You might have spent some time in the sun building up a tan, only to notice your skin peeling after a few days. You could be so tempted to peel the dead skin away, but are worried that it might affect your tan.
Does peeling sunburn remove a tan? Peeling a sunburn can result in your tan becoming lighter, and it can cause your tan to fade quicker too. It might not strip your skin of a tan straight away, but it does mean that the process of fading will likely quicken.
Read on to find out more about how peeling a sunburn might affect your tan, and what you can do to even your tan out, and maybe prevent peeling next time you lay out in the sun!
Will Peeling Remove A Tan?
There are two main types of UV rays emitted by the sun. These are UVA and UVB, and both damage and affect the skin differently. UVA rays cause long-term damage to the skin and can tan the skin.
UVB rays cause burning of the skin, and sunburn usually happens when skin is exposed to mostly UVB rays. When your skin turns red from a sunburn, it is a sign that it has been damaged by the sun.
A tan is caused in a very similar way to how sunburn is caused, with the top of the skin being affected by UV rays. The skin reacts to the UV rays by producing more melanin, to try and protect the skin, but too much exposure can just cause sunburn.
This is important to understand, to help know if peeling sunburn removes a tan. The skin that peels away from sunburn are dead cells that are expelled by your skin, to remove any potential DNA damage, saving the skin that is left behind.
This is a thin layer of skin that is peeled away, but it is the top layer of skin, and this is where a tan is usually found.
You will not be peeling away all of the sunburn or tan when peeling your skin, but you will be peeling away some of it, and with it, the darkest potential tan that you would have been able to develop.
How To Preserve Your Tan While Peeling
The skin that is peeling away after a sunburn will not go away on its own or disappear, and it should be removed. You need to be gentle when removing this skin, and instead of actually peeling it away, it could be better to gently exfoliate your skin.
Just be careful to not exfoliate your skin if your sunburn is still painful. Use a very light body scrub or exfoliating mitt to scrub the dead skin away gently, as this will prevent you from peeling off more than needs to be removed.
These skin cells which are peeling will be removed from the skin easily, and exfoliating will help remove them with ease.
Once the dead skin has been removed, you should moisturize your skin with a hydrating, nourishing moisturizer. This will prevent any more skin from drying out, and it will keep your skin nourished and protected to recover from sunburn.
How To Prevent Peeling When Tanning
The best way to prevent peeling when tanning is to not go out into the sun at all and instead use a self-tanner or a spray tan.
However, if you are set on going out into the sun to tan, here is what you can do to prevent your skin from peeling:
If you are not wanting to tan, and are spending longer in the sun, then use an SPF 50. Using a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or SPF 30 will not prevent you from tanning, but it will work beautifully to prevent peeling when your skin is recovering.
Moisturize Your Skin
Moisturized, hydrated skin is less likely to peel after tanning. Hydrated skin is better equipped to turn UV radiation into melanin production, thus resulting in a tan. Skin that is dry and dehydrated will just burn, and this will lead to peeling.
It is a good idea to exfoliate your skin the day before tanning. Dead skin cells accumulate on the top of your skin, and when you tan and burn, these will be the first to slough off and possibly peel.
By exfoliating your skin, you will be removing excess dead skin cells, and your skin will be less likely to peel after being exposed to the sun.
Do not exfoliate too soon before tanning, as your skin might still be too sensitive to handle UV radiation.
Use Tanning Products
Tanning accelerators and tanning lotions (we love this tanning lotion from Dark Tans Exclusive) can do wonders at preventing your skin from peeling after tanning. These work by being packed with hydrating and nourishing ingredients, which allow the skin to tan instead of burn when exposed to the sun.
These also help to extend the moisture on your skin well after tanning and help to develop a brown color through melanin production stimulation.
Keep in mind that you would still need to use an SPF when using a tanning product, as they offer no protection from UV rays, so using both will be perfect at both preventing peeling, and developing a bronze tan.
As mentioned above, a self-tanner is the best way to develop a tan without peeling (we love this one from B.TAN). You do not have to spend any time in the sun at all, and you will still be able to develop a bronzed, golden glow.
Does Peeling Sunburn Remove Tan?
Peeling sunburn might not remove a tan completely, but it can cause your tan to appear uneven, or to appear lighter. Your skin tans on the outermost layer, and when the top layer of skin is peeled away, some of the tan is peeled away too.
The best thing to do is to use sunscreen to prevent peeling while tanning, and if it does appear, then keep your skin moisturized and nourished to prevent further drying or peeling, and to help extend your tan for longer too.
Does your skin go back to normal once it has peeled?
Peeling stops once your skin has healed, which could take several days. However, while your skin might appear normal, there would have been damage done by the UV radiation.
Can peeling sunburn cause scarring?
There is a risk that peeling a sunburn can cause scarring, as it might not peel evenly all over. If the skin is not ready to be peeled yet, then you might pull off healthy skin and damage the top layer, and risk leaving behind a scar.