Would you like to bronze without burning? Try one of the best sunscreens for tanning to darken your skin with less risk to your health.
For this article, we hand-picked sunscreens with a low SPF, or sun protection factor. They are made especially for tanning outdoors. But before we get to the reviews, let’s talk a little bit about protecting yourself from ultraviolet radiation.
The first fact you should know is how much sunscreen you’re going to go through. Imagine a golf ball or a shot glass. Fill up that volume with sunscreen, then apply that to your entire body. Then plan on reapplying every two hours or right after swimming or sweating. Now you see why buying more than one bottle at a time is a smart idea.
Next, the SPF will tell you how long you can wear that sunscreen without burning in the sun. If you can usually stay outdoors for 10 minutes in bright sunlight without burning, then SPF 15 multiplies that to equal 150 minutes of protection.
- Top Sunscreens for Tanning
- Bain De Soleil Mega Tanning Lotion SPF 4
- Bain de Soleil Orange Gelee Sunscreen, SPF 4
- Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen Dark Tanning Lotion with Antioxidants, TSA Approved Size, SPF 4
- Ocean Potion Suncare Dark Tanning Lotion SPF 4
- Australian Gold Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 4
- Banana Boat UltraMist Deep Tanning Dry Oil Continuous Clear Spray SPF 4 Sunscreen
- Panama Jack Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 8
- Australian Gold Spray Gel Sunscreen with Instant Bronzer, SPF 8
- NO-AD Protective Tanning Lotion, SPF 8
- Coppertone Tanning Defend & Glow Sunscreen Continuous Spray SPF 10
- Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen Silk Hydration Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 12
- Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Dry Oil Clear Spray Sunscreen SPF 12
- Lancaster Sun Beauty Melting Tanning Milk SPF 15
- Coppertone Tanning Lotion SPF 15
- Sun Bum Moisturizing Tanning Oil, SPF 15
- Australian Gold SPF 15 Broad Spectrum Moisture Max Sunscreen Lotion with Kona Bronzers
- How to tan better and burn less
Top Sunscreens for Tanning
Now we hope that our reviews of the top sunscreens for tanning will lead you to exactly what you need.
Bain De Soleil Mega Tanning Lotion SPF 4
Bain de Soleil is hard to find stateside which is why being able to buy it online is a bonus. This lotion comes with a lowly SPF 4 rating which makes it ideal for tanning. It also contains a self-tanner so that you look ready for the beach instantly. And the inclusion of botanical extracts like aloe and eucalyptus and moisturizers like cocoa butter make your skin feel very soft. Plus, you won’t need to worry about parabens in the formula.
Bain de Soleil Orange Gelee Sunscreen, SPF 4
Instead of a creamy lotion, Bain de Soleil also makes this non-greasy gel sunscreen. The tropical fragrance combines well with the silky emollients that make your skin so smooth. But take note if you have sensitive skin. This formula contains mineral oil, petrolatum, a fragrance, and parabens.
Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen Dark Tanning Lotion with Antioxidants, TSA Approved Size, SPF 4
Hawaiian Tropic is aware that bringing your own sunscreen on vacation is usually cheaper than buying it there. That’s why they have a travel size bottle. The delicious-smelling lotion is enriched with antioxidants and aloe to protect your skin.
Ocean Potion Suncare Dark Tanning Lotion SPF 4
Ocean Potion is made for skin that tans easily. The minimal protection you’ll receive with SPF 4 keeps sunburn at bay. At the same time, the non-greasy lotion fortifies your skin with vitamins A, E, and aloe.
Australian Gold Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 4
Australian Gold is actually made in America, not down under. But this sunscreen is extremely popular as it does not contain parabens, alcohols, artificial dyes, oils, or PABA. The broad-spectrum protection lasts up to 80 minutes in water while the formula conditions your skin.
Banana Boat UltraMist Deep Tanning Dry Oil Continuous Clear Spray SPF 4 Sunscreen
If you’re not a fan of thick, greasy lotions, try spritzing on some Banana Boat dry tanning oil. It’s reef-safe so you can wear it in the ocean without feeling guilty that you’re killing the corals. The lightweight, water-resistant sunscreen lasts up to 80 minutes in water. It also moisturizes your skin with argan oil.
Panama Jack Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 8
Panama Jack makes a series of lightweight sunscreens with SPF 4, 8, 15, 30, and 50 ratings. They feature a hypoallergenic formula with vitamin E and coenzyme Q10 to ward off signs of aging. And they last up to 80 minutes in water.
Australian Gold Spray Gel Sunscreen with Instant Bronzer, SPF 8
The Australian Gold spray gel feels super light on the skin and smells like caramel. Moreover, it’s water-resistant up to 80 minutes. This isn’t a sunscreen that you’re going to hate having to reapply. It hydrates your skin with exotic natural oils and aloe vera but without any artificial dyes, alcohols, or parabens.
