Can You Tan When It’s Cloudy?

If you’re looking to get some tanning in on a cloudy day, you absolutely can! According to the SCF, approximately 80%of the sun’s UV rays can pass through the clouds. So to make the most of your tanning time, you’ll want to choose a spot with minimal cloud cover and shadows. 

So, now that you know a cloudy-day tan is possible, why not find out more about it? The rest of this article will detail tanning when it’s cloudy, how to get the best tan you can, and some tanning troubleshooting questions. 

Do you tan more easily when it’s cloudy?

The short answer is no. The reason some people think you can tan or sunburn more easily on a cloudy day is fairly straightforward and is the exact reason why you’re reading this article in the first place! 

Many people assume if it’s cloudy out, they’re not at risk of a sunburn, so they won’t wear sunscreen. Because they opt to go without sunscreen, they can burn much more quickly, leading to the perception that tanning or burning is more likely on a cloudy day. 

Should I wear sunscreen when it’s cloudy?

Yes! Since most of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the clouds, it’s imperative to protect yourself from burning even on a cloudy day. Even with heavy and dense cloud cover, up to 50% of UV rays can still make it through, so stick to shady spots and wear sunscreen if you’re going to be spending a lot of time outside. 

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How long does it take to tan on a cloudy day?

This depends on your skin tone, but 5-10 minutes per side should do the trick! If you have lighter skin, you don’t need to stay in the sun for as long. If you’re tanning all four sides of your body (front, back, right, and left), you should stay out for a total of 20 minutes. 

For medium and darker skin tones, you can tan all four sides of your body for 10 minutes each for a total tan time of 40 minutes. 

You can use your discretion with these tanning times and experiment to see what works for you. For example, if your skin is very light, it may take up to 20 minutes per side to develop any color. Just be sure to set a timer so you don’t tan one side too long! 

What is the best time of day to get a tan?

The best time of day to tan is before 10 am or after 4 pm. Though the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest from 10 am to 4 pm, too much sun exposure during these peak hours can put you at risk for sunburn, skin damage, and skin cancer. To mitigate these risks, it’s best to tan early in the morning or in the late afternoon/evening. 

If it’s very overcast out, you may benefit from tanning during peak UV exposure, as dense, gray clouds can block about 50% of UV rays. 

How can I make the most of my tan?

You’re a busy person who wants to capitalize on your tanning time. So, how do you make the most of this relaxing outdoor activity? Here are a few tips to follow for the best and longest-lasting tan! 

  • Exfoliate your skin the day before you tan. This will remove any dead skin cells and make your tanning time more effective.
  • Moisturize your skin after you exfoliate. Dry skin doesn’t tan as well, so moisturize twice a day to keep your skin hydrated and supple!
  • Apply sunscreen within 20 minutes of going outside. It’s essential to use a sunscreen with broad-spectrum UV protection and an SPF of at least 30. SPF 30 is strong enough to protect against sunburn but not too strong to prevent you from tanning. Do not use tanning oil that doesn’t contain sun protection. 
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun.
  • Select a spot to tan, preferably one with few shadows or other obstructions so you can even out your UV exposure.
  • Tan before 10 am or after 4 pm to protect yourself from the strongest UV rays.
  • Rotate your position for an even tan. 

How should I care for my skin after tanning?

So you’ve just finished your relaxing tanning session—now what? How do you keep your skin healthy and glowing? Here are some tips!

  • Rinse off in the shower to remove oil, lotion, sweat, and grime. This is especially handy if you’ve been tanning at the beach! Use mild soap or body wash and pat yourself dry when you’re finished. Avoid hot showers right after tanning, as the heat can dry out your skin. 
  • Apply moisturizer after tanning. This helps your skin rehydrate and lock in that glow. Using thick moisturizers with natural ingredients can be especially effective in adding extra moisture. However, avoid using petroleum jelly—according to Marie Claire, this can trap too much heat!
  • Stay hydrated! Drinking 10-12 cups of water a day rehydrates your skin from the inside. Though it’s important to stay hydrated every day, be sure to drink extra water on the days you’re tanning because tanning can dry out your skin. 
  • Maintain your tan by taking cool showers and using tons of moisturizer. As you probably know by now, moisturizer is essential for your skin’s hydration, and cool showers help prevent flaking and peeling. 

How soon should I shower after tanning?

It depends on the products you use! You should definitely shower after an outdoor tanning session because tanning in the sun makes you sweat, and you don’t want all that sweat, sunscreen, and lotion to clog up your pores. But how long should you wait? Should you shower right after you’re finished?

Well, not quite. It’s a good idea to wait about 20 minutes after your tanning session to rinse everything off. If you’ve been using a tanning oil or tan accelerator, you should wait 2-3 hours before showering to give the products time to work and avoid an uneven tan. 

