Exfoliation Questions

Does Exfoliating Remove Suntan? (Chemical vs. Physical)

Written by: Anastasija

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You may have heard of the term exfoliation before, and perhaps you even practice it on your skin regularly, but there are lots of things that people don’t know about it. If you’re wondering about the effects it may have on your natural, glowing suntan, here are the facts.

What is exfoliation?

Firstly, not many people are aware of what exfoliation is exactly, and that’s important information before we move on. There are lots of benefits of exfoliation, for both your face and body, and it’s a good process for any skin types, as its advantages are very varied.

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In simple terms, exfoliation is using either a chemical or physical (also known as mechanical) exfoliating agent to remove the top layer of dead cells from the surface of your skin, which come from the natural replacement and repair of your cells. In case you weren’t already aware, your skin is constantly replenishing its cells to replace old ones, and this is how it heals wounds, and other tissue damage or skin issues. As a result of this cell turnover, as it’s known, the old cells which have been replaced are ‘pushed’ to the surface of the skin and left on the surface, but eventually they’re replaced too, and then removed.

The top layer of dead cells on the skin can makes the surface seem uneven, and they can also make the skin seem a little duller. However, the idea of exfoliation is that you speed up the process of the dead skin cells being removed from your skin, and this is why there are so many benefits to it. It also means that the healing of some skin concerns can take place faster, as exfoliation encourages this.

As mentioned, there are two different types of exfoliation, chemical and physical, or mechanical, and these names describe how they work. A chemical exfoliator uses certain chemicals, such as AHAs and BHA, to gently remove the cells by loosening their bonds using acids or enzymes, so they eventually shed, and this happens much faster than naturally. On the other hand, a physical exfoliator does this by manually loosening these bonds through scrubbing them.

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Does exfoliating remove suntan?

So, you know what exfoliating does, how it works, and you can probably start to see some of the reasons why it’s such a popular element in so many people’s skincare routines, but what does the exfoliation process have to do with your suntan? In fact, there is a big link between the two, but there is some information you’ll need to understand first. A suntan isn’t necessarily as simple as you may think, and its process is very relevant to this question.

A suntan is actually one of your body’s ways of telling you that it has received a certain amount of UV exposure from the Sun. Out of the two different types of UV rays emitted by the Sun, UVA rays are responsible for your suntan, and they cause suntans by penetrating the top few layers of skin and promoting the production of melanin from small structures known as melanocytes found in the lower epidermis. Melanin is a brown pigment which occurs naturally in the skin, and its production is one of the body’s defences against burning from the Sun exposure it’s facing.

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This melanin gives your skin its pigment, and that’s how you achieve the sought-after bronzed glow after a day at the beach (if you want to do so naturally) but be aware that it’s also a sign of damage. However, after some time, as the skin cells are replenished at their usual rate, as mentioned earlier, the tan will eventually fade after a few weeks, unless it’s topped up in the Sun.

So, if the natural rate of cell turnover is what’s responsible for your suntan naturally fading after a while, it makes sense that exfoliation will speed up the process of fading and can remove your suntan much faster than it would leave you on its own. This is because, as mentioned earlier, the exfoliation will speed up the rate at which the top layer of skin cells is removed, which are the ones with the tan. The tan will stick around a little until all of the layers of skin cells pigmented by the melanin have also been replaced.

How can I properly exfoliate my skin?

If you’re looking to remove a suntan, you may now be thinking that exfoliation is the perfect way to do so, and you’re right, but there are a few things you should be aware of first. It’s important that you’re not too harsh on your skin when you exfoliate it, and that you’re being as efficient as possible to prevent any excessive scrubbing or potential irritation to your skin.

When exfoliating your skin, it’s up to you which type of exfoliator you use, but it’s good to know the pros and cons of each of them. With a chemical exfoliator, there is a risk of choosing something which is too strong for your skin but, once you know which acids are the correct strength for you, there’s not much room for error. However, these are more commonly found for use on the face and, while this doesn’t mean you can’t use them on your body – anything safe for your face will be safe for your body – the bottles are often smaller so it can work out much more expensive.

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On the other hand, physical exfoliators are great for use on the body as they’re often cheaper and it’s down to you how strong you are. While this means you’re in control, it can also be a downside, as you’ll need to be careful that you’re not scrubbing too hard or for too long in a certain area. A quick, gentle circle a few times around of the hand in each area should do the trick, as the real exfoliation will take place as the rough edges of the particles move against your skin.

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It’s recommended that you exfoliate your skin between 1-3 times per week to ensure best results whilst also ensuring that you’re not causing any damage over time by giving your skin a chance to rest between days, too. If your skin is particularly sensitive, once a week is plenty.

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Related:
Does Peeling Sunburn Remove A Suntan? (Explained)
Does Waxing Remove A Suntan? (Tips To Prevent It)
Does Aloe Vera Remove a Suntan? (Most Common Uses)

Final thoughts

in conclusion, as you’ll be able to see, all of the science points to exfoliation as one of the safest, most natural, easiest and effective way to remove your suntan, which is very useful information. If you are looking to remove your tan as quickly as possible, this is the answer to your prayers. On the other hand, if you’re trying to preserve your summer skin for as long as possible, perhaps you should wait before you use that salt scrub.

About Anastasija

Welcome to my website! I'm Anastasija, and as a redhead with a sensitivity to the sun, I embarked on a quest to find the perfect sunless tanner six years ago.

After extensive research and four years of personal experience, I'm here to share my wealth of tips and tricks for achieving a beautiful, sun-kissed glow.

Whether you're interested in self-tanners, spray tans, or safe sun exposure, this website covers it all.

Join me as I provide valuable insights and guidance for various methods of getting that desired tan.

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