If you are anything like me, the upcoming summer season is something you really look forward to after months of dreary, cold weather. Unfortunately, if you haven’t been keeping up on your tan, then your skin is probably far more white than you want it to be.
Let’s face it; no one wants to look like an iceberg in the water! So as soon as the weather allows, we need to get in some serious tanning time.
You might feel a bit nervous about going out in the sun again after so many months indoors. Or have you read all those awful stories on Facebook that are like “I spent one hour in the sun and got melanoma?” That’s some serious click bait there, friends.
No matter what you might have heard from your friends or what you have read, I am going to let you in on the truth about when is the best time to tan, as well as how to get the best tan you’ve ever had.
First, let’s talk about those three reasons you are going to forget everything you think you know about tanning.
Reason #1: Someone told you that you need to burn first, then tan.
This is wrong, wrong, oh so wrong! While it is true that, when you are tanning outdoors, if you burn first you will tan, but this is very, very dangerous!
A burn, even a light one, means that your skin has been damaged! This is what can lead to wrinkles, age spots, leathery looking skin, and perhaps even skin cancer down the road.
What you are doing today will show up on your skin 25 years later!
Take my advice and forget the dangerous advice that you should burn first! You will get your best tan if you follow the instructions I will give you a little later in the article.
AVOID BURNING AT ALL COSTS! If you burn, you are doing it wrong!
Reason #2: You Thought Tan Accelerating Creams Were the Bomb
This is another myth that comes to us via social media. I used them myself a few years ago, thinking that this made perfect sense, until my dermatologist told me that these creams are worthless.
Worthless is a harsh word, but to be perfectly honest, there is nothing you can apply to your skin to make it create more melanin, which is the compound that your body makes to protect your skin by making it darker.
There are supplements that work much better, such as Imedeen Tan Optimizer (check price on Amazon).
The Best Tan Accelerator
Imedeen Tan Optimizer actually work from the inside out, preparing the skin for those UV rays through a combination of powerful antioxidants.
Reason #3: You Have Been Avoiding Sunscreens …Because …You Want Sun, Right?
I really understand the train of thought here, but there is a great deal more to think about here than Sunscreen + My White Skin = NO TAN!
I’m going to tell you more about how to use sunscreen so you get both protection and a nice tan, but I’ve also got a little secret about what you can use to help speed up the tanning process. I’ll let you in on that in my pro-tips section.
The basics here are that you don’t need to fear sunscreen. Here’s a new mantra for you: sunscreen is my friend. Sunscreen is my friend.
The Best Sunscreens of 2018
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer SPF30
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer SPF45
Neutrogena Ultra SheerSPF70
The Best Time to Tan Outdoors and How to Tan Safely
Always limit the time your skin is exposed to direct sunlight
Depending on exactly how white your skin is, you should probably start off with 10 minutes per day and build up to 25 minutes over the summer
Bring along a timer so you don’t lose track of time!
Remember that cloudy days can still give you a tan or sunburn
In fact, even on a cloudy day, the closer you are to the water, the more intense the sun’s rays can be
Be sunscreen smart and use a tanning lotion to start
such as Hawaiian Tropic Sun Tanning lotion (check price on Amazon). This has an SPF of 4, which helps you to tan faster, but can still protect you.
Use baby lotion when you first start, to get a deep tan quickly. Don’t go over your time limit, however.
Apply the lotion or oil before you leave the house. Your skin needs 30 to 60 minutes to absorb what you put on it.
Bring an Umbrella
You will still get some UV rays (these are the rays from the sun that give you a tan) through an umbrella, but they are greatly diminished. When your allotted time for tanning is finished, break out the umbrella so you can stay longer on the beach or wherever you are.
Let’s Talk about the Best Time to Sunbathe Outside
This can be a tricky subject, so I want to make this as clear as I can.
Technically, the best time to tan would be when the sun’s rays are the strongest; which is between 11 A.M. and 3 P.M.
If your skin is super white, this might not be the best way to start. You will be able to stay out a few minutes longer, and still get a beautiful tan without burning, if you were to do your tanning in the early morning, somewhere about 10 A.M.
Another good time for sunbathing is to be outside after 4 P.M. Again, the sun’s rays are not as strong, but you will still be able to be in the sun, working on your tan.
If You Have a Base Tan or Have Already Been Sunbathing
Some of you are lucky enough to live in really sunny parts of the country, like California or Arizona, and you have been able to work on a base tan or you have been getting in some regular time in the sun.
