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We all want to look and feel our best. For many, that means spending time in the sun to get a glowing, tanned complexion. But if you’re going to go tanning, you need to protect your skin.

Picking the right tanning sunscreen for your budget is a big part of that. So keep reading to learn:

  • What to think about while shopping for a tanning sunscreen
  • The best options at every price point
  • Our final verdict on the best tanning sunscreen overall

Can you tan with sunscreen on?

Sunscreen protects your skin by blocking or absorbing the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. The FDA recommends that you wear sunscreen because excessive exposure to these UV rays can be harmful to both your short and long-term health. So, if ultraviolet rays are this harmful, can you still get a tan with a sunscreen on?

The problem is that the way that we get tan is by allowing the sun’s UV rays to interact with the melanin in our skin. So if you entirely block all of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays with a high SPF sunscreen, it’s going to take a very long time to get tanned.

That’s why it’s usually a good idea to pick up a dedicated tanning sunscreen if you’re going out into the sun specifically to get more tan but not so much that your skin gets damaged.


Ideally, you want to find a sunscreen that helps you tan while protecting your skin enough to avoid health damage. To do this, it has to let through enough ultraviolet rays to get you a tan at a reasonable rate.

We’ll recommend some products that accomplish this delicate balance below.

How to pick a good sunscreen for tanning

What is the best SPF for tanning?

Many people who go tanning want their skin to get as much exposure to the sun as possible. To make that happen, they sometimes choose a sunscreen with very low SPF levels.

It’s okay not to select a sun care product with ultra-high SPF protection. But you shouldn’t go too low just because you want to get a more robust tan, either. So, what SPF is best for tanning?

The FDA recommends a minimum of 15 SPF protection to protect your skin from skin cancer and sunburn. So unless you’re only spending a very short amount of time in the sun, this should be the lowest level of SPF protection that you look at.

Set your budget for buying a sunscreen for tanning

Of course, to find the best tanning sunscreen for your budget, you need to know what that budget is.

It’s a good idea to define a specific price range that you want to look at before you go shopping. That way, you don’t waste time and energy looking at products that aren’t realistic options or inadvertently spend more than you meant to.

Differentiate between your wants and needs

When you’re shopping with a budget in mind, it’s important to focus on what really matters to you about your sunscreen. 

Because you should be able to find a product that gives you what you need within your price range. But you may not be able to find one that gives you everything you want without breaking your budget.

That means you might want to focus your search around factors like:

  • SPF levels
  • Ingredients
  • Additional benefits (such as sunscreen with bronzer or moisturizing suncare products)

Don’t neglect product size

As you would expect, companies charge more for larger versions of their products. That means you can play around a bit with size to find the best tanning sunscreen for your budget.

For example, maybe you can afford your favorite luxury option if you get a smaller version of it. That could be a great shopping strategy if you don’t plan on going out tanning very often.

Pay attention to ingredients

At the end of the day, the quality of a sunscreen that helps you tan will always be about the ingredients. It’s best to focus on products that use natural ingredients like coconut oil, aloe vera, and hemp seed extract

That way, you can be sure that the product which you’re applying to your body nourishes it instead of hurting your skin in other ways while protecting it from the sun.

The best sunscreens for tanning (2022)

Now that we know what matters in a tanning sunblock, let’s look at some specific options in each budget category. Here are our selections for the best budget buys, mid-price products, and luxury sunscreens.

Australian Gold SPF 15 Spray Gel Sunscreen

Price: $10.49


  • Made with natural ingredients like Kakadu Plum, tea tree oil, sunflower seed oil, and cocoa seed butter
  • Water and sweat-resistant formula
  • Cruelty-free and vegan
  • Easy spray gel application style

What we like about it:

If you’re looking for a budget tanning sunscreen that does it all, it’s tough to beat our SPF Spray Gel. It’s jam-packed with natural ingredients to nourish and moisturize your skin.

Plus, the sunscreen offers SPF 15 protection. That’s enough to keep you safe from the sun without being so much protection that it prevents you from getting the tan that you want.

But the best reason to pick this sunscreen up is the fact that you can get it for just over $10. It’s tough to find this much quality available at that price point in other options.

Australian Gold Botanical SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen

Price: $16.99


  • A non-chemical sun protection option (100% mineral)
  • Full of nutrient-dense Australian botanicals like Kakadu Plum, Eucalyptus, and Red Algae
  • Oxybenzone, Paraben, and Phthalate free
  • Refreshing, but subtle citrus oasis scent

What we like about it:

Chemicals are in practically everything nowadays. But they may be the last thing that you want to put on your skin before going out to tan.

If so, this option from Australian Gold could be perfect for you. It features a 100% mineral composition so you can feel safe while wearing it.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in protective qualities. It still features SPF 30 protection, which is right in the sweet spot of what you should be looking for in a tanning sunscreen.

When you put it all together, you get one of the top mid-priced tanning sunscreens on the market.

Australian Gold Plant-Based SPF 30 Lotion

Price: $11.99


  • Plant-based formula for natural nourishment
  • Fragrance free (great for sensitive users)
  • Includes coconut oil and aloe vera for added moisturization and soothing
  • Designed to be hypoallergenic, vegan, cruelty-free, reef-friendly, and gluten-free

What we like about it:

Looking for a plant-based formula is a good option if you’re someone who prefers using natural ingredients as much as possible. If that’s you, then this option for Australian Gold should be perfect.

It features nutrient-dense ingredients like coconut oil and aloe vera to moisturize as it protects your skin from the sun.

Many sunscreen products have scents attached to them. These can be nice, but if you’ve got sensitivities to different types of ingredients and chemicals, these scents can be annoying to deal with.

But those aren’t an issue with this product. It's fragrant-free so anybody can use it without worrying about having to deal with a strong smell.

You don’t have to break your budget to get the best sunscreen for tanning

If you get anything from this article, we hope that you can purchase a tanning sunscreen that helps you reach your goals without having to go over your budget to do so.

Australian Gold makes this super easy to do.

Our mineral sunscreen and general protection sunscreen are both full of moisturizing, natural ingredients that will help you get the tan you want without ruining your skin in the process.

Check out our shop to see more items that can help you achieve your tanning goals safely.