Admit it, you love the tanned, bronzed-up look, especially during the summer! But, instead of flying to tropical countries and getting a fake tan, sun tanning is a budget-friendly alternative to achieve that glowing bronze look.
Aside from achieving the fabulous beach skin, there are also several other benefits you could get from sun tanning. Natural sun tanning increases your serotonin levels and alleviates anxiety, helps your body produce Vitamin D, and improves skin conditions.
Sun tanning is indeed a budget-friendly and beneficial process to achieve sun-kissed skin.
Factors Affecting Tan Time
Sun tanning is the process of darkening your skin through exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. During sun exposure, the skin produces melanin, which is responsible for the pigment of your body and protects it by absorbing the ultraviolet radiation.
Although sun tanning is cost-efficient, it’s a tricky procedure because too much exposure to the sun can lead to redness, spotting, and skin flaking.
To achieve a healthy sun tan, there are a lot of factors to consider, such as your skin type, melanin level, weather, and time. These factors should be carefully taken note of if you’re planning on getting a healthy and natural sun tan.
Everyone has a different skin type, which affects their skin’s reaction to sun exposure and the result of their tan. Some people may get a tan in a few minutes while some get none—it all depends on your skin type. Having a good understanding of your skin type or its sensitivity to UV light would help you optimize your tanning results.
American dermatologist Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick developed a system to measure a skin’s response to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. He called it the Fitzpatrick Scale, in which a person’s skin type is categorized from Skin Type 1 to 6.
Skin Type 1
People with Skin Type 1 have white or very pale skin. They usually burn easily and may rarely tan. They are often red-haired or blonde-haired people with blue, green, or grey eyes.
Skin Type 2
People with Skin Type 2 have pale white skin and usually burn after sun exposure. They also gradually tan when sunbathing. Their hair color is usually blonde, and eye color is blue or brown.
Skin Type 3
Those categorized in this skin type have pale to light olive skin tone. When exposed to the sun’s UV rays, they sometimes get sun burns and gradually get a tan. They have dark brown hair and brown or green eye color.
Skin Type 4
People with this skin type are best suited for tanning. They have light to moderate brown skin tone, brown eye color, and brown or black hair. They rarely burn and tan with ease.
Skin Type 5
People with this skin type have medium to dark brown skin tone, dark brown or black hair, and brown eye color. Just like with Skin Type 4, they tan easily and are less likely to get skin burns.
Skin Type 6
People with this skin type have black skin tone, black hair, and brown eyes. Their skin doesn’t burn when exposed to the sun, and they can easily get a tan.
Melanin is the body’s natural pigmentation, which protects the skin from the sun’s UV rays, thereby darkening our skin. So, the darker your skin tone, the higher amount of melanin is present in your skin to protect you from the sun’s rays and keep you from getting burned.
Now, if you have a dark skin tone, you should still wear sunscreen, and you can sunbathe for 30 minutes to one hour to get proven results.
If you have pale to fair skin tone, it will take you more than an hour to get your desired tan. You are also highly advised to wear sunscreen because the amount of melanin present in your body is less than those with darker tones.
Time, Weather and Climate
So, when is the best time to tan? The American Cancer Society suggests tanning early in the morning or during the late afternoon. You should avoid tanning between 10 am and 4 pm since the sun’s rays are stronger at these hours.
But, if you do plan to tan in these times, find a shaded area to protect your skin from burning. You may also take breaks when tanning outside. This helps reduce the risk of burning your skin and acquiring skin cancer.
If the weather is cloudy, you should avoid directly lying out because the sun’s rays can still penetrate the clouds, and may cause damage to your skin. When getting a tan, your skin absorbs UV rays, and not UVB rays during cloudy weather. Also, if you sunbathe on a beach during a cloudy day, the sun’s rays are intensified since it will bounce off water and sand.
The climate may also affect your sun tanning. A humid or dry place is a big factor in accelerating your tan. Humid air helps accelerate the tanning process due to the presence of moisture in the air. Meanwhile, if you are tanning in a dry place, it would take you a long time to soak in the rays of the sun before you can get your desired tan.
The UV index predicts the amount of solar radiation to reach the earth at a given time, and uses a scale from 0 to 11 or more.
