It is no secret that the sun can damage the skin in a number of devastating ways. A sunburn is the unintended consequence of too much exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays. These rays penetrate the outer layers of the skin and kill the underlying skin cells.

Frequent exposure to these UV rays can damage the skin, cause premature wrinkles, and lead to long-term problems. Fortunately, there are many sunscreens to prevent tanning, protect against sun exposure.

Does Sunscreen Prevent Tanning?

Yes, sunscreen does help prevent tanning, however, it does not prevent it entirely. Despite what many in the tanning industry may want you to believe, there is no such thing as safe tanning. All tanning puts you at risk for painful and damaging sunburns and premature aging.

Additionally, UV rays can penetrate the skin, damaging cells in the epidermis and bring about a host of harmful consequences. If you care about the future of your skin, take proper precautions to ensure that your skincare routine involves the regular use of a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Best Face Sunscreens to Prevent Tanning

Fortunately, there are a variety of sunscreens available to consumers who are committed to protecting their skin from harmful UV rays. Here are three of the most effective products to consider.

1. CeraVe Sunscreen Face Lotion (Face Sunscreen)

CeraVe Sunscreen Face Lotion

CeraVe broad spectrum sunscreen is a safe choice for a budget friendly facial sunscreen. It's great for all skin types.

  • How to use: Apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. Most adults need about 1/2 TBSP of sunscreen to cover their face, don't forget your neck, back and ears. Apply every two hours, and 15 minutes before going into the sun. For maximum tanning and sun protection, set a timer on your cell phone for an easy reminder.
  • How this product prevents tanning: This 100 percent mineral sunscreen will have you covered, literally. The three essential ceramides (1, 3, 6-II) deliver skin restoration and a natural protective barrier to keep out the sun's harmful UV rays. The patented InVisibleZinc Technology Microfine zinc oxide dries with a clear finish and goes on smoothly.
  • What to expect: The 50 SPF board spectrum sunscreen is specifically formulated for you on the most sensitive areas of your face. The oil-free formula will not clog pores and is good for nearly all skin types.

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2. Elta MD UV Shield Sunscreen SPF 45 (Face Sunscreen)

Elta MD UV Shield Sunscreen SPF 45

Elta MD UV Shield Sunscreen is personally my favorite facial sunscreen. It is a bit more expensive, but the finish is completely matte and ideal for all skin types.

  • How to use: Apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. Most adults need about 1/2 TBSP of sunscreen to cover their face, don't forget your neck, back and ears. Apply every two hours, and 15 minutes before going into the sun. For maximum tanning and sun protection, set a timer on your cell phone for an easy reminder
  • How it works to prevent your face from tanning: This full-service product provides a protection unmatched by most other sunscreens on the market. The 45 SPF delivers maximum coverage while the zinc oxide protects the skin from both harmful UVA and UVB rays.
  • What to expect: The product moisturizes the skin as it protects, leaving behind a lightweight and silky finish. The non-greasy formula is ideal for oily or acne-sensitive skin. This versatile product can be worn under makeup or by itself.

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3. La Roche-Posay Sunscreen SPF 50 (Face Sunscreen)

La Roche-Posay Sunscreen SPF 50

Another great options for facial sunscreen is the La Roche-Posay Sunscreen 50 SPF. Lightweight and finishes great.

  • How to use: Apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. Most adults need about 1/2 TBSP of sunscreen to cover their face, don't forget your neck, back and ears.Apply every two hours, and 15 minutes before going into the sun. For maximum tanning and sun protection, set a timer on your cell phone for an easy reminder
  • How it protects your skin and prevents tanning: This facial sunscreen helps to fight early skin aging with its advanced mineral formulation. A mix of zinc oxide and Cell-Ox Shield antioxidant technology work together to provide optimal coverage and protection from damaging free radicals.
  • What to expect: The UVA and UVB filters work in tandem to deliver a broad spectrum coverage. The water-resistant formula provides up to 40 minutes of protection when enjoying the pool or ocean.

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Best Body Sunscreens to Prevent Tanning

When you need protection for more than just the face, turn to any of these three full-body sunscreens to provide the coverage that you need.

1. Banana Boat Body Sunscreen SPF 50 (For Body)

Banana Boat Body Sunscreen SPF 50

Banana Boat Body Sunscreen SPF 50 is a classic sunscreen that is budget friendly and ideal for all skin types.

  • How to use: Apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. Apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. Most adults need about 1 ounce — or enough to fill a shot glass — to fully cover their body. Don't forget your neck, back and ears, top of your feet and head. Apply every two hours, and 15 minutes before going into the sun. For maximum tanning and sun protection, set a timer on your cell phone for an easy reminder
  • How it prevents tanning: This sport sunscreen is formulated to withstand all of the fun that you can throw at it. Sun lovers and sports enthusiasts will appreciate the long-lasting wear and the maximum SPF 50 protection. The broad spectrum UVA and UVB coverage will get you through the sun, sweat, wind, extreme heat, sand, pool water, and ocean water.
  • What to expect: The sunscreen is water resistant for up to 80 minutes before reapplication is necessary. The patented Active Dry Protect formula helps the product to go on quickly without feeling greasy.

