The Best Time Of Day To Tan: Morning Vs. Evening

Tanned skin is a symbol of beauty and health, but the benefits of the sun are rather questionable and still a subject of debate among experts. There are many safe analogs like tanning beds or cosmetic tanning products, but most people still prefer the traditional method because of its affordability and longer-lasting effect.

If you still prefer the natural method of getting a tan, you should strictly follow the safety rules. Your tool is time. Choosing the right time of day and duration of sunbathing is not a guarantee of safety, but it is a great opportunity to get the most out of the sun with minimal risk. 

Sunbathing Outside: Benefits And Risks

Tanning is a protective reaction of the body to the effects of ultraviolet radiation, as a result of which melanin is deposited in the lower layers of the skin epidermis.

Ultraviolet rays (UV) are components of sunlight that are invisible to the eye. Once in the skin, they destroy DNA cells and collagen fibers. The radiation is measured by the UV index, which warns of the danger and the need to use protective equipment.

Melanin is a natural pigment that gives the skin a bronze color. It is formed in the skin when exposed to ultraviolet radiation. However, the pigment performs not only an aesthetic function but also a physiological one, as it protects the body from the harmful effects of excessive UV rays. The more melanin is produced, the darker the skin becomes.

Thus, the skin creates a conditional barrier. To preserve it and, accordingly, the brown tone of the skin, the tanning process should be gradual and of moderate intensity.

Why Is Tanning Healthy?

UV in moderate amounts kills bacteria, lowers cholesterol, activates tissue respiration, and normalizes metabolic processes. It strengthens the immune system and promotes the synthesis of certain hormones.

It is under the influence of sunlight that vitamin D is produced. This compound is necessary for bone growth, heart and nervous system functioning, as well as helps fight the growth of cancer cells [1]. 

Besides, the heat dilates vasculature, so blood circulation is accelerated. This process helps to relax muscles, stimulates the brain, and improves sleep. Also, the sun's rays have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects [2]. 

 vitamin D

What Is The Danger?

Excessive solar radiation is harmful. Prolonged exposure to the sun without protective equipment can provoke adverse effects, the most common of which are burns and heat strokes. The obvious signs include headache, fever, heart palpitations, nausea, and loss of appetite.

The fact is that an overdose of ultraviolet radiation first harms the skin and eyes, and then indirectly affects the organism. It accelerates aging, dehydration, pigmentation, skin diseases, and, most importantly, increases the risk of developing cancer.

Unlike the skin, the eyes are at risk all year round. Lack of protection can lead to visual defects and cataracts.

Who Should Not Sunbathe?

Excessive tanning is dangerous for all people, but some are strictly prohibited from doing so. There are contraindications for children, the elderly, pregnant women, persons with sun allergies, diabetes, and suspicion of skin cancer. Sun exposure also should be minimized for a body with numerous moles and pigmentation.

The possibility of tanning is also determined by skin type. Albinos or people with fair skin, blond or red hair, and blue or gray eyes are at the highest risk. They are prone to burns because their bodies produce very little or no melanin.

The Best Time Of Day For Tanning

The angle of incidence and the strength of the sun's rays change throughout the day. Therefore, timing is essential for tanning intensity and skin health. 

The Best Time Of Day For Tanning

It makes sense to divide the day into periods:

  • Morning until 10 am

Morning hours are the best time to get a tan. The sun's rays are not aggressive, the air is fresh and cool, the organism is full of power to produce protective pigment.

  • Peak time from 10 am to 4 pm

At noon, the sun is at its highest and the rays are especially strong because they fall to the ground at a right angle. This is a dangerous time, not only for tanning, but also for any sun exposure.

  • Evening after 5 pm

Convenient hours for safe tanning. The rays of the sun setting behind the horizon are weak and less productive. 

🧐 So, in the morning or the evening?
Experts say that it is better to sunbathe at dawn. This is due to the circadian rhythm, weaker protection, and the body’s poor ability to recover quickly at the end of the day.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Tan?

Warm summer days allow us to spend a lot of time outdoors in the open sunshine. The key is not to overdo it. It is better to dose your sun exposure and increase it in stages so that your skin gets used to high temperatures and light after a long winter. A gradual tan will be more beautiful and even.

Start with a minimum time of 10 minutes. During this period, the skin will hardly change its tone, but it will produce enough melanin to protect itself and prepare for the next sessions. Each time, increase the procedure by 10 minutes, the maximum period of sun exposure is 1–2 hours. For prolonged sunbathing, you should pause for 20–30 minutes to rest your organism.

