A beautiful tan can do wonders for your mental and physical health and can improve the way you look dramatically. Lots of people love to lie in the sun so they can boost their appearance. It also feels pretty fantastic to get some sun on your legs after a long and chilly winter.
But too much sunlight isn’t good for your body. Exposing your skin to too many UV rays increases your chances of getting skin cancer. Too much sunlight too soon can also cause sunburn, which can be painful to deal with and result in peeling skin.
If you want to enjoy all the benefits of getting a tan without any of the disadvantages, then you should tan at the right time of day for the right duration.
In this handy guide, we’re going to share the best time to tan and some of the best secrets to help you get the perfect tan without putting your health at risk.
The Benefits of Sun Tanning
Sun tanning offers you quite a few benefits. These benefits are exactly why so many people try their best to make time to get a good tan during summer or head to tanning salons. Here is a quick look at some of the best benefits of getting a tan:
- Beautiful Skin
Tanned skin can make you feel rejuvenated after a long winter without much sun. When your skin is golden brown, many women tend to feel more confident and attractive. Beautiful skin is also great for showing off those short summer outfits.
- Healthier and Younger-Looking Skin
Tanned skin tends to look a lot healthier and younger. This is mostly because the golden tan hides away imperfections in your skin. The golden brown color is also richer and more vibrant which makes you look healthier.
- Hide Skin Flaws
More pigment in your skin can help hide away flaws like cellulite, scars, stretch marks, spider veins, and bruise marks so your skin will look a lot younger and healthier.
- A Boost in Confidence
Beautiful and smooth skin will make you feel much more comfortable while wearing those breezy summer outfits. You’ll feel much better knowing that skin imperfections like spider veins and stretch marks are no longer quite as visible.
- Vitamin D Absorption
When you tan, your body also absorbs lots of Vitamin D. This vitamin is excellent for boosting your energy levels and metabolism. Many also believe that vitamin D reduces depression and boosts your immune system so you can fight off diseases.
The Disadvantages of Sun Tanning
People are usually warned not to spend time in the sun because those damaging UV rays can be terrible for your skin and health. These disadvantages are, however, only associated with too much sun exposure.
As long as you don’t get too much sun, you don’t need to be worried about most of these disadvantages. Here is a quick look at some of the top things to be cautious about while tanning:
When your skin cells absorb too much sunlight too fast, these cells become damaged. To prevent you from getting cancer, your skin cells will self-destruct. This self-destructive process causes your skin to become all red, painful, and itchy. Sunburn can be very sore and can even be dangerous to your health.
- Premature Aging
Premature aging or photoaging is a huge concern. A good tan can make you look much younger but tanning too much and too frequently can cause your skin to start aging prematurely. If you tan too much or expose your skin to too many harsh rays, you can get all sorts of signs of aging such as dark marks, wrinkles, and sunspots.
- Skin Cancer
This is one of the biggest concerns with tanning. Long-term UV exposure can make your skin cells malfunction. This can result in skin cancer. Tanning is one of the leading causes of skin cancer.
Skin cancer usually starts with actinic or solar keratoses. If you have this condition, your skin will look rough, scaly, and bumpy in certain areas. This condition usually progresses and turns into skin cancer.
Skin cancer can be very painful or even deadly. It is very important to always wear protective sunscreen when tanning no matter what time you choose to get a good suntan.
- Eye Damage
Staring straight into the sun can cause damage to your sight. When you’re tanning, you should always wear a hat or at least shield your eyes from the rays. Some of the symptoms of eye damage due to sun exposure include tearing, pain, swollen eyelids, hazy or decreased vision, or the feeling that there might be sand in your eyes.
- Reduces Immunity and Causes Dehydration
Constant exposure to UV radiation can suppress your body’s immune system. Sunlight and heat also make you sweat progressively which causes your body to become dehydrated. When your body is dehydrated, your skin will decrease in elasticity, your organs start to suffer and your skin cannot effectively restore the damage caused by the sun.
With so many dangers to prolonged and extreme exposure to UV rays, it’s important to start tanning at the right time and to use the best sun protection while you’re tanning.
When’s the Best Time to Tan Outside?
Harsh UV rays are dangerous for your skin, and you’re most likely to get sunburned instead of a good tan if your skin is exposed to too much heat and UV rays for too long.
When you get a sunburn, all of your efforts will go to waste because all of those dead skin cells will be shed. Your skin will get all bubbly and flaky, and in no time at all, you will see that golden tan peel away. Peeling skin might be temporary, but it isn’t a pretty sight.
The best way to get a good tan is through gradual exposure when the sun isn’t as intense. The best time to get a tan is in the morning or evening hours because the sun rays are at their weakest.
