Does Fake Tanner Stop You From Tanning Naturally?

Self-tanner gets you all bronzed up, but does it protect you from the sun?
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Fake tanning products are so underrated! Not only can you get an instant tan, but you also don’t have to risk getting skin cancer or sunburn just to achieve glowing, bronzed skin. 

But what if you have an upcoming beach trip or trek – can you still tan with fake tan on? Does fake tan protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays, or do you still have to slather on some sunscreen? We answer those questions and more in this guide to tanning over a fake tan!

RELATED: How Long Does A Spray Tan Last?

Can You Tan Through Fake Tan?

Yes! Fake tans do not provide any sun protection unless they have SPF included in the formula. If you tan naturally with fake tan on, you may not notice your darker base colour until the self-tan has already worn off. 

How Does Fake Tan Work?

Fake tans, whether in self-tanning or spray tan form, all contain dihydroxyacetone or DHA. DHA naturally reacts to the cells on your skin’s top layer, darkening them when the formula comes into contact with oxygen in the air. Because of this, you can get a beautiful, long-lasting tan without tanning under the sun.

But just like natural tans, fake tans don’t last forever. This is because you are constantly shedding dead skin cells. When the darkened layer of your skin sheds off (which could take a few days to a week), your skin will slowly return to its natural base colour – unless you apply another layer of fake tan, of course.

A woman putting cream on her face in the mirror
(Credit: Getty)

Does Fake Tan Have Any SPF?

Most fake tanning products do not have SPF included. However, you can find a few brands that offer products that give you a healthy glow plus sun protection. Scroll down for our list of the top 5 sunless tanning products and organic fake tans with SPF!

Should You Still Use Sunscreen When Using Fake Tan?

Sunscreen should be a non-negotiable any time you head out of the house, but it’s even more imperative when you wear fake tanner. Unless otherwise specified, fake tanning products don’t provide protection from sun exposure. So you should always wear some kind of sunscreen, even if you have fake tan on. This even applies if your fake tan has SPF since it may not be adequate or (in the case of longer trips) may wear off before your holiday is over.

There is one potential problem, however: the DHA in self-tanners may negate the effects of any UVA filter in your sunscreen. To avoid rendering your sunscreen ineffective, do your fake tan in the evening and apply sunscreen the next day.

A woman applying sunscreen to her nose
(Credit: Getty)

Can You Get A Real Tan With Fake Tan On?

While fake tans are great at recreating the results of several hours under the hot Australian sun, they’re not very good at protecting you from the effects of sun exposure. Unless your fake tanning products contain SPF, you can still get a few shades darker under a fake tan.

And yes, that means that you can definitely still get sunburnt or increase your risk of skin cancer! With a ‘natural’ fake tan, it can be difficult to notice the signs of sunburn until it’s too late. 

Should I Still Get A Spray Or Fake Tan Before Going To The Beach?

Even though fake tans don’t protect you from the sun, there’s still a very good reason to self-tan before hitting the beach. Having a fake tan before going on holiday means that you won’t feel as pressured to stay out in the sun to get gorgeous, glowing skin. This prevents you from staying out too long under the sun, which in turn helps you avoid the risks of overexposure.

But if you do decide to do some sunless tanning before you head out, make sure to apply sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and stay in the shade as much as possible. And don’t forget to stay hydrated and keep your skin moisturised!

5 Fake Tan Brands With SPF

Supergoop Healthy Glow Sunless Tan

Sun protection rating: SPF 40

Price: $AUD 61.58

Buy Supergoop Healthy Glow Sunless Tan from REVOLVE.

Australian Gold Spray Gel With Instant Bronzer

Sun protection rating: SPF 30

Price: $AUD 9.49

Buy Australian Gold Spray Gel With Instant Bronzer from Australian Gold.

Le Tan Daily Glow Gradual Lotion

Sun protection rating: SPF 15

Price: $AUD 8.49

Buy Le Tan Daily Glow Gradual Lotion from Le Tan.

Jergens Natural Glow + Protect

Sun protection rating: SPF 20

Price: $USD 8.99 ($AUD 13.27)

Bondi Sands Gradual Tanning Milk Everyday

Sun protection rating: SPF 15

Price: $AUD 19.95

Buy Bondi Sands Gradual Tanning Milk Everyday from Adore Beauty.

Tan And Protect

A fake tan won’t prevent you from getting sunburnt (or worse, cancer), but you can still enjoy your time out under the sun if you wear sunscreen. Alternatively, you could use tanning products that have a bit of SPF in them, although layering the two is much safer in the long run.

RELATED: The genius trick that will make your faux tan look more natural and last longer

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