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Do Sunburns Turn into Tans?

One can speculate over and over the best sunburn treatment and yet find themselves burned and scarred. Of course, sunburns can be avoided through some preventive tips but if you are neglecting them in a bid to get tanned, you are inviting the worst sunburn case of your life. Who doesn’t want that gorgeous golden glow after a good tan? However, there are ways to get tanned safely. Anything beyond it is calling for trouble. If you are low-key hoping for the red burns to turn bronze; you are highly mistaken. Let’s dive in.

What is the difference between a tan and a sunburn?

Before we proceed to the difference, let’s know the key agent behind it. Melanin.

Melanin is a pigment, the core reason behind complexions and skin tones. Higher the melanin content in the body, the darker your skin would get. Melanin production in the skin is indicative of the body’s attempt to protect the skin against UV damage. The dark appearance of skin over tanning is due to melanin. On the other hand, a light-skinned person with low melanin would straight up get sunburned. The redness occurs due to increased blood flow in the damaged portion of the skin.

The common thing between a tan and sunburn is skin damage by UV rays. The body’s response to UV rays happens in two steps,

  • Firstly, the immune system responds by redirecting the blood flow to the affected area. This is why the skin feels red and warm. So regardless of sunburn or tan, your skin will go through this process.
  • Now the next step is only applicable to those with darker skin tones (high melanin). The body increases the production of melanin in a bid to combat the damage. This releases the dark pigment, giving you a “tan”.

The core difference between them is that tan will show up in the form of dark patches (melanin production). Although melanin forms a protective layer over the skin cells to combat DNA mutation, it darkens the skin.

On the other hand, sunburn COULD go beyond the epidermal layer of the skin. It is dangerous as it leads to inflammation, swelling, blistering, peeling, and rashes. The effect is not immediate and shows a few hours after exposure. The damage is a lot more severe than tanning and frequent occurrences could result in skin cancer and premature aging. In the worst sunburn case scenario, a person could also die from the burns. So, does this make tanning safe?

It might look good on your skin but for its health? Absolutely not. Sun tan is also an indication of skin damage. The hue that appears on the skin is no less than a response to an injury. Regardless of how you choose to get tanned, it is only inviting permanent gruesome damages. 

How long does it take for sunburn to turn into a tan?

For those looking for the silver lining here, sunburns could “turn” into tans. In the end, it all comes down to your skin type. Experts believe Fitzpatrick skin types (or phototypes) indicate the possibility of sunburns turning into tans. The table below is an indication of the skin’s response to UV rays while classifying the skin types.

Type IPale white skinNever tans could experience the worst sunburn.
Type IIFair skin with a pink undertoneHardly tans mostly burns.
Type IIIFair to medium skin with a golden undertone  Frequent tans, mild burns.
Type IVLight brown skinTans easily, rare burns.
Type VBrown skinTans very easily and never burns
Type VIDark brown to black skinOnly tans never burn

What to do for a sunburn?

Despite your skin’s vulnerability to UV rays, you must act quickly. Whether it is mild suntan or the worst sunburn, you must give the following sunburn treatment tips a try.

  • Calm the skin by immediately running a cold shower. This will soothe the skin and prevent irritation.
  • Moisturize the skin while it is damp. This will lock the hydration and prevent dryness.
  • If the irritation persists to an extent that it pains, take an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen.
  • Stay hydrated. Consume more water than usual. Avoid sugary sodas and beverages. It will have adverse effects on your skin.
  • Consume Sunburn Drink to speed up the healing process. The drink is formulated with organic ingredients and essential vitamins and minerals to pacify the ill effects and discomfort.
  • Stay inside and covered. Any further exposure to the sun will only deteriorate the condition.
  • Do not touch the blisters. Skin peeling is normal and the process should not be hindered. Otherwise, it could lead to scarring.

What is the best way to prevent sunburns?

Sun-damaged skin is more common than you know. Although everyone should remain cautious, if you have a light skin tone with a history of skin cancer you should be all the more careful.

  • Always wear a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen. This way you are protected against UVA and UVB rays. Choose a sunscreen with 30 or higher SPF.
  • Wear protective gear to cover your face neck and arms against sun rays. Accessories like wide-brimmed hats, UV protection sunglasses, and long-sleeved clothes will do the trick.
  • Peak hours range from 10 am to 4 pm. Make sure to avoid stepping outside during these hours. If your schedule includes sunbathing or relaxing in the sun, consume Sunburn Drink before stepping outside. It can even reduce the chances of worst sunburn cases significantly.


Sunburns and suntans could lead to long-term risks. Whether or not sunburn turns into tans in your case, you must avoid them. At the end of the day, these are skin injuries, which are damaging your skin cells. Even the worst sunburn episode can be avoided if you take preventive measures and remain aware of its consequences.


  • Do sunburn tans go away?

With time, sunburn tans (much to your dismay) fade. As skin cells get regenerated, the pigmented cells (due to tan) get replaced with new ones. Gradually, the skin returns to its usual color. With gentle exfoliation and proper treatment, the tan fades faster than usual.

  • Will my skin be darker after sunburn?

The increased melanin production will make the skin appear darker than normal. However, if it is a sunburn on a pale to light-skin-toned person, effects like rashes, redness, and blisters could develop.