Different skin tones react differently to sun rays. Light skin is most vulnerable and burns a lot easier compared to darker skin tones. Those with lighter skin tones should tan for shorter durations, or they should focus on tanning at times when the sun is at its weakest.
But just because you have a dark skin tone and don’t get sunburn easily doesn’t mean that you can spend hours in the sun.
Even dark skin tones are vulnerable to the effects of harsh UV rays. People with dark skin tones are just as likely to get cancer and other conditions from sun damage as fair-skinned people.
Ideally, you should plan your tanning sessions around 8 am to 11 am. The sun is at its most powerful from 12 pm to 3 pm which means it is probably best to avoid tanning during these times. People with sensitive skin should be especially careful at these times.
If you missed the morning sessions, you can also try to get a tan from 4 pm to sunset. The sunrays are usually softer at these times, and you’re not as likely to get a sunburn.
What’s a Healthy Tan Duration?
The duration of your tanning session depends on the time you choose to tan and your skin tone. Ideally, you should try to keep your tanning sessions short. One hour at a time is ideal for avoiding sunburn.
Fair Skin Tan Duration
If you have fair skin, you should try to keep your tanning sessions early in the morning. In the summertime, a one-hour tanning session between 8 and 10 am or a one-hour session between 5 and 6 pm should be sufficient.
If you’re tanning after 10 am or before 5 pm then it is probably best to cut your tan sessions down to 30 minutes.
Dark Skin Tan Duration
People with darker skin tones can tan one hour a day closer to mid-day. A one-hour session from 10 to 11 am or from 4 to 5 pm is ideal. But if you are enjoying an earlier tan session, then you can extend your tanning session a little bit longer.
Those with extremely dark skin tones should also keep their tanning sessions limited, even if they are tanning at these safer intervals. Even dark skin tones can get cancer if exposed to too much sunlight.
It’s important to know that every person is unique and has their own unique melanin cut-off time. If you feel that your skin is becoming very hot, then it might be better to keep your tanning sessions shorter. If your skin still feels fine, then one hour should be sufficient.
Seasonal Changes and Tanning
Most people want to start working on their summer tans as early as possible. Springtime is an ideal time to get to work on your tan. The sun is warmer and warmer weather makes it possible for you to step out of the house in swimwear.
One hour of tan time a day is a good rule of thumb for the spring season. In springtime, the sun isn’t quite as brutal. Regular tanners can also continue with this tanning schedule throughout summer because their skin changes earlier and becomes less vulnerable to UV rays as the skin darkens.
If you miss out on tanning sessions throughout spring, then it’s probably best to cut your tanning sessions in half during summertime and gradually increase these tanning sessions.
Summer is when the sun is at its hottest and most brutal. Exposing un-tanned skin to these sudden rays can cause sunburn, while skin that is already fairly tanned during spring will be more resilient and less vulnerable to sunburn.
Take Regular Breaks from the Sun
If you are having some fun in the sun while spending some time at a pool or enjoying sports, then you should try to take regular breaks from the sun. Breaks from the sun can also be very good even if you’re keeping your tanning sessions limited.
When you take a break and step into the shade, the UV intensity will be reduced and you can avoid damaging your skin.
Keep Body Positioning In Mind
A lot of people end up with terribly uneven skin tones because they just don’t position their bodies correctly during tanning sessions. To get a smooth and even suntan finish, your body should be in direct line with the sun.
Ideally, your body should be facing west during morning tanning sessions and east during late afternoon tanning sessions because this position will keep the sun out of your face. Try to get a spot where the sun rays can hit your body at a perpendicular angle instead of a slant. That way you can get the most even tan.
If the sun is hitting your body at an angle, then it’s important to keep rotating and moving your body regularly. Try to rotate your body every five minutes so you can get some sun on the front, sides, and back of your body. Rotating your body is the best way to get an even sun-tan.
Mind Your Accessories
The accessories or garments you wear will affect your suntan because the fabric, shades, hats, and other accessories block the sun so rays cannot reach certain parts of your skin. Only the parts that are exposed to the sun will get tanned.
You should be careful when wearing accessories like shades. Wearing shades while getting a tan can result in a light tan around your eyes which can make you look a bit like a raccoon.
You should also keep in mind the type of garments you wear when tanning. Clothing with lots of straps can result in tan lines that might not look that great with your everyday outfits.
It’s also best to kick off your shoes when you get a tan. Even simple flip flops will cause light tan stripes on your feet that might make your feet appear dirty or uneven when you wear anything other than flip flops.