It is useful to sunbathe daily or a few sessions a week at the same time of day. Thus, the circadian rhythm will adapt to the active metabolism in the organism at the specified time and the tan will be only beneficial.

Factors Affecting The Duration

Sun tanning is a complex algorithm and many factors affect the result. Knowing them, you can control the process and adjust the time.

  • Skin type

Contraindications for fair-skinned people were mentioned above. Indeed, the duration and quality of the tanning process vary depending on the color of the skin, i.e. the body's ability to produce protective pigment. Those with dark skin and dark hair can safely stay in the sun, while those with light, pale skin are strictly prohibited from doing so.

Knowing your skin tone and its characteristics is necessary for coordination when choosing cosmetics and the duration of tanning.

Skin types and their characteristics
Skin types and their characteristics
  • Season and climate

Weather, temperature, and humidity play a huge role in tanning time. The best time to get a quick tan is during the summer months, with bright sun and humid air. Moisture speeds up the process and reduces fading.

  • Availability of water bodies

Water acts like a mirror, reflecting the sun's rays and amplifying their power. It increases the chances of a high-quality tan, but also adds to the risk of burns.

🤔 It should be noted that when you are in a body of water, you also tan, and even more intensely than in the sun. After swimming, wipe yourself off with light movements, because water droplets are natural lenses that can cause local burns.

Availability of water bodies

Tips On How To Tan Faster And Safer

The fact that natural tanning takes a lot of time is a big disadvantage. Exposure to the sun for too long or during rush hour can only be harmful, so you shouldn't rush it. To speed up the process and avoid injuring your skin, you can do a few things.


Sunburn is stressful for the body, so preparing for it will reduce the risk of skin damage. It's a truism that you should drink plenty of water, eat hydrating foods, and moisturize your skin periodically.

Dry, dead skin cells prevent an even tan, so scrubs exfoliate them. Do this a few days before the session, and never repeat it afterward, as this is an additional irritation for the already damaged skin.

Tanning Products

The use of tanning products is a mandatory stage of a healthy tan. Sunscreens are available in different types: creams, lotions, oils, and sprays. They are easily distributed over the body and do not irritate it.

Sunscreens are classified according to their SPF level. The higher the number, the better the protection. For outdoor tanning, SPF 30+ is used. You will need 2–3 tablespoons of cream to cover the entire body and 2 more for the face. Reapply the protection every 2 hours.

Tanning Products


Usually, you tan lying down, when only a part of your body is exposed to the sun. For an even result, it is safer to change positions every 15–20 minutes. It is strictly forbidden to fall asleep under the scorching sun, it is better to read a book.

You can read more details in our article on tips for a beautiful tan.


So, outside tanning is a controversial procedure. If you follow the rules of staying under the scorching sun and taking care afterward, it will give you glowing bronze skin, but any mistake can cost you your health. 

Outside, you control the tanning process yourself. Your tool is time. Choose the hours when the sun's rays are soft and not direct, before 10 am or after 5 pm. Dose and gradually increase the length of stay under the sun so that your body adapts and prepares for the next sessions. To get the most out of your procedure in a short time, prepare your skin and body in advance, check for protective equipment, and change your position periodically during the tanning.


⌛️ Are 30 minutes in the sun enough to tan?

For those with fair skin, this time is enough to get an attractive golden tan. For swarthy people with dark hair, this time can be not enough to achieve the desired result.

🌞 How long do you have to be outside to get a tan?

To get a tan, you need to stay under the sun for 1–2 hours. The process must be gradual: it starts with short sessions lasting 15 minutes and has several pauses for rest.

🏊‍♀️ Do you get tan faster in the water?

Water reflects sunlight, so tanning by the pool, river, or sea is much faster and more intense. We also tan when we swim, even more strongly. After getting out of the water, you should wipe yourself off with light movements, because the droplets are natural lenses that can cause local burns.

Jose Diego Mier

Dermatology Expert

Dr. Jose Diego Mier is a board-certified dermatologist with over a decade of experience in light therapy, dermatology, and skin care. As the founder of the Heliotherapy Research Institute, Dr. Mier has dedicated his career to the study and application of light-based therapies for various skin conditions, including acne, psoriasis, eczema, and skin aging. He is renowned for his extensive research contributions, numerous publications in leading dermatology journals, and his work has been recognized with awards for excellence in research and innovation. He has been invited to speak at national and international conferences, sharing his expertise and insights on light therapy and skin care.

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