Does Sunscreen Prevent Tanning

sun tan


I just read an excellent article on a  blog about Sun Tanning. Honestly, I couldn’t believe that our trusted sunscreens and sunblocks do not prevent us from getting tanned.

Personally, I have never had issues with tanning. I wear sunscreens to prevent myself from the harmful rays of the sun and the skin damage I could get. In fact, I have worn bronzers over my tanned skin without any issues of me looking dark. I used to love it and it was only then my love for bronzers started.

To cut the long story short, I also did a bit of research on the same topic and have come to the conclusion that “Sunscreen DOES NOT prevent skin tanning.

Read on!

How Does the Skin Tan in the Sun?
Tanning begins the moment you step out into the sun for most people.
As UV rays penetrate the skin, it starts to break down DNA in the body. In order for the body to protect itself to prevent further damage to your body, it starts to produce melanin. The more melanin in your body, the darker the body becomes and the more protected you are from the sun. So someone who has spent a lot of time in the sun can stand out in the sun for longer periods of time without the risk of sunburn. A suntan needs to be gradual, so it is better to tan for only a little bit at a time and with the right sort of protection like using sunscreen.

What is Melanin in the Skin?
Melanin is produced to protect your skin from sun damage. The moment you are hit with UV rays, either from a tanning bed or from the sun, the body tries to protect itself from the rays by producing melanin. There is a type of cell in your body called melanocyte and this produces melanin, but it can only produce so much at a time. In some people it doesn’t produce melanin at all or very little of it. Those people have a sensitive skin type and shouldn’t stay out in the sun too long at all without moderate protection. Each person actually has about the same number of melanocyte cells in the body but only people above skin type I have melanocyte cells that produce more than enough melanin to create a tan in the body.

What about sunburns?
If you get sunburn, the sunburn itself is not actually ‘damage’ to your skin, though it does hurt. It is actually how the body reacts when exposed to too much sunlight and there has been too much damage to your skin, breaking down DNA. When sunlight hits the skin, it actually starts destroying DNA. To protect the skin, melanin is produced but it takes time to help produce enough melanin. If exposed too long the body becomes too damaged. This results in the body causing your sunburn. It is actually a process for the body to help prepare itself. The red part of your sunburn is actually blood filling up the capillaries in your skin. If you touch your sunburn, it will go white because you are essentially pushing out the blood. It will fill back in after a few seconds. The blood helps to bring in additional cells that will fight the damage done to your skin. Sunburns can be very painful, more harsh sunburns actually cause blisters to form on the skin. Sunburn should be prevented, which comes with proper education about sun protection, which can come in the form of a natural tan produced by the body.

Protect the Skin from Sunburn
To prevent sunburn, limit your exposure to the sun. Sunburn can happen to most skin types. The darker the skin, the longer it takes for the sunrays to damage the skin but it can still happen. This doesn’t mean you should avoid the sun; UV rays have more benefits than simply causing the body to tan. Instead, be aware of how long you are exposed for and wear sunscreen. Sunscreen helps to block out UVA and UVB rays in various lengths. Depending on the sunscreen you are wearing, it won’t prevent the body from tanning but it will help prevent sunburn if applied properly. For people with ultra sensitive skin, sun block is available. Unlike some sunscreens, sun block keeps the sun from reaching the skin at all. Sun block prevents any sort of ultraviolet light from penetrating the skin.

Will Clothes Protect Me from Sunlight?
In most cases yes, but do not rely on your clothes along to protect your body. With most modern styles, little is there in clothing to protect your skin. Popular clothing items, like t-shirts, actually have tiny holes in it. A thin enough material with a loose weave like a cotton t-shirt actually will only do so much to protect the skin. This is why even with a t-shirt on, over exposure to sunlight could cause your shoulders and back to become sunburn, if not the rest of your body. If you are wearing something light like a t-shirt outside, remember to wear sunscreen underneath your clothing as well.

How to Heal from Sunburn
If you have already damaged your skin, there is little you can do to stop the sunburn. Sunburn is your body’s naturally way of healing overexposure to sunlight or ultraviolet light. If you think your skin has been over exposed, keep out of the sunlight. You will be able to see sunburn within four hours of being exposed. It will completely develop in eight to 24 hours. You might not know if you have sunburn right off but it is better to be safe and get out of the sun if you can. Do not go back out into the sun if you have sunburn, even if you wear sunscreen. If the sunburn has blistered, see a doctor. Otherwise, to cool off sunburn, use Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera comes from a plant and you can find either the plant or gels or lotions at the store. Apply it to the skin and it will moisturize and help sooth the skin while your body does its job. For severe sunburns, you should see a doctor immediately.

Read the full article here :

Another useful comment that I found on internet:

Sunblock completely prevents sun’s harmful rays from reaching your skin as long as you apply it often and well (and also how long you are out in the sun and how sunny it is). Sunscreen is different…it prevents some of the rays. So if you are buying something and you really want to avoid getting a tan, try Neutrogena 75 SPF sunblock. It works really well, and is only about 10$ for a spray bottle in like CVS or Walgreens. – Yana

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10 thoughts on “Does Sunscreen Prevent Tanning

  1. Will u get ur name plate done or not? I should say I am more used to such scenes here, but still I like it!

    I know wat tanning can do! I tan terribly like nobody’s business 🙂

  2. Hey Divs!

    Thks so much for the link love, & it is gr8 u took up the story and did your own research on it! 😀 😀

    Thks for writing a post on the same topic, I am glad yr spreading awareness as well, because as bloggers it is imp for us to help break these long held myths :D, because companies will never do it.

  3. Divija, I guess it would be only and only you who would be making a plate for me. 😛 The credit for this post goes entirely to Tanveer. Had she not brought this topic up, I would have not lived with the myth all my life. 🙂

    Tanveer, Thanks to you I must say and it was great that you brought this up. I thought now that th etopic has come up, our readers can read stuff at both the places. 🙂 You are right about what you said about the cosmetic companies. I guess this myth has been created by them only. They make ads that show all these fair girls who don’t get tanned when they step out in sun. What else is consumer expected to think? We really cannot go on researching every single thing no?

    No worries about the name. Happens. 😛

  4. You know .. you will find lotions and creams over here which makes your skin look tan .. Recently i had been to a parlour over here and they had something called as ‘SunBed’ which helps you to get tanned.Guess these people need to visit Africa ;).

    This is a nice post. 😀

    And today i bought Vaseline’s cocoa butter (smoothing body butter with cocoa and shea butters met cacao-en sheaboter).All inspired by your post on it. 😛

    And thanks to you, I have started noticing ingredients in the products I use 🙂

  5. Alpa, yes people in the west are mad about getting tanned and it’s vice versa here. 😛 You MUST check out the stuff on bottles and I am glad you are doing it now.

    Most welcome, sweetheart. 🙂

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