Swimming – how to avoid tanning?

Swimming – how to avoid tanning?

One of the biggest concerns for people who go swimming is getting a tan. Whether it’s at their local pool, lake or ocean; they are concerned about staying away from that dreaded tan line. We’ve asked our expert to give their best tips on how to avoid the sun tan while getting your swim on!

Is swim tanning permanent?

As with any type of surface exposure, the sun’s UV rays penetrate the skin and interact with melanin, a pigment in your body. This results in a darkening of all exposed areas as well as an increase in the speed at which those areas burn when subsequently exposed to sunlight. There is nothing you can do to stop this process from occurring or protect yourself from its effects even if you wear extensive clothing during swim tanning sessions.

The appearance of tan due to ultraviolet radiation is temporary, whereas sunless tanning remedies darken the skin artificially through the use of dihydroxyacetone (DHA) or other beta-carotene derivatives that react with dead cells in the stratum corneum to produce a golden-brown coloration. Hence, all types of tans are temporary in nature.

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How to protect your skin

The only way to maintain a swim tan without a hazardous amount of skin damage is with regular application of self-tanning products such as lotions and sprays that have been specifically designed for use on human skin. These items usually contain ingredients that mimic the natural tan-producing process, allowing you to safely revisit your favorite beach or poolside spots without the risks associated with sunbathing. If you do not wish to apply products to your body, however, it is possible to swim at least every other day in order to maintain a natural glow.

How to prevent swimming tan?

The high-risk period for a tanning is between 11 am and 4 pm. There are many UV filter products on the market giving a much better protection against sunburn, but they do not protect much against tanning. The most effective protective measures against developing of the so called “baking” or “swimming” tan are:


Protect your skin with clothing (especially during work breaks!) No matter if it is the latest fashion, the textile will still filter some UV radiation! So use long sleeves tops and pants, hats, sunglasses etc… Avoid wetting of fabric covering parts of your body. Make sure that all uncovered areas receive enough UVA/UVB protection via suntan lotion. Remember to reapply the suntan lotion every 2-3 hours even if it is water-resistant.

Drink Plenty of Water

Drink enough water (aim for minimum 2 litres per day), avoid alcohol, tobacco and high sugar intake during the holiday.

Remove Makeup

Remember that you can never go into water with full protection (tight swimsuit etc.) as this will make your body overheat very quickly. So choose an appropriate swimwear according to your tanning degree and possibilities which allow you to cool down. Take off extra make-up before swimming especially eye shadow/eyeliner or lipsticks as these may distract or irritate fish in public pools. However you would not like them to get into your mouth either after in a public pool! So if you are even only slightly concerned about hygiene choose a private swimming pool. Don’t forget to reapply sun protection before going out in the sun again!

Carefully Choose Sunscreen

If you suffer from allergies, make sure to check the ingredients of your sunscreen prior use. Some chemicals used for filtering may cause or irritate allergy symptoms, so go for hypoallergenic products like EltaMD UV Facial Moisturizing Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+ with Hyaluronic Acid instead. If you have very sensitive skin consult your doctor what type of suntan lotion is suitable for you, but generally speaking it is advisable not to put too much pressure on the skin by using strong scrubbing/cleansing agents. And last but not least: Tanning beds are extremely dangerous as they emit high amounts of UVA/UVB radiation without any filter at all! Remember no tan is healthy, so stay out of the sun and in the shade whenever possible.

Best time to swim to avoid tanning?

Swimming in the evening or night, so no sunscreen can be applied. At any time of day, if you’re just trying to avoid tanning, not burn. Melanocyte stimulation begins 24 hours after exposure to UV radiation and continues for approximately 48 hours. So do not go out in the sun unprotected at ANY time during that period. Remember that swimming itself is also a form of solar radiation (in fact, I think it’s more intense than when you are basking on the beach) so for tanning purposes only, late evening/night swimming is recommended; but remember sunscreen has its purpose too! It can say “waterproof” but doesn’t mean it won’t come off when wet – even by salt water – and then you’re unprotected.

How to remove swimming tan instantly?

No matter how good you are at applying lotion, your skin takes on a golden hue after spending some time in the sun. It doesn’t matter if it’s only for 15 minutes or an hour; within hours of exposure to the sun, you will notice that your skin has turned slightly darker. If you want to remove the orange color from your skin immediately, there are ways. Learn how below.

Get a Shower

Rinse off in the shower right away when you get home from spending time in the sun.  Once out of the hot sun and cooled down somewhat, head inside and rinse off with cool water from a garden hose outside or take a nice cool shower indoors to rid yourself of any lingering effects from the sun. Cool water from a hose is also fine, but cold showers should be avoided if you don’t want to risk catching a cold.

Apply Aloe Vera Gel

Use a pH-balanced toner or Aloe Vera gel all over your body to even out skin tone and take away the unnecessary orange glow that has appeared on your skin. This will not only make your skin look smoother, but it will clear away any lingering tan as well. If using an aloe Vera gel to remove swimwear tanning, apply generously to all body parts where tan lines are present and rub in thoroughly. Then rinse off with cool water for best results. Repeat as necessary depending on how much time has passed since leaving the pool or beach.

Apply Moisturizer

Apply moisturizer with aloe Vera I recommend Miracle Aloe Vera Moisturizing Cream Face and Body Moisturizer Lotion or petroleum jelly to your skin when you are done showering. This will help prevent tan lines in the future.  Use sunscreen after that if you want to continue taking care of your skin and preventing any future damage from occurring.  Be sure to follow instructions on the bottle, as they vary depending on the product itself.

But do not use these products in case of serious sunburns, heat rashes or swelling of the skin

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Sarah Jay
By Sarah Jay

Sarah Jay is a beautician that loves to write about the fashion and beauty industry. This love of writing led her to start her own blog, where she shares articles on everything from hair care tips to how-to guides. She's also passionate about gadgets, and has knowledge of the latest trends in her field. Sarah knows what people want when it comes to caring for their skin and hair.

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