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10 Best Sunscreens for Tanning and Protection for Fair Skin

Written by Lexi Carlson
Medically Reviewed by Denise Christine Bries, MD
Updated
10 BEST SUNSCREENS FOR TANNING AND PROTECTION FOR FAIR SKIN

Lounging by the pool on a weekend or going to the beach is a fun and relaxing way to get a tan.

But getting that bronzed golden glow needs the right preparation and protection!

Suntan lotion for tanning is formulated to withstand the harsh sunlight and give yourself a healthy golden tan. Sun lotion can provide added moisture for healthier skin with formulas infused with different oils and minerals.

That’s why you should give your skin its best with a reliable sunscreen. Make sure you stash a bottle of sunscreen in your bag before you head out to the beach.

We rounded up 10 of the best sunscreens for tanning on the market you can get your hands on.

BEST FOR A DARK TAN

Bain de Soleil

Bain de Soleil Mega Tanning Lotion

OUR PICK

Hawaiian Tropic

Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil Spray

ALL NATURAL FORMULA

Caribbean Sol

Caribbean Sol Natural Guard

10 Best Sunscreens for Tanning

Hawaiian Tropic Protective Tanning Oil Spray SPF 30

Our Pick

Our Pick - Hawaiian Tropic

This spray-on sunscreen by Hawaiian Tropic features oil that can draw in the sun without skipping skin protection. It’s infused with antioxidants to nourish your skin while tanning.

The spray-bottle makes application easier and mess-free. Tanning will be easy and even with this sunscreen!

Its high SPF will keep you protected against harmful radiation. It’s a great option for those who want to darken their color without compromising on being protected from the sun.

Pros

  • Easy to apply
  • Water-resistant
  • Broad Spectrum

Cons

  • Spray-on sunscreen needs more frequent application

Bain de Soleil Mega Tanning Lotion SPF 4

Best for a Dark Tan

Bain De Soleil

Get an even darker tan with Bain de Soleil’s Mega Tanning Lotion. This sunscreen includes a self-tanner to enhance the color of your skin for an intense and even tan.

Added moisturizers keep your skin soft and smooth. It’s paraben-free and dermatologist tested that’s best for sensitive skin types.

Plus, the color stays on fairly well. It won’t fade away too fast.

Pros

  • Includes self-tanner
  • Smooth application
  • Non-sticky feeling

Cons

  • Results can be too dark for pale complexions

Caribbean Sol 100% Sol Natural Guard SPF 15

All-Natural Formula

Caribbean Sol

This SPF 15 sunscreen by Caribbean Sol is all-natural and features zinc oxide for protection against UVA and UVB rays. It’s fully biodegradable down to its packaging.

The formula itself features cooling extracts and is water-resistant. It’s the best option for those who need to shower after a tan or a day at the beach.

It’s also cruelty-free and paraben-free. We particularly love this for laying down in a tanning bed.

Pros

  • All-natural formulation
  • Biodegradable packaging
  • Reef-safe
  • Zinc-oxide protection
  • Water-resistance

Cons

  • More expensive than other brands

Australian Gold Sunscreen Lotion with Kona Coffee SPF 30

Australian Gold 4

Australian Gold formulated this lotion to give you an instant bronze glow.

It’s infused with Sunflower Seed Oil and Cocoa Seed Butter that moisturizes your skin while tanning. This sunscreen also claims to be water-resistant for up to 80 minutes after application.

You can stay under the sun a little bit longer with this sunscreen. Use it during beach activities for maximum use!

Pros

  • Not tested on animals
  • Paraben-free
  • Great for all skin types

Cons

  • Not suitable for face application

Banana Boat Deep Tanning Oil SPF 4

Banana Boat 5

Get yourself a darker tan when you apply this deep tanning oil by Banana Boat.

It’s infused with cocoa butter and banana extract for a smooth feel on your skin.

This tanning oil can last up to 80 minutes in water and is reef-safe, too. The spritz bottle makes for easy and mess-free application.

Pros

  • Reef-safe
  • Water-resistance
  • Easy to apply

Cons

  • Low SPF poses higher risk of burning

Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

Neutrogena 6

Neutrogena’s higher SPF is a great defense against skin cancer from prolonged sun exposure.

