Does Sunscreen Prevent You From Tanning?

May 13, 2022
Caitlyn Martyn
By: Caitlyn Martyn | by L'Oréal
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While wearing SPF to help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays is important, it’s not uncommon to want a sun-kissed glow in the summer months. To find out if sunscreen prevents your skin from tanning, we tapped Dr. Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand, a board-certified dermatologist and consultant based in Dallas.

Can You Get a Tan While Wearing Sunscreen?

It goes without saying that you should be wearing sunscreen, period. And, unfortunately, according to Dr. Houshmand, you shouldn’t be tanning in the first place. Your skin getting tan is actually a sign of cellular damage, so it should be avoided altogether.

But to answer the question at hand, if you’re laying out or spending time in direct sunlight, you can still get a tan (read: sun damage) while wearing sunscreen.

“It all depends on the strength of the sun protection factor, or SPF,” says Dr. Houshmand. “The SPF number is simply a measure of how long your skin can be in the sun without getting burnt.” It’s important to note that SPF is tested in a laboratory setting and does not take into account the sweat, sand and frictions from towels that might rub off our sunscreen in a real-life situation, making reapplication crucial.

According to Dr. Houshmand, a safer way to get a perfect tan is by getting a spray tan or using self-tanner. We love the L'Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self Tan Drops for Face to build a natural-looking tan, sans sun damage.

If you will be out in the sun, Dr. Houshmand recommends using a broad-spectrum SPF minimum of 30 or above and taking other sun protection measures to help protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.

“To get the protection of the SPF number on the label, you need to apply one ounce of sunscreen,” she says (this is about a shot glass size). “CeraVe, Vichy and La Roche-Posay have some great options.”

CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen with Sheer Tint SPF 30

This mineral sunscreen reflects UVA and UVB rays while leaving behind a sheer tint (that works for all skin tones) for a healthy-looking glow. The tint also offsets the white cast typically associated with mineral formulations.

Vichy Capital Soleil Body & Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60

Formulated with mineral-rich volcanic water, this daily anti-aging face and body sunscreen lotion offers broad-spectrum protection in a formula that dries down transparently. Bonus: It’s non-greasy and non-sticky.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios UV Correct Face Sunscreen SPF 70 With Niacinamide

Part of the brand’s Anthelios line, the UV Correct Sunscreen is a fast-absorbing sunscreen lotion that leaves skin hydrated and smooth while providing SPF 70 protection and defense against skin-aging free radicals.

Design: Hannah Packer

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