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  5. 10 Natural Ways To Remove Tan From Hands & Legs

Do your hands and legs appear darker than the rest of the body? Sun tan is a common problem that needs attention to prevent serious skin damage.

According to Ayurveda, tans caused by over-secretion of melanin during sun exposure, can be reversed with herbal remedies. These naturally extracted ingredients not just remove the pigmentation, but also reverse skin damage and improve your skin's immunity.

Read on to know simple natural remedies that give you an even skin tone.

Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks

“All kinds of pigmentation on the skin inherently are a Pitta dosha problem (Bhrajaka Pitta). Exposure to the sun increases Pitta in the body, leading to a tanned appearance of the skin.”

Dr. Zeel Gandhi (B.A.M.S.), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix

How To Remove Tan From Hands & Legs Naturally?

1. Lemon Juice & Honey

This has been an age-old home remedy for removing sun tan. Apart from hand and legs, these ingredients are also safe for removing tan on the face.

A. How To Apply

Squeeze 1-2 lemons and add 1 tablespoon of honey to it. Apply on your hands and legs. Leave it on for 20 minutes and wash off. Repeat daily till the tan is removed.

B. How Does It Work

The citric acid in lemon naturally bleaches your skin while honey protects and moisturizes it.

2. Masoor Dal Scrub

According to Ayurveda, a good masoor dal ubtan or scrub helps remove the sun damaged skin cells that make your skin appear dry and dull.

A. How To Apply

Soak masoor dal overnight and then grind it into a coarse paste. Add raw milk and gently exfoliate the sun tanned areas for 5- 10 minutes. Leave it on for another 10 minutes and wash off.

B. How Does It Work

Apart from acting as a natural exfoliator, masoor dal improves your skin tone and texture. Raw milk contains lactic acid, a mild bleaching agent that helps slough off the uppermost damaged layer of your skin, enabling healthy new cells to emerge.

3. White/ Black/ Green Tea

You’ve probably been told that drinking a cup of tea detoxifies your body and helps fight a number of health issues. But did you know that it can clarify your skin, subdue inflammation and prevent free radical cell damage, when applied externally?

A. How To Apply

Brew white/ black or green tea, strain and cool it down to room temperature. Now take a cotton ball and apply on the sun affected areas. Wash off after 30 to 40 minutes.

You can also soak the tea leaves in a small amount of water. Let it cool down and apply as a lepa or pack on your hands and legs.

B. How Does It Work

Packed with a group of antioxidants known as polyphenols, amino acids and flavonoids, all three types of tea help revive sun tanned skin when applied externally.

4. Galla Chinensis

A powerful medicinal plant, the galla chinensis, is widely used in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine. According to modern research, the entire plant, including its roots, bark, leaves and fruits, contain various skin and health benefiting compounds.

A. How To Apply

Grind the dried bark/ stem of the plant into a powder. Add water to make a paste. You can even add aloe vera gel instead of water. Apply and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes and wash off. Use 3 to 4 times a week to remove tan from hands and legs.

B. How Does It Work

Research proves that galla chinensis [1] inhibits tyrosinase activity that causes overproduction of melanin. It is also loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that prevent premature skin ageing occurring from excess sun-exposure.

5. Artichoke & Honey

fresh artichokes isolated on white background

Artichokes [2] are a full proof plan against sun damage. Extracts from the artichoke leaves are widely used in skincare products for their ability to restore skin health.

A. How To Apply

Cut an artichoke into half, scoop out and discard the choke along with the hardest outer leaves. Now blend the artichoke into a paste and add 1-2 tablespoons of honey. Apply this on your sun tanned hands and legs and leave it on for 30 to 40 minutes and wash off. Repeat daily till the areas are healed.

B. How Does It Work

Artichokes have magical skin healing properties. Due to a high content of polyphenols and Vitamin C, artichokes can reverse skin ageing caused by UV exposure. Applying artichokes externally on your skin and including artichoke extract products in your daily skincare routine can naturally remove tan from your hands and legs.

6. Coffee Scrub

Give your skin a healthy detox with a coffee scrub that not only removes sun tan but also reduces the appearance of stretch marks and dark spots.

A. How To Apply

Grind coffee beans and sugar into a coarse powder. Add olive oil/ coconut oil/ yogurt to it to prepare your tan removal scrub. Now gently exfoliate your hands and legs for a few minutes and leave it on for another 15 to 20 minutes and wash off.

B. How Does It Work

Coffee is a good exfoliator that removes the tanned uppermost skin layer from your hands and legs. Further, the presence of antioxidants in coffee reduces inflammation, prevents skin ageing and lightens your skin tone.

7. Licorice, Sandalwood & Raw Milk

According to Ayurveda, varnya herbs help to calm the Bhrajaka Pitta dosha and in turn even out your skin tone.

