Why do I have a sun tan despite using a sunscreen every day? (Beauty Query)

Here are expert tips from Dr Smriti Naswa on how to maximise the effect of your sunscreen to deal with a sun tan.


I am a 26-year-old female. I apply a sunscreen with SPF 50 before leaving for work. But I have sun tan on my hands and back even after using it every day. What is the reason for this? How should I protect my skin from tanning? Please help.

The query is answered by Dr Smriti Naswa Singh, Consultant dermatologist and cosmetologist, Fortis Hospital, Mumbai.

According to Dr Smiriti, there are three key points everyone should keep in mind while using a sunscreen to deal with a sun tan.

Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before stepping out: Sunscreen doesn’t start working right after you apply it. Yes, most people think that applying a sunscreen just before going out is the right way to reap its skincare benefits. However, it is not correct as it requires at least 15- 20 minutes time for the skin to absorb sunscreen and start working. Hence, you should apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you plan to go out to make the most out of it. Also, read about the 11‘sunscreen mistakes’ you must avoid!

It remains active only for 3–4 hours: Although, sunscreen products with 50 SPF or 70 SPF claim that these products are effective when used for a long time or show desirable results when used throughout the day, it is not the case. If you spend most of the time outdoors or have to stay in the sun for a long time, it is important to apply sunscreen every three hours to counteract the effect of harmful radiations of the sun on the skin and prevent a sun tan. And if you don’t, then there are high chances that you end up having a tanned skin at the end of the day even after applying a sunscreen at the start of the day.

Use other physical measures of sun protection as well: Dr Smriti claims that along with using a sunscreen, using other options like using an umbrella, goggles, hats, etc. goes a long way in helping to protect the skin from the ultraviolet radiations of the sun. Even, wearing long sleeves when going out in the sun, especially from 11 am – 4 pm, helps you to minimize the effect of direct sun rays. If you are in a car, using sunscreen is sufficient as you are not directly in contact with the sun rays.

How to use a sunscreen the right way?

There is one more point to remember when you apply sunscreen. Always use a fingertip unit (FTU), which is the amount of cream which is squeezed on a fingertip (end of the finger to the first crease of the finger).One FTU is sufficient for two palm-size skin surface area, however, for the face and neck it is2.5 FTU . For other sun exposed areas like arms, forearms, feet, one has to apply accordingly. Here’s how to choose a sunscreen according to your skin type

Unlike the popular belief that applying it in more quantity is effective, Dr Smriti says that using a thick layer of sunscreen might lead to oily skin further increasing your risk of other skin problems like acne. Also, if you use more quantity, it fails to get absorbed into the skin. Hence, always apply a thin layer of sunscreen on the skin to prevent sun tan. Also read about 5 natural ways to get rid of suntanthis summer!

Image Source: Shutterstock


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