Sunscreen Vs. Tanning Product

Updated on June 11, 2014
C.W. asks from Nashville, TN
10 answers

I need to know what product is best if I actually want to get a tan. I don't do tanning beds and would like to get a tan from just being out in the sun, like at the pool. I am a light skin African American and I will burn if in the sun (1-2 hours). I have used suncreeen with an SPF 15 or 30 but didn't get really tan but didn't burn either. I've used a tanning oil with a low SPF (4 or 6) and I burned. So I'm wondering if there is a product that I can use to tan and not get burned.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Tanning is skin cells in trauma. Use fake tan products or bronzers if you would like to be darker. No tan is safe. Melanoma is not a nice way to die.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Sacramento on

No one should ever tan. Tan = damaged skin. I would consider a bronzer, which is a bit darker than the slow-acting tanning lotions. Bet that would look great with your skin tone.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

I wouldn't intentionally tan. I'm relieved to see you don't do tanning beds.

The self-bronzers/self-tanners are so much more sophisticated now. The one I hear about the most is always from Sephora for being the best. My skin tends to be very sensitive so I don't use it personally but I have a friend that's getting married this weekend and she's using it. She swears by it. And she also puts on the SPF 30+.

We're Italian over here, mostly, with some Native American thrown in there for good measure, so even if my daughters and I put on SPF 50 we tend to tan through it. We limit sun exposure too, and it still happens. I try to stick to shaded areas but hey, reflective surfaces.

What do I get? A lifetime of freckles that are just coming out now and need to get checked. Old freckles and moles that are changing a bit that need to be checked. Please, please don't go with low SPF just for the sake of tanning. It's just not safe.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I agree with the previous poster about not intentionally tanning.....

I was just at the doctor to have several pre-cancerous lesions removed......

Years of sun exposure are finally catching up with me!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

It seems in some places people are bleaching their skin to look lighter while in other places people lay out in the sun to tan, use tanning beds or paint on tans to look darker.
It's insane.
All you need for vitamin D production is 15 min in the sun - the rest is just damaging your skin and increasing your chances of developing skin cancer.
Tanning ages your skin - take a look at some pictures of that tanaholic New Jersey mom (Google it)- she looks like a leather couch.
Just skip it.
You are beautiful as you are!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I used to try to tan when I was younger... But no matter what type of product I used I would either stay white or burn... Then she'd the burn, and be white again. Lol.

Then my a couple of aunts and cousins wound up with different types of skin cancers, and I got educated about get dangers in a hurry. Luckily, surgery was able to control the cancer in most of their cases. (My aunt had to have quite extensive surgery though, along with some radiation treatments because hers had spread pretty deeply.) After seeing what they went through, I'm pretty protective of my skin.

I have had a lot of sun damage. My shoulders and the top of my back are covered in freckles and moles. Like, a lot of moles. That I didn't have before. Luckily, none have come up cancerous (yet...) it really sucks, because I'm too self-conscious about them to wear halter tops or even most tank tops.

SOOO... I'm in the camp of not tanning, or going the spray-on/fake tan products. :) (I know, not really an answer to your question... But it's a proven fact that tanning is horrible for your skin, increases your chance of skin cancer, and ages you prematurely. It's really not worth the risk for a temporary cosmetic effect.)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Whether your skin burns or tans is really up to your skin type. Some people burn, and some people tan. The product you choose is simply going to determine how much sun your skin receives, not how your skin reacts. Burning vs tanning is how your skin reacts to the sun.

Sorry that wasn't really the answer you were looking for.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Tanning is bad for you, full stop. Even if you don't burn, tanning destroys your skin before its time. Just use self-tanner if you really feel you need to be darker. Although, if you are light skinned African American, just be you! Your color is probably gorgeous all by itself! My husband is mixed race, and I swear I'd cut off my right arm to have his skin color (as it is, I'm super pasty white, and use gallons of St. Tropez self tanner - if you wanted to be darker in color, try that stuff - it's great!).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

Tanning products have come a long way. Do your skin a favor and stay out of the sun. Nothing good can come of overexposure.


answers from Boston on

I think we have to get past the "tanning is good and attractive" mind-set. It's just not good for us. I'm happy you are not doing tanning beds, but you still seem to feel you need more color. Small doses of real sun are healthy if we go out in the early or later hours. You should probably be using a much higher SPF product to prevent burning, skin damage and cancer-causing conditions. I don't know of anyone who recommends a 4 or 6 SPF or even a 15. A day moisturizer with some SPF 15 is fine for just being out in extremely small doses, but that's not enough if you are sitting out in the sun, at the beach/pool, or getting a lot of exposure through long walks or jogging or being at the park (or similar settings). But you can see that you burned already - and that's just asking for trouble down the line.

The spray tans and bronzers are only coloring the top layer of skin so if you can handle the expense, and you get something that doesn't streak or turn you orange, that's a reasonable approach.

We have to accept that sun damage is a greater risk now than ever before because of changes in our ozone layer - so more sun is much more damaging and a health risk.

Try to get past the "I need a tan to look healthy" philosophy and migrate to "I need to BE healthy". And yes, look up the people who over-tan and those who get skin cancer. My sun-loving cousin has now lost an eyebrow and a lot of skin due to cancer, and a little girl down the street lost her mother to melanoma. It's not a nice treatment regimen, and it's not a nice death.

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