Does Spray Tan Prevent Sunburn or Protect You from the Sun?

spray tanned legs in the sun

If you have had a spray tan recently you might be wondering if it will protect your skin from the sun. So, does a spray help block the sun?

A spray tan does not prevent sunburn and really doesn’t help block the sun. While there are a couple of situations where a spray tan may slightly help protect the skin it shouldn’t be expected.

Below we will break down exactly why and what you need to know about protecting your skin after a spray tan.

Do Spray Tans Prevent Sunburn?

Before we talk about if spray tans do prevent sunburn it’s important we explain how spray tans usually work.

A spray tan is a cosmetic treatment where your whole body is typically sprayed with a fine mist of tanning mixture. This will give your skin a natural tanned look.

It’s normal to think that a spray tan might offer some protection because that layer of lotion might protect the skin. To understand this part, you’ll need to know how spray tan actually works.

Spray tans usually have 1 or 2 important elements to them. The first element is something called dihydroxyacetone (DHA). When DHA comes in contact with the skin it causes a reaction which causes the skin to darken and look more tanned. It offers no protection at all from the sun.

DHA is usually in most if not all spray tan mixtures but some mixtures may also include bronzer. Bronzer will give your skin an instant tanned effect. That basically sits on the surface on the skin until it’s washed off.

When the bronzer is on the skin it may offer some minimal protection to the skin from the sun but that should never be expected. Our point here is that it is not protection enough to rely on and really you should never expect a spray tan to help protect yourself from the sun or sunburn.

Why Sunscreen is Still Needed

Therefore, it’s still essential to protect your skin with sunscreen. Ideally you want to use a sunscreen with a least a SPF of 15 to keep your skin properly protected from the sun’s rays. If the suns rays are more intense and the UV index is higher or you have more fair skin then using a higher SPF is recommended – 30-50 SPF should be enough protection in this case.

We Recommend:

For Face: ELTAMD

For Body: Sun Bum

Also, it’s recommended to reapply sunscreen at least every 3 hours in the sun. In addition to sunscreen wearing longer sleeved shirts or clothing like hats to help protect the skin further is recommended.

Best Time to Apply Sunscreen After a Spray Tan

The question you might be asking yourself is when is the best time to apply sunscreen if you’ve had a spray tan. If your spray tan has completely developed then anytime after is a good time to apply a sunblock.

If you have just had your spray tan and it is still developing then ideally you should avoid applying any sunscreen during this development period. That’s because the sunscreen can interfere with the spray tans development and your tan could end up streaky or worse.

Spray tan development can take from 4-12 hours depending on if you opted for a rapid development one or not. During this time you should not apply sunscreen to the skin.

What to Do If You Have to Go Outside

Ideally you want to avoid going outside in the strong sun, so then you don’t need sun protection.

If you must go out for whatever reason try to protect your skin by covering as much as possible with clothing, ideally loose clothing as it won’t affect your spray tans development as much as if you wore tighter clothing like leggings. For more on this check our article – What to Wear to a Spray Tan.

One other trick to protect your skin from the sun is to use an umbrella. Also, it’s recommended to avoid being outside when the suns rays are strongest which is usually around 10am to 4pm.

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