Best Sunscreen for Tanning

best sunscreen for tanning featured photo

If you’re on the hunt for the best sunscreens to protect your skin as you give yourself a little tan, be sure to stop to consider a few but very important things: the SPF level, water-resistance factor, and mode of application. With these important factors in mind, I review and summarize below the best in the business. If you’re ready to dive in on what made it in my list, get ready and read along with me now!

Sure, I may naturally have a darker skin tone but oddly, if I spend too much time indoors without long exposure to the sun, I tend to lose the beautiful tan my skin has. Though I’ve never been a fan of tanning – especially naturally outdoors – I see the appeal and have honestly thought about it once or twice when I look in the mirror and see that I’ve lost a little bit of color.

Even though my main purpose of going out in the sun is to get a beautiful tan and glow, it’s important that I still give myself an extra layer of protection from the sun’s UV rays. Just because I want a tan doesn’t mean I should expose myself to too much sun. I can definitely get a beautiful tan and color on my skin while still protecting myself from harmful effects that will manifest in the long run.

Sunscreen application has been a favorite part of my routine ever since I found the perfect one for my skin and my skin’s needs – and since then, I never forgot to wear sunscreen. And I thought, adding a sunscreen for tanning purposes is the perfect way to protect myself and at the same time achieve a very healthy glow while actively avoiding UV rays that can eventually lead to premature skin aging and skin cancer.

If you’re ready to find out what products I found and what became part of my list of the best sunscreens with sun protection factor in mind, keep on scrolling as I list them down below!

Why Use Sunscreen for Sun Protection While Tanning?

Sunscreen does not prevent tanning altogether. Wearing sunscreen as you step out into the sun to get your beautiful and healthy tan will save you troubles and damaging effects caused by the sun in the long run. Wearing sunscreen doesn’t mean you prevent yourself from getting that healthy glow. Rather, it extends the time your skin starts burning. 

The higher the SPF is of your sunscreen, the longer you are protected from burning under the sun and developing skin cancer in the future. Having broad spectrum SPF means you can stay longer under the summer sun, soaking it in for sun-kissed skin for sun tanning.

No sunscreen protects your skin fully and completely from the sun and its harmful rays. It’s not wrong to desire to get a tan naturally from the sun but remember to do it with caution and use enough and reapply sunscreen for as long as you stay under the sun. No matter your skin type and what your tanning process is, it’s important that you get enough protection.

Our Top Picks for the Best Sunscreens for Tanning

Product ImageProduct NamePrice
Our PickSun Bum Sunscreen LotionSun Bum Sunscreen LotionCheck Price
Best Low SPFHawaiian Tropic Island Tanning Cocoa Butter Lotion SunscreenHawaiian Tropic Island Tanning Cocoa Butter Lotion SunscreenCheck Price
Best for Instant TanAustralian Gold Instant Bronzer Spray Gel SunscreenAustralian Gold Instant Bronzer Spray Gel SunscreenCheck Price
Coppertone Tanning Sunscreen LotionCoppertone Tanning Sunscreen LotionCheck Price
Banana Boat Coconut Oil Protective Dry Oil Clear Sunscreen SprayBanana Boat Coconut Oil Protective Dry Oil Clear Sunscreen SprayCheck Price

The Best Sunscreen for Tanning

1. Sun Bum Sunscreen Lotion – Our Pick!

Sun Bum Sunscreen Lotion

Our top choice for the best sunscreens for tanning the Sun Bum Sunscreen Lotion! If you’re someone whose skin doesn’t react approvingly to tons of sunscreens, you might want to hold onto your seat for this one. Formulated to be non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic, this sunscreen lotion promises to be gentle on your skin and pores so you don’t end up with adverse and allergic reactions. It’s also been dermatologist-tested and assures you of its safety to use even on those with sensitive skin.