The rest of us are envious, OK?
The good thing here is that you can spend more time in the sun or spend time outside working on that tan when the sun’s UV rays are at their peak, which is 11 A.M. and 3 P.M.
This doesn’t mean that you can spend unlimited hours in the sun, however. You still need to take some precautions and limit the time you spend tanning.
Pro-Tips for a Glorious Tan Without the Burn
Start by using a tanning lotion or baby oil
Improve the texture of your skin and to increase the amount of time you can stay outside and safely tan.
Protect your eyes!
Wear those special plastic eye covers that they sell for tanning beds or some super dark, UV ray blocking sunglasses.
Set a timer
So you don’t lose track of your sunbathing time
Remember that a burn starts HOURS AFTER your tanning session
This means that just because you don’t see or feel a burn now doesn’t mean you can stay in the sun longer.
Exfoliate BEFORE you apply sun lotion or baby oil
Personally, I use Tree Hut Shea Sugar Body Scrub (check price on Amazon). I love all the scents, but mango is probably my favorite.
Don’t forget to shave before you tan
Using a reflective blanket will help you to get a more even tan all over.
After tanning, use a good quality moisturizer at least twice per day.
Let’s Find Out Your Safe Tanning Time
This is a bit difficult as we are talking about skin colors and not everyone agrees on what constitutes really white skin and what is the “perfect” tan color, but bear with me and we can get through this.
You should try to never, ever burn. If you do burn, cut back on your tanning time by 5 minutes and don’t go back in the sun until the redness is completely gone.
Try to judge your skin color outdoors, but not in direct sunlight. Stand outside under a covered patio or umbrella to get an idea about your skin tone in natural light.
If You Have Very Pale Skin
If you have blue or green eyes or if you have European blood, your skin is probably very white. This means you should start off with only 6 to 10 minutes of tanning if you go between 10 A.M. and 3 P.M. If you go in the early morning or late afternoon, you can increase that time by about 3 minutes. If you apply some baby oil or tanning lotion, you can add another 5 minutes for a maximum time of 15 minutes.
If You Have Olive Skin
For those of you lucky enough to have olive skin, you can probably tan safely during the peak hours of the sun for as long as 30 minutes. If you choose to do your tanning in the morning or afternoon, you might be able to increase that to 40 minutes. Please judge carefully as some people are more of a light olive and others have a dark olive skin tone.
If You Have Darker Skin or a Good Base Tan
For those of you who have already been spending time sunbathing or if you have a naturally darker skin tone, you are one of the lucky ones! You can spend up to an hour outside tanning in the great outdoors! If you wear a sunscreen, you might be able to still get a deeper, golden tan by spending as long as 2 hours in peak times, or 2 and a half hours in the early morning or afternoon sun.
The Best Tips about Using Sunscreen and Shade to get a Golden Tan
I hate to be the one to say the word “sunscreen”, since so many people who want to tan think that sunscreen is a 4 letter word, but let me fill you in on a little known secret: sunscreen and shade can get you a delicious tan. Here’s how it works:
- As I mentioned before, use baby oil or a tanning lotion to start. After you start to see slight tanning results, stick to your original tanning time, but move to an umbrella when you are finished. You will still get some UV rays, which will help to turn your skin tone golden brown, not brown red.
- Once you start increasing your tanning time, start using an SPF 30 sunscreen and add another 5 minutes to your time. Then you can move back to the umbrella or shade if you like.
- Wear an SPF 30 sunscreen (unless you are already fairly dark, then you can use an SPF 15) all day, every day, when you aren’t tanning. This will help you get that golden tan you want, without burning.
The Best SPF 30 Sunscreens of 2018
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer SPF30
Rocky Mountain Sunscreen SPF30
Blue Lizard Australian SunscreenSPF30
If you are a bit confused or want to know more, this video was really helpful to me and helped to clear up some details.
It’s All About Time
I’m super excited about starting on my tan again and I know I can do it safely by tanning gradually, as well as at the right time for me.
I like to tan early in the morning, when possible, or later in the afternoon until I get a decent color to my skin, then I switch to the peak hours. I haven’t had a burn in ages!
I hope you found the information here helpful. If you did, please feel free to share this with your friends and/or family. Everyone can have a safe and beautiful tanning experience if they are willing to take the time to do so.
Do you have any tips or advice about the best time to tan? I would love to hear from you!