Can you Tan With Sunscreen On

Can you still Get a Tan while Wearing Sunscreen?

With warm weather finally luring upon us, it can be hard to avoid the tempting bait of sunshine for the tan body. However, with the risks associated with tanning, you should be wise of just how much sun your skin is soaking in – and which sunscreen to use if you want to get tan.

With me, like most of us it always happens that, whenever summer twirls around, I get most excited to get a vacation tan. And like a sudden storm on a sunny day at the beach, my mind (I bet yours too!) whirls with a sandy question can you tan while sunscreen on? So to clear up all haze in your mind lets read further in this article to add some sunshine on tanning and sunscreen!

Can you Tan With Sunscreen On?

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What is Tanning of Skin

So, what exactly is TANNING?

Be it putting a foundation on or sunscreen on, myths lurk around like bees when it comes to taking care of the skin. You can find many people gaze on the idea that tanning is harmful to skin and can cause skin cancer.

Well, this is a partial truth and partly wrong. The fact is there are studies which found out severe tanning with the use of artificial chemicals and tanning your skin till it burns aka ‘sunburns” to attain certain tan-shade MAY result in cancer.

The tanning is a defence mechanism of the skin; it helps your body tolerate the sun without getting a sunburn.

Human skin has a tendency to tan in the sun when UVA radiation comes into contact with skin. Once the rays penetrate to the lower layers of the epidermis, cells begin to produce melanin.

Melanin in your skin is a group of natural pigments found in the body which is responsible for tanning skin exposed to sunlight or UVA radiation.

Sunscreen, a Skin Protector or Destroyer?


Sunscreen shields the skin from the damaging ultraviolet radiation from the sun – lengthening the time a person can spend outside without getting burnt. After applying sunscreen on the skin, it creates a layer on your skin so that the UV rays are blocked and are restricted to enter the skin. 

There are two main components to all sunscreens

  1. The active ingredient and
  2. the emulsion.

The active ingredient does sun protection work.
These come in two categories:

  • UV absorbers and
  • UV reflectors

The UV absorbers are chemicals that absorb UV radiation and transform it to a very low level of heat. On the other hand, UV absorber chemicals are also called “organic” because they carry carbon atoms, a foundation for all organic matter. Some absorb the UVB part of the spectrum, which is well-known to cause sunburn and responsible for skin cancer risk.

Now that we are in good terms with sunscreen, I must tell you that, there is no sunscreen that can protect skin 100 per cent from UV rays.

The Mystery of SPF and Skin Tanning

The Mystery of SPF

Have you ever found yourself in a dilemma of which SPF to choose 15, 30 or 50? Before answering your question lets take a beach walk with SPF to know more about it. Think of a fly-screen door: air gets though but flies don’t. In the same way, the sunscreen of your choice allows some small amount of UV radiation onto your skin. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It’s the measure of how much UV gets into the screen. A study has concluded that the higher the number of SPF, the less UV passes through.

An SPF of 30 allows one-thirtieth or 3.3% of UV to enter your skin. This means it filters 96.7% of UV. With an SPF of 50, 98% is refined and one-fiftieth or 2% gets through.

Although the difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50 sounds like a lot – it is a rather modest (1.3%) – difference in protection.

To explain it in another way, if our unprotected skin would take 10 minutes to show signs of burning, then properly applying SPF 30 sunscreen would slow the rate of burning to the point where it would take 30 times longer or 300 mins in total.

SPF 15 would take 150 minutes, while SPF 50, 500 mins. But this is ideal world stuff! If you extend your stay in the sun for 500 minutes (which is over eight hours!) only relying on sunscreen, you will likely still burn!

Can you still Get a Tan while Wearing Sunscreen?…. Answered!

Now that we have all the information about tanning, sunscreen and SPF we can finally arrive at our conclusion. Thus, the response to the question “can you still get tan while wearing sunscreen?” (I can definitely say) is a big YES! This answer is based on 3 main factors:

  1. Tanning is a mechanism which gets activated in our skin due to melanin when UV rays hit our skin.
  2. Sunscreen helps to shield our skin from u rays which cause burns and prolongs our stay in the sun.
  3. SPF 30 or 50 dose does not protect our skin 100% from UV rays and the rays which penetrates this protective layer are enough to get us tan.

Hence you can easily get tan while wearing sunscreen.

Why do I need Sunscreen if anyways I am getting Tan?

Good question, as earlier we discussed you can get easily sunburned within a few minutes if you do no apply sunscreen. Therefore, you must apply sunscreen at least 20 mins before while stepping out in the sun to enjoy your favourite book or play a game while getting tanned.

Like any other expert I would advise you the same, to use sunscreen generously over your body and also re-apply after every 20 to 30 mins.

Remember, Sunscreen only extends the length of time until burning takes place, it does not impact how deeply a person will tan or how long it will take to show a tan. So make sure you stay in the sun till you need to.

Best Sunscreen for Tanning

One last question still persists, What sunscreen is best for tanning?

Editor’s Choice

best sunscreen for tanning

Sun Bum Original Sunscreen Lotion

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Premium Choice

sunscreen for tanning

Hawaiian Tropic Protective Tanning Dry Oil

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Choose your sunscreen wisely, opt for a good brand and always check reviews before buying one. Do not settle for low-quality sunscreen as they can cause breakout and other skin problems. Also, make sure you do not buy expired sunscreen.

So now, Get set Go for your GOLDEN GLOW!

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.s)

Can you still get a tan while wearing sunscreen?

Yes, sunscreen protects you from UV rays, but not 100%. UV rays are responsible for tanning.

Can you tan with sunscreen SPF 50?

With an SPF of 50, 98% of UV rays are refined and one-fiftieth or 2% gets through. This 2% of UV rays are enough to get you tan.

What sunscreen is best for tanning?

Many experts believe that sunscreen with SPF 30 is best for your skin for tanning

Does higher SPF mean less tan?

Yes, but it also depends on the duration you stay in the sun too.

Which SPF is best to prevent tanning?

SPF 50 is best when you don’t want to tan much. If you want to tan less you should take other precautions like to limit your sin to direct exposure of sun, rather than solely depending on sunscreen.

Can you still tan with SPF?

Yes, you can still tan with SPF as no can SPF protect your skin from UV rays 100%, which are responsible for skin tanning.

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