Sun Tanning

What is the Best Time to Tan?

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Most people aspire to look good, and many of us feel that a bit of color gives us a healthy look. Not only this, but we also feel better if we have that gorgeous bronze glow.

Unfortunately, getting that lovely glow takes time and effort. There are some skin types that will tan faster, and others will take a longer time to achieve that golden glow.

Time is all important when it comes to tanning. Too little, and you will simply not change color. Too much, and you will end up looking like a lobster. Every skin type is different, and what works for your friend may not work for you.

Here we’ve taken a look at the different methods of tanning and the optimum times to tan to achieve the look you want. We’ve also researched some general tips to ensure you get the most from your tanning session, whether inside a tanning salon, on the beach, or using a fake tan. So, let’s take a look at the best time to tan?

General tips for tanning

Ask others

  • If you are just starting out as a tanner, be prepared to ask that person who has that gorgeous all-over color! Find out how she got it, the times she lay in the sun, and what lotion she used. Join a tanning forum and a chat board where you can read up on what other tanners say. This way, you will be able to get advice from people who may even live in your area and know the best outdoor tanning times. Arizona’s Tanning times and seasons will differ from those in New Jersey.

Decide how you want to tan

  • On the whole, if you spend time outside, you will change color. Do you want just to tan the areas you can see? Are you happy to have a ‘sock line’ from playing golf, or do you need an ‘all-over tan?

Consider your skin type

  • Before you think about the best time to sunbathe outside, you should assess your skin first. Don’t ignore your coloring, as this will dictate the time you spend outside or on a tanning bed. Bear in mind that fair and ruddy-colored skins will burn easier than darker skin. It is never a good idea to burn in the sun or on a tanning bed.

Be regular with your tanning times

  • If you lie outside in the sun every morning at the same time, you will know that you are getting the same amount of UVB strength every time, so you can work out just how long is suitable for you and come out of the sun at the same time every day.

It’s all about body position

  • Getting a smooth, regular tan means knowing how to lie in the sun. The rule of thumb here is that the sun’s rays should be directly in line with your body when you lie down. Late afternoon sun may well just tan you on one side, so be prepared to adjust your position. The same goes for lying on your back. Make sure that the sun’s rays are hitting you at a perpendicular angle, not at a slant.

Watch those clouds

  • You may have heard that you can still burn even when the sun is not shining, and this is true. Clouds block out the UVB rays which are needed to tan. UV rays, however, still filter through, and this is what will burn you. So, if you have a very cloudy day, it may be best to skip your tanning that day. This is where the tanning salon comes into its own right – there are no cloudy days there!

Patience, grasshopper

  • Don’t rush your tanning process. It is a work in progress. You will burn if you want to get a tan overnight and stay too long in the sun or tanning bed. Be prepared to take things slowly. This means that if you have a wedding in October that you want to look tanned for, you need to start in June to build up slowly.

What’s the best time to sunbathe outside?

When you start to sunbathe outside, you need to start slowly. Never underestimate the power of the sun.

If you sunbathe between the hours of 11am and 4pm, you will give yourself the best chance of getting tanned. If you start before this or afterward, you will tan slower. However, when you start tanning, you should start a little slower to give yourself time to see any adverse reactions you may have.

Everyone tans at a different rate, so don’t be tempted to bake with your dark-haired friend when you are fair-haired and fair-skinned.

No matter what time you choose to tan, make sure you apply sunscreen.

The best time to sunbathe outside is between the hours of 11am and 4pm. This is when the sun is at its most powerful. As the sun drops, the rays are less direct; therefore, less radiation reaches you on the beach. This does not mean that no radiation reaches you. It just means that the rays are strongest at that time of day.

Be aware that seasons also play a part in sunbathing outside. Typically, May to August is when the sun’s rays are at the most powerful. The interesting point is that UV rays reach the earth every day, with snow reflecting the rays by up to 90%, which is why you see people on a skiing holiday come home with red faces.

Watch out for altitudes! Your friend down at sea level will not burn as quickly as you up at 5,000 feet high. If your holiday takes you up to the mountains, think twice about sunbathing there because the air is thinner and cleaner. You will be at greater risk of burning at any hour of the day.

