Best UV for Tanning and How to Quickly Tan Like a Pro (Aug.2023)

Wanna know what’s the best UV for tanning? don’t worry we’ve got you covered.

I could start this blog post with warnings of how tanning is risky, how UV rays are harmful, how UV rays can cause skin cancer… Bla Bla Bla. But I know you’ve weighed your options and decided to tan anyway. What you really want to know is how to tan safely, which I’ll discuss. 

While all the risks of tanning you’ve heard are true, you can significantly reduce the risks by tanning on the UV index level that favors your skin type. You’ll also need a few tips on how to go about it right, so stay tuned.

Let’s get you SAFELY tanned!

What’s the Best UV for Tanning

Anything below level 7 is generally safe for tanning. We recommend tanning at an index of 3-5, which we consider moderate. 6-7 is high, but it can still be safe, depending on your skin tone.

Anything beyond 7 is risky, especially for folks with pale skin. This explains why experts don’t advocate for indoor tanning because they emit UV over index 13. If you decide to use indoor tanning methods, ensure you’re well-educated on the kind of protection you need. 

A very high UV index puts you at risk of getting sunburn. Gauge yourself and know how long your skin can stay under the sun without burning. Also, when tanning outside, we recommend using tanning lotions to fasten your tanning process and protect your skin. A tanning lotion allows your skin to tan even at a low UV index of 3, as it increases melanin production. Most tanning lotions also contain sunscreen, which protects your skin from getting burnt. 

Now let’s take a step back and discuss how we got to level 7 as the highest, safest tanning UV index level. 

What is the UV Index?

The UV index (UVI) is the standard measurement of sun radiation. Not to insult your intelligence, but I’ll expound. It’s basically like a ruler with numbers ranging from 0 to 12, with 0 being the lowest UV exposure and 12 being the highest exposure. These figures are classified as low, moderate, high, and extremely high. 

There are three types of UV rays – divided depending on their wavelengths. They’re namely:

  • Ultraviolet A (UVA) – longest wavelengths

UVA is the radiation you come in contact with and can penetrate through your middle skin layer. This light is associated with faster skin aging and wrinkles. 

  • Ultraviolet B (UVB) – shorter wavelengths 

Most UVB rays are absorbed by the atmosphere, but some still make it to your outer skin layer and get absorbed. UVB light is why you get a tan because it stimulates melanocytes that produce melanin. Although UVB rays aren’t as strong as UVA rays, you still need to be cautious because when skin cells are overstimulated, they can mutate and cause melanoma (a type of skin cancer). 

  • Ultraviolet C (UVC) – shortest wavelengths 

You don’t have to worry about UVC affecting your skin. They’re the shortest wavelengths, and they’re all absorbed by the ozone layer. 

The UV Index and how to use it correctly 

Now that you’re all caught up with the science behind UV rays let’s discuss the UV index and how to use it correctly. 

The most confusing fact about understanding the right UV to tan is that the heat you feel when sipping your mojito under the sun isn’t the UV we are talking about. What you feel is what is referred to as infrared light. This explains why you can get sunburned or tan even on a cloudy day! 

To turn safe, we recommend tanning at the moderate UV index range. The higher the UV is, the faster you’re likely to get sunburn and damage. 

Here is how you can Tan at different UV index scales:

  • UV index 1 and 2: getting a tan at this level is very unlikely because your skin burns minimally. You don’t even require any protection at this level. At this level, any effects will happen after at least an hour.
  • UV index 3: You can get a tan at this index level, but it’s still not enough to get you a good tan. It will take at least 45 minutes to see even small changes.
  • UV index 4: You can tan at UV index four as long as you stay for prolonged periods under the sun. The good news is you don’t have to worry about sunburns.
  • UV index 6: At this level, you’ll start tanning after 15- 20 minutes. Since six is in the higher index range, it’s possible to sustain sunburns. 

PS: You can know the UV index of your location by entering your area name on the Environmental Protection Agency website

What affects the intensity of the UV index?

There are multiple factors that affect the daily UV intensity. They include:

  • Season. The UV radiation is low during autumn and winter and highest during summer and spring.
  • Time. UV radiation is highest at midday and reduces towards the evening.
  • Altitude. The higher you go, the hotter it becomes – this means the UV radiation is higher in cities with a higher elevation. 

How to safely and quickly tan

Now that you understand how the UV index works, it’s time to learn how to tan like a pro – safely and quickly. 

Here are my best tips:

1. Know your skin tone

We all have different skin tones, affecting how we react under the sun. Here is a summary of different skin types tan:

  • Skin type 1: Difficult to tan as it gets burned very quickly.
  • Skin type 2: Tan fast but also burns very easily 
  • Skin type 3: Get tanned and less prone to sunburns.
  • Skin type 4: Burn slightly and get tanned fairly easily too.
  • Skin type 5: Get tanned quickly and rarely burn.
  • Skin type 6: Tan easily and never burns.

Understanding your skin type acts as a guide on the precautions you need while tanning. This includes the amount and frequency of sunscreen and time spent under the sun. A person with skin type 1 will need sunscreen more than one with skin type 6.

2. Always wear sunscreen

While the goal is getting that golden tan, it’s important to protect the skin from strong UV rays. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen on your skin 20 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply after every 2 hours. You might need to reapply your sunscreen more frequently if you’re sweating or swimming. 

For safety purposes, ensure the sunscreen you use has an SPF of 30 and above.

3. Wear sunglasses 

The areas around the eyes are very delicate; sunglasses can help reduce exposure to UV. You can also wear a hat to protect your forehead, nose, and scalp.

4. Take advantage of tanning lotions 

There are so many benefits that come with using a quality tanning lotion. Some of them include the following: 

  • It reduces the amount of time you’re exposed to UV rays. Prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause skin cancer, wrinkles, and premature aging. Tanning lotions help you get a tan faster and significantly reduce the time spent under UV rays. 
  • You get more color. A tanning lotion ensures you get an even tan and prevents you from getting that orangey look. 
  • Healthier skin. Most tanning lotions contain rich ingredients such as vitamins, fruit extracts, antioxidants, and essential oils that rejuvenate your skin.   

5. Prepare your skin

Two weeks before your tanning session, ensure you exfoliate your skin. Having smooth skin during tanning ensures you get a tan without your skin flaking. It also makes it easier to get an even tan. Also, the dryer your skin is, the more it’s vulnerable to UV rays. 

The reason it’s recommended to exfoliate a few days before is that doing it right before can lead to skin irritability from direct UV rays. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the safest UV index to tan at?

3-5 is the safest UV index. It takes time to tan at this index, but it protects you from all skin health concerns associated with extreme exposure to UV rays.

Do I need a tanning lotion when tanning in the sun?

It is not mandatory, but we recommend it because it fastens the tanning process and nourishes your skin after the sessions. It takes at least 45 minutes to tan without a lotion, while you start seeing changes in 15 minutes with a lotion on.

How long do I need to stay in the sun to tan?

It can take 10-30 minutes, depending on your skin type.

Final verdict: Best UV for Tanning

There are so many debates on whether tanning is safe or not. The fact is, tanning comes with its risks because extended periods under UV rays are not healthy for your skin. 

Does that mean you should avoid tanning altogether? Absolutely not; it simply means learning how to tan safer. 

All you need to understand is always get tanned under the best UV-indexed range that we discussed above in the article.

Ensure you check our checklist before every tanning session to get a golden glow without risking your skin health. 

Do you have any questions or comments regarding tanning? Talk to us in our comment session – we love to chat!

Leave a Comment