Safe Tips For Tanning Outdoors To Get A Healthy Summer Tan

Summertime is fast approaching, which means it’s time to get that tan on!

It’s a give-in: We all enjoy the golden glow that comes with spending time tanning outdoors. However, the risks involved with excessive sun exposure are real. Of course, too much UV rays have the potential to cause early aging effects on the skin, and even pose a risk of skin cancer. 

But fear not - we are here to share the best safe tips for tanning outdoors, so you can get beautifully bronzed skin without worrying about scary stuff. 

Let’s jump in!

Extra Sun Protection During Peak Hours

One of the best “smart tanning” tips ever - liberally apply your sunscreen during peak sun hours! 

Generally speaking, the sun is at its highest (and strongest) point between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the summertime. Dermatologists suggest protecting your skin by wearing SPF 15 (at least) all year round - which can easily be incorporated into your daily beauty routine. A lot of makeup brands have added SPF to their foundation products, making it even easier to protect and safeguard your skin from harmful UV rays. Applying an SPF product during the summer is especially important, particularly if you are planning to tan or sunbathe. Increase the level of SPF in your lotions and moisturizers during peak tanning hours.

Understanding SPF & UV

It may be confusing: What’s the difference between SPF 15 and SPF 30?! And, what effects do UVA rays and UVB rays have on our skin?

UVA rays are the type of rays that sink deeper into our skin - beyond the surface. These rays are referred to as photoaging rays, and are known to cause rougher and older skin textures. UVB rays, on the other hand, are the type of rays that cause the skin to sunburn and potentially develop melanoma.

You can use SPF as a measuring metric, which refers to the strength of a skincare product’s shield against the harmful effects of UVB rays. It’s likely that you’ve heard of “broad spectrum SFP”, right? This is the type of SPF that you’ll want to opt in for, as it shields against both UVA and UVB rays. 

The number next to SPF also refers to the amount of time you can spend outside in direct sunlight while wearing a specific product, absorbing approximately a minute’s worth of UVB rays simultaneously. 

The American Cancer Society has a clear way of explaining this concept: If you apply SPF 15 and are exposed to one hour of direct sunlight, it would be akin to being exposed to 4 minutes of UVB rays without having applied SPF. If you apply SPF 30 and are exposed to one hour of direct sunlight, it would be akin to being exposed to just 2 minutes of UVB rays without having applied SPF. This goes on - the higher the SPF number, the more protection and less UVB rays your skin will be exposed to.

It is important to mention, this math stops somewhere above SPF 50, due to the fact that no single sunscreen level (no matter how high) will shield your skin 100% from the sun’s rays. 

Use the Right Amount of Sunscreen

Measured in ounces, the American Cancer Society released a statement which recommends an entire ounce of sunblock be applied across the face, legs, arms, and neck 30 minutes prior to sun exposure or suntanning outdoors. An additional half ounce should be applied to the torso and back, should it be exposed to direct sunlight. 

To make the measuring process easier, the American Cancer Society recommends squeezing a quarter-sized amount of sunscreen into your palm and applying it to one arm, followed with another quarter-sized amount for your other arm. Using sunblock in quarter-sized amounts allows for a quick and easy application. 

Apply & Re-Apply

As previously stated, you should liberally apply sunscreen to all areas of your body that will be exposed to direct outdoor sunlight 30 minutes prior to suntanning. It is vitally important to do so - if you don’t have 30 minutes to spare, allow the sunblock to soak into your skin for at least 15 minutes prior to tanning. 

As you are laying out, make sure to reapply SPF sunscreen every 2 hours in order to maintain the maximum skincare benefits it provides. The goal is to get tan, not to get a sunburn! If you are worried about the sunscreen blocking sunrays from tanning your skin, than use an SPF with 15 or 20, rather than an SPF with higher protection (such as an SPF 30 or SPF 50).

Another point you need to consider, is how much you are sweating and/or how much water activity you are participating in. Of course, if you are getting in and out of the water at the beach or pool, you’ll need to reapply sunscreen more frequently than if you weren’t entering the water at all. 


Having beautiful, glowing suntanned skin is something many people desire and try to obtain - especially during the summer time when more of our skin is exposed. While tanning outdoors can help you achieve this desire, it is incredibly important to do so slowly and safely. Use these tips next time you lay out to sunbathe, your future self will thank you!

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