Does Sunscreen Take Off Fake Tan or Spray Tan?

woman applying sunscreen

Getting a spray tan before a holiday, or as an alternative to sunbathing, is a fantastic way to achieve the color you want your skin to be, without having to spend hours in the sun. But do spray tan and sunscreen work together?

It is always important to wear sunscreen if you spend time outside, but you might be worried about how the sunscreen will affect your spray tan. There are sunscreens that will cause your spray tan to fade faster. But the good news is, there are others that won’t!

Let’s have a closer look at why we must always wear sunscreen, even with a spray tan, whether it will ruin your spray tan, and the best ways to use self-tan and sunscreen together.

Do I Need to Wear Sunscreen with Fake Tan?

The answer to this question is simple – you absolutely do need to wear sunscreen if you are out in the sun.

People associate tanned skin with a higher tolerance to the sun, and it is true that if you are already very tanned or naturally dark skinned, you are less likely to burn. The color from a spray tan, however, does not in any way protect you from the sun’s rays.

Over-exposure to the sun is linked with cosmetic negative consequences such as premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, and skin discoloration.

More seriously, though, over-exposure to the sun has been linked to dangerous health concerns, the most common of which being skin cancer. Even if your skin doesn’t burn, exposing your skin to UV rays from the sun (or sunbeds) puts you at risk of damaging the DNA in our skin cells.

According to Cancer Research UK, “getting sunburnt just once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer, compared to never being burnt”.

The only way to protect your skin from UV rays is by using SPF sunscreens or blocks. As spray tans do not contain SPF, it is essential to wear a sunscreen if you go out in the sun, even with a spray tan.

We Recommend: La Roche-Posay Sunscreen SPF 60

Will Sunscreen Take Off Spray Tan?

Now we have established that wearing sunscreen is a must, let’s have a look at how the two interact with each other. There are some oil-based sunscreens that can cause your spray tan to fade faster by softening dead skin cells, leading them to fall off.

Furthermore, some sunscreens (mostly aerosol style ones) contain alcohol, and these can lead to your spray tan fading by drying out the skin.

If you use a purely cosmetic fake tan, that sits on the skin and washes away in the shower, sunscreen will interfere and rub it off. This is why you should always apply sunscreen to your face before your bronzer, if you wear it.

For the most part, however, if you have been to a salon for a spray tan, and used the traditional style of product that contains dihydroxyacetone (DHA), sunscreen won’t interfere with the color.

How to Safely Use Sunscreen with Fake Tan

Choosing the right type of sunless tanning product will greatly help to reduce a sunscreen’s ability to ruin it. As I mentioned earlier, most spray tans contain DHA, a chemical that reacts with your skin cells to create a long-lasting tan.

Go for a spray tan the day before you plan on being in the sun, have a shower after the recommended time (usually between four and eight hours) and let the DHA develop fully overnight before heading out.

If the DHA has had time to fully develop, applying sunscreen will not interfere with your color.

Secondly, choosing an appropriate sunscreen will help to protect your spray tan. As we know, overly oily or high alcohol content sunscreens can soften or dry out the skin respectively, both contributing to your tan fading.

Opt for an oil-free and high SPF sunscreen to use alongside your fake tan. We recommend this La Roche Posay SPF 60. It is designed for people with sensitive skin, meaning it is non-invasive, and also for people who do sport in the sun, meaning it can stand up to some heat! Even so, still remember to re-apply every couple of hours.

Moisturizing after spending time in the sun is always a good idea, but especially if you are trying to maintain the evenness of your spray tan. UV rays from the sun dry out the skin, and the dead skin cells will rub off if you don’t re-hydrate your skin. The cells fall off randomly, which could lead to a patchy spray tan.

Once you have finished sunbathing, swimming, or other outdoor activities, have a shower and generously apply moisturizer to your whole body. It will really help to keep your glow looking healthy and even for longer.

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