Did you just get a sunburn, and you’re wondering if it’s ok to get your weekly spray tan or put a self-tanner over the top? Well, the answer is, it completely depends on the severity of the burn, and the type and quality of the self-tanner you plan to use. The bottom line is it is ok get a spray tan or to put self-tanner on over a sunburn if it’s not severe or flaking. However, you should use a light spray tan or mild self-tanner that does not contain harsh chemicals. If your sunburn is very painful, or flaking, do not apply anything other than aloe vera or other products intended to treat sunburns. Alright, now that we’ve talked about the basic question, let’s dive into this a bit deeper and go over a few scenarios. Getting a Spray Tan or Applying A Seld-Tanner Over Sunburn - So we need to break this down into a few categories, because it really does depend on where the sunburn is, and how severe it is. First of all, the bottom line is, if you’re sunburn is very painful, you really shouldn’t be putting anything on it at all except aloe vera or something else intended for sunburns. Get the burn to heal a bit before you consider applying fake tan. Also, if the sunburn is peeling at all, you really don’t want to apply self-tanner. This is because of how self-tanner works. Most quality sunless tanners work through an ingredient called dihydroxyacetone, or DHA. DHA has a chemical reaction with the amino acids in the dead skin cells sitting on your skin. Since the dead skin cells gradually release from your skin during the constant and healthy cell renewal process, the fake tan you achieve from self-tanning products will also disappear. Which is why you have to reapply self-tanner fairly often (see my complete guide on this). This is also why if your skin is flaking or peeling it’s not a good idea to fake tan. The self-tanner is almost guaranteed to come off with the flaking skin leaving your tan looking blotchy and streaky and not attractive. So the bottom line is, if you have a really bad sunburn, let it heal before you start applying self-tanner. Alright now let’s talk a little bit about what you can do with self-tanner if your sunburn isn’t that bad. Using Fake Tan On A Mild Sunburn Ok, now this is the category where it’s probably ok to get a spray tan or use some self-tanner. This is when you were out in the sun a little bit too long, or maybe your sunscreen wasn’t a high enough SPF and you have a mild sunburn. Maybe your skin is a bit red and a little bit sensitive, but it’s not very painful to wear clothing over it and there is no peeling or flaking. So, here is the way you should probably go about it if you want to apply some self-tanner to your sunburn. First of all, you want to try and keep to a typical self-tanning routine. So, to start with, you really should gently (and I mean gently) exfoliate your whole body including the areas that are burned. Although it might sound painful, exfoliation is actually good for sunburns because it helps to move along the renewal process of the cells. It’s also good for self-tanning because we’re getting rid of excess dead skin cells. So use a gentle exfoliant mitt, or make a gentle exfoliant one with some finely ground up caster sugar and some honey, and run that over your burn. After it’s been nicely exfoliated, go ahead and moisturize (hugely important for self-tanning). Next, let that dry completely and once it has, go ahead and get your spray tan or apply your self-tanner. Just be sure to use a gentle, safe, and preferably organic self-tanner, especially if you have any skin irritations. I would suggest ours, Oh That Glow Gradual Tanning Lotion or Mousse, which happens to be my favorite product in general. What you’ve done is exfoliate away any excess skin that may cause blotching or streaking, and then evenly hydrated your skin. So even though your skin may be slightly burnt, you’ve evened out the playing field so that the sunless tanner has the best chance to apply evenly and give you a beautiful glow. Spray Tan Over A Peeling Sunburn This falls under the first category. Whether it is a spray tan at a salon or a self-tanner from a bottle, the bottom line is you shouldn’t use it if your sunburn is severe. Any type of imitation or fake tan is going to live on the outside of your skin. If you get a tan from the sun, that actually creates pigment deep in your skin that will last (but also isn’t good for you). So, regardless of how you’re getting the fake tan, if your sunburn is severe or peeling, avoid any kind of tanning whatsoever. Wait until it has healed completely, or almost completely, and then follow the steps I laid out up above. Will A Spray Tan Prevent A Sunburn? Absolutely 100% not. In fact, no tan whatsoever is going to prevent or even eliminate the possibility of a sunburn. If you have gotten a good tan from the sun, then it’s like wearing SPF 2 or 3, it might make it slightly harder to get burned, but not much. However, if you’re tan is from a bottle or a spray gun, then it’s doing absolutely nothing for you. Also, don’t assume that your self-tanner has any UV protection because it probably doesn’t. Most self-tanners don’t have any sort of sun protection unless it specifically specifies it. If you’re curious about how to transition your fake tan to a real one the right way, you can subscribe to our mailing list and be watching for the next BLOG. So, if you are fake tanning and planning to go out into the sun, be sure you still put on a good quality sunscreen.
📸 Good Looking Tan (photo and collaborator)