One of summer’s simple pleasures is sunbathing.
Who doesn’t love lounging on a beach blanket with a good book? And who doesn’t love the deep, golden bronze look of sun kissed skin?
We all want the look, and we love our time in the sun, but it’s important to get it the right way.
Here is everything you need to know about the best time of day to tan safely.
Making the Most of the Sun Without Suffering the Consequences
If you want a great tan, but you’re worried about burning or the risk of skin cancer, it’s safest to sunbathe in the morning or late afternoon.
Avoiding the 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. window is particularly important if you have fair skin.
It’s also important if you are in the early days of sun tanning and haven’t yet established a solid base tan.
For people in these categories, tanning during peak hours is likely to result in a painful sunburn.
In fact, some people will begin to burn in under five minutes during this time of day!
You might be worried that morning or late afternoon sunbathing won’t result in a tan, but rest assured that it will.
It takes a little bit longer, but it’s better to have patience with the process than to end up burned to a crisp.
Try tanning between nine and ten or between four and five.
You’ll miss the highest intensity, but the sun will still be strong enough to ensure that you’ll end up with color.
Remember that you can still burn if you spend too much time in the sun in the morning or late afternoon.
It’s always best to go slowly, so make your first few sessions between five and ten minutes long, depending upon your skin tone.
You can incrementally increase your time in the sun by just a few minutes each session.
If you get pink instead of brown, you’ve overdone it and need to back off a bit.
Tanning During Peak Hours
As stated above, tanning during peak hours is not recommended.
If you decide to tan during this time period anyway, whether due to scheduling conflicts or because you’ve already got a strong base tan and want to speed up the process, there are precautions you should take to minimize your risk.
Do not, under any circumstance, use lotions or oils containing tan accelerators during this time.
Not only should you avoid accelerators, it is in your best interest to use a tanning lotion with SPF protection.
Products with a low SPF, in the 10-15 range, will not stop you from getting a tan, but they will minimize UV damage.
Be a clock watcher.
It’s always important to carefully pay attention to how long you’ve been in the sun, but it’s critical during peak hours.
Even a couple of minutes could mean the difference between tanning and burning.
You should also remember that you need significantly less time than you do during off-peak hours.
If you normally are in the sun for twenty minutes, during peak hours reduce it to ten and see how your skin handles it.
Most importantly, minimize how often you lay out during this time of day.
Most skin cancer is the result of repeated exposure, especially repeated burns, over a long period of time.
While you might choose to sunbathe during peak hours in a pinch without suffering any harm, making it a habit is risky business.
Don’t Fall Victim to Sun Tanning Myths
Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths about sun tanning that get passed around like they are scientific fact.
This type of word of mouth advice is dangerous, because so little of it is based in reality, and many of the recommendations that novices make are truly dangerous.
One of the most common myths is that you won’t burn if it is overcast. UVA and UVB rays can cut through cloud coverage like a hot knife through butter.
Many sunbathers have suffered wicked burns by overdoing their time in the sun on cloudy days.
This is especially true during peak hours, so take heed, and mind the clock, even if the sky is grey.
Another common myth is that you have to fry yourself before you can begin to get a deep, dark tan.
This leads to people spending far too much time in the sun when it is at its most intense.
You absolutely do not need to burn, not even once, in order to get a tan.
Another variation on the burn before you tan myth is that you can’t get burned if you’ve already got a strong tan.
This is simply not true. Yes, it will take you longer to burn, but eventually you will.
Don’t think that just because your skin is nicely bronzed you can spend hours in the sun in the middle of the day.
Finding out the hard way that you’re still capable of burning is painful and potentially dangerous.
Last but not least, remember that your body is unique, and you should pay attention to its signals.
You’ll quickly figure out when and for how long you should sunbathe for the best results.
The best time of day to tan is whatever time you can fit in during off-peak hours that results in bronzing, but not burning.
If you’re able, it’s best to tan at the same time of day whenever you can.
If you switch up the times, it can be difficult to figure out how long is long enough, and how long is too long, as the sun’s intensity varies slightly from hour to hour.
Build sun tanning into your schedule, just as you would any other standing appointment time.
You’ll get a tan that you love, avoid burns, and will always know when you can look forward to a little fun in the sun.