espresso before visiting the beach.
6. Use Self Tanner
While it offers no protection from the sun, a faux tan can help you feel tanner so that you don’t overdo it on the first day. Sometimes that may be all it takes for you to ease off heavy tanning at the beginning of your vacation like so many people are apt to do.
Best Ways to Remove Tan Lines
Since no one wants to rock the farmer’s tan in your wedding or evening gown, getting rid of bad tan lines is vital. Tanning more simply isn’t the answer. Not only could it damage your skin more, but also the parts that are tan will deepen in color, and you’ll likely burn the unexposed areas. In essence, more tanning will only make you look worse.
So, here are some remedies to help get rid of tan lines.
Exfoliation obviously plays a critical role in healthy tanning, and it even helps smooth out those tan lines if they are light. Usually, exfoliation is the first part of the process of eliminating tan lines, but it may work on its own.
Buff the area where you want to get rid of those pesky tan lines when you’re in the shower so that it smooths away dead skin. The best ones to use for reducing bad tan lines are formulas with glycolic acid such as Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash.
We just saw this as a solution for healthy tanning and another benefit is its one of the best ways to remove tan lines. If you have several days, Petra Guglielmetti from Glamour magazine suggests using a gradual self-tanning cream such as Jergens Natural Glow.
Gradual self-tanners offer a more natural look than some other products, and you’re less likely to run into problems with them. They are also excellent choices for those who are self-tanner novices.
If you don’t have time to wait, exfoliate your skin well, and they dry off completely for 10 minutes at the very least. If your tan lines aren’t dark, the exfoliating may solve your issue alone and could even out the tone of your skin. Next, apply a rapid-acting tanner like Clarin’s tanners to the skin that is lighter. Then use a makeup applicator, preferably foam, to carefully apply tanner to the actual tan lines themselves.
Let the self-tanner darken and dry. Repeat this process several times until your skin tone appears more even. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after applying the tanning cream or lotion.
You could also paint the tanner on with a makeup brush and leave it overnight. When you get up the next day, utilize a gentle exfoliator to soften harsh edges and even the tone.
Bronzer and Makeup
Facial foundation won’t work for eliminating tan lines located on your body. Choose a matte bronzer or peachy blush, depending on your skin tone.
Dab the blush or bronzer on with a cotton ball or foundation brush and blend both the tan line and the skin around it. Only applying it to the tan line will make it very obvious. You can use cream or powder formulas just be careful if you choose a cream. Creams need to be set with a translucent powder to prevent smudging.
Lemon juice is a natural exfoliant and great for scrubbing off dead skin as well as diminishing tan lines. However, don’t use it alone. It has harsh acidic properties and could give you minor burns. A great solution is equal parts of lemon juice and honey.
The honey helps protect you from burns and hydrates your skin. Leave the solution on your skin approximately 25 minutes and then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
Be careful because going out into the sun with citric acid could make sunburns worse. It may even lead to chemical burns because of chemical reactions that occur that increase your skin sensitivity.
Since potatoes hold water, people have used them to heal sunburns for years. If the tan line you have is redder, slice a potato into really thin pieces and apply to the line. Let them sit for about 15 minutes and then take them off.
Cucumbers have definitely solidified their position in the beauty world, and you can use them to reduce tan lines. They are also high in Vitamin C and water, so they are fabulous at nourishing and hydrating your skin. Puree cucumbers into a paste or slice them and apply them to your tan lines. Leave them on your skin for 20 minutes and then wash them off with cool water.
You can also mix cucumbers with lime juice and rose water to remove tan lines. This mixtures also relieves sunburns as well. Mix cucumber juice, lime juice, and rose water and apply the solution to your tan lines with a cotton pad. Let it remain for 15-20 minutes before rinsing it off. This mixture lasts in the refrigerator for around a week.
One study found that black tea extract lightened tans on guinea pigs. This type of application is great if you have burn lines. Brew one cup of black tea, preferably iced, and add it to a spray bottle. Then spray yourself with it after taking a shower. The black tea will soothe the burn and help diminish those tan lines. Black tea works well if your tan lines cover a large area.
Milk Cream and Turmeric
Many people don’t know that milk cream moisturizes, brightens, and nourishes your skin. So, not surprisingly, you can use it to eliminate tan lines. People in India have traditionally use turmeric as a skin-lightener for years.
When you include it in a cream, it can protect from sun damage. Turmeric may improve the natural protective oils in your skin as well as hydration. However, it can also tan your face yellow so use makeup remover or face cleanser after using a mask with turmeric to help remove any residue.