A. How To Apply

Add 3 tablespoons of milk to 1 tablespoon each of licorice and sandalwood powder. Apply this paste for 20 to 30 minutes and wash off. Repeat it once daily till conditions improve.

B. How Does It Work

Licorice contains glabridin, a natural compound that exhibits powerful tyrosinase inhibiting abilities. Sesquiterpenoid alcohols in sandalwood are depigmenting agents that brighten your skin tone. Along with raw milk, this pack removes sun tan, prevents excess melanin production, removes dead cells and prevents dry skin.

8. Shunti & Haridra

 Ginger and turmeric roots

Both shunti (ginger) and haridra (turmeric) are a must in every Indian kitchen. With a plethora of health and skin benefits, these natural ingredients are highly effective in removing tan from your hands and legs.

A. How To Apply

Crush or blend wet ginger and raw turmeric together to make a paste. Add a little water if required. Apply the paste on your hands and legs and leave it on for 30 to 40 minutes before washing off. Repeat once daily till the tan lightens.

B. How Does It Work

Various phytochemicals such as curcumin in the turmeric rhizome protect the skin against photodamage, premature ageing and inflammation. It exhibits amazing melanogenesis suppression abilities, making it an apt skin lightening agent. The main active component of ginger, gingerol is capable of reducing melanin content in your skin cells, giving you a brighter appearance.

9. Ela, Usira & Manjistha

The efficacy of these herbs, used in traditional medicine, had long been based purely on anecdotes. However, with the pharmaceutical and skincare industry now recognizing the benefits of plant-derived active compounds, extracts from such herbs have regained popularity for their skin enhancing abilities.

A. How To Apply

Mix equal parts of all ingredients in powdered form and add a small amount of water or raw milk to form a paste. Apply this on the affected areas and wash off after 30 minutes. Repeat daily or 3 to 4 times a week.

B. How Does It Work

All three herbs contain active bio ingredients that suppress melanogenesis in stimulated melanocytes. This helps remove hyperpigmentation and tan from hands and legs. Usira [3] is also used to reverse sun damage and prevent oxidative stress. Manjistha further acts as a purifying agent that removes harmful Ama toxins from your skin, which cause pigmentation.

10. Nagakesara, Padmaka & Khadira

This is another set of varnya herbs whose extracts are frequently used in oils and skincare products for their ability to enhance your natural complexion.

A. How To Apply

Blend all three ingredients in equal parts and add raw milk to prepare a herbal lepa. Apply this on the sun tanned areas and wash off after 30 to 40 minutes.

B. How Does It Work

Phytochemicals in nagakesara lend it its antioxidant, photoprotection [4] and skin-brightening abilities. Padmaka, another anti-melanogenesis herb, is popularly used in skin cosmetics as a lightening agent. Khadira contains catechins, which repair your skin and protect it from further sun damage.

Your regular kitchen turmeric is considered the most powerful tan remover and skin brightening agent with 88.5% tyrosinase inhibiting abilities.

How To Prevent Tan On Legs, Feet & Hands?

Woman applying sunblock protection on shoulders

1. Wear clothes that cover your legs, feet and hands when stepping out in the sun.

2. Swear by sunscreen. Use one that has a minimum SPF 50 and suits your skin type. Apply sunscreen every two hours [5]. Natural sun blockers such as coconut oil or aloe vera can also be applied.

3. Use umbrellas, scarves, sunglasses, etc. to minimize your sun exposure.

4. Avoid going out from 12pm to 3pm when the sun is at its peak. If necessary, walk in the shade.

5. Stay hydrated. Dry skin has a weakened skin barrier that is more vulnerable to sun damage.

6. Apply oil before taking a dip in the pool. Chlorine in swimming pool water in combination with UV rays can cause a darker tan.

“All kinds of pigmentations on the skin inherently are a Pitta dosha problem (Bhrajaka Pitta). Exposure to the sun increases Pitta in the body, leading to a tanned appearance of the skin,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.

She adds, “Extreme sun exposure was never an ideal in Ayurveda. Dinacharya routine dictates one to use a head cover, umbrella and other forms of protection while stepping out in the sun. Traditionally muds were smeared on the face before stepping out in the strong sun to prevent skin damage.”

Vedix Tip: Applying kumkumadi tailam daily on your hands and legs can remove sun tan.

The Last Word

Using natural herbs rather than their synthetic counterparts to remove sun tan and heal the damage caused by extensive sun exposure is safe even for long term usage. Chemicals such as lead and bleaches may provide a quick temporary solution, but have several reported cases of hypopigmentation [6].

Unlike herbal remedies, artificial skin treatments are more focused on superficial results which lack a holistic solution to the skin problem. Hence, to remove tan from your hands and legs, it is advisable to visit your Ayurvedic doctor to select the best remedy (mentioned in this article) for your skin type.

Know Your Dosha Now

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