When it comes to showcasing a wonderfully bronzed glow, it can be tricky to know whether to use self tan prior to going on holiday or whether to wait and aim to build up a natural tan. Here at Amanda Harrington London we always opt for a faux bronze to minimise our skins exposure to the sun, but we also understand that some people prefer the real route. 

Many people wonder whether they can still tan through sunless tan, or whether the self tan will block the UV rays. If you can relate and want to know about building a golden flow, we are unpacking this topic so that you can be the expert the next time you see the sunshine.

Can you get a tan with fake tan on?

You most certainly can, however it can be a riskier way to catch a natural bronze. As your skin is darker from the DHA in the sunless tan, you may be less likely to notice when your skin is burning, this can mean that you stay out in the sun for longer without protection, and looking after your skin should be at the top of your priority list. 

In order to transition from a sunless tan to a real tan, we would suggest that you wear an oil free/mineral based SPF such as Heliocare when you're exposing your skin to sunlight. This will protect your skin and allow it the chance to catch a natural tan. The biggest myth is that wearing SPF stops your natural tanning habits all together. It may take a little longer to see the bronze, but your skins health is protected which is key. 

Should you wear sunscreen with fake tan?

Yes, you should always wear sunscreen with fake tan. Sunscreen is essential whether you are wearing fake tan or not, as it helps protect the skin from harmful UV rays. The best advice we have ever heard is that the best anti-aging technique is to wear SPF on your face every single day. 

There are not a lot of fake tans that have SPF in their formula, and if they do, it is normally a small amount. In this case it is always necessary to top up with an oil free SPF. Make sure you have washed off your tans guide colour before applying any SPF and if you feel like your tan is fading due to the SPF, use a Gradual Tanner to keep that golden glow alive!

What happens if you don’t wear SPF in the sunshine?

There are lots of risks associated with overexposure to sunlight, which is why so many people are now opting to go sunless. The main risks are:

Skin cancer

The main risk of overexposure to the sun is skin cancer. SPF is essential to protect your skin against UVB and UVA rays that penetrate the skin and cause long term damage. Although you might be happy with your bronzed face in the short term, long term your skin will really suffer.


Sun damage is the leading cause of premature ageing - which is the main reason that many people choose to avoid the sun altogether and go sunless. Like we mentioned earlier, SPF should be worn (daily if possible) to protect against ageing, especially on the face.

Uneven skin tone

Overexposure to the sun can give you an uneven skin tone and leave you with sun spots and dark patches from the damage. SPF helps to protect against these aesthetic imperfections caused by the sun.

Should you fake tan before going on holiday?

Absolutely! We all love having a glowing, sun kissed face and body when we go away on holiday and self tanning products are ideal for giving us confidence when we jet off for some real sunshine.

There is no harm in using fake tan to build up a natural glow before you get some real sun, however it is essential to be aware of the dangers of excessive sun exposure and take steps to protect your skin. You can tan through fake tan, and you can burn too. Being aware of this and using a high factor SPF will allow you to tan safely.

For more information on how to prep your skin for a sun-kissed glow - whether natural or sunless - take a look at Amanda’s skincare range.
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