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Are you battling a stubborn tan? Your summer tan, along with brown skin spots and freckles, is caused by melanin, the pigment which gives your skin color. The more melanin your skin has, the darker it gets. But before you start dissing melanin, know that it protects your skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays by deflecting or absorbing them. It even reduces your risk for skin cancer. When you go out in the sun or expose yourself to the sun for too long, your skin goes into overdrive, producing more melanin to protect you.[ref]What gives skin its color?. American Academy of Dermatology. [/ref] And this sun tan tends to persist long after your holiday out in the sun! But don’t fret. If that tan is bothering you, here are a few simple natural remedies that you can try.
Remember, these are milder than chemical formulations, so you will need to use them diligently for a while before you see results. And do a patch test to make sure you are not allergic to any of these natural remedies before you apply them on your skin. That said, here you go!
1. Dab On Some Buttermilk
Applying buttermilk to skin that’s tanned can help lighten it. Lactic acid present in buttermilk can cause your epidermis, or the outer layer of skin, which has become tanned to shed and reveal fresher skin beneath. Research also indicates that skin treated with lactic acid has lower deposits of melanin. As a bonus, applying buttermilk may also help firm up your skin as lactic acid has also been found to increase collagen levels.[ref]Yamamoto, Yuki, Koji Uede, Nozomi Yonei, Akiko Kishioka, Toshio Ohtani, and Fukumi Furukawa. “Effects of alpha‐hydroxy acids on the human skin of Japanese subjects: The rationale for chemical peeling.” The Journal of dermatology 33, no. 1 (2006): 16-22.[/ref]
2. Apply Turmeric Paste
Turmeric has traditionally been used in Southeast Asian communities to improve skin tone. Research shows that curcumin, a component present in turmeric, can inhibit the production of melanin responsible for your tan.[ref]Tu, Cai‐Xia, Mao Lin, Shan‐Shan Lu, Xiao‐Yi Qi, Rong‐Xin Zhang, and Yun‐Ying Zhang. “Curcumin inhibits melanogenesis in human melanocytes.” Phytotherapy Research 26, no. 2 (2012): 174-179.[/ref] But that’s not the only benefit that this potent spice offers to help sun-damaged skin. Studies have also found that applying a turmeric extract can protect you from skin thickening and loss of elasticity caused by exposure to UVB light.[ref]Sumiyoshi, Maho, and Yoshiyuki Kimura. “Effects of a turmeric extract (Curcuma longa) on chronic ultraviolet B irradiation-induced skin damage in melanin-possessing hairless mice.” Phytomedicine 16, no. 12 (2009): 1137-1143.[/ref] Mix turmeric powder with a little water or yogurt to make a tan-busting paste and apply it to your skin.
3. Use A Honey, Orange, And Yogurt Mask
Research indicates that Seville, or bitter oranges, can help you erase your sun tan. Seville orange peel extracts have been seen to inhibit tyrosinase, an enzyme that plays an important role in the production of melanin, and can ease hyperpigmentation.[ref]Adhikari, A., H. P. Devkota, A. Takano, K. Masuda, T. Nakane, P. Basnet, and N. Skalko‐Basnet. “Screening of Nepalese crude drugs traditionally used to treat hyperpigmentation: in vitro tyrosinase inhibition.” International journal of cosmetic science 30, no. 5 (2008): 353-360.[/ref] Honey has also been found to exhibit anti-tyrosinase activity.[ref]Jantakee, Kanyaluck, and Yingmanee Tragoolpua. “Activities of different types of Thai honey on pathogenic bacteria causing skin diseases, tyrosinase enzyme and generating free radicals.” Biological research 48, no. 1 (2015): 4.[/ref] Grind a tablespoon of bitter orange peel with hydrating honey and lactic-acid rich yogurt to make a mask that’ll beat that tan!
4. Dab On Licorice Tea
Licorice or mulethi is described in ayurveda as a herb that can improve your complexion. And research shows that it can help ease hyperpigmentation and remove sun tan. This herb contains a component known as glabridin which inhibits tyrosinase activity and hampers melanin production.[ref]Yokota, Tomohiro, Hiroyuki Nishio, Yasuo Kubota, and Masako Mizoguchi. “The inhibitory effect of glabridin from licorice extracts on melanogenesis and inflammation.” Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research 11, no. 6 (1998): 355-361.[/ref] To get rid of your tan, prepare a licorice tea by steeping licorice root powder in hot water for about 3–5 minutes. Apply this to tanned skin once it cools down. Some experts also recommend adding licorice powder to cooked oats to prepare a face pack that can lighten as well as moisturize your skin.
5. Try Crushed Watermelon
Watermelons contain a compound with strong antioxidant properties known as glutathione which too can inhibit tyrosinase, the enzyme that’s important for the production of melanin.[ref]Sonthalia, Sidharth, Deepashree Daulatabad, and Rashmi Sarkar. “Glutathione as a skin whitening agent: Facts, myths, evidence and controversies.” Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology 82, no. 3 (2016): 262.[/ref] In fact, research indicates that both oral and topical use of this compound can lighten skin.[ref]Malathi, Munisamy, and Devinder M. Thappa. “Systemic skin whitening/lightening agents: What is the evidence?.” Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology 79, no. 6 (2013): 842.[/ref] So crush a little watermelon and apply it to your skin to remove your tan. And remember, snacking on this delicious hydrating fruit can help you fight off sun damage from inside as well.
