Many people who enjoy tanning say that sunbathing results in the most natural-looking tan because it comes from the rays of the sun, not an artificial source.
The best way to decide whether outdoor tanning is right for you is to carefully weigh the pros and cons of this type of tanning and check out a number of outdoor tanning tips before you make your choice.
Pro: You Can Tan Outdoors Almost Anywhere
One of the pros of outdoor tanning is that you can choose a variety of relaxing locales for your tanning sessions, from the comfort and serenity of your own backyard to the local pool to a secluded spot at the park.
This is the attraction of outdoor tanning for many people: it provides them with fun and relaxation in a natural setting instead of being stuck in a tanning bed for their session.
What better way to get a tan than to enjoy fresh air and beautiful scenery while you do so?
In addition, being able to tan almost anywhere allows you to get together with friends so that you can share outdoor tanning tips and socialize while you tan.
You can even have people bring snacks and drinks and turn your sunbathing sessions into a tanning party!
Pro: Tanning Outdoors is More Sanitary
When you tan outdoors on your own blanket or chaise, you know where they have been and whether they’re clean.
The same can be said of the environment in which you choose to tan; however, this may not always be true of the tanning salon.
While some salons keep their shop and tanning beds in good working order and clean them thoroughly after ever session, you run the risk of choosing a salon where the cleaning methods aren’t what they should be.
This is especially risky if you enjoy tanning in the nude because when you lie nude in a tanning bed, you’re lying on a surface where others have done the same, and these beds can house a number of germs, viruses, and bacteria.
These diseases flourish in the bed’s warm environment and there are number of transmittable diseases you can catch from these beds including colds, the flu, sexually transmitted diseases, scabies, lice, ringworm, and a wide range of stomach viruses.
If you’re concerned about the sanitary conditions of your local tanning salon, (as anyone who tans indoors should be,) then tanning outside is a safer option in this instance.
Pro: Tanning Outdoors Helps You Absorb Vitamin D
When done safely, tanning outdoors can actually improve your health.
This is why “fresh air and sunshine” feels so good after you’ve been indoors all day: the body needs vitamin D in order to maintain healthy bones and muscle so that they can develop normally.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to a number of health problems that include brittle bones, weak muscle structure, and high blood pressure, which can be deadly.
Sunbathing on a regular schedule and using a timer to ensure an even tan will allow you to absorb enough vitamin D, which will keep your body healthy.
While some tanning salons can offer you this option, sunbathing will allow your body to absorb the vitamin D it needs at no cost to you.
Pro: You Have More Privacy Tanning Outdoors
Not only is this is a great way to achieve an even tan, it also affords you a great deal of privacy so that you can tan in comfort.
While many tanning salons offer you the option of laying nude in a tanning bed or getting an all-over spray tan, this means being in the nude in front of the spray tan technician, especially if you’re going for the spray tan.
Private tanning booths are an option, but it’s a far cry from the comfort and privacy of your own backyard, where you can lay in a secluded spot to get the kind of tan that just can’t be achieved with chemicals.
This is especially beneficial if you’re working on both your tan and your figure at the start of the summer, and neither of them is quite ready for public viewing!
Pro: Outdoor Tans Last Longer
Spray tans, in particular, only last about a week to ten days, and they take a great deal of maintenance for them to last that long.
Chlorine, hot showers, and even daily tasks like washing dishes can make your artificial tan patchy and unattractive.
Spray tans can also rub off on your clothing and leave white patches, giving your tan a piebald appearance.
The type of tan that you get from a tanning booth will last slightly longer, but not as long as natural tan, especially if you build up a base tan.
A base tan will not only prevent you from getting a sunburn, but it will also improve the appearance of your natural tan and help it to last longer all season long.
However, building a base tan does not guarantee that your skin won’t suffer damage from the sun’s UV rays, and before you decide to tan outdoors this way, you should also carefully consider the disadvantages.
Con: You Cannot Control the Strength of the Sun’s Rays
While tanning outdoors can be fun and relaxing, the rays of the sun are at their most powerful from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and since this is also the optimum time during which to get a tan, there are a number of dangers involved.
Firstly, because of the sun’s powerful UV rays, you increase your chances of getting a bad sunburn during these hours, especially if you’re new to tanning and lie out all afternoon because you think the longer you sunbathe, the deeper your tan will be.