Lots of people prefer to keep their faces out of the sun while tanning. This is mostly because your face gets a lot more sunlight compared to the rest of your body since your face is always exposed, even in wintertime. Tanning your face can result in dark marks or age spots simply because this part of your body gets plenty of sunshine throughout the year.
Mind Those Clouds
You should be extra careful if you are tanning on a cloudy day. This is because clouds block out UVB rays that give you that golden tan, however, UV rays still filter through the clouds, and sometimes with greater intensity.
This is because tiny droplets of water intensify the force of these rays, the same way that the sun is intensified when it shines through a magnifying glass.
If it’s cloudy, then it’s best to skip tanning that day rather than risk a terrible sunburn that might ruin your progress.
Be Patient With Your Tan
It’s very important to be patient with your tan. A good tan isn’t going to happen in one day, and if it does, then you will likely lose the color because your skin will start to shed due to too much damage.
Take a few weeks to get a good tan rather than push for a tan within days and end up with a sunburn.
Always Use a Tanning Lotion
It’s very important to use a good-quality tan lotion when you’re spending time in the sun. Tanning lotion is important even if you do keep your tanning sessions short-lived. A good-quality tanning lotion offers you many benefits, such as the following:
- Moisturizes Your Skin
Your skin can become dehydrated in the sun. Dehydrated skin is always more vulnerable to UV rays and takes a lot longer to heal. Moisturizers enhance the quality of your tanning sessions. This is because the moisturizer creates a magnification effect on your skin and gives better results.
- Vitamins and Minerals
Good-quality tanning lotions contain lots of vitamins and nutrients. These vitamins are excellent for keeping your skin nourished and healthy. Nourished skin can heal faster, is more resilient against UV rays, and keeps you from getting other skin conditions such as rashes.
- Bronzing Ingredients Enhance Your Tan
Good tanning lotions have many intensifying and bronzing ingredients. These ingredients are excellent for enhancing the look of your skin while getting a tan. The bronzing agents also help you get a more even complexion and darker skin in no time at all.
- Protects From Sunburn
Tanning lotion with a high SPF rating can prevent sun damage. SPF is a number that indicates the level of protection a lotion offers. These numbers usually indicate the time it would usually take for your skin to start turning red.
Different Types of Tanning Lotions
It’s entirely possible to get a good tan by using sunscreen that is found in common stores. But for the best and smoothest tan, it’s better to invest in a good lotion that is specifically developed for tanning.
Here is a quick look at the different types of lotions to protect your skin from harmful rays and help you get a great tan:
Sunscreen is also known as sunblock or suntan lotion. These lotions are sold in various forms, such as spray, gel, foam, and sticks.
Sunscreen is designed to reflect ultraviolet radiation, which protects your skin. These lotions also help absorb some reflections.
Sunscreen lotions are tested and need to be FDA approved. These tests allow manufacturers to rate their products based on the number of photons the sunscreen can block out, the duration of efficiency, and the water-resistance of the product.
These lotions usually have an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating that indicates how well these lotions protect your skin from UVB rays. Here’s a quick look at the SPF spectrum.
- SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays (Allows 7 out of 100 photons through)
- SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays (Allows 3 out of 100 photons through)
- SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays (Allows 2 out of 100 photons through)
Without any sunblock, 100 photons will filter through to reach your skin. With sunscreen, the photons that reach your skin are significantly reduced.
Accelerator and Maximizer Lotions
These lotions are often referred to as indoor tanning lotions. They will boost your melanin production without laying in the sun. These lotions achieve this by intensifying UV light to boost the tanning process.
The lotion also protects your skin from burning by blocking out UVB rays. This lotion will enable you to continue tanning even after spending some time in the sun.
Hot Action and Tingle Lotions
These lotions are designed to boost blood flow to your skin and to promote oxygenation. They can make your skin feel warm and tingling because they contain nicotinate and benzyl.
They can also boost the effects of UV rays, which increases your melanin production, and boosts your tanning results. The lotions will moisturize your skin for a more even tan. These lotions are not recommended for those who are tanning for the first time.
These are some of the most popular tanning lotions because they offer immediate results. The products contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a chemical that stains your skin darker.
Bronzers usually work with your natural amino acids to intensify your skin tone. They also increase melanin production and moisturize your skin. With a bronzer, your skin will look darker right after application, and the browning effect will intensify as the day goes on and as your skin becomes exposed to sunlight.
We hope that this guide helped identify the best time to tan, and will help you get a good and even tan without putting your health at risk. For other great health and beauty advice, or to find other great-quality beauty and health products, feel free to have a look at some of our other posts and guides!