how to safely tan with sunscreen

How to Safely Tan with Sunscreen Without Getting Sunburn

So can you tan with sunscreen on? Yes! And if done right, it is healthy AF as well! 

(Very controversial topic, we know)

The balance between sun protection and tanning is nuanced and vital for skin health. It is so important to know how to gain the health benefits of sunlight on our skin without the adverse side effects of premature aging and increased risk of skin cancer.

Imagine achieving a luminous tan that’s both beautiful and healthy. Uncover the secrets to tanning safely with the optimal SPF through this comprehensive guide.

Article at a Glance:

Guide to Safely Tanning with Sunscreen

Health Benefits of Direct Sunlight

How to Enhance your Tan Naturally

Quick Guide to Safe Tanning with Sunscreen and Natural Tanning Oil

Can You Tan with Sunscreen On?

So, you wanna catch some rays and get that golden glow but worry about frying your skin? Good news: You totally can tan with sunscreen on. It’s all about playing it smart and safe.

Sunscreen filters out the nasty UV rays that burn your skin, not all the sunlight. So, even with SPF 30 or 50 slathered on, your skin still gets enough sun to tan without turning lobster red. The trick is choosing a natural broad-spectrum zinc sunscreen to block both UVA and UVB rays – that way, you’re protected and still get that tan without any harsh chemicals.

Timing is Everything

Hit the beach or park early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The sun’s less intense then, so you can soak up some vitamin D (hello, healthy bones and boosted mood!) without the harsh burn risk. Morning sun exposure also triggers your skin to start protecting itself for later in the day.

This doesn’t mean you can stay in the sun all day without reapplication. To maintain its effectiveness, sunscreen must be reapplied every two hours, more often if you’re swimming or sweating. Moreover, SPF does not measure protection from UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into the skin and are responsible for premature aging and some forms of skin cancer. Therefore, for comprehensive protection, choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen that guards against both UVA and UVB rays is essential.

Understanding SPF is crucial for choosing the right sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful rays while allowing you to achieve a healthy tan. An SPF of 15 to 30 is generally recommended for a good balance of protection and tanning. This allows some UV radiation to reach the skin for melanin production, which leads to tanning, while still blocking the majority of harmful rays.

🌿 Health Benefits of Safe Sun Exposure: 

  1. Vitamin D Production: Sunlight triggers the skin to produce vitamin D, essential for bone health, immune function, and calcium absorption.
  2. Mood Enhancement: Exposure to sunlight increases the brain’s release of serotonin, a hormone associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.
  3. Improved Sleep: Natural light helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, improving sleep patterns and quality.
  4. Skin Condition Relief: Sunlight can help alleviate symptoms of certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne, through UV radiation’s anti-inflammatory properties.
  5. Lower Blood Pressure: Sun exposure can trigger the skin to release nitric oxide, which can help lower blood pressure by improving circulation.
  6. Enhanced Mental Health: Regular exposure to sunlight can reduce stress and mitigate the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression related to changes in seasons.

Reasons You Need to Know About SPF and Tanning

Understanding SPF and tanning is vital for:

  • Achieving a tan while protecting skin health
  • Preventing sunburn and reducing skin damage risks
  • Maintaining a radiant and healthy glow safely

Knowledge of SPF empowers a more informed approach to tanning, balancing beauty and health.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Tan Healthily with Sunscreen and Natural Tanning Oils

Achieving a healthy tan while protecting your skin is possible by carefully selecting and applying the right products. Here’s how you can do it:

1. Apply Natural Tanning Oil First

Before sunscreen, apply a layer of natural tanning oil, such as coconut, carrot seed, or avocado oil, to hydrate the skin and provide antioxidants plus a base for an even tan.

applying oil cleanser

2. Choose the Right Sunscreen

Apply sunscreen over the tanning oil, covering exposed areas evenly. Use enough product (2 tablespoons for the whole body) to form an effective barrier. Use natural zinc based sunscreen to avoid chemicals and provide broad spectrum protection.

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3. Stay Hydrated and Nourish Your Skin

Drink plenty of water throughout the day and use after-sun products to keep your skin moisturised and help extend the life of your tan. Organic aloe vera gel is ideal!

4. Antioxidants & Minerals in Your Diet

Boost your skin’s natural defense against UV damage with a diet rich in antioxidants and minerals. Foods high in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium, and zinc can help protect your skin. Include berries, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and citrus fruits for antioxidants, and consider red meat, seafood, and legumes for mineral-rich options. 

Key Considerations For Successfully Tanning with Sunscreen

  • Optimal Timing

Aim for sun exposure during the safer early morning or late afternoon hours, when the sun’s rays are less intense. This can reduce the risk of sunburn while still allowing you to tan.