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2. Paula's Choice Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50 (For Body)

Paulas Choice Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50 (Body Sunscreen)

Paula's Choice Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50 is an excellent body sunscreen and safe to use for all skin types. It absorbs quickly and does not leave your skin from feeling greasy.

  • How to use: Apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. Apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. Most adults need about 1 ounce — or enough to fill a shot glass — to fully cover their body. Don't forget your neck, back and ears, top of your feet and head. Apply every two hours, and 15 minutes before going into the sun. For maximum tanning and sun protection, set a timer on your cell phone for an easy reminder
  • How it prevents tanning: This oil-free formula eliminates the greasy feel that often accompanies many sunscreen products. The matte finish is ideal for normal, to oily skin. This product is sensitive enough for the face but can also be used as a full-body sunscreen.
  • What to expect: Because it is both water and sweat resistant, the sunscreen is a good choice for those active people who need more longevity in their sun protection. The antioxidant-rich formula can even be worn under makeup and still not lose its effectiveness.

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3. Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence (For Body)

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence is my absolute favorite water sunscreen. The texture and finish is absolutely wonderful. In addition, it has hyaluronic acid which will bring moisture to the skin.

  • How to use: Apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. Apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. Most adults need about 1 ounce — or enough to fill a shot glass — to fully cover their body. Don't forget your neck, back and ears, top of your feet and head. Apply every two hours, and 15 minutes before going into the sun. For maximum tanning and sun protection, set a timer on your cell phone for an easy reminder
  • How it prevents tanning: Perfect for those active consumers looking for long-lasting coverage and resistance to water, this Biore product is super waterproof with an SPF of 50. The unique mixture of hyaluronic acid and citrus essence delivers moisture to the body while also protecting from the sun's harmful rays.
  • What to expect: The citrus essence comes with a slight fragrance and the product does contain alcohol, so those with sensitive skin might want to look at a different option.

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Other Sunscreen Tips

Here are some additional tips to consider. Remember to completely remove an leftover sunscreen. Patch test new products. And lastly, set a timer on your phone. It is extremely easy to lose track of time when you're either at the beach or working outside.

1. Remove Facial Sunscreen With a Facial Cleanser

Sunscreen can be problematic for some, so it is recommended to make sure you use a water soluble facial cleanser to remove any excess sunscreen after a day of fun. And FYI, cheap cleansers work just as great as their expensive counter parts. Check out our list of best drugstore facial cleansers to find one suitable for your skin type.

2. Patch Test

Everyone's skin is unique which sometimes makes it difficult to find a product that works for your skin. Simply apply a small amount of sunscreen to an area of your skin. If no irritation occurs within an hour, feel free to use the normal amount. This is a great way to determine if a product is irritating to your skin.

3. Set a Timer on Your Phone to Reapply Sunscreen

We get it, sometimes you lose track of time when you're enjoying yourself at the beach. Or, if you're like me, you fall asleep. To prevent tanning and sunburns, set a timer to remind yourself to reapply more sunscreen after two hours. This way, you can enjoy the day without constantly worrying about when you need to reapply your sunscreen.

FAQ

As more research into the harmful effects of UV rays on the skin comes to light, more people are becoming aware of what they need to do to protect their skin. Here are a few answers to some of the most common questions people have about sunscreen use.

How often should you apply sunscreen?

Most people do not apply sufficient coverage when they slather on the sunscreen. An adult of average size needs about one ounce of product to sufficiently cover the body. The sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes before going outside in order to enable it to effectively soak into the skin and activate. Sunscreen should be applied at least every two hours when outside. However, the product needs to be applied more often if in the water or sweating. Depending on the water-resistance of the sunscreen, some products will provide longer protection while in the water.

Does higher sunscreen SPF make it better?

Once a sunscreen crosses the 30 SPF threshold, the added protection does not necessarily increase its protective factor. According to Florida dermatologist James M. Spencer, MD, an SPF 15 product blocks about 94 percent of UVB rays while an SPF 30 product blocks 97 percent of the harmful rays. The results are even more negligible the higher up the SPF scale you go. For example, an SPF 45 product blocks about 98 percent of the rays. Most dermatologists will recommend sticking with a product that delivers a protection of SPF 30.

Does sunscreen prevent you from getting wrinkles?

Sun damage is one of the most common contributors to premature skin aging and eyelid wrinkles. Recent studies have even demonstrated that the regular use of a broad spectrum sunscreen can visibly reverse the signs of existing damage to the skin. The bottom line is that it never hurts to use sunscreen and so it is a good idea to get in the habit of using it consistently. Your skin will certainly thank you later.

Does sunscreen prevent your skin from getting darker?

Yes, when used as directed, sunscreen can prevent the skin from becoming darker even when exposed to harmful UV rays. Users must take care to use the recommended amount and apply liberally and often. Using the product as directed will prevent the skin from tanning while also protecting it from wrinkles and other discolorations.