Want to achieve a gorgeous, sun-kissed glow without sacrificing the health of your skin? No beauty duo does it better than self-tanner and sunscreen! For just-back-from-a-Bali-holiday energy, a high-quality, nasty-free self-tanner is your year-round go-to. And a broad-spectrum SPF will keep that glow going – protecting the skin from damaging UV rays while preventing splotchy skin and a dull, dried out complexion.
To discover how to combine the two in your routine for beautifully bronzed and radiant skin, read on. Here’s how to use self-tanner and SPF – without the nasties.
A self-tan is the best tan – period
You might think a suntan earned from hours outside is the healthiest because it’s the most natural. However, it comes at an unacceptably high price. A tan simply signifies sun damage has occurred1. An increase in the skin’s pigment, melanin, has been triggered as the body’s protective mechanisms kick in when exposed to UV radiation.
Aside from causing painful sunburns, peeling, hyperpigmentation and sun spots, unprotected exposure to UVA and UVB rays causes damage to skin cells’ DNA and can result in skin cancer2. What’s more, longer wave UVA rays are the primary cause of premature skin ageing. You can understand why self-tans are better than sun tans now, right?
If you want your glow without a side of wrinkles, self-tanning is the way to go. It allows an even, all-over colour – no strap marks. And if you choose a product with natural DHA and a green-grey base like our Sunny Honey Bronzing Foam, there’ll be no nasties and no unnatural orange tones. So, nobody will know your glow is faux.
Make sure you follow self-tanner with SPF!
Let’s get one thing straight – a fake tan DOES NOT provide any extra sun protection. Many people fall into the trap of thinking their temporary tan makes them less susceptible to UV damage. It doesn’t.
So, wearing a broad-spectrum, SPF 30 (or higher) sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays is essential. Even in winter, as ageing UVA rays are consistently strong throughout the year3.
You might be wondering, “can you put sunscreen over self tanner?” Of course! Just make sure you choose a fake tan-friendly formula and allow your tan enough time to develop before applying.
How much time? Our self-tanner and SPF routine below will tell you everything you need to know.
The Ultimate Self-Tanner and SPF Routine
1. Prep by exfoliating and shaving
For an even, long-lasting glow, prep is non-negotiable. This means exfoliating away the dead, dry skin cells that can result in a patchwork tan. For best results, do this 24 hours prior to your tanning sesh to allow the skin to settle and ensure there’s no residue left from your body scrub, which may contain nourishing oils. (Not a scrub fan? You can also give your skin a good sloughing with an exfoliating mitt or body brush.
Hair removal should also be done the day before. This helps prevent any irritation and can prevent tan settling in pores and creating an annoying strawberry leg situation.
2. Shower and apply barrier cream to super-dry spots
Before tanning, shower to remove any sweat, excess oils, deodorant, and lingering body lotion. These can interfere with your tanning product, so don’t skip this step. After showering, gently pat your skin dry and skip the moisturiser – apart from on those extra-dry areas.
Ankles, elbows, knees, and wrists tend to drink up DHA (the active ingredient in most self-tanners), so apply some body moisturiser to these thirsty spots.
3. Choose a nasty-free tanning product
There’s no point sacrificing your clear, hydrated complexion – and so long as you choose a hydrating, nasty-free and non-comedogenic tanning formula you won’t have to. While some tanners contain drying nasties, there are lots of options that are kinder to the skin. Such as botanical-infused tanning mousse and Bronzing Face Drops – which contain 100% natural DHA and are toxin- and paraben-free ☺.
Why is natural DHA better? This article will give you the low down, plus the tanning ingredients a dermatologist wants you to avoid.
4. Apply in sweeping motions using an applicator mitt
The best way to apply fake tan, hands down, is with a tanning mitt. With a large, velvety surface area, these ensure an even glide and speedy application – so your tan won’t settle in certain areas and end up streaky.
When choosing a mitt, make sure it has a protective lining to keep your palms pristine. As for bronzing your back? Switch to a handy back tan applicator. And check out our back tanning guide for more tips and tricks.
5. Use a dedicated, alcohol-free face product
You wouldn’t use body lotion on your face, so why expect one tanning product to do the whole job? Packed with hydrating ingredients, tanning drops are an easy way to maintain a glowy, healthy-looking complexion. Look out for a non-drying, alcohol-free formula that’s also non-pore clogging – like our Bronzing Face Drops.
Dermatologist-approved, our non-comedogenic drops are infused with Balinese botanicals and skin-plumping hyaluronic acid. Simply mix a few drops into your moisturiser (ideally at night) for a hydrated, buildable glow. Easy peasy!
6. Allow tan to dry and develop then rinse
Back to your body. After applying your tan, allow it to dry to the touch (a fan can be handy here!) before getting dressed in dark, loose clothing. Leave for as long as directed. Some rapid tans can be washed off after as little as two hours, while others need a full eight hours.
Rinse off the guide colour with lukewarm water only. You can use soap if desired, but skip any products with sulphates, keep your shower quick and avoid rubbing. Gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel and get dressed. Your colour will continue to develop for several hours.
7. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!
Once you’re up and glowing, moisturiser is your BFF to prolong your tan. Apply your favourite body cream or lotion to damp skin after every shower. For a super nourishing, no-nasties formula, try our 100% vegan Body Moisture Whip.
8. Apply a fake tan-friendly SPF daily
Now you’re glowing and hydrated, it’s important to keep your skin protected with an SPF. To prevent any smudging or unwanted interaction between the DHA and your sunscreen, wait until your self-tan is developed before applying SPF. It’s recommended to allow 12-24 hours after tanning before using sunscreen, so tanning in the late afternoon or evening can be a good idea.
Another more important reason to space out the first application is that the DHA in your tanning product can reduce the efficacy of your sunscreen for the first 24 hours after tanning4. However, it’s still crucial to apply if you DO unexpectedly need to go outside within that time frame.
@coco_and_eve Mix in 1-2 drops with your favourite moisturizer & apply evenly 💫 #tandrops #tanningtips #selftan #tantok #cocoandeve #fyp ♬ ummm hello - Oli Main
Choosing the right self-tanner and sunscreen combo
What about the ingredients in your sunscreen – can these break your tan down faster? Some beauty experts say yes, but that doesn’t ever mean you should skip the SPF. Instead, make sure you choose a tan-friendly formula, such as our Daily Water Gel SPF50+ Sunscreen for your face and our Body Sunscreen SPF50+ for everywhere else. These broad spectrum sunscreens are formulated to be super-protective and skin-loving, lovely for everyday use!
To learn more about your tanning, beauty, skin and hair needs, visit our blog. Happy (and safe) tanning, everyone!
- Better Health Channel
- Skincancer Foundation, Winter Sun Safety
- Skincancer Foundation, UV Radiation and Your Skin
- Cosmetics and Toiletries, Soaking Up the Self Tan
Written by: Pip Jarvis
Edited By: Iris