When you’re getting a tan, using this index is crucial, as it would help you determine the strength of the sun’s rays and the safest time to sunbathe. By doing so, it would keep you from overexposure to the sun’s UV radiation.
Do SPFs Affect Tan Time?
Sunscreen helps our skin from the harmful rays of the sun by reflecting some of its UV rays. It allows us to bathe in the sun for a couple more hours, and helps prevent our skin from wrinkles, dark spots, and skin cancer. There are some sunscreens that only filter UVB rays, and allow the UVA rays to penetrate, causing our skin to tan.
When tanning outside, we often ask what type of sunscreen we should use, and we often ask which SPF level is the right amount. SPF stands for sun protection factor, which is the rating that tells you how long you can stay in the sun without getting burned.
To give an example, when you use a sunscreen with SPF 10, your skin would get burned after two and a half hours. An SPF 30 can filter out 95.5 percent of UV rays, while an SPF 50 can filter 98 percent. So, sunscreens indeed help protect your skin from UVB rays, and it would only slightly affect your tan time.
Use a sunscreen with SPF 50 if you have a fair or lighter skin tone, but you would need to lie out in the sun for a longer time. If you have a darker skin tone, use SPF 30 and sunbathe for 30 minutes to an hour. To maintain the color of your tan, sunbathe for 30 minutes at least once or twice a week.
Make sure to pick a sunscreen that will filter UVB rays, and apply it on all of your exposed areas 30 minutes before you plan to sunbathe.
How Long Should You Tan?
The answer to this question depends on your skin tone. We have mentioned earlier that the darker your skin tone, the higher the amount of melanin is on your skin.
Those with lighter and fairer skin types tend to be very sensitive to UV light, and it is advised for them to not be overexposed to the sun’s rays. When sun tanning, it’s best to be exposed to the heat for minutes, then take a bath every 15 minutes to cool the skin.
This would help avoid skin cancer or skin burning in the process. It would also help in controlling the desired color of your tan. The best time to tan is in the morning or after 3 p.m.
If you have a darker skin type, it’ll be easier for you to get a tan. You can sunbathe for 20 to 30 minutes, then take a shower to cool your skin. You may do this three times, and it’ll give a good result. Plus, you can use sunscreens with SPF 15 or SPF 30 for protection.
Negative Effects of Overtanning
Tanning involves exposure to the sun’s rays, and overexposure to it will cause several health problems, such as:
When the sun’s UV rays reach your skin, they damage the cells in your epidermis. In response, the immune system releases blood flow over the area, which gives the redness on your skin.
Skin cancer happens when UV light damages your DNA’s skin cells, creating mutations. These mutations often go out of control that it forms cancer cells. It often begins at the uppermost layer of your skin, which is the epidermis.
Premature Skin Aging
This can happen due to the long exposure of your skin to the harmful rays of the sun. Your skin loses its elasticity, making it thick and wrinkled.
How to Naturally Get an Even Tan
The key to getting an even tan is to start slow, and schedule your tanning session. Follow the tips we have noted below for you to get an even tan:
Never skip the process of applying sunscreen on your body. It would help you fight the risks of premature aging and skin cancer.
Use a sunscreen that gives you both UVA and UVB protection, and apply it 30 minutes before you go outside, then reapply after every two hours.
Rotate Your Body at Different Intervals
If you don’t want to look like a zebra after getting a tan, you need to rotate your body at different intervals. Doing so would help you get all your body parts tanned.
Start with one position, then after five to 10 minutes, rotate your body to tan a different part.
Schedule Your Tan
Schedule your tan early in the morning or after 4 p.m. When tanning under the sun, try the tan-and-bathe process, wherein you tan for 30 minutes straight and wash your body to cool off your skin. Repeat the process until you achieve your desired tan.
Sunbathing is indeed a cost-efficient and enjoyable way to get a tan. By taking note of the important points we have indicated above, it would help you achieve an even and healthy tan.
Remember that tanning is different from overexposure since it involves a good schedule and sunscreens.
Sun tanning is always a great way to achieve that bronzy look. But, if you want a quicker way to get a tan, you may choose some alternatives, such as spray tanning or bronze lotions, which are time-efficient and good alternatives to sun tanning.