  • Hydration and Antioxidants

Maintaining hydration is crucial; drink plenty of water to ensure your skin tans evenly and is less likely to burn or peel. Applying moisturizers rich in antioxidants, like vitamins C and E, can also help. These antioxidants protect against free radical damage, enhance skin health, and contribute to a more durable, even tan.

  • Enhancing Your Tan

Use after-sun products containing aloe vera and hyaluronic acid to improve and prolong your tan. These ingredients help soothe and hydrate the skin after sun exposure, deepening the tan and lasting longer while ensuring your skin remains healthy and vibrant.

skin hydration and antioxidants for tanning

Cautions Around Tanning for Skin Health

  • Limit Exposure

To safeguard your skin’s health, avoiding prolonged sun exposure is crucial. Extended sun exposure increases the risk of skin damage, including sunburn, premature aging, and the potential for skin cancer. Aim for moderate sun exposure, particularly during the safer times of day—early morning or late afternoon—when the UV index is lower. Using umbrellas, shade, and protective clothing can also help manage sun exposure, ensuring you enjoy the benefits of the sun safely.

  • Skin Monitoring

Regularly checking your skin for new or changing moles and spots is vital in detecting early signs of skin cancer. Be on the lookout for changes in size, shape, color, or texture and any new lesions that appear suspicious. Use the “ABCDE” rule to assess moles: Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color variation, Diameter greater than 6mm, and Evolution or change over time. If you notice any of these changes, consult a dermatologist immediately.

Taking it to the Next Level: Skin Health Benefits of Direct Sunlight

Catching some direct sunlight isn’t just about getting that tan; it’s got some pretty sweet perks for your skin and overall health too. Let’s break it down in a chill way:

Vitamin D Boost

Sunlight is like nature’s vitamin pill, especially regarding Vitamin D. This superstar nutrient is crucial for keeping your bones strong, your immune system humming, and your mood up. Sun exposure can help your skin churn out Vitamin D, which is tough to get from food alone.

Natural Mood Lifter

Feeling a bit down or stressed? Sunlight might just be the pick-me-up you need. When the sun hits your skin, it helps produce Vitamin D and boosts serotonin levels in your brain, which is like a natural happy pill. So, soaking up some rays can literally brighten your day!

Better Sleep Cycles

Our bodies have this internal clock called the circadian rhythm, which helps us feel awake during the day and sleepy at night. Natural sunlight helps keep this clock ticking properly. Getting regular sun exposure, especially in the morning, can help you catch better Zs at night.

Improved Skin Conditions

For folks with certain skin issues like psoriasis, eczema, or acne, a moderate amount of sunlight can sometimes work wonders. The sun’s UV rays can slow down the overgrowth of skin cells in psoriasis or reduce inflammation in some skin conditions. Just remember, moderation is key!

So, while it’s important to guard against overdoing it (because, you know, sunburn and skin aging), catching some controlled, direct sunlight can have some legit benefits for your skin and overall well-being. Just balance it with sunscreen and smart timing to keep things healthy.

Natural Alternatives to Tanning with Sunscreen

For individuals seeking a tanned appearance without the risks of UV exposure, several natural and safer alternatives to traditional tanning methods exist:

Self-Tanning Products with Natural Ingredients

Look for self-tanners that are free from harmful chemicals and enriched with natural moisturisers like aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, or natural oils to nourish the skin while providing a tan.

Unfortunately, DHA, or dihydroxyacetone, is being phased out in many countries due to its skin-drying effect and potential negative health effects, so ideally, avoid this if possible.

Bronzing Lotions and Oils

Natural bronzing lotions and oils can give the skin an instant tanned look without sun exposure. These products typically contain mineral pigments and natural oils, offering a temporary tan that can be washed off. They are perfect for those who want a quick tan for a special event or occasion.

Spray Tans with Organic Ingredients

Professional spray tan services often offer organic options that use naturally derived DHA and are free from synthetic fragrances, alcohol, and other harsh chemicals. These organic spray tans provide a safe and even tan, reducing the risk of skin irritation and ensuring a more natural-looking result.

Dietary Approaches

Consuming foods rich in certain nutrients can subtly enhance your skin’s natural pigmentation. Foods high in beta-carotene, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens, can give the skin a naturally sun-kissed glow over time. While this method won’t produce immediate tan-like results, it can contribute to a healthier, more radiant complexion.

Natural tanning alternatives allow you to achieve a bronzed look without compromising skin health. These options provide a safer way to tan and offer the added benefits of nourishing and caring for the skin.

Wrapping Up and My Experience Tanning with Sunscreen

In conclusion, achieving a natural tan while prioritising skin health is entirely possible with the right approach and products.

