Many people try to achieve sun-bronzed skin by tanning, using lotions to deepen the color of their tan.
One of the benefits of tanning lotion is that many provide protection from some of the effects of the damaging ultraviolet rays from the sun. The higher a lotion's SPF number, the greater the protection. Using tanning lotion is better than tanning without any protection, but many lotions don't have enough SPF to offer much real protection.
Many tanning lotions also contain moisturizers. Direct contact with the sun's rays can have a drying effect on the cells of your skin. The moisturizers in the tanning lotion help prevent the skin flaking and damage that can result from exposure to the sun.
Not wearing any sun lotion on your skin can increase your risks for developing skin cancer. Wearing tanning lotion with an SPF that is too low still can leave you vulnerable. Opt for tanning lotions that have higher SPFs. They might not tan your skin as deeply, but they will protect you from UV skin damage.
Spending too much time in the sun without sun lotion can catalyze the skin aging process. This can lead to premature wrinkling and the development of age spots on the skin. Some tanning lotions provide enough protection from the sun to help prevent premature aging.
Because most tanning lotions still leave you vulnerable to the harmful effects of the sun, consider sunless alternatives to tanning. For example, spray tanning or using a sunless tanning lotion can help give your skin the color you desire, without increasing your risks for skin cancer. You can still enjoy the sun; just choose high-SPF sunblock while doing so.