Lying out for too long will only result in skin damage that’s almost impossible to reverse.
The other catch is that if you lie out too early or too late in the day, it will be extremely difficult to achieve an even tan.
While the sun’s rays are not as strong at this time of day and may be safer in terms of avoiding a sunburn, they may not give you the kind of results you’re trying to obtain.
This is where tanning beds and spray tans have an advantage over outdoor tanning: you or the salon technician can control the strength of the UV light that the bed gives off so that you control how slowly you tan.
Spray tans that are applied by hand give you even more control over your tan, and without the added danger of exposing your skin to the potentially harmful UV rays of the sun.
In fact, spray tans are considered the safest option when it comes to getting a tan, and the tanning solutions that are used today have a low risk of skin irritation.
Con: Weather Changes May Affect Your Tanning Schedule
Unless you live in an area that sees many sunny days a year, the weather can affect your tanning schedule and even how your body absorbs UV rays.
Even party-cloudy days can affect how much UVA light reaches the ground, which are the rays that are responsible for tanning the skin.
On days where there is a lot of cloud cover, sunbathing will only result in a potentially damaging sunburn because unlike UVA light, UVB light can break through the clouds and burn your skin.
Since UVB rays are not tanning rays, laying out on days like this will do nothing to improve your tan.
Tanning beds have a definite advantage here, as you can maintain your tanning schedule without having to worry about changes in the weather.
Inconsistent sunbathing can also affect how even your tan is and whether you build up a good base tan, so it’s important to consider what type of weather you’re dealing with when you decide to tan outdoors, especially if you’re a beginner.
Con: Your Tan Won’t Develop as Quickly
If you want to look your best for an important event such as a wedding, a beach party, or a class reunion, then you’ll have to plan months in advance if you decide to tan outdoors.
Building up a tan by sunbathing takes weeks, from building the base tan to making your skin darker with hours of moisturizing and using outdoor tanning accelerator.
This is a definite disadvantage because you will have to schedule more tanning sessions, which may not always be possible to fit into your schedule.
This is where spray tans are a better option than outdoor tanning because it only takes a few sessions to build the type of color you want and many technicians can add on that bronze glow that’s so hard to accomplish with outdoor tanning. A talented technician can even hide minor skin imperfections, such as age spots or small scars, which will increase your self-confidence for your big event.
Con: Beginning Tanners May Overdo It
When many people decide to start tanning, they jump into it and lie out for hours at a time, thinking that this is the best way to get a tan when in reality, they are only doing a great deal of damage to their skin.
This is one of the biggest drawbacks to outdoor tanning for beginning tanners because they don’t have any type of guidance when it comes to knowing how long to expose their bodies to the sun’s rays without risking a burn.
Indoor tanning salons, however, are run by professionals who can give beginning tanners a number of indoor and outdoor tanning tips so that they can tan more safely.
While there is a risk involved with any type of tanning, having the guidance of experts who can help you build a tan slowly reduces the risk of premature aging or other skin problems.
Salon experts can help you build a regimen of indoor tanning based solely on your skin type and tone, giving your tanning experience a personal touch.
Con: Tanning Outdoors May Expose You to Pollutants
Depending on where you live, the term “fresh air” may be relative. Suburban and city air is often dirty, and you run the risk of exposing your skin and lungs to these pollutants when you sunbathe, especially if you do so in the nude.
While there is some risk of unsanitary conditions existing in a tanning salon, choosing one that uses medical-grade cleansers to wipe down their beds reduces that risk.
The interior of a tanning salon is always temperature controlled, which means that you’ll be able to tan in comfort without breathing in dirty air or exposing your skin to toxins such as lead, carbon monoxide, and industrial pollutants.
Whether you’re still gathering outdoor tanning tips or planning on taking a tour of your local tanning salon to see if indoor tanning is a better option for you, there are a number of pros and cons to outdoor tanning that you should consider before making your final decision.
While outdoor tanning does offer a free and relaxing alternative to expensive tanning salons, you also run the risk of damaging your skin if you try and build a tan without the guidance of professionals.
To make the best decision possible, talk with your dermatologist or doctor about your desire to tan so that he or she can help you weigh the risks and advantages to outdoor tanning.