Do sunscreens prevent tanning? {Reader’s Query}

Sunscreens are essentially made to prevent the sun’s rays to harm your skin and trigger skin cancer. But, depending on the strength of the sunscreen, it might have tanning prevention abilities. 

Physical Sunscreens
Predominantly used physical sunscreen agent, Zinc Oxide, is a broad spectrum sunscreen which protects skin from both UVA and UVB rays (both types). Generally, it helps a lot in preventing tanning. But, there is a loop hole here. The abilities of the sunscreen depends on the strength of its protection. For example, if you are using a spf 15 sunscreen, it filters out 92% (rounded figure) of the sun’s rays and still allows 8% to go through. Those 8% of the sun’s rays can still harm the skin. 
Similarly, when talking about Titanium Dioxide, it filters out all UVB rays but only half of UVA rays which reduces the strength of the sunscreen considerably. In spf 15, 8% of rays are still passing through to the skin and also, UVA rays are separately affecting your skin because the sunscreen can’t block them. Also, Titanium Dioxide is responsible for generating free radicals in the body unless it is coated.
Chemical Sunscreens
The major issue with chemical sunscreen is the stability factor. The chemical ingredients breakdown on exposure to sunlight. Yes, that’s a contradiction to the function of the product. That’s the main reason why a sunscreen has to be reapplied after every two hours. Also, they have a tendency to generate free radicals in the body which can also trigger cancerous reaction within the body.
Also, let me say here that the “Helioplex” of Neutrogena is a stabilising formula (read this post for more details) to prevent the breakdown of the chemical sunscreen ingredients which makes its sunscreens effective on a longer length of time. But, again the strength of sunscreen decides the amount of rays passing through to the skin and they can cause tanning. 
Also, a sunscreen which doesn’t have PA ratings gives no protection against UVA rays so still your skin is vulnerable to tanning and aging. PA ratings gives protection against the UVA rays and spf gives the protection strength against the UVB rays so a sunscreen needs to have both these factors mentioned for it to be a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Recommended Sunscreens:

MVO Moisturizing Face Screen
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock


  1. Anonymous says

    i had never used a sunscreen in the past! but your posts on sunscreens made me buy my first sunscreen a month ago! …Pranali

  2. Padmaja says

    The way I use sunscreen, I can say I have never really used it :p

    Rt now using Nutregena oil free moisturiser with spf
    Hey there is one sunsccreen from nutregena which feels really stickly…don’t know which one

    Did u touch upon the difference bet’ sunblock and suncreen in any post Swati? If no, do a post on it also :)

    And regarding your hermes scarf, if you asked that question a month ago, I could have got an answer for you…hmmm :)

    • says

      actually Paddy….there is no difference between sunscreen and sunblock…you should check this post in which I have mentioned about it:
      neutrogena has two sunscreens on india – dry block something and moisture something…dryblock is little sticky if you apply it in a overdose and moisture has just been launched and I used it today for the first time and liked it :)

      haha…sunscreen actually has to be used properly for it to be effective in the long term!!!

      you got hermes scarf kya???

    • Padmaja says

      I have been through the posts…so their is nothing like sunblock…since physical sunscreens reflect the rays may be they can be called sunblock…

      That nutregena sunscreen is really sticky..may be it will work well :p

      naaahh..I didn’t get the Hermes scarf…am somewhat weakhearted :p
      I meant that I could have found out if Hermes has a store at the Dubai airport :)…even better I would have got one and sold to u for double price ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • says

      yes, no sunblock only sunscreen…btw, the new neutrogena sunscreen in white and yellow is not sticky so you can check that out :) both of them do work well, though!!

      haha, even I am weak-hearted but sometimes can’t simply resist somethings!!! hmmm…its so huge that I will simply get lost searching for the store and my flight would be announced ๐Ÿ˜€ hopefully, the sales assistants should be able to help!!! I am also planning to get some clinique and dior in case I go which is not yet fixed but I have already started having dreamZZZZZZ ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Padmaja says

      dream…dream…dreaming won’t cost anything ๐Ÿ˜€
      keep a check on …one lucky day they may have hermes scarf at a discount :) but when u spend so much, u would really want to feel and touch before u swipe ur card ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. says

    As a young woman, I never applied sunscreen when I went out. But as I am growing old, I can see the effect of the sun on my face. Thanks for the information on sunscreens. I am currently using Parachute advansed body lotion summer fresh as a body lotion cum sunscreen. It has got mint which is good for the summer months and double sunscreen that protects the skin from harm.

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