The Sun Bum Sunscreen Lotion comes in a variation of SPF levels: 15, 30, 50, and 70. It’s been formulated with Vitamin E to make sure your skin stays nourished while being protected from both UVA and UVB rays. Every drop of this sunscreen when applied moisturizes and feels good on your skin. Its sufficient sun protection will allow you to tan and achieve a healthy and beautiful glow while preventing your skin from developing permanent damage.

This sunscreen has a nice not too thick consistency to it that allows you to easily apply and rub it in your skin. It blends nicely into the skin, leaving no white cast and doesn’t leave your skin looking dull and pale. It’s completely non-greasy and non-oily so you don’t end up with oily skin yet this is very hydrating so it doesn’t feel uncomfortable on your skin as you constantly reapply. It’s also been formulated to be reef-friendly so you can rest your mind that you are using only environment-friendly sunscreen.

With this sunscreen in your tanning needs, you are promised 80 minutes of water-resistance even with water activities. Just remember to reapply once you get out of the water to ensure your sun protection. It has a nice, tropical smell in the formula that isn’t chemical-smelling at all. And a quick reminder with this one, as shared by some users, may cause a bit of burning in the eyes when you accidentally touch them.

Pros:

  • Ideal for sensitive skin
  • Non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic
  • Dermatologist-tested formula
  • Reef-friendly
  • Available in SPF 15, 3, 50, and 70
  • UVA and UVB rays protection
  • Water-resistant for 80 minutes
  • Moisturizing and hydrating
  • Easy to apply and rub, absorbs well
  • No white cast and doesn’t leave you with oily skin

Cons:

  • Might cause burning in the eyes

2. Hawaiian Tropic Island Tanning Cocoa Butter Lotion Sunscreen – Best Low SPF!

Hawaiian Tropic Island Tanning Cocoa Butter Lotion Sunscreen

Our next favorite sunscreen for tanning and our pick for the best low SPF is the Hawaiian Tropic Island Tanning Cocoa Butter Lotion Sunscreen! With this in your hands every time you step out into the sun, you are sure to step back inside with that beautiful tan and glow and at the same time protect yourself from permanent sun damage. Formulated with SPF 8, you are sure to not suffer from sunburn but still add a healthy color to your skin. It has also been formulated to be reef-friendly, so you can rest your mind that you’re not causing any environmental harm while keeping your skin safe.

Infused with exotic botanicals and extracts in every bottle, this Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen promises to keep your skin moisturized and soft and even add extra glow. Its formula also contains skin-nourishing antioxidants that keeps your skin healthy and glowing on top of giving you enough protection from the sun’s harmful rays. It goes on smoothly and makes your skin appear and feel even smoother as you achieve a dark tan. It also doesn’t feel oily or sticky whenever put on skin.

Because of the SPF 8 formula, it’s an ideal choice for those with darker skin tones and those who have more protection against the sun due to increased melanin level. But then again, because of the lower SPF level, you might want to make sure you reapply as much as your skin needs as long as you’re staying under the sun. Fair-skinned folks might also want to turn their heads away from this one as lighter tones might need higher levels of SPF to make sure sunburns are avoided.

Every drop of this sunscreen lotion will give you a subtle cocoa butter scent that is not overpowering at all. Its consistency isn’t too thick as paste like other sunscreens out in the market and rubs and absorbs well into the skin. The formula is water-resistant even with 80 minutes of water activity, but remember to apply when you get out of the water to make sure you’re still well-protected.

Pros:

  • Ideal low SPF level
  • SPF 8
  • Water-resistant for 80 minutes
  • Reef-friendly sunscreen
  • Moisturizing and nourishing formula
  • Skin is soft and smooth
  • Moisturizing and adds glow to skin
  • Goes on smoothly and absorbs well
  • Doesn’t feel oily or sticky
  • Subtle cocoa butter scent
  • Great choice for those who don’t burn easily

Cons:

  • Not ideal for fair and light skin tones

3. Australian Gold Instant Bronzer Spray Gel Sunscreen – Best for Instant Tan!

Australian Gold Instant Bronzer Spray Gel Sunscreen

The next item that made it into our list of the best sunscreens for tanning and our pick for the best instant tan is the Australian Gold Instant Bronzer Spray Gel Sunscreen! If what you’re looking for is a sunscreen that will not only protect your skin from the sun’s rays but will also give you an instant tan, you might want to weigh this one out. A unique formula and a combination of sunscreen and self-tanner, this sunscreen promises to provide you with ample sun protection plus temporary but immediate tan and color.

