How to prepare your skin for the sun

How to prepare your skin for the sun

Who wouldn't want to show off an even complexion and protect themselves from rashes, sunburn and sun damage? Here's how to get a tan without risk


  • Benefits and dangers of the sun
  • Prepare for the sun
    • Cosmetics
    • Nutrition and natural remedies
  • What not to do

Benefits and dangers of the sun

Exposing your skin to the sun has some benefits but also several risks. In fact, the sun's rays are responsible for converting the cholesterol present on the skin into vitamin D, a fundamental substance for bone health but also for the immune system. In addition, the heat and sunlight help fight some skin diseases such as psoriasis, relieve muscle and rheumatic pains and promote good mood.

On the other hand, exposure to the sun can aggravate some skin diseases such as acne and cause erythema and burns. Not only that: the ultraviolet rays that penetrate our skin are responsible for reactions that lead to the production of free radicals, exposing us to faster aging and the risk of developing skin cancers. For this reason, although the sun brings various benefits and although melanin partially protects us from the damage of the sun's rays, it is important to prepare the skin for sun exposure and protect yourself adequately.

Prepare for the sun

One of the best ways to prepare your skin for the sun is to gradually expose it to the sun's rays, always using adequate sun protection. This applies both to those with dark complexions and, even more so, to those with very light skin that burns easily. It is therefore good to expose yourself to the sun a little at a time and avoid doing it during the hottest hours of the day (approximately from 10 to 16) or for several consecutive hours. To give a rough indication, those with very fair skin should expose themselves to the sun for a maximum of five minutes on the first day, increasing exposure times by five minutes every day. On the other hand, if you have normal skin on the first day at the beach, you can expose yourself for 10-15 minutes, which time goes up to 20-30 minutes in case of dark skin. There are also cosmetic and herbal products that can help prepare the skin for the sun, preventing skin dehydration and sunburn.


To avoid sunburn, redness and irritation it is important that the skin is well hydrated and protected before exposure to the sun. Dehydration in fact increases the risk of erythema and sunburn as it decreases the skin's natural barriers. In addition to drinking plenty of water and consuming large portions of fresh fruit and vegetables, skin dryness can be counteracted by using moisturizers to be applied every day before and after sun exposure. The creams bring water and fatty substances to the skin that reintegrate the skin's hydrolipidic barrier and are able to counteract the evaporation of water from the skin. By using a good moisturizer on face and body every day before and after sun, the skin will therefore be softer, more elastic and less prone to dehydration and wrinkles.

During exposure, it is essential to apply a protective cream with a sunscreen suitable for your skin type. The sunscreen must be chosen based on its sun protection factor (SPF): for the first few days it is good to opt for creams with a very high SPF – indicated on the product as 50+ – and then gradually reduce the protection in the following days, choosing creams with high protection (30 SPF) and then medium (20-25 SPF). The sunscreen should be used on the body and face, renewing the application several times during the day, every 30-60 minutes.

Nutrition and natural remedies

The foods and natural remedies that help prepare the skin for the sun, tan evenly and prevent damage caused by the sun's rays are those rich in antioxidants, molecules capable of counteracting the action of free radicals. In addition to following a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables, it is possible to use supplements that contain vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, flavonoids and coenzyme Q10. To promote tanning, it may then be useful to integrate L-Tyrosine, an amino acid necessary for the synthesis of melanin. There are numerous tanning supplements on the market to be taken starting one month before sun exposure and during exposure.

What not to do

To avoid the formation of unsightly skin spots, in the 24-48 hours before exposure to the sun it is important not to carry out physical or chemical exfoliating treatments and to avoid epilation and hair removal with wax or razor blade. In fact, these methods of removing unwanted hair, as well as scrubs and treatments with glycolic or salicylic acid, remove the most superficial dead cells of the skin, often unevenly; if you expose yourself to the sun a few hours after these treatments, the skin is much more at risk of sunburn, resulting in the appearance of dark spots that can take a long time to disappear. Be careful even if you are undergoing permanent hair removal treatments, such as pulsed light: these treatments should be interrupted at least one month before exposing yourself to the sun.

Before exposing yourself to the sun, it is then necessary to avoid applying to the skin or ingesting photosensitizing products or substances, which cause burns, even important ones, responsible for the appearance of evident and lasting spots. Among the photosensitizing molecules we find furanocoumarins: these are substances capable of accumulating solar energy and then releasing it all at the same time, causing more or less severe burns and burns. Some natural substances present in essential oils are part of this family, for example in the essences extracted from bitter orange and bergamot and in hypericum food supplements. Oral supplementation should therefore be suspended at least two weeks before exposure to the sun; this also applies to topical treatments with products that contain photosensitizing substances.

Finally, it is absolutely not recommended to expose yourself to the sun without applying a sunscreen suitable for your skin type and to spend many hours in full sun from the first days on the beach or pool.

Read also

  • The best tanning accelerators to try immediately for a top tan
  • Holidays coming up? 5 tips to get a perfect tan
  • Sun protection: how to choose it based on texture, phototype and your needs
  • Skin spots: why do they come and how to prevent them?
  • Best sun creams: organic, with tanning or just protection
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