NO-AD Protective Tanning Lotion, SPF 8
NO-AD has retained its popularity without resorting to expensive publicity. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so cheap. The quick-absorbing lotion contains carrot extract which science has proven to speed up tan development. And the paraben-free formula smells like tropical fruit.
Coppertone Tanning Defend & Glow Sunscreen Continuous Spray SPF 10
Coppertone’s classic scent is part of their spray sunscreen. The non-greasy formula is great for every part of your body except your face. It stands up to sweating and swimming for 80 minutes. Plus, it contains vitamin E to protect your cells against damage from the sun.
Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen Silk Hydration Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 12
Hawaiian Tropic’s silky lotion is not reef-safe, but it’s perfect for the poolside. It lasts for up to 80 minutes in water and smells deliciously tropical. It makes skin super soft with silk amino acids, papaya, and shea butter. Unfortunately, it’s not paraben-free.
Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Dry Oil Clear Spray Sunscreen SPF 12
Spray on your sunscreen when you use the dry oil from Hawaiian Tropic. The SPF 12 rating lets you stay out in the sun longer. And it’s packed full of antioxidants, moisturizers, and botanical ingredients that nourish the skin.
Lancaster Sun Beauty Melting Tanning Milk SPF 15
Lancaster Beauty offers a unique feature in their tanning milk. It protects you from infrared rays. In other words, it keeps your skin from cooking and keeps it velvety soft while you soak up the sun. It also contains a Tan Activator Complex that speeds up your bronze.
Coppertone Tanning Lotion SPF 15
Coppertone wants you to enjoy your time outdoors with their SPF 15 tanning lotion. This classic formula is water-resistant up to 80 minutes. It doesn’t feel greasy. And it keeps your skin healthy with aloe and vitamin E.
Sun Bum Moisturizing Tanning Oil, SPF 15
Sun Bum is full of moisturizers like Kukui nut, argan, coconut, avocado, and marula oils. Additionally, it has anti-aging ingredients like Kona coffee plant extract and green tea butter. So not only does it protect you from the damage that ultraviolet radiation can inflict, but it can also reverse wrinkling and resolve dryness. Furthermore, Sun Bum had their formula tested by dermatologists to be safe for sensitive skin. It lacks parabens, gluten, phthalates, and oxybenzone.
Australian Gold SPF 15 Broad Spectrum Moisture Max Sunscreen Lotion with Kona Bronzers
Disguise your winter pale skin with this bronzing lotion from Australian Gold. It will make you look like you’ve already been on vacation when you hit the beach for the first time. It protects you from both UVA and UVB rays while it revitalizes your skin with vitamin C and natural ingredients. Some of the highlights of the formula include Kona coffee extract, Kakadu plum, and tea tree oil.
How to tan better and burn less
Let’s go over some quick tips on how to develop rich color without redness.
The first thing to remember is that you won’t see the effects of ultraviolet radiation until much later. Abuse your skin now, and you’ll pay for it in 10 to 20 years. If you don’t believe us, speak to a dermatologist, or ask your grandmother about those brown blotches on her face. Chances are she didn’t bother with sunscreen when she was younger.
You only need about a teaspoon of sunscreen on your face. If you’re not outdoors a lot, SPF 15 or 20 is probably enough to last you all day. Many facial moisturizers and foundations offer at least this much protection and you won’t need to apply as much. But at any rate, be sure to put on sunblock at least 15 minutes before you go outside.
Should you sweat or go swimming, reapply your sunscreen. This is especially true between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun is the strongest. Pull out those sunglasses and wear them, too. That’s because UV radiation can damage your eyes. Just ask anyone who’s had cataract surgery.
If you go on vacation to someplace closer to the equator than where you live, choose a stronger sunscreen. What kept you from burning in the high latitudes might not be enough where the sun is more intense. The same is true if you go up into the mountains. Even skiers wear sunscreen because snow and water reflect the rays.
Don’t forget that your scalp can burn. Wear a hat, or spend some time in the shade. There are easier ways to get highlights in your hair.
If you’re pale, to begin with, don’t try tanning with SPF 4. Start with SPF 15 to build up a base tan. Once you’ve got a little color, you can drop the sun protection factor to a lower number.
Even if you’re impatient, give yourself a couple of days in between tanning sessions. This allows your skin to darken naturally and prevents you from stressing it or drying it out. Also, using a good moisturizer will extend your tan so that it lasts longer.
Finally, let’s talk about allergies. Some people are allergic to the sun. Others take medication that makes them photo-sensitive, or more likely to burn in sunlight. This includes some acne medications, some antihistamines and antidepressants, and even some essential oils. If you’re taking something that can cause you to burn more easily or break out in a rash if you tan, try a sunless bronzer instead. You’ll look great without running the risk of damaging your skin.
We hope our reviews of the best sunscreens for tanning guided you to the products you need. Tanning outdoors is a cheap way to develop a tan and get some vitamin D. Just protect yourself from burning and aging your skin with a broad-spectrum sunblock.