Today’s Question and answer focuses on Sunless Tanners and UV protection.

QUESTION: Will Sunless spray tanning protect you from the sunburn? Can you still get a UV tan?

ANSWER: Some (limited) protection is provided, but not enough to consider skin protected. Nor will a sunburn be prevented.

A sunless tan provides UV protection of around SPF 3-4. This will vary depending on tan depth (darkness) and freshness (age of tan). How many layers of product are built up on the skin.

A newly applied, fresh dark tan will provide more protection then a 3-4 or 5 day old tan. As you tanned skin exfoliates off, any protection will disappear as well. You can both burn and UV Tan through a sunless tanner.

Is it enough Protection?

The sunless tans protection will NOT adequately protect against a sunburn or UV skin damage. It provides a small limited amount of protection against UVB radiation (the burning rays that make skin red and tender), offering virtually no Protection against UVA radiation (the aging damaging rays that penetrate deeper into the skin).

A pigment based UV Tan also offers roughly 3-4 SPF of protection as well. But only against UVB radiation.

Both UVA and UVB ray types damage and age the skin, and both are linked to skin damage, skin aging, and skin cancers.

UV Radiation Exposure to the skin is cumulative. So even if you never burn, any UV exposure contributes to cellular damage over your lifetime.

SPF 4 is not considered adequate UV protection.  It will allow you to spend approximately 4 times longer in the sun, (vs. unprotected skin) before you see/notice burning. And you can still tan and burn through a sunless tan.

But because of the lack of UVA protection, and limits based on coverage, depth, tan freshness –skin is not considered adequately protected against UV related damage. So, a sunless tanner will not replace sunscreen use. And should not be used as a replacement, when skin health is a concern.

In comparison, A standard new thin white dry Tee-Shirt provides SPF protection of about SPF 4 also, but does provide a little bit more UVA protection. A wet or worn/faded Tee-shirt provides less protection. (around SPF 3 )

With a sunless tanner application, or a dry tee-shirt – 95% of UV radiation will still reach your skin.

With a tee-shirt, the majority that does penetrate is UVA type. So it will only decrease UV penetration to the skin by 3-5%

This is especially a concern for small children whose skin is much more sensitive to UV damage, and are often dressed in a tee-shirt to protect them, without use of sunscreen. (slather those kiddos up parents!)

A sunless tanner can be used in conjunction with your sunscreen use, as a bit of added addition protection.

And it can be a great visual preparation for a vacation, pool party, or other event where you would rather look a bit more Golden, rather than winter pale.

But if you are spending any time outdoors, sunscreen is really considered essential if you are trying to protect your skin and keep it at its most beautify, and healthiest.  And the healthier your skin is, the better your sunless tan will look, and the slower it will fade.

Tips on choosing a great sunscreen on this post (click below)

Tips for maintaining sunless tan at the pool  (click below)

Have a great week