It’s officially summertime and that means heading to the beach, splashing around in the ocean and soaking up some sunrays.

But if you think having a base tan will prevent a sunburn, guess again. 

Experts at Consumer Reports say that getting a base tan does next to nothing when it comes to protecting your skin and it could actually be causing more harm than good. 

“A tan is actually a sign of skin damage. The sunlight can injure the DNA in skin cells, and that causes them to darken to prevent further damage. However, a base tan will give you far less protection than using sunscreen,” said Trisha Calvo, Consumer Reports Health Editor. 

The best way to protect your skin this season is to practice smart sun safety. 

“It’s always a good idea to cover up with sun-protective clothing and a hat, and always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher on exposed skin,” said Calvo. “Be sure to apply it 15 minutes before you go outside, and every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily.”

Health Canada also recommends limiting one's time out in the sun, especially during peak hours of 11a.m. and 3 p.m., and purchasing sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection. Also, avoid tanning equipment as it can increase your chances of developing skin cancer. Finally, check the UV index before you go outside and drink plenty of cold water to stay hydrated. 

A final thing to keep in mind if you decide to tan using a temporary self-tanning cream of lotion, a fake tan will offer zero protection from UV damage – so lather on the sunscreen.  

One of Consumer Reports’ recommended sunscreens are Banana Boat SunComfort Clear UltraMist SPF 50-PLUS.