Mix ½ Tbsp of turmeric and milk cream until it makes a paste. Rub this onto your skin and leave it there for about 20 minutes. Afterward, rinse it off using lukewarm water.
You can also mix lime juice in raw milk with turmeric and apply it to sunburn lines. Leave it on 15 minutes to dry then rinse it off with cool water. For quicker results, apply the mixture 2 times a day. This solution removes tan on your hands well.
Baking soda makes an excellent exfoliant to diminish tan lines. Now baking soda alone won’t work, you need to make it into a paste. Combine 1 Tbsp of sugar, 1 cup of baking soda, and ½ cup of water and mix into a paste. Use this as an exfoliant in the shower to help reduce tan lines.
Brown Sugar Scrubs
This type of scrub may take about a week, but it is a wonderful solution for removing bad tan lines. Combine 2 cups of brown sugar and ½ cup of any plant-based oil such as sunflower, olive, almond, or coconut. To enhance the effects it has on your skin add 1 tsp of vanilla and ¼ cup of honey.
Mix these ingredients together and apply the mixture to your skin, leaving it on for 15 minutes. This process could get messy so plan accordingly for both applying and rinsing the mixture off.
Pineapple and Papaya
This fruit mixture is excellent for removing facial tan lines as well as soothing sunburns. Mash papaya and pineapple together and apply it to your face. Leave the mixture on for about 15-20 minutes and then rinse it off with cool water. The fruits’ naturally remove the tan from your face.
Natural oils help hydrate your skin and can help reduce red-colored tan lines. Before bed combine oils such as olive, almond, and coconut and apply them to your skin. Leave the oil on overnight and wash it off in the morning. It will also leave your skin soft.
Vinegar is another common ingredient that may help reduce tan lines. Mix equal parts vinegar and water and then use your hands to apply the solution. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes and then rinse off with cool water. This solution can be applied daily to help diminish your tan.
Everyone knows that the best Aloe Vera gel heals bad sunburns and for many is a household necessity. One study found that Aloe may reduce pigmentation and suppress the secretion of melanin. This study illustrates that Aloe may have more benefits than powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Skin-Lightening Treatments and Creams
There are many over-the-counter skin-lightening creams and treatments available today. The American Academy of Dermatology advises to look for products that contain one of these active ingredients:
- Glycolic acid
- Vitamin C
- A retinoid such as tazarotene, tretinoin, retinol, or adapalene gel
- Azelaic acid
- Kojic acid
These active ingredients can lighten existing dark spots or tan lines by exfoliating your skin to boost the growth of new cells. Also, some of these ingredients inhibit melanin production to reduce or prevent dark spots. Do not use more than one product with a single active ingredient to avoid nasty side effects or skin irritation.
This solution may seem elementary but never underestimate the benefits of a good dry brushing.
First, you’ll need a quality dry brush that has natural bristles as opposed to synthetic ones. Begin with your feet and create slow, upwards sweeping motions towards your heart.
Continue this motion all over your body except your face if it’s sensitive. You can try a small area on your face to test this.
Don’t dry brush your skin if you are sunburned as you can further damage it plus it will hurt. Dry sweeping works by removing dead skin and cells allowing your skin to absorb nutrients and moisture easier.
Remedies You Should Avoid
There are some remedies that you should not use because they may be hazardous to your health.
You should never apply bleaching agents to your skin. Bleaching agents like this include any product advertised as a “bleaching” or “whitening” agent as well as bleach for home use.
Lemon Juice Alone
As you can see in the previous sections, lemon juice is an excellent exfoliant but its simply not safe to use on its own. It can irritate your skin or cause nasty chemical burns. You wouldn’t think that something natural could be so dangerous, but lemon juice is not safe to use for eliminating tan lines without being diluted.
Lightening Products from Outside of the United States
Never use lightening products from other countries. Many of these products have steroids, mercury, and other hazardous ingredients that can harm your health. It’s critical to know what components are in the skin-lightening products that you use. Reducing tan lines and blotchy spots is not worth jeopardizing your health.
American’s associate tanning with beauty and tanning in a safe manner is imperative to your health. Its impossible to avoid tan lines all of the time.
When you have an important evening out, or you need to eliminate tan lines for your wedding dress there are a couple of factors to consider such as how rapidly you need to diminish them and what products do you have on hand.
We’ve provided you with some basic health information on tanning and safe remedies to remove tan lines. Always be careful with the products that you use on your skin. Don’t use foreign products with unknown ingredients or bleaching products. Getting rid of a few bad tan lines is not worth trying a dangerous skin-lightener that can harm you.