Through my own experiences with tanning and sunscreen, I’ve learned the importance of balancing sun exposure with effective protection. Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an adequate SPF, applying natural tanning oils for hydration, and opting for mineral-based products have been key strategies in my tanning routine.

I’ve found that tanning with sunscreen doesn’t have to mean sacrificing a golden glow for safety. By carefully selecting products that offer both protection and tanning benefits, like natural zinc sunscreens enriched with antioxidants, I can enjoy the sun responsibly. Additionally, understanding the importance of hydration, both internally and externally, has helped me achieve a more even and lasting tan.

Ultimately, my experience has taught me that tanning can be a safe and enjoyable part of a holistic skincare regimen with mindful practices and the right products. It’s about understanding and respecting your skin’s limits, listening to its needs, and adjusting your tanning practices to ensure long-term health and vitality.

Why you can trust us:

  • Real-World Experience: Mick founded Skorcha Organic Suncare to provide effective organic and natural suncare products based on his 10 years of working under the sun as a roofer and door-to-door salesman.
  • Self-Testing: We live and breathe suncare and everything related to caring for your skin under the sun. If we haven’t tried it ourselves, we have researched it thoroughly.
  • Continuous Learning : Always learn about natural ingredients’ power for suncare and our skin health.

Want to know more? Visit our store


How long does it take to tan outside with sunscreen?

The time it takes to develop a tan outdoors while wearing sunscreen typically ranges from 1-2 hours. However, the visible signs of a tan or sunburn may not appear immediately. It’s important to remember that even if your skin color doesn’t change right away, you are still absorbing UV radiation, which can lead to tanning. Therefore, maintaining a consistent level of high SPF sunscreen is crucial to protect your skin while tanning.

How do you tan better with sunscreen?

To tan effectively while using sunscreen, it’s important to apply it thoroughly and regularly. Every two hours, or after swimming or sweating, reapply the sunscreen to ensure continuous protection. Don’t forget less obvious areas like your scalp, feet, ears, and the back of your neck. To achieve an even tan, often adjust your position to expose different body parts to the sun. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, and for extra protection, wear a hat and sunglasses to shield your eyes and face from excessive sunlight.

How long does it take to tan with SPF 30?

How long you can tan with SPF 30 depends on how quickly you’d burn without sunscreen. SPF 30 means you can theoretically stay in the sun 30 times longer than without protection. So, if you’d normally start burning after 10 minutes, SPF 30 could protect you for about 300 minutes. However, tanning occurs because some UV rays still reach your skin, even with sunscreen. Remember, this is just an estimate, and actual sun protection can vary based on application, skin type, and UV intensity.

Can you get a tan using SPF 50?

Absolutely, you can still achieve a tan while wearing SPF 50 sunscreen. Despite its high protection level, SPF 50 doesn’t completely stop all UV rays from reaching your skin – it just filters out a significant amount. This allows enough sunlight through to enable your skin to tan, albeit more safely and slowly, reducing the risk of sunburn and helping to protect against skin cancer. Curious to learn how it works?

How to get a tan faster?

To tan quickly and safely, apply broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure, ensuring coverage of all exposed skin. Rotate your position regularly to tan evenly and consume beta-carotene-rich foods like carrots and sweet potatoes to enhance skin protection. Use natural oils with SPF, like coconut or avocado oil, for added hydration. Be mindful of your skin’s melanin limit, usually 2-3 hours, to avoid overexposure. Incorporate lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes and watermelon for natural sun protection. For faster tanning, sunbathe between noon and 3 p.m., but if you have fair skin, opt for morning or late afternoon to reduce burn risk. Wear strapless tops to avoid tan lines, take shade breaks to prevent burning, and exfoliate before tanning for a longer-lasting, even tan. Post-tanning, apply aloe vera to soothe and maintain skin health.

Mick Wadley

Mick Wadley – Founder of Skorcha

After a decade in the scorching sun as a roofer and going door-to-door in sales – I was forced to take my skin health seriously following a skin cancer scare before the age of 30.

So began my passion for suncare, which is both effective and natural. Crafted for adventure and endurance sports, Skorcha formulas are non-greasy, have no eye sting and absolutely no bullshit (100% Organic).

My goal is to share what I’ve learned about skin health and safe ingredients, inspiring happier, healthier lives through adventure, organic goodness and conservation!

Help us plant a mangrove tree with every Skorcha product sold to protect fragile marine ecosystems and support underprivileged communities around the world.

Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Products sold on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for direct, individual medical treatment or advice. It is the responsibility of you and your healthcare providers to make all decisions regarding your health. Skorcha recommends that you consult with your healthcare providers regarding the diagnosis and treatment of any disease or condition.