The closer you are to the equator, the more direct the sun’s rays are. The further away you find yourself, the less powerful. This is good to bear in mind when taking that cruise – think about where you will be sailing.

If you want to get that gorgeous bronze color, you won’t get it by being outside for 5 minutes at midday. You will get your tan if you are out from 4pm – 6pm. This is also known as the ‘ginger golden hour’ and is the perfect time for all those people with ginger air to head out. It is also good for fair-skinned people. Don’t be tempted to omit the lotion; make sure you apply it at the start of the session and as soon as you come out of the water.

Top 5 Rules for a Safe Sun Tan

What’s the best time to use a tanning bed?

Not everyone has the weather to sunbathe outside. Some climates just make it impossible to do. You may have to use a tanning bed if you want that golden look.

Fortunately, these are readily available in either lie-down tanning beds or stand-up beds. These are quick and efficient ways to get some color.

With a tanning bed, it does not matter what time you use it. What matters is that you use a bed with the correct strength lamp for your skin and use it for the right amount of time.

There is an advantage to tanning on a sunbed early in the morning. It means that you will be exposed to the sun during the rest of the day and, in effect, will be topping up your tan. This is almost like doubling the time you have tanned for.

That being said, tanning in a tanning bed largely depends on you and how often you do it. You must take into account the time on the bed, particularly if you are just starting to tan. Also, consider your natural skin color. Start with between 5 and 10 minutes and see the skin reaction the next day before you go back for another session.

Err on the side of caution, and remember that you can still burn badly in a tanning bed if you stay there too long.

What’s the best time to apply a fake tan?

Don’t assume that the golden girl you see walking into a restaurant got like that just before she arrived. Fake tans take time if they are not to appear streaky and odd-colored.

If you plan to shave before applying the fake tan, then you should do this 24. That is because right after shaving, your pores will be open, and you will have created nice pockets for the lotion to gather in. That will give a blotchy overall color.

If you choose to wax, you should also do it 24 hours before you apply tanning lotion.

Avoid moisturizing and tanning together. The moisturizer contains ingredients that will act as a barrier between your body and the tanning lotion. That will mean that your tan only lasts half as long.

For the best results, you should shower right before you apply your tanning lotion. You should have exfoliated 24 hours before, and your skin should be smooth and ready to absorb your lotion.

Ideally, you should apply the lotion before you go to bed, making this 24 hours before you go out. That gives the tan time to develop. You will notice in the morning that your color has changed to a golden bronze.

That will give you time to check the color thoroughly for any areas which are less than perfect. These happen through no fault of your own, and this is a good time to check for any. Simply top them up and enjoy your day.

Before you go out in the evening, you may want to add a little finishing shimmer powder to give highlights. That works very well along cheeks and collarbones. Then get dressed and be prepared to be the star of the party!

Points about tanning in the morning

The National Academy of Sciences Journal showed that it might be better to tan in the early mornings rather than later in the day. The results were the same whether you tanned on the beach or in a tanning bed.

The UV rays are best suited in the early mornings for healthy skin because the protein for repairing cancer cells is found in abundance at that time.

The study showed that the risk of cancer from being in the sun is as much as five times greater in the afternoons.

It makes sense then that if you want to tan, you should try to do this in the first half of the day.

UV radiation is stronger in the hours around midday, which is why you can get best from 11am – 4pm, but if possible, you should aim for early rather than late.

The American Cancer Society recommends that sunbathing outside, in fact, takes place before and after the peak hours of 11 – 4pm. That is certainly advisable for anyone with light skin or a ruddy complexion. They also recommend wearing sunscreen with a high protection factor.


No matter which method of tanning you choose, it seems that there is a right time to do it, where the results are at their best.

Whichever method you choose, you should keep a few points in mind. You should take care to protect your eyes if you tan in a bed, don’t try to out-do your darker friend, and use a high SPF lotion for out in the sun. Additionally, use common sense when sunbathing.

There is no reason you should not be able to add a beautiful bronze glow to your skin when taking into account all the hints and tips here.


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