How can you tan faster?

Are you in a rush to get that bronze glow? Well, here are some tips to speed up your tan!

  • Eat foods rich in lycopene. Lycopene is an anti-oxidant present in some foods that studies show can help reduce your sunburn response by up to 40%. Since it helps reduce your risk of sunburn, you can tan faster and get darker. If you want to get a dose of lycopene, try tomato paste or puree! 
  • Use a tanning oil to accelerate the tanning process. You should always use oil with SPF protection, and tanning oils should not replace your regular sunscreen. There are various commercial products available, but you can also opt for natural oils such as avocado and coconut. 
  • Don’t stay out longer than your skin can produce melanin. Most people’s skin cells can only produce melanin for about 2-3 hours, so staying in the sun past this time isn’t going to be effective and will put your skin at increased risk of damage. 
  • Tan every other day! According to a study published in 2018, skin exposed to UVB rays every other day became darker faster than when exposed every day.
  • Exfoliate weekly, but do so with caution. Exfoliating your skin removes the layer of dead cells on the surface to expose the bronze glow beneath, but this also removes your protection from UV rays. Always use sunscreen and manage your sun exposure carefully to avoid burning! 
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Do you tan faster without sunscreen?

You might, but it’s not the best idea. Sun exposure without sunscreen isn’t safe or good for your skin, period. The risk of burning is much higher, and you aren’t protected from UV rays, which can cause a lot of damage to your skin, not to mention increasing your risk of skin cancer. So, all in all, going the no-sunscreen route just isn’t worth it. 

Do you tan faster in water?

Tanning on the water can help you get a tan more quickly! Water attracts and reflects sunlight, so tanning on or near a body of water can increase your tanning speed. So next time you’re at the beach or hanging out by the pool, grab an inner tube and relax! 

How often should you reapply sunscreen when exposed to water?

According to dermatologists, you should reapply lotion or sunscreen every two hours or after any contact with water. Even if the product is water-resistant, you should reapply it just in case. 

Can you get a sunburn through glass?

Yes. Though glass filters out UVB rays, UVA rays can still get through. UVA rays can penetrate your skin more deeply as well, so it’s important to protect yourself even when you’re behind a window.

Since sun exposure through glass is most often an issue in the car, always remember to apply sunscreen to any exposed skin before driving. In addition, if you’re living in a sunny climate, consider tinted windows; according to CNN, these can block out four times as many UVA rays as regular glass. 

How many times a week should I tan?

When you’re first building up your tan, it’s okay to go out every day for short exposures, though some studies suggest that tanning every other day is more effective. In fact, according to dermatologists, it’s best to build up to your desired shade with short exposures. This also prevents sunburn and gives you a nice, even glow.

How do I maintain my tan?

Once you’ve achieved your desired shade, tan 2-3 times a week to maintain your glow. Keep your sessions short—now that you’ve got the timing down from when you built up your tan, just keep doing the same thing to maintain it! 

Will tanning give me freckles?

The same biological process that gives you a bronze tan is also responsible for producing freckles. Exposure to UV rays triggers your skin cells to produce melanin to protect them from sun damage. Since freckles are caused by excess melanin in the skin, many people genetically predisposed to freckles can see freckles increase in number and intensity after sun exposure. 

How should I take care of a sunburn?

It’s inevitable: we all get sunburnt sometimes! But, if you want to go back to tanning, you’ll have to heal the burn first, since any sun exposure can be painful when you have sunburnt skin. So, here are some tips to help take care of a nasty sunburn:

  • Apply a cool compress (a towel soaked in cold water) or take a cold bath to keep your sunburn cool.
  • Keep your sunburned skin moist by applying aloe vera gel or moisturizing lotion to the area. Don’t use any products containing alcohol, as this can dry out the skin. Also, avoid sunburn treatment products that contain benzocaine—according to the Mayo Clinic, there is little evidence these products are effective, and they can sometimes irritate your skin. 
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers if needed. Aspirin or ibuprofen work well! 
  • If blisters form, don’t poke them! Popping blisters slows the healing process and leaves your skin at risk for infection. If needed, you can lightly cover any blisters with gauze.
  • Be gentle with peeling skin and continue to use moisturizer. 
  • Drink water! Staying hydrated keeps your skin moist and assists in the healing process.
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How long does it take to heal a sunburn?

A moderate sunburn, where your skin is red, swollen, and hot to the touch, will take about a week or so to heal. A more intense sunburn with painful, red skin and blisters can take up to two weeks to heal. The more severe the sunburn, the longer it takes for the redness on your skin to fade. 

Will my sunburn turn into a tan?

The affected skin will likely be more tanned than normal as your sunburn heals. However, this isn’t a good way to tan and definitely shouldn’t be relied on! Sunburns are painful, unhealthy, and produce an uneven tan.