Packaged in a continuous spray bottle, this allows for maximum control and convenience every time you want to step out for a beautiful glow and tan. The sun protector and instant bronzer comes in a variety of SPF levels: 4, 8, 15, and 30 to give you more options for your skin’s needs. It’s lightweight and totally non-greasy, providing you with much comfort every time you would want to reapply. It’s also very moisturizing and hydrating so you’re comfortable with every spray.

This Australian Gold sunscreen spray is sweat and water-resistant for 80 minutes, though you might want to reapply every now and then, especially after water activities. It also has a nice scent to it that doesn’t smell like your typical chemical sunscreen. This one has been formulated without oxybenzone, PABA, phthalate, and gluten. It’s also purely vegan and cruelty-free for your peace of mind with every spray.

A quick reminder that because this is an instant tanner and bronzer on top of being a sunscreen, you can stain clothes and swimsuits with this one. So if you’re going to use this for your tanning needs, you might want to avoid using whites-colored fabrics.

Pros:

  • Ideal for instant tan
  • Provides sun protection plus immediate tan
  • Packaged in a spray battle for convenience and control
  • Available in SPF 4, 8, 15, and 30
  • Lightweight and non-greasy
  • Moisturizing and hydrating formula
  • Sweat and water-resistant for 80 minutes
  • No offensive scent
  • No harmful chemicals
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons:

  • Might stain clothes and swimsuits

4. Coppertone Tanning Sunscreen Lotion

Coppertone Tanning Sunscreen Lotion

The next item to make it into our list of the best sunscreens for tanning is the Coppertone Tanning Sunscreen Lotion! Infused with antioxidant-enriched Vitamin E, this sunscreen will protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays while keeping your skin moisturized, nourished, and radiant with every use. Providing broad spectrum protection, this comes in two SPF levels: 8 and 15 so you are free to choose what works best for your skin.

You can expect water resistance for up to 80 minutes with this sunscreen lotion in your hands every time you want to step out to get a tan. Just don’t forget to reapply after getting out of the water to make sure you are still well-protected. The Coppertone sunscreen is a lightweight and non-greasy formula that will give you maximum comfort and protection. It doesn’t leave any oily residue or white cast at all. It’s very easy to rub in and absorbs rather quickly.

You can expect that this covers your skin well and can last long on your skin. It has a mild, classic Coppertone scent to it that isn’t at all overpowering and offensive. And the bottle you get with every purchase is of a decent size and you get a good amount of sunscreen that will last you a long time.

Pros:

  • Protects the skin while nourishing
  • Available in SPF 8 and 15
  • Keeps skin radiant while providing broad spectrum protection
  • Water-resistant for 80 minutes
  • Lightweight and non-greasy
  • No white cast or oily residue
  • Easy to apply, rub in, and absorbs easily
  • Moisturizes skin
  • Covers skin well
  • Mild scent that is not overpowering
  • Decent size and good amount of product

Cons:

  • None

5. Banana Boat Coconut Oil Protective Dry Oil Clear Sunscreen Spray

Banana Boat Coconut Oil Protective Dry Oil Clear Sunscreen Spray

Our last favorite of the best sunscreens for tanning is the Banana Boat Coconut Oil Protective Dry Oil Clear Sunscreen Spray! This sunscreen spray doesn’t just protect you from the sun’s rays but will also leave your skin feeling silky smooth with every spray. It provides you with just enough SPF to keep you from getting burned while allowing you to achieve a beautiful and healthy glow as you step out into the sun. This has a broad spectrum UVA and UVB for maximum protection against the sun as you get your natural tan.

