Ah, summer. The time for bronzed glowing skin, a lot of cool drinks, and pretty summer dresses. The most noticeable part of your summer? Probably your tan. But hey, that is a good thing right? No, not really!
While a tan may look good, it actually does more harm to your skin than good. Wondering how that happens? Let us find out.
What is a Tan, Anyway?
A tan is your body’s way of protecting itself from damaging UV rays. In order to help UV absorption, the pigment melanin is released by the skin. This is what makes our skin darker or ‘tanned’. The greater the exposure to UV rays, the more melanin is released and the more tanned you get. But why does our skin release melanin in the first place? It does so to protect the skin cells’ more valuable parts.
A suntan is largely the result of UVA rays since the majority of the UVB rays are absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer. Tanning beds, on the other hand, have a mix of UVA and UVB rays. In the case of a spray tan, a colour additive - generally Dihydroxyacetone(DHA) - is applied evenly over the skin to darken skin cells.
What Happens in a Sunburn?
When we think of sunburn, we often think it is because of the heat but that is not really the case. This is why you can get sunburned even in cold weather. In reality, sunburns are indicative of severe UV damage.
When UV rays hit our skin, they trigger mutations in our skin cells. While our bodies produce extra melanin to shield our skin cells from damage, sometimes the UV exposure can be in excess of what it can handle. In such a case, our skin cells die off. In response, blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow and bring immune cells to the area. This is why we experience inflammation and redness in the event of a sunburn.
How long does a Tan Last?
The duration of a tan depends on the type of tan, your skin type, and how frequently your skin regenerates. A natural suntan lasts about a week or 10 days. After that, the outermost layer of our skin begins to exfoliate naturally. However, there are things you can do to speed up the de-tanning process.
How to De-tan ?
While the skin does shed its outermost layer on its own, there is no harm in speeding up the process. Make sure not to go overboard though - you may just irritate your skin. If you are looking for a good physical exfoliant, Love Organically’s Kumkumadi Saffron Gold Face Scrub is a great option. It contains Dhan seeds (rice seeds) that are gentle yet effective. Saffron and Haldi both help brighten the skin and de-tan. To learn more about exfoliation, head over to our blog.
2. Chemical Peels
Chemical peels are a form of chemical exfoliants. Dr Sheth’s Daily Brightening Peel is a good option. It contains AHAs, such as Lactic and Glycolic acid that gently, exfoliate the skin. Calendula extract helps soothe and nourish the skin too. This peel can be used as a spot treatment, wash-off exfoliant, mask, or overnight treatment. Keep in mind though that AHAs make the skin more sensitive to the sun so do not forget to apply your sunscreen regularly.
3. A De-Tanning Face Wash
Cleansers and face washes are a great way to introduce actives into your skincare routine if you have not done so already. Being rinse-off products, these are gentle enough to do the trick without irritating your skin. Juicy Chemistry’s Tamanu, Kakadu Plum & Frankincense Face Wash is a great option to help with pigmentation woes and an unwanted suntan. Tamanu oil is rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins and helps heal the skin while Kakadu Plum is a rich source of vitamin C, which fights pigmentation and boosts collagen production in the skin.
4. Lots of Vitamin C
If you are looking for something stronger - or something to support your cleanser, an ampoule is the way to go. Ampoules are more concentrated versions of your serums. The Martiderm DSP Bright 5 Ampoules are just the ones for you. They contain 5% vitamin C in the form of L-Ascorbic Acid (the most stable form of the vitamin) which helps fight pigmentation, free radicals, and sun damage. The ampoules also contain Phytic acid, a mild AHA that gently exfoliates the skin. Overall, they help reverse sun damage and brighten your skin!
5. Get your Mask On
A routinely pampering session of some masking can do wonders for your skin, and help your skin heal as it recovers from all the sun damage. Swisse’s Blood Orange Brightening Clay Mask is a great option for an anti-tanning mask. It contains Turmeric, a powerhouse of antioxidants that help heal the skin and even out the skin tone. Kaolin clay gently exfoliates and detoxifies your skin. What’s not to love?
1. Aloe to the Rescue
Aloe vera is a plant most of us have in our households and this succulent does absolute wonders for the skin, scalp, and hair. To soothe sun-damaged skin (including a sunburn) apply a layer of aloe vera gel twice a day. You can even whip up a mask using aloe vera, honey and turmeric. Add a pinch of turmeric to a mixture of a spoon of honey and some aloe vera gel. Let the mask sit on your face for 10 to 15 minutes before washing it off. You can use this mask every 3 to 4 days.
2. Back to Be-sics
Another option of a face mask is one made with besan, turmeric, and curd. Mix a pinch of turmeric with tablespoons of besan and curd each. Leave the mask on until it is dry and then gently wash it off. You can apply this mask every other day,
Some Do’s and Don'ts
1. Do skip the Lemon Juice
A quick Google search reveals that lemon juice is quite a popular ingredient in a lot of DIY recipes but here is the thing - it is a terrible idea. Lemon juice is extremely potent and can potentially irritate your skin. In fact, it makes your skin more sensitive to UV light!
2. Don’t Bleach
Bleaching creams can be very irritating and sensitising to the skin so it is better to just give these a miss. While sun damage can be frustrating, bleaching may not help the problem. Rather, it may make things worse.
3. Do Apply Sunscreen Regularly
Let us attack the problem at its source. Being diligent with your sunscreen application goes a long way in ensuring your skin stays healthy and happy.
4. Don’t Use Skin Lightening Products
You may come across a lot many ‘skin lightening’ or ‘whitening’ products and we are telling you now - they are a bad idea. Such products often contain harmful chemicals that can really irritate your skin.
While a tan may seem aesthetically pleasing, it does not bode well for your skin and is indicative of severe sun damage. While tans do fade away on their own, ingredients such as vitamin C and turmeric help speed up the process. Be sure to avoid ingredients such as lemon juice and bleaching agents that can irritate your skin though.