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Does self-tanning products protect against UV-rays?

While it may be true that your skin is more resistant to UVA and UVB-rays when we have a natural tan, the same does not apply to self tanning products.

The active ingredients in self-tanning products is called DHA. This chemical reacts with the protein in our skins outer layer and changes the pigmentation and stains it, thus creating a tanned look. Depending on your specific self-tanning product and its composition, the tan will either be lighter or darker. DHA doesn’t have any properties which would allow it to act in a protective way, and therefore it does not protect your skin from sun rays. However, there are some self-tanning products that contain SPF as an added ingredients, but most of them don’t.


It is acceptable to sun bathe after using a self-tanning product, but there are some things you need to be aware of:

  1. Use SPF! As previously mentioned, self-tanning products does not contain any sunscreen. Therefore it’s crucial to apply SPF in a regular manner, and use a sunscreen with SPF 50 or higher for guaranteed protection.

  2. Be mindful of your skin. Some self-tanning products contain strong perfumes which can act dehydrating and cause skin irritations when exposed to sun light. This might cause stains and spots.

  3. Be careful. When your skin already has a taint it might be hard to tell when you’re getting sunburned.

  4. Don’t sun bathe for too long! DHA releases free radicals when exposed to sun light. That means a prolonged tanning session will lead to cell damage and loss of collagen and elasticity (yikes)!

  5. Wait a while. Don’t go outside in to the hot sun immediately after applying a self-tanning product. Regardless if you go out to bask in the sun, or to do something else, you might get sweaty from the sun. And sweat is not great for self-tanning products if they haven’t completely dried yet, as it will result in a spotty and uneven tan. So make sure your product is completely settled before you go outside.

So no, self-tanning products offer zero protection against the suns harmful rays. And you also need to be mindful if you choose to sun bathe after using a self-tanning product. Clearly the best option here is to just stick to the self-tanning product, it’s not only the safest option but also incredibly easy and time saving!