6. Slather On Some Aloe Vera
Aloe vera can be your skin’s best friend. It’s great as a moisturizer and also improves skin elasticity and soothes irritated skin. And yes, it works on your tan too.[ref]Surjushe, Amar, Resham Vasani, and D. G. Saple. “Aloe vera: A short review.” Indian journal of dermatology 53, no. 4 (2008): 163.[/ref] A component called aloesin present in aloe vera has been shown to inhibit tyrosinase activity and, consequently, can reduce melanin production.[ref]Jones, Ken, Jennifer Hughes, Mei Hong, Q. I. Jia, and Steve Orndorff. “Modulation of melanogenesis by aloesin: a competitive inhibitor of tyrosinase.” Pigment cell research 15, no. 5 (2002): 335-340.[/ref] Break open an aloe vera leaf and apply the gel inside to hyperpigmented skin. You can also mix aloe vera with a little soy milk and lemon juice to strengthen its skin-brightening effect. While lemon juice will help exfoliate your skin, soy milk is another ingredient which regulates melanin production (more on that later!).[ref]Wolfer, Alexis. The Recipe for Radiance: Discover Beauty’s Best-Kept Secrets in Your Kitchen. Hachette UK, 2014. [/ref]
7. Apply Radish Juice
Did you know that radish plus buttermilk is a traditional Irish remedy for freckles? Grated horseradish is steeped in buttermilk for a few hours and the strained mixture is then used as a face wash to lighten freckles.[ref]Chase, Alvin Wood. Dr. Chase’s recipes, or, Information for everybody. RA Beal, 1876.[/ref]
Here’s a remedy from the veggie kingdom that can get rid of your sun tan. Studies indicate that radish can inhibit the enzyme tyrosinase and thereby decrease melanin production. This root vegetable is a good source of antioxidants, so it may have an anti-aging impact as well. [ref] Sharma, S. K., Juice Therapy. Diamond Pocket Books Pvt Ltd, 2016. [/Ref] [ref] Lim, T. K. “Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus.” In Edible Medicinal and Non Medicinal Plants, pp. 829-869. Springer Netherlands, 2015.[/ref] So dab on a little radish juice every day till you see the tan disappear.
8. Smear On Some Soy Milk
Yes, here’s an unconventional remedy for easing a sun tan. How does soy milk work on your tan? Soy contains proteins such as Bowman-Birk inhibitor and soybean trypsin inhibitor which reduce melanin production by interfering with a biological pathway for the transfer of melanin. But do keep in mind that pasteurization can destroy the skin lightening properties of soy milk so make sure you use unpasteurized soy milk.[ref]Paine, Christine, Elizabeth Sharlow, Frank Liebel, Magdalena Eisinger, Stanley Shapiro, and Miri Seiberg. “An alternative approach to depigmentation by soybean extracts via inhibition of the PAR-2 pathway.” Journal of investigative dermatology 116, no. 4 (2001): 587-595.[/ref] [ref]Parvez, Shoukat, Moonkyu Kang, Hwan‐Suck Chung, Chongwoon Cho, Moo‐Chang Hong, Min‐Kyu Shin, and Hyunsu Bae. “Survey and mechanism of skin depigmenting and lightening agents.” Phytotherapy Research 20, no. 11 (2006): 921-934.[/ref]
9. Apply Arnica-Infused Oil
You can also use arnica-infused oil to beat that sun tan. Research shows that arnica flowers can inhibit the synthesis of melanin.[ref]Maeda, Kazuhisa, Tomoko Naitou, Kenichi Umishio, Tadao Fukuhara, and Akira Motoyama. “A novel melanin inhibitor: hydroperoxy traxastane-type triterpene from flowers of Arnica montana.” Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 30, no. 5 (2007): 873-879.[/ref] Prepare a tan-busting face or body oil by infusing sunflower oil with arnica flowers. To make this oil, place arnica flowers in a clean glass jar and top it up with sunflower oil. You will need to allow the flowers to infuse the oil for about 2–6 weeks but remember to give the jar a little shake once a day. You can strain and apply this oil to soothe and clear tanned skin.[ref]DK. Neal’s Yard Beauty Book. Dorling Kindersley Ltd, 2015.[/ref]
10. Use An Oatmeal, Buttermilk And Honey Mask
We’ve already seen how buttermilk and honey can help reduce melanin and lighten your tan. Combine these with colloidal oats and a little water to make a face pack that doesn’t just remove your tan but also keeps it from drying out. When you mix oats with water, the starch present in it turns it into a gooey substance which coats your skin and prevents moisture loss.[ref]Bedi, Monica K., and Philip D. Shenefelt. “Herbal therapy in dermatology.” Archives of dermatology 138, no. 2 (2002): 232-242.[/ref] Oats also contain antioxidants that can fight inflammation. That makes the oatmeal, honey, and buttermilk pack a winning combo for your skin especially if you have dry skin.