Can A Self Tan Protect You from Sunburn?

Updated on June 21, 2019

Do you love laying under the sun? Do you already have a natural tan, but you’re also interested in darkening your skin with self-tanning products? You’re not alone. Most people assume that combining sunbathing with self-tanning products can create a “base” that will protect them from sunburn. 

Unfortunately, this can cause lead to sunburn and serious damage. The more time you spend outside, the more you increase your chances of skin cancer. 

Self-Tanning Before Sunbathing

Before you decide to bask in the sun, you should know that you can fake a tan. Self-tanning products allow you to achieve that glow without laying in the sun. Many people use self-tanners to get tanned within hours, especially before an upcoming vacation or special occasion. But does that mean you can sunbathe with these products? And does it work immediately or does this brown base create a barrier of protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays? 

Should You Still Sunbathe with Self-Tanner?

Most self-tanning products don’t require you to lay in the sun. What you should be doing is exfoliating and prepping your skin for the self-tanner. This removes the dead skin cells from the upper layer of your skin, which allows the amino acids within that product to create a tan. But since your dead skin cells constantly shed during the renewal process, your tan is likely to disappear after a few days. 

Sunbathing is a process that creates a pigment. This is caused by melanin, which makes your skin darker for a longer period of time. It’s also been known to protect your skin from the UV rays, but it’s only as strong as a sunscreen with SPF 2. Unlike a fake tan, melanin can’t be scrubbed off. Applying self-tanner before sunbathing can prolong your tan. Since you’re already tan, you don’t have to worry about your tan fading. 

Is it Safer to Sunbathe with a Self-Tan?

While sunbathing with self-tanner can make your tan last, it’s not a safe practice to use. That’s because most self-tanning products don’t contain SPF sunscreens or protection against UVA and UVB rays. It’s not an ideal replacement for sunscreen since it’s the SPF ingredients that protect your skin from the sun, so you won’t get sunburnt. Before heading out the door, apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to your face and body over your self-tanner. 

Using Sunscreen with UVA and UVA Protection 

Sunbathing with self-tanner can be a great idea, as long as you use sunscreen. No matter how dark you want to look, tanning without sunscreen is not a great idea. You should invest in a sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection. This only prevents sunburns caused by UVB rays, but it also prevents premature aging that stems from UVA rays. In addition, you should protect your skin from solar radiation, which can cause skin cancer. 

Why the “Base Tan” Concept is a Myth

The dark skin you get from a self-tanner only gives you an SPF of 1 to 4. This is not enough to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. Since your skin attracts UVA and UVB rays while sunbathing, you won’t receive the additional protection that your skin desperately needs. Skin damage and redness can occur as a result. 

You may also notice that you’ll develop freckles, which is a sign of sun damage. This can also increase your chance of premature skin and skin cancer. Sunbathing and using tanning booths before your 30s can increase your chances of melanoma by 59%. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. It’s so dangerous that a person dies every hour from it, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. 

The Best Way to Get a Healthy Summer Glow

The best way to get a tan is to self-tan. If you want to look like a beach babe, then you should use a self-tanner from B.Tan or other quality tanning brands. Both of these self-tanning products contain active ingredients known as DHA, which contributes to a fake tan that eventually fades. Self-tanning products that contain DHA are better than the ones that produce an orange tan. 

The great thing about self-tanning at home is that it won’t increase your risk of skin cancer. All you need to do is wear sunscreen before you leave the door since self-tanner alone won’t protect skin from sunburn. 

Speak to Your Dermatologist 

If you have a sunburn or another kind of skin damage from sun exposure, speak to your dermatologist as soon as possible. One advantage of seeing your dermatologist is receiving an early skin cancer diagnosis. Once you’ve been diagnosed, you can receive immediate treatment. This type of care typically includes tests, a diagnosis, follow-up care, and treatment for that skin cancer. 

Throughout the year, our writers feature fresh, in-depth, and relevant information for our audience of 40,000+ healthcare leaders and professionals. As a healthcare business publication, we cover and cherish our relationship with the entire health care industry including administrators, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, and more. We cover a broad spectrum from hospitals to medical offices to outpatient services to eye surgery centers to university settings. We focus on rehabilitation, nursing homes, home care, hospice as well as men’s health, women’s heath, and pediatrics.