If you’re going to be at the beach for a longer time, this sunscreen is easily absorbed without leaving a sticky feeling.

This sunscreen is waterproof and can be reapplied every 2 hours.

Pros

  • Broad Spectrum
  • Waterproof
  • Dermatologist-tested

Cons

  • Tanning will take more time due to high SPF

Panama Jack Sunscreen Tanning Lotion SPF 4

Panama Jack 7

This sunscreen from Panama Jack is designed for people who have a hard time getting a tan.

It’s best for those who want a quick visit to the beach for a healthy glow.

Even if you go for a swim, the sunscreen is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and is safe for reefs and marine life.

Pros

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Cruelty-free and Reef-safe
  • Water-resistant

Cons

  • Low SPF poses higher risks of burning

Coppertone Tanning Lotion Broad Spectrum

Coppertone 8

Coppertone has established itself as a trusted brand for sun protection. This sunscreen is no exception.

It has enough SPF for a few minutes of tanning without accidentally burning your skin.

It contains antioxidants and Vitamin E to nourish your skin after tanning.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Non-sticky feeling
  • Skin nourishment from antioxidants and Vitamin E

Cons

  • Smell can be off-putting to some

Ocean Potion Suncare Dark Tanning Lotion SPF 4

Ocean Potion 9

This sunscreen from Ocean Potion is infused with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E for anti-aging and skin protection.

The formula glides smoothly on your skin and doesn’t leave a sticky residue. Best of all, it’s paraben and cruelty-free!

Pros

  • Broad Spectrum
  • Cruelty-free

Cons

  • Includes parabens

NO-AD Protective Tanning Lotion SPF 8

NO-AD 10

This NO-AD Sunscreen Lotion SPF 8 provides you with added tanning time with higher SPF than other sunblocks.

Its water-resistant feature lasts for up to 80 minutes and is paraben-free. It’s even infused with aloe vera extract to help moisturize your skin under the sun.

Pros

  • Non-sticky feeling
  • Paraben-free

Cons

  • Doesn’t protect against skin risks
  • Hard to find in-store or online

Why You Need Sunscreen

Why You Need

Whenever we get exposed to the sun, there’s ultraviolet radiation that is absorbed by our skin. These UV rays can be classified through a spectrum, but here are the two that we know about the most: UVA and UVB rays:

  • UVB rays burn the upper and outer layers of our skin, and this is what mostly causes sunburns and redness.
  • UVA rays, on the other hand, can penetrate deeper into our epidermis.

Melanin is produced when this happens, and it’s what gives our skin pigment and makes it tan. The tanning process helps protect our skin from burning from these UVA rays.

We can control how much we tan by using protective sunscreen whenever we go out or head to the beach. Understanding sunscreens and what makes them up can help you decide on what will work best for your needs.

And even if you’re a guy, wear sunscreen! Tanning for men is just the same as it is for women.

What to Know About Tanning Lotions

We’re used to preparing our skin by slathering on goops of sunscreen, and the best sunscreens are aimed to give us the most protection that will last for a couple of hours. This is great for general exposure to the sun, but not when you want to get a tan.

There’s a way to pick out the best sunscreens for tanning that can give your skin a deep color while still protecting it from sunburn or excessive damage. Especially when you’re using tan accelerators!

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

Sun Protection Factor, or SPF factor, is a measuring gauge to know how much a sunscreen can protect against UV rays. The higher the sunscreen SPF, the longer it works to protect your skin.

If a bottle says it has SPF 15, it ideally means you can be exposed to the sun 15 TIMES LONGER than it would without wearing sunscreen. It can also mean how much of the sun’s UV rays the sunscreen can block. Sunscreens can reach up to 97% of sun ray protection.

Sunscreens for tanning have a lower SPF to help you tan faster. This means that you have to be more careful to avoid getting sunburn. Always be mindful of how much time you will spend under the sun and use a sunscreen that can last the amount of time you’ll be there, if not longer.

Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreens

Sunscreen is formulated differently by brand, and its effects vary upon application. When it comes to sun rays protection, sunscreens can be classified between Chemical or Physical.

  • Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV radiation into the skin. It’s converted into heat and released from your body which prevents skin damage. This kind of sunscreen needs time to be fully absorbed by your skin. Most brands will recommend that you wait at least 20 minutes after application before sun ray exposure.
  • Physical sunscreens, on the other hand, stay on the outer layer of the skin. They’re commonly infused with zinc oxide as its main ingredient. The zinc oxide acts as a barrier that reflects the sun’s radiation. This type leaves a white cast when applied correctly. Frequent and liberal reapplication is needed since it wears off quickly during sun ray exposure.

Broad-Spectrum SPF

Not all sunscreens are formulated to protect against the same kind of ultraviolet rays. Some sunscreens are only meant to protect against UVB radiation, the kind that causes sunburns. Sunscreens that are labeled broad-spectrum can guard against both UVA and UVB radiation.

While SPF that covers the broad spectrum is better for general use, it’s not always advisable for tanning. If you find it hard getting a tan, you can choose SPF with minimal or no UVA protection. You can also opt for sunscreens with lower SPF for faster results.

Points to Consider for Sunscreen

Points to Consider

It’s easy to go under the sun, but getting your golden glow takes more preparation for your safety.

Keep the following points in mind when you go sun-tanning for optimal sun safety:

1. Skin Risks

Sunscreen SPF is not guaranteed to fully protect against harmful radiation from the sun. Prolonged exposure can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer and other diseases. Broad-spectrum sunscreen is still the best option to protect your skin from added risks.

Be mindful of the weather and temperature forecasts for the day. Try not to expose yourself to sunlight between 11am – 3pm, since heat is the strongest during these hours.

Radiation can also penetrate through clouds if you’re tanning on a cloudy day, so don’t skimp on sunscreen even if the sky looks dim or cloudy.

2. Reapplication

The best sun protection measures you can do to keep your skin safe is to always reapply sunscreen while you’re outside. Sunscreen SPF can’t fully block radiation, and most claims of 80 minutes of water-resistance wear off before that time is filled.

Always make sure you use the right amount of sunscreen that’s recommended by dermatologists. The usual amount of sunscreen should be enough to fill a shot glass to cover your whole body.

Try to apply sunscreen as evenly as you can to avoid patches and an uneven tan. Don’t forget your back and undersides, too!

3. Face Application

Our faces are VERY sensitive, so you need to find a sunscreen your face won’t react to. Find skin care products and formulations that are non-comedogenic and won’t block your pores.

It’s important that you wear sunscreen whenever you go out, and yes, even if you’ll just be driving. When the sun hits your skin through your car window, you can still experience the effects of sun damage even if you won’t tan.

Stay blemish-free and reduce the forming of fine lines by finding a sunscreen that won’t irritate your face. You might need to find a separate sunscreen for this purpose.

Always do a patch test near your jawline to find one that will work for you.

Conclusion

Conclusion

The best sunscreens for tanning should still provide a good amount of protection. Based on ease of application and benefits, our best sunscreen from the list is Hawaiian Tropic’s Protective Tanning Oil Spray.

  • Its oil form is the best for tanning on the beach.
  • Its high SPF also means that you will still be protected from harmful UV radiation, in case you need to stay under the sun for a bit longer.
  • The spray bottle also gives a useful and mess-free application. You just need to put it inside your bag and you can be on your way!

If you want to be more conscious and environmentally friendly, go with Caribbean Sol’s 100% Natural Guard.

  • Its fully biodegradable packaging and formula make it a sustainable option if you’re going to tan frequently.
  • Its cooling effect can be relaxing under the sun and prevents you from feeling sticky in the long run.

For those who are really aiming for that dark golden tan, pick up Bain de Soleil’s Dark Tanning Lotion.

  • This sunscreen includes a self-tanner that can instantly enhance the color that you want.
  • It’s dermatologist tested, so you can be sure that it’s safe even for those who are sensitive and prone to reactions.

Sunscreen is an important part of protecting yourself before you get a tan. Make sure to bring your favorite sunscreen with you and apply it liberally before you expose yourself under the sun!