Does Sunscreen Prevent Tanning?

Welcome back to our natural skincare blog. When we think of tanning we think of the process whereby the skin is darkened or tanned. While tanning – whether indoors or outdoors – is quite popular, it is without a doubt still something that we should do in moderation. Tanning can be done artificially or via sunlight. Some people use products that can produce a tanning effect, as well. Sunbathing is also a recreational activity that can be considered a beneficial contribution to the production of melanin and vitamin D by the body. So why is melanin so important? Melanin provides pigmentation for the cells; melanin also absorbs harmful UV light exposure and can be considered a natural sunscreen. What about Vitamin D? Vitamin D has multiple benefits and to think, this can be achieved with a few hours in the sun…promotes healthy bones and teeth, supports the immune system, brain function, and nervous health system. It also regulates insulin levels and supports diabetes management amongst other things.

Busting sunscreen myths

Of course, there are benefits to tanning but the benefits to wearing sunscreen seem to outweigh that and while this myth continues to prevail, it is, in fact, untrue that wearing sunscreen will prevent you from tanning. Wearing a chemical or physical-based sunscreen may help to prevent the sun’s rays from causing photoaging and skin cancer. It is also still possible to get a slight tan, even if you do wear sunscreen. So how often should you wear sunscreen? Sunscreen should be worn every day and may last 2-3 hours. Depending on your activity you may find yourself having to reapply your sunscreen more often than someone who is simply staying home or engages in fewer outdoor activities leading to less exposure to the face and body.

Preparing to tan safely

So how do you prepare for a tan? First, you should hydrate your skin because moisturized skin will tan better than dry skin. In the shower, exfoliate dry, dead epidermal cells by scrubbing gently with a rough cloth or loofah. Afterward, apply a moisturizer containing PCA if you have it as this can help to attract moisture from the air. Next, you want to apply your sunscreen. If you have light skin then use a lotion that has a higher SPF rating than if you have darker skin. No matter what your skin type or how much base you have built up, always use a sunscreen of at least 15. Things are a bit different if you’re going to be in the water. In cases like this, you want to ensure that your sunscreen is waterproof, or reapply it when you’re out of the water. Usually, the sunscreen you are using will let you know how often it should be applied. Be sure to check this out before going out for your tan.

You can tan in your backyard, at the beach, or anywhere the sun shines, and be sure to move around while you tan – think of a rotisserie chicken – to get that great, all-over browning you have to keep on the move. Front, back, sides, and places where the sun does not normally shine- like your underarms. You can also alternate which days you will spend tanning where – this is if you have that type of leisure. Alternatively, if you don’t want to lie around all day but still want to tan you can go for a jog or even a walk. This not only increases your sun exposure and increases your tan but helps give you a slim, toned body at the same time. So after all of this, when should you be worried about skin cancer?

Preventing skin cancer

Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells – most often develops on skin exposed to the sun. This is one form, but others may not derive from sunlight exposure. While seldom tanning sessions may not have a detrimental effect on the skin, regular visits or regular tanning can…sun exposure that doesn’t result in burning can still cause damage to skin cells and increase your risk of developing skin cancer. The downside to tanning is that it will eventually cause loss of elasticity (wrinkles), sagging, yellowish discoloration, and even brown patches to appear on your skin. All in all, is tanning worth it? Probably not. But if you absolutely must, then wearing sunscreen is highly recommended and won’t impact the level of tanning you receive.



While skin cancer can be cured if detected immediately, prevention is always better than a cure. That is why it is a good idea to always check your skin every month for new growths and other signs of cancer. Protecting your skin today may help prevent cancer later in life. It may be common to hear that people of a lighter skin tone are more susceptible, the reality is, everyone can get skin cancer, and no one is exempt. Skin cancer can also affect both men and women, even teenagers, and rarely, younger children can develop skin cancer. If you’re unsure about whether or not children can use sunscreen, check out this article here: Can Adults Use Kids Sunscreen?

If you’re someone with darker skin, you may not burn, but skin cancer itself can come about from other causes; sometimes found in places on the body never exposed to the sun. Have your doctor check your skin regularly as some skin conditions and certain medications may make your skin more sensitive to the sun and increase the likelihood of skin damage. This is also important when choosing your daytime vs nighttime skin routine. You want to avoid using retinol in the daytime. Other factors include having scars or skin ulcers increases your risk, exposure to a high level of arsenic, and certain medical conditions (such as HIV) that suppress the immune system may make you more likely to develop skin cancer. So as always Clean Beauty Babes, stay safe and remember, Healthy Skin Is In.

Still need more information? Schedule a consultation with Anakarina today.

Written by Danielle Wright
Photo by Mikhail Nilov:

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