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DOES SUNSCREEN PREVENT TANNING?

Most of us know that too much exposure to the sun should be avoided, but that does not stop us from wanting to get close to nature, visit a theme park or spend a day at the beach. Lots of products claim to protect against UVA and UVB rays, but do they really work, and are some better than others? The sun also gives us a tan and helps us to make Vitamin D, which are both aspects many of us find quite appealing. 

Whether you want to get a tan or avoid a tan, here are answers to some of the questions you may have about protecting yourself from harmful UVA and UVB rays, while safely enjoying everything the great outdoors has to offer.

What Is SPF and What Do SPF Numbers Mean?

The sun’s UV rays are a leading cause of skin cancer, and SPF is essential for protecting your skin against them. The abbreviation SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and it is a fractional measure of how much UV exposure is required to produce sunburn on skin that has sun protection products on it (e.g., sunscreen). This formula is relative to the quantity of UV exposure required to produce sunburn on skin that doesn’t have any sun protection products on it.

Using this measure, as the SPF value increases, the amount of sunburn protection directly increases. The takeaway, products with higher SPF ratings allow your skin to be exposed to the sun for longer periods of time before developing a sunburn.

Children should always be protected when they go outside because people get 80% of their sun exposure before they reach the age of 18. The SPF number reflects how well the product absorbs or reflects UV rays, but it does not mean that it will protect skin for a specified period of time. There are four SPF ratings:

  • SPF Factor 15: Indicates that a product is at least 93.3% effective at absorbing or reflecting UVB rays.
  • SPF Factor 30: Indicates that a product is at least 96.7% effective at absorbing or reflecting UVB rays.
  • SPF Factor 45: Indicates that a product is at least 97.8% effective at absorbing or reflecting UVB rays.
  • SPF Factor 50: Indicates that a product is at least 98% effective at absorbing or reflecting UVB rays. Project Sunscreen recommends you use the maximum protection of SPF 50 when you are exposed to the sun.

Also, regardless of the Sun Protection factor, choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen is best since the formulation is designed to protect against UVB and UVA rays. 

How Does Sunscreen Work?

There are two main types of sunscreens available. Sunscreens made with chemicals like octisalate and oxybenzone absorb harmful UV rays and change them before they can damage the skin. These chemical sunscreens don’t come without health risks, however.

Products made with natural minerals like zinc oxide are better for you and provide a physical barrier that reflects and scatters UV rays before they even reach the skin. Known as natural sunscreens, they are less likely to irritate the skin because they are not chemical-based. Also, the blocking agents in mineral-only sunscreens use have been designated as being GRAS (generally recognized as safe and effective) by the FDA.

People with fair complexions are especially sensitive to UV light, so they should always seek out sun protection with the highest SPF ratings. If you are fair-skinned, you should also wear a broad spectrum sunscreen whether you are inside or outside, even on cloudy days. See Project Sunscreen’s Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreens.

Those who enjoy swimming would be wise to check the label for how long the protection lasts when the product is exposed to water, as this varies widely. When applying sunscreen, it is a good idea to pay particular attention to the shoulders, abdomen, thighs, feet and face as these are the parts of the body that burn most often.

Does Sunscreen Prevent Tanning?

Many people like the way they look when they are developing a tan, and they worry that using sunscreen will prevent them from one. So, does sunscreen prevent you from getting tan? No, but this myth continues to prevail. When you look at the science, sunscreens allow people to stay out in the sun longer and protect against the UV rays that can cause skin cancer, but they do not prevent the skin from developing a tan.

How to Prevent Tanning

There are plenty of things people can do to prevent a tan. They can avoid the sun when it is at its strongest by scheduling outdoor activities before 10:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m., and they can avoid the sun at all times by walking in the shade. Skin covered by clothing does not tan, and there are now fabrics specifically designed to protect against the sun that are comfortable, even on the hottest days. Applying sunscreen before going out into the sun is always a good idea, and a hat with a brim covers exposed skin on the head as well as the face, neck and ears.

Does Sunscreen Prevent You From Getting Vitamin D?

The UVB rays that sunscreen protects us from also trigger the production of Vitamin D. This is the vitamin the body uses to regulate phosphate and calcium levels to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. However, the body does not need very much of it. Exposure to the sun’s rays for just 30 minutes a week gives the body enough time to make all the Vitamin D it needs, and those who consume enough milk, breakfast cereals or other foods fortified with Vitamin D do not need the sun at all.

Sunscreen may block the kind of light that our skin cells use to make Vitamin D, but studies have found that using the products does not lead to deficiency. Clinical studies have been conducted, and they all reached the same conclusion. People who use sunscreen products do not have lower Vitamin D levels.

Does Sunscreen Prevent Sunburn?

Sunscreens allow people to stay out in the sun longer, but the protection they provide does not last forever. Even sunscreens with an SPF rating of 50 lose their effectiveness eventually, which is why it is very important to reapply these products according to the directions on the label. In addition to preventing sunburn by reflecting and scattering the UVB rays that damage the skin, mineral-based sunscreens also provide protection against UVA rays. These are the rays that damage DNA and speed up aging.

An Important Choice for You and Your Family

We all want to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the sun’s harmful rays whether we are fans of tans or not. This is why choosing a safe and effective sunscreen is so important to you and your family. The fragrance-free and dye-free sun protection products from Project Sunscreen are made using naturally-derived zinc-oxide to protect against UVA and UVB rays and have an SPF rating of 50. Additionally, they keep protecting your skin in the water for up to two hours. Project Sunscreen roll-on protection is available for babies, kids, teens and adults.


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