It can be great basking in the sun – you get a tan and you also get some Vitamin D. But there are harmful effects triggered by sun exposure which is why people use a lot of sunscreen when they step outside.
How Sunscreens Work
Sunscreen contains active ingredients like mineral actives titanium and zinc which work by reflecting ultraviolet (UV) rays before they can get into the skin. Chemical sunscreen actives on the other hand function by absorbing the UV rays.
Ultraviolet rays can cause sun spots, aging, sunburns and even skin cancer. Sunscreen works by absorbing and blocking UV rays. Chemical and physical properties work together to inhibit it from penetrating the skin layers. This is on top of other chemical components like avobenzone which directly interact with the radiation by means of chemical bonds and then release them in the form of heat.
But there are things that prevent the sunscreen from doing its job. These include not applying enough sunscreen, as well as using improperly stored or expired sunscreen. Sunscreens should be stored in a cool dry place.
Does Sunscreen Keep You From Getting a Tan?
Tanning is a result of UV radiation exposure from the sun or from a tanning bed. Our body will attempt to combat the damage caused by the UV rays by producing melanin, which is what gives the skin its color. Sunscreens work by preventing UV radiation from penetrating our skin and thereby preventing skin damage. So in answer to the question, yes sunscreen does keep you from getting a tan.
Does Sunscreen Prevent Vitamin D?
Regular sun exposure has been believed to give us much-needed vitamin D. But the jury’s out on this one. Sunlight exposure turns 7-dehydrocholesterol into pre-vitamin D3 and eventually vitamin D3. And while sunscreen prevents the skin’s ability to integrate vitamin D, being out in the sun is never going to give us enough amounts of Vitamin D anyway. In other words, we should not rely on it to give our body the amount of Vitamin D it needs.
Self-Tanning is the Way to Go
Many skin care experts also agree that the safest way to get glowing, bronzed skin is through self-tanners. And if you do use a self-tanning product, you should apply sufficient amounts of sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 before heading outdoors.
Sunscreen works to chemically or physically block harmful UV rays. This is precisely why you need it before going out. Dermatologists caution against going out without sunscreen and insist that a tan achieved by spending hours in the sun is never healthy. Avoid getting sunburnt because this can lead you to the possible risk of developing skin cancer on top of signs of aging like age spots and wrinkles.
Here’s a video guide on how self tanning works: