Getting an Effective Outdoor Tan

Everyone loves tans. Tans give the appearance of healthier skin. They make your body look slimmer, make your muscles look larger, and make your clothes look like they match your skin tone much better. Tans are one of the most popular ways to change your appearance, and it is clear from the results that getting a tan can lead to you looking more sexy and attractive.

Getting a tan outdoors, however, has its difficulties. It’s not as though you can simply jump outside and get tan. There is burning risk, uneven tans, different levels of sun – many things that you need to do to make sure that you tan outdoors correctly. Below are several tips for improving your ability to get a tan outside.

Tips for Outdoor Tanning

  • Start Slow with Sunscreen

You cannot tan with sunscreen. But what you can do is get a decent amount of sun exposure and then save yourself from burning and extreme sun damage, especially while your skin is still very fair. To do this, you simply give yourself some time in the sun – no more than 15 minutes in hot weather, and in some cases less than a few minutes (in the case of extreme weather – and then slather on sunscreen for the rest of the day.

While you won’t be tanning with the sunscreen, you will be reducing damage to your skin and improving your comfort. Then, over time, your tan will appear. You never want to rush tanning. Rushing it only leads to extreme damage to your skin, which will be both painful and awkward. Go slow and you can avoid some of the painful burns, and with sunscreen you can still enjoy time outdoors in the process.

  • Wear Sunscreen When Not Tanning

When you are trying to get your tan, sunscreen is going to get in your way. But when you are NOT trying to tan, sunscreen can be extremely useful. Some parts of your skin, such as your arms, legs and face, receive a lot of sun even when you are not trying to tan. If you do not wear sunscreen, these areas will get darker than the rest of your body, and it will make your tan look awkward. Tan these parts of your body when you tan the rest of your body for greater effects.

  • Consider Tanning Lotions

There are a variety of tanning lotions that are designed to not only improve your ability to tan, but also increase the length of time that the tan lasts on your body. When these tanning lotions work effectively, you will (hopefully) not have to tan as often in order to get the same tone that you want.

  • Wear Little Clothes

When you are tanning, the more skin you are comfortable showing, the better. Only by getting sun all over your body are you going to get an attractive all over tan that you can be proud of. In addition, it is a good idea to try to wear the same clothes to tan each time. The last thing you want are varying tans due to tan lines from different types of clothing.

Risks of Sun Tans

Sun tanning is the most effective way to get both a natural looking tan and one that will last for a while on your skin. The sun is able to create semi-permanent changes in your melanin levels and give you a smooth dark tan that will look both sexy and healthy over the course of the year. Tans may fade, but sun tans fade slowly, have none of the streaking problems of sunless tanners, and are considerably more fun to achieve as you get to lay back in the sun, enjoying your local weather.

But recent reports have shown that sun tanning is not the safest endeavor. There are many safety concerns associated with sun tanning that make it a risk for anyone looking to achieve that perfect tan. Here are some of the dangers of sun tanning that you put yourself through every time you go out in the sun.

Dangers of Tanning

  1. Skin Cancer

Any time you go out in the sun you put yourself at risk of skin cancer. Some skin cancers are far more dangerous than others, and there are many types of skin cancer that are almost completely curable, but there are also dangerous, fatal types of skin cancer that can occur if you are out in the sun often. Skin cancer represents a serious risk of sun tanning, and though it is not too common, it is always present in all populations (though most common in males and Caucasians).

  1. Sunburn

Any time you go tanning you run the risk of sunburn. In fact, some people sunburn on purpose because often when the burn leaves a tan is left in its wake. Yet sunburns are painful, can result in peeling, itching and sharp pains. Sunburns also increase your risk of developing skin cancer, and are simply not good for the health of your skin.

  1. Wrinkles/Aging Skin

The more sun your skin receives, the more your skin begins to show the appearance of aging. Sun damages skin cells and causes things like wrinkles and rough looking skin. It also reduces the amount of moisture that your skin is able to maintain, which can give it a hard, rougher look. Though you can reduce some of this with moisturizers, there are also going to be permanent changes for those that receive too much sun over the course of their life.

  1. Other Health Concerns

There are also other health concerns that you are at risk for when you experience excessive tanning. Too much sun has been linked to a weaker immune system, and also causes the creation of skin discolorations that, while not cancerous, do alter/impact your appearance.

Should You Not Tan?

These dangers are always present when you are tanning. Yet at the same time there is no denying that sun plays an important role in your life, and tanning with the sun is the best way to get a nice, attractive tan. As such, tanning is not necessarily a problem on its own, but make sure you take precautions to stay safe, be vigilant for any physical changes or signs of damage, and never overdo it – following best practices with tanning.

Does a sunless tan prevent sunburns?

Everyone knows that extended exposure to the sun causes sun tanning. The reason for this sun tanning is because darker skin reduces the amount of damage the sun can do to your body. In a way, the tan itself is a result of severe sun damage, and the tan is created to reduce the chances of more damage in the future.

That does not imply that having a tan means that your skin will not receive much damage. On the contrary, your skin has already been damaged, and the more sun you receive, the more damage will occur. But the amount of damage is going to be slightly less than before your tan, because the tan reduces how much damage affects your skin. It is the reason that people with natural tans are at slightly less risk for sun damage than people with lighter skin.

Still, the fact that tanning reduces how much future damage may occur is interesting. It brings up the question – if you get a spray on tan to change the color of your skin, and then you go out sun tanning, are you going to receive less damage from the sun?

Sun Damage and Spray on Tan Color

The answer is a clear and concise “no.” Remember, the tan occurs at a very base level, deep within the skin. Sunless tanners are chemicals that cause the appearance of a tan on the top of the skin. Thus deep within the skin is still as fair skinned as it always was, and will still receive harsh sun damage from being left outside.

In addition, you may not be able to notice as easily that your skin is burning, since the sunless tan will change your skin tone to make it harder to see that you are turning red. That means that in some ways you are actually more at risk for skin damage than you were before the sunless tan, because you will have a harder time noticing that you have received such serious damage.

Finally, prolonged exposure to the sun breaks up some of the chemicals used in sunless tanning agents. So the more exposure you have to the sun, the less time your spray on tan will last.

Consider Products with Sun Protection

For those that are determined to get a real tan from the sun, but are also strongly considering sunless tanner until that tan occurs, consider finding one that has its own sun protection inside of the ingredients. For sun tanning, it is believed that the best way to tan is to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or so, allowing your skin to see a little bit of sun and then protecting it from further damage. Some sunless tanners provide you with sunscreen protection, so that your skin will stay safe, you should tan a little (though not a lot), and your sunless tan will still give you that naturally tan appearance.

What are the best sunscreens and suntan lotions?

Tanning is a long and difficult process. There is no true way to simply magically become tan without getting a great deal of sun or spending hours and hours in a tanning booth, especially if you have fair skin. And skin the more sun you receive, the more damage you are doing to your skin. For those with lighter skin looking for a dark tan, the process used to create that tan may be dangerous.

Yet people are always going to want to receive a tan, because while tans may be a sign of unhealthy skin, they provide the appearance of health – a sought after quality in today’s society. So if you are going to get a tan, below is some advice about which sunscreens to use in order to tan more easily.

Low SPF Suntan Lotions

One option is to apply and reapply low SPF suntan lotion. Though it can be a difficult method, low SPF lotions (when used correctly) have been known to improve your ability to tan without serious burning. Low SPF lotions do not last very long under intense UV rays, burning away quickly and making it more likely for you to get burnt.

However, if you consistently apply and reapply a low SPF lotion, your skin will continue to experience some sun before getting protected again. This gives your skin a little time to cool while after you apply the lotion again. The process continues to repeat until a light tan is gathered. This is not the most recommended method of tanning, but it has been known to work when performed correctly.

Tanning Lotions

Another option is to utilize a tanning lotion. Tanning lotions are designed to create more color from the same amount of tanning. So while you are doing damage to your skin every time you tan, you also receive greater results for those efforts. There are tanning lotions designed for both outdoor tanning (sun tanning) and indoor tanning (tanning beds). It is very important that you do not mix and match these types, as the outdoor lotions can ruin tanning beds and indoor lotions have a tendency to be less safe outdoors.

These types of lotions come in different styles, but ideally you will want to use an “accelerator.” Accelerators are tanning lotions that boost your melanin levels as you tan, so that the end result is a darker than. Other types (bronzers and tingle lotions) also apply a layer of sunless tanner that gives your skin a darker look, but many people prefer to avoid those lotions since the results are not permanent.

Sunscreens and Lotions for Tanning

There is no way to tan safely, since the tan itself IS skin damage. However, tanning lotions are able to improve the darkness of your skin naturally, while low SPF sunscreens (when used correctly) are able to provide your skin with intermittent sun to reduce burning. Both of these represent possible solutions for those that are looking to earn a dark tan.