This Banana Boat sunscreen comes in the form of a non-oily mist through spray to help you quickly and evenly apply it all over. It goes on skin nicely without leaving a sticky or oily feeling all over you. You also get a good range of SPF levels for your skin’s needs: 4, 8, 15, and 25. On top of sun protection, it also actively moisturizes and hydrates your skin.

This sunscreen spray is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. But remember to reapply after water activities to keep yourself protected. It dries fast once sprayed on the skin and doesn’t stain your clothes or swimsuit. It’s been formulated to be lightweight and totally non-greasy while providing you with enough protection. Though keep in mind that some users have reported that a can tends to not last long and might run out fast.

Pros:

  • Broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection
  • Available in SPF 4, 8, 15, and 25
  • Skin is silky smooth
  • Applies quickly and evenly on skin
  • Moisturizes and hydrates skin
  • Water resistant for 80 minutes
  • Non-oily, non-greasy, and lightweight
  • Dries fast and doesn’t stain

Cons:

  • Product runs out fast

How to Correctly Apply Sunscreen for Tanning

Knowing the hows of correctly applying sunscreen on your skin to protect yourself from the sun’s potential damages when getting a tan is key.

One of the first things you should make sure of when getting a tan under the sun is using the right amount of sunscreen to protect your skin. Using too little will make you develop sunburn faster. And trust me, that is far from the glow you are trying to achieve.

When you’re tanning under the sun, you want to make sure you reapply every few hours or so. And even if a sunscreen is advertised to be water-resistant, make sure you reapply if you sweat or engage in water activities.

If you want to achieve a healthy tan and glow, remember to be patient and give yourself a break and a couple of days in between tanning sessions. This will prevent excess sun exposure and keep your skin from drying eventually.

How to Choose the Best Sunscreen for Tanning

In choosing your new sunscreen for tanning purposes, it’s important that you know what to look for to make sure you get the right one for your skin and for your needs.

SPF

The first thing you would want to be considering in your new sunscreen for tanning is its SPF level. The higher the SPF factor, the more protection you get from your sunscreen. Your skin tone may also affect your SPF choosing process. If you are lighter skin-toned and paler, it’s important that you get something that has a high SPF. Those who don’t get burned easily can opt for something with a lower sun protection factor. Though you should proceed with caution with lower SPF sunscreens and remember to constantly reapply to avoid skin damage and premature aging.

Water-resistant

When on the lookout for your new sunscreen for tanning, always consider its water-resistance factor. Whether its water-resistance factor is up to 40 or 80 minutes, it’s always a good idea to go for something that is water-resistant for up to a certain level. This is especially important if you are planning to engage in water activities.

Application process

The last thing you’d want to be considering in your new sunscreen is how it is applied. Is it a rub on lotion or a spray? Sunscreens come in different ways you can apply it. Both application and forms have their own pros and cons and people definitely have a preference on how they’d want to apply their sunscreen. Ask yourself what your preference is and choose something along that line.

Conclusion

Even if you are trying to get yourself a tan and glow, it is imperative that you still apply sunscreen.

Our pick for the best sunscreen for tanning is the Sun Bum Sunscreen Lotion for its hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic formula that’s totally safe for use by those with sensitive skin. It’s offered in a variety of SPF levels and provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays! If what you’re looking for is a sunscreen with lower SPF for darker skin tones, you might want to check out Hawaiian Tropic Island Tanning Cocoa Butter Lotion Sunscreen. This is ideal for those who have more natural protection against the sun because of its lower level of SPF 8. And if what you’re looking for is a sunscreen that not only protects but will also give you an instant tan, you might want to check out Australian Gold Instant Bronzer Spray Gel Sunscreen.

Many sunscreen options could entail confusion on our end as consumers. We hope you were able to find one from our favorites above that exactly fits your needs. Happy tanning!

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