What Is the Difference Between Tanning Lotion and Sunscreen?

Most people don’t know the difference between sunscreen lotion and self-tanning lotions. Both sunscreen and self-tanning lotions are commonly used for different reasons. In this article, we will explain the reason people apply tanning lotion and different types of self-tanners. You will also find out why everyone must use sunscreen.

Difference Between Tanning Lotion and Sunscreen

What Is the Self-Tanning Lotion?

Self-tanning lotions are applied to get a sunless tan which usually lasts for a week. Most people who like tanned skin use tanning lotions to get results without damaging the skin through UV rays. You should always avoid consuming tanning pills to get a sunless tan.

Apply self-tanners which include DHA, to darken the skin tone temporarily. There are two common types of self-tanners used by people around the world.

Common Types of Self-Tanning Lotions

Spray Tanning Lotions

Spray tanning lotions are considered one of the safest ways to get a sunless tan. Most tanning lotions don’t contain SPF. Thus, you should use the best sunscreen to tan fast and protect the tanned skin from the harmful effects of UV rays.

Airbrush Tanning

A machine is used to apply spray tan in airbrush tanning. Your skin will be coated to the desired pigment level. You should avoid airbrush tanning because the FDA has not approved it. Moreover, many people have reported that they felt dizzy after the airbrush tanning.

You should not let your children get tanned since they might get used to it. The children might start going out without wearing sunscreen to get a tan. Thus, as a parent, you should not allow children to get sunless tan.

How Is Tanning Lotion Different from Sunscreen?

Tanning lotions are used to get a sunless tan, while sunscreen is used to protect the skin from getting tanned through the harmful effects of UV rays. Tanning lotions should be applied once or twice a week, while sunscreen should be applied daily.

Sunscreen Lotion Vs. Sunblock

Both sunscreen and sunblock are effective in protecting the skin from sun damage. However, there is a difference between both the lotions. Sunscreen is applied to filter the UV rays, while sunblock reflects the rays of the sun.

Sunblock provides protection from UVA and UVB. Since tanning oils don’t protect you from UV rays, you should apply the best sunblock for tanning. However, most people choose sunscreen as the best alternative to protect the skin from damage. Sunblock might make parts of your skin appear white.

Choosing the Best Sunscreen

You need to consider the following things while choosing sunscreen.

Sunscreen Should Have at Least SPF 30

Most people choose higher SPF to protect the skin from UV rays. However, SPF 30 works best, and choosing more SPF will only give a false sense of security. Most people have tried using sunscreen with SPF 100. However, they found little difference in the protection from the harmful effects of UV rays. According to research, sunscreen with SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and sunscreen with SPF 50 blocks 98%.

Lotion Protects the Skin from UVA and UVB Rays

Both UVA and UVB can equally damage our skin. Most sunscreen protects from UVB rays but doesn’t protect from UVA. Thus, you need to check the ingredients to determine which sunscreen can protect you from UVA rays.

Sunscreen Products Should Be Water-Resistant

You need to apply sunscreen that doesn’t get washed out due to sweating. Regular sunscreen products are not water-resistant. Thus, some people find their skin tanned even after applying sunscreen. Sweating is a common issue which you will deal with after the application of sunscreen. You must check if the product claims to be water-resistant.


We hope you understand that sunscreen and tanning lotions are used for different purposes. After getting sunless tan, apply sunscreen to protect the skin from sun damage. Choose a sunscreen that has at least SPF 30 and is water-resistant.