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How to Get Rid of Tan Lines

Before we get into this, let's first take a second to remind ourselves that tanning—whether outdoors or in tanning beds—is no good. We don't do that. Nope, nope, nope. And if you're thinking But I'm not sunburned! I'm just tan! It's fine! you should know that getting a tan is NOT as harmless or as innocent as you might think.

Cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green, MD, explains that a tan line, or any tan for that matter, is an indication of skin damage from the sun. Like, damage, damage. Yikes. "Wearing sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 is absolutely necessary to prevent any type of sun damage," Dr. Green stresses. So now that you're aware of the suntanning changes you need to make in the future (sunscreen, people!), let's get back to addressing your current sitch: How to get rid of tan lines now that you have them.

Do tan lines go away?

Eventually, yes. But while your tan lines might easily disappear after a few days, the damage left behind will not. In case you forgot the facts from every PSA ever, "Tanning causes skin damage through ultraviolet (UV) radiation that leads to an increased risk of skin cancer, which includes melanoma," Dr. Green explains. "Tanning also causes visible UV damage that manifests as wrinkles, brown sun spots, and leathery skin."

The good news? People who diligently use sunscreen every day can slow down the development of wrinkles and sagging skin, not to mention tan lines, says Dr. Green. A little sun-safety refresher for ya: Avoid sun exposure during peak hours; apply sunscreen generously 15 minutes before going outdoors (you need about a shot-glass full of sunblock to cover your body, so don't skimp); and reapply sunscreen at least every two hours to remain protected or immediately after swimming or excessively sweating.

How do you get rid of tan lines fast?

Look, spending even more time outside to try to tan over those lines is never the best option. You've got plenty of ways to get rid of tan lines without further exposing your skin to harsh UV rays, starting with these five options:

  1. Blur lines with body bronzer If you have obvious tan lines left from your swimsuit or clothes and you need a fast, temporary fix, try a wash-off body bronzer. Spread it all over, focusing on lighter areas, then use a kabuki brush to blend it into your s

  2. Self-tanner or get a spray tan Pick up some self-tanner (or get a spray tan).

  3. Conceal with makeup If you need a full-coverage option (think: wedding photos, graduation day, etc.), go for a makeup combo of body makeup or foundation, with some setting powder and setting spray on top to keep that ish in place.

  4. Fade your tan with retinol Unfortunately, once you've got a tan and tan lines, there isn't much you can do to help them fade overnight. BUT, if you want to speed up the process, Dr. Green recommends using a retinol, like Differin gel, on a consistent basis to help exfoliate skin and increase cell turnover. The only caveat? Retinoids make your skin extra sensitive to sunlight, putting you at an even higher risk of sunburns and tan lines. So if you're going to use a retinoid, you absolutely have to wear sunscreen, which brings us to...

  5. Wear sunscreen! Seriously, if you want to prevent your tan lines from getting even darker, slather on a sunscreen of at least SPF 30, even if you're just taking a stroll outside. They even make tinted sunscreens these days to give you really no excuse not to slather on the sun protection.

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