Sunscreen & Sunblock

Once you've achieved your base tan and are ready to head out doors, you need to learn the difference between sunscreen and sunblock. Knowing could save your gorgeous skin from sunburn in these hot summer months. At Tan Unique, we make taking care of your skin our highest priority!

Sunscreen vs Sunblock

So how do you tell the difference between a sunscreen and a sunblock? The most obvious distinction between them are the two types of protective lotions: chemical and physical.

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Sunscreen is a chemical-based protection that uses chemical UV filters. When applied, sunscreen soaks into your skin to better absorb and disperse most ultraviolet (UV) rays that penetrate through the top layers of your skin before they can do any damage.

Sunscreen filters out most UV light, but cannot absorb all of the sun’s rays. So, sunscreen still allows you to tan, just at a much slower rate! Check out our Guide to Indoor Tanning Lotions for a safer and faster way to tan by clicking here.

Sunblock (also called “physical sunscreen” or “mineral sunscreen”) acts as an actual physical layer of protection from UV rays. They are the lotions that only use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as their active ingredients (unlike sunscreen which uses chemical UV filters) to physically block UV rays from your skin. When applied, sunblock creates a surface layer that reflects UV light and remains visible as a thick opaque coating on the skin that is more difficult to sweat off than sunscreen!

Sunblock is often used by people with sensitive skin, both for the more complete protection it offers and the fact that its ingredients are less likely to irritate sensitive skin than chemical-based sunscreens.

Different SPF Levels

You should always use some form of sun protection year-round (such as SPF lotion or sun protective clothing). This goes double for summertime, when you’re likely to be out and about with a lot of skin showing for long periods of time. Hello bikini weather!

Before heading out to enjoy some fun in the sun, you’ll want to apply a sun protective lotion with an SPF level of at least 15, according to the FDA (although many dermatologists recommend an SPF of at least 30).

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and refers to a lotion’s ability to block harmful UV rays. The FDA explains that the numbers themselves refer to the amount of time a person using the sun lotion can now be exposed to the sun’s rays. For example, if you burn after 15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen, then SPF 30 will allow you to spend 30 times longer without burning than if you didn’t use sunscreen.

Use this formula to accurately estimate how much SPF you’ll need:

Minutes to Burn Without Protection x SPF Number = Maximum Sun Exposure Time (Example: 10 minutes x SPF 15 = 150 Minutes Without Burning)

Sunscreen and Sunblock Usage

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) strongly recommends using sunscreen as a part of your daily routine.

Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before venturing out into the sun to allow your skin to properly absorb it. Sunblock becomes immediately effective as soon as it is slathered onto your skin, so it can be applied right before you go out!

Both sunscreen and sunblock should be reapplied at least every two hours. More so if you are swimming or participating in an activity that causes you to sweat!

Check out the label instructions on your bottle of sunscreen or sunblock for best results!

Visit Tan Unique for your professional skin care products today or call Tan Unique at 479-785-1185 to set up an appointment; walk-ins are welcome!

Four Skin Types

Avoid sunburn by knowing your Skin Type! The amount of UV exposure that we need to tan differs by skin type. Your specific skin type determines just how long you can be exposed to UV rays, before risking sunburn.

That’s why we recommend finding your skin type before starting your tanning regimen! Professional dermatologists use The Fitzpatrick Scale to classify skin. You can better avoid burning by using the tanning guidelines recommended for each of the six Skin Types.

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The Fitzpatrick Scale was invented in 1975 by Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick of Harvard Medical School. This system judges a person’s skin type by their skin tone and the degree at which they tan or burn.

Skin Type 1

People with Type 1 skin usually have a very fair complexion. The most common indicators of this skin type are freckles, light eyes, and even lighter hair. Redheads often fall into this category. Type 1 skin burns very easily and rarely tans. Individuals with Type 1 skin are the most prone to severe burning and peeling.

Pro Tip: For Type 1 skin, we recommend spray tanning as a more effective way to achieve that glowing tanned look.

Skin Type 2

Type 2 skin is also pale, but while it easily burns it can also achieve a light tan. People with Type 2 skin are usually very sensitive to UV light, so they should work up to a full tanning schedule gradually.