Indoor Tans vs. Outdoor Tans

There are two ways to get a real tan – you can tan outdoors in the sun, or you can tan inside of a tanning booth at a salon. Each method of tanning has its benefits and weaknesses:

  • Indoor Tanning – Tanning in tanning booth allows you to control the amount of time you spend in the sun, ideally to reduce burning. It also allows you to tan during winter when it is too cold to tan outdoors. Tanning booths however can be more dangerous, especially when they are used too often.
  • Outdoor Tanning – Tanning in the sun is arguably more enjoyable. You can play sports or enjoy the water, tanning in the process. It also may not be quite as dangerous on a UV basis, in terms of how much UV exposure you receive in a similar amount of time. But outdoor tanning is also inexact, since your entire body is not subjected to UV rays at any given time. In addition, it is very easy to spend too long in the sun and get a severe burn, because there is less control while you are tanning.

Clearly there are a variety of differences between these two tanning methods. However, there are a variety of similarities as well. Below are some of the similarities between indoor and outdoor tanning.

Tanning Similarities

  1. You Can Tan

Perhaps the most apparently similarity is that both offer you the same tanning ability. Both use UV rays that allow your body to promote melanin production and change the color of your skin.

  1. You Can Burn

Of course, another similarity is that with both systems you can burn, and burn harshly. In tanning booths at tanning salons you have a far better chance of controlling your time in the machine so that burning is less likely, but just because it is less likely does not mean it is impossible. Burning is still always possible, especially if you misjudge how long you should be in the booth.

  1. Tanning Difficulty

If you have a problem tanning outdoors due to light skin, etc., you will also have the same problem tanning indoors. Similarly, if you are someone that freckles instead of tans, you are still going to freckle rather than tan in the tanning booth. The UV rays provided by tanning booths are identical to the UV rays provided by the sun.

Overall Differences

The reality is that tanning booths and the sun are both exactly the same in terms of their effects on your skin and body. The differences lie in convenience and enjoyment, as well as degree of control. Sun tanning may be more fun, as well as free, but you have less control over your tan. Tanning booths provide you with a great deal of control which can help reduce your likelihood of burning, but it costs money and has the same health risks. Overall they are both decent options for those that need a tan and which you choose is based largely on your own personal preference.

Which is Safer – Indoor or Outdoor Tanning?

Tanning can never be considered safe. Tans themselves are a result of skin damage, and as such you cannot get a tan unless you are damaging your skin. Clearly then there is no such thing as a safe tan, because a tan is the result of your skin being unsafe.

Yet there is no denying that people love to tan, and though it may be causing your skin damage, the results make you appear healthier. As a result, tanning will always continue to be a popular procedure for enhancing one’s beauty. So the next step is to figure out which method of tanning is safer, so at the very least you can reduce the amount of damage you receive to your skin. There are two ways to get a real tan on your body:

  • Tanning Outdoors in the Sun
  • Tanning Indoors in a Tanning Booth

Both of these subject your skin to UV rays, causing the damage necessary to give yourself a tan. So which one of these two options is safest?

Tanning Bed Benefits

Tanning beds offer you a variety of benefits that you do not get from the sun. The most basic benefit is control. When you are in the sun, the amount of UV rays and the time you spend tanning your body are in constant flux. You are likely moving around, there are people walking by (creating shadows), there are clouds – there is no way to measure exactly how much sun you have received.

Tanning beds give you complete control over your tan. There are no shadows, and there is no guesswork. If you set the tanning bed to 10 minutes, then you are getting UV rays all over your body for exactly 10 minutes. That control can certainly help you ensure you burn less and reduce any unnecessary sun damage.

Tanning Bed Weaknesses

However, that control also comes with a cost. The UV rays that tanning beds shower on your body are worse for your skin than the sun. Your skin receives far more damage in the 10 minutes you are in a tanning booth than it would during an equivalent 10 minutes in the sun. Similarly, while you can control your UV exposure in the tanning booth, you will still need to spend time outside, and while you are outside you are going to receive additional damage to the rays you received in the tanning bed. Unless you are constantly slathering a very high SPF on your body, there are going to be times where tanning is not in your control.

Overall Thoughts

Both tanning beds and sun tanning are dangerous. Tanning beds offer greater control, but at the risk of harsher UV exposure, while time in the sun is not as damaging, but is prone to error. The safer method is going to be the method that you believe you can control the best in order to reduce unnecessary sun exposure. If you believe that you can avoid the sun’s damage, a tanning booth might be better. If you believe that you will not overdo your sun exposure, including leaving the sun even before you have received as much as necessary, sun tanning is a better option.