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Does Sunscreen Prevent Tanning

Does Sunscreen Prevent Tanning? The Science Behind It & Sun Protection Tips


Summer is officially here, which means we’re all getting a little more sun these days. And while everyone knows about the importance and benefits of sun protection, a lot of us enjoy the glow that comes with the season, too. So—is it possible to have both? Can you get a healthy tan and protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays? Or does sunscreen prevent tanning? Let’s find out. 

Does Sunscreen Prevent Tanning?

So, you’re here to find out if sunscreen stops you from tanning. Well, not exactly. Sunscreen shields your skin from UV rays that can cause sunburn, skin discoloration, and, let's not forget, aging! But, and here's the kicker, it doesn't completely hinder the tanning process.


The Science Behind Sunscreen and Tanning

To understand the interplay between sunscreen and tanning, we need to first understand UV rays and how they affect our skin. UV radiation has two types: UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin, causing premature aging, while UVB rays are responsible for sunburn. Here's where sunscreen comes in to save the day.


How Sunscreen Works to Protect the Skin

Sunscreen is a staple for most when the weather starts to heat up and the sun starts to shine, but you may wonder, how does sunscreen work? 

Sunscreen contains active ingredients that either absorb or reflect UV rays, preventing them from causing sun damage to your skin. They work like a shield protecting you from the harmful effects of UV rays.


Debunking Myths: Sunscreen and Total Tanning Prevention

Some believe that wearing sunscreen will block out all the sun's rays necessary for a great tan—which isn’t true. While sunscreen certainly reduces the chances of sunburn and skin damage, it doesn't create an impenetrable force field against UV rays. It allows some of those rays to reach your skin, which, in moderation, give you that sun-kissed glow.

How to Tan Safely with Sunscreen

Now that we've debunked the myth that sunscreen prevents tanning, let's dive into the world of safe tanning. Yes, you heard right—safe tanning! The key is finding the right sunscreen, one that suits your skin type and provides optimal sun protection. Look for a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to battle UV rays while you work on your tan.

We recommend our collection of organic body sunscreen products to keep your skin hydrated and protected from the sun.


Choosing the Right Sunscreen for Tanning

Picking the perfect sunscreen for your skin can be a bit overwhelming, like finding the right swimsuit for your body type. Opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. This way, you'll be protected against the aging effects of UVA rays and sunburn caused by UVB rays. 


Proper Application of Sunscreen for Effective Protection

Now it's time to lather up and wear sunscreen properly! Applying sunscreen correctly is key to reaping its benefits and achieving a golden tan while keeping your skin safe. Start by slathering a generous amount of sunscreen onto your exposed skin before stepping into the sun. Remember to cover all those nooks and crannies—the ears, the back of the neck, and, of course, the nose!


Sunscreen Reapplication for Prolonged Sun Exposure

We get it—you're having a blast under the sun, jumping in the waves, or hiking through nature. But don't forget, even the mightiest sunscreen needs a helping hand from time to time. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more frequently if you've been splashing in the water or sweating. Have an older bottle of sunscreen and wondering if sunscreen expires? Our general rule of thumb is to make sure you use your sunscreen within a year of purchase to maintain maximum effectiveness. Check out our full blog to learn more.

Maintaining a Tan with Sunscreen

Balancing sun protection and a golden tan is tricky. That's where the SPF comes into play. The higher the SPF, the more sun protection you'll get. However, a higher SPF doesn't mean you won't tan at all. It just means you'll get an added layer of protection while soaking up the sun. So, find that sweet spot—the right SPF for your skin type—and let the tanning begin.


Recommended Sunscreen Usage for Desired Tanning Results

And now for the million-dollar question: how much sunscreen should you use to maintain a tan? Well, it all depends on your body's surface area. Typically, aim for about one ounce, or two tablespoons, of sunscreen to cover your entire body (imagine a shot glass full of sunblock).


Tips for Achieving an Even and Natural Tan with Sunscreen

Before you head off into the sun, be sure to follow these extra tips to ensure an even and natural tan:

  1. Exfoliate: Prior to going outdoors, give your skin some love by exfoliating. Removing dead skin cells helps create a more even tan and makes your skin glow.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Hydration is key for healthy skin and a long-lasting tan. Drink plenty of water while you soak up those sun rays.
  3. Rotate and Relax: For an even tan, rotate your body every now and then to ensure every inch receives its share of sunshine. And remember, don't overdo it! Take breaks in the shade to give your skin a breather.

Additional Sun Protection Tips

Finally, let's not forget the little things that can make a big difference in protecting our skin. Seek shade when the sun is at its strongest, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wear protective clothing like wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and lightweight garments that cover your skin. And we can’t say it enough: don't forget to hydrate!

Balancing Sun Protection and Tanning Goals

And there you have it—your ultimate guide to the eternal question, "Does sunscreen prevent tanning?" The truth is, sunscreen is your trusty sidekick in the quest for a glorious, healthy tan—not your nemesis. It shields you from sunburn and premature aging while still allowing those sun rays to kiss your skin with a golden glow. So, go ahead! Embrace the sun and tan safely with the power of COOLA sunscreen by your side. Whether you opt for a sunless tan or enjoy the sun’s rays, protect your skin, cherish your tan, and let the summer adventures begin.


  1. “Differences between UVA, UVB & UVC Rays.” UPMC HealthBeat, 25 Apr. 2022, share.upmc.com/2014/07/difference-between-uva-uvb-uvc/