We recommend people with Type 2 skin start at the lowest point of exposure (2-3 minutes the first time) before working their way up in 1-2 minute intervals.

Skin Type 3

Type 3 skin has honey-hued tones and achieves a tan with only a moderate amount of sunburn. These individuals may start out pale, but over time they build up to a sun-kissed glow.

We recommend an average tanning schedule for people with Type 3 skin. About 5-6 minutes the first time, before working their way up to 10-12 minute sessions.

Skin Type 4

People with Type 4 skin are usually dark eyed and dark haired. You are Type 4 if your skin is a lovely shade of caramel and you tan fast with only the occasional bouts of sunburn when outdoors.

Type 4’s can usually go for 7 minute sessions right from the start, before adding a minute to the max of each additional session. 

Skin Type 5

Type 5 skin types are individuals who are a gorgeous deep bronze color. Burning under the sun is extremely rare for this skin type.  

Skin Type 6

Individuals with Type 6 skin have dark brown to black skin tones. Type 6 skin also very rarely gets sunburned and tends to tan extremely quickly.

Both Type 5 and Type 6 skin types usually start with 9-10 minute sessions, before increasing to 15 minute sessions.


Use the descriptions above to help determine your Skin Type! Make sure to incorporate the guidelines specific to your skin type into your tanning regimen to better avoid burning!

Feel free to ask our friendly staff for recommendations and tanning advice. Call Tan Unique at 479-785-1185 to set up an appointment or come visit us today! Make sure to check out our Facebook for tanning specials and great deals on skin care products!

Girl in sunny field

Did you know that according to Scientific American 75% of people in the U.S. are deficient in vitamin D? Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that keeps your body energetic and healthy! Sunlight is our primary source for vitamin D. A visit to your local tanning salon is an excellent way to soak up some vitamin D!

Blond Woman

At Tan Unique, we want you to know that your skin care is our highest priority. Our knowledgeable staff go above and beyond to make sure that your tanning routine is the best fit for you and your skin type. Do you have particularly sensitive skin? No problem! Here’s what you need to know:

Prom picture


Prom season is finally here! That’s right ladies and gentlemen, it’s almost time for the big night! At Tan Unique, we want to help you get ready for your prom. It’s never too early to start shopping and we have everything you need to spend your prom night looking spectacular!

Let us help prepare you for the ultimate prom experience with a few helpful tips on tanning!

Girl laughing on the beach with sunscreen

We’re finally leaving winter behind, but sadly, a pasty wintertime complexion isn’t so easy to get rid of. And with spring break right around the corner, too. Yikes!

Don’t let lingering winter pastiness stop you from enjoying your spring break! At Tan Unique, we want to help you achieve your ideal tan. We hope you’re ready to soak up some sun and have some fun because we know just how to get you started!

Building Your Perfect Tan

Spray tan



What should I do before my spray tan session?

You should take a thorough shower and shave before your session. Exfoliation invigorates the skin which is better for absorbing the color treatment of the sunless spray tan solution.

Showering also cleans your skin of any make-up, deodorant, oils, or body lotions – all of which create a barrier between the skin and the sunless tanning solution.


At Tan Unique, we’re dedicated to making sure your skin stays radiantly healthy! That’s why we always make sure to stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in skin care products.

Astaxanthin (pronounced “asta-ZAN-thin”) is the next big thing in health and skin care. It’s a naturally occurring antioxidant that’s packed with all sorts of health benefits,

Tanning salon

Combat wintertime pastiness by coming to Tan Unique! We have everything you need to remain radiantly tanned and glowing during the long winter months.

At Tan Unique we’re excited to help, which is why we provided answers to frequently asked questions for your convenience!

Tanning Bed FAQs

Girl in Santa Hat with Present

Check out some of these awesome gift ideas for the holiday season:


Surprise your loved one with all the things they’ll need for future tanning sessions! We have the perfect combination of products to recommend for beginners and pros alike. Our tanning products keep skin looking fabulous, with a sun-kissed glow even in the middle of the winter holidays.

4516 Rogers Avenue Suite B1 & B2
Fort Smith, AR


Monday - Thursday: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm

Friday: 8:00 am - 7:00 pm

Saturday: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm

Sunday: CLOSED