Sun Tanning

When is the Best Time to Tan?

Last Updated: August 14, 2023

In This article....

  • Learn Optimal Tanning Times: Understand how sun positioning and UV strength influence tanning.
  • Explore Safe Tanning: Discover techniques to balance tanning with health risks, including cancer.
  • Maximize Tanning Experience: Uncover strategies for the best tanning results, indoors or out.

Have you tried tanning a couple of times and still haven’t figured out why you can’t arrive at that dark bronzed glow some of these other chics have? Well, the explanation for this can be a number of things. One of which is, not knowing what is the best time to tan. Luckily you have stumbled upon the right place because here we will break down the different scenarios for tanning and help you to understand when and where to tan.

What is the Best Time to Sunbathe Outside?

If you pick up your old geology book from high school, it will tell you that at sunrise the solar altitude is at its minimum (zero degrees) and as it approaches noon or midday, the altitude climbs to its maximum point (90 degrees) and thereafter begin to decline back to zero degrees at sunset.

If you’re not so clear as to what solar altitude means, it is simply the distance of the sun in the sky during parts of the day, which ultimately establishes the strength of the UV rays. The stronger the UV rays are is the more likely they are to make you tan.

So for effective tanning to occur, one would assume the hours between 10 am to about 2 pm are the best times. However, according to the American Cancer Society, UV rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm.

Also, the season of the year determines the strength of the UV rays reaching the ground. UV rays are stronger during the spring and summer months. During the winter, the solar altitude is at its minimum. So even though you may experience sunny days during winter, the UV rays will not give you same tanning results (if any) that you get in the summer.

The change in solar altitude throughout the seasons results in hotter temperatures in the summer and cooler temperatures in the winter, yet this is less of a factor near the equator.

But before we get more into that, I would like to warn you guys that even though the best time to tan is when the UV rays are stronger, its also the most dangerous time to be outdoors for an extended time.

Excessive exposure to both UVA and UVB rays has been linked to cancer; more so UVB rays which have slightly more energy.

Scientists around the globe believe these rays directly damage the skin cell’s DNA, which ultimately causes most skin cancers.

Over time it also contributes to skin deteriorating effects such as wrinkles, age spots, and other unsightly skin disfigurements.

My advice would be to minimize the time you spend in contact with UV exposure; there is some helpful information on ‘How to Tan Faster‘ that you can explore to accomplish this.

Now, let’s get back you why you might not be getting the best tanning results the sun has to offer. Well, this could also be because you simply live in the wrong place or trying to tan in it.

The value of solar altitude varies based on the latitudinal position on earth. That simply means that regions close to the equator have a higher solar altitude than regions near the earth’s poles. So if you don’t live in the tropics or the outskirts of it, then you’re likely not going to experience the benefits of having a rich deep tan from sunbathing.

In that case, you may want to explore using a tanning bed, but more on that further on.

There are ways to increase the chances of obtaining a tan outdoors that you can also try. One of which is tanning close to the water; UV exposure can easily manifold when it is reflected off surfaces and water is the perfect one. The waves and ripples on the surface of the water provide multiple reflective points to increase UV exposure even more.

UV rays can also bounce off surfaces like sand, snow, pavement or grass, so try to use these elements to create the perfect tanning environment to optimize your tan.

Additionally, if you try tanning when there is less cloud coverage then you will experience better UV exposure.

Cloudy skies can block the sunrays considerably even on a sunny day. Although, I’m not totally opposed to tanning when the clouds are out. It helps me to tan intermittently instead of exposing my skin to the unyielding effects of sunrays.

This is just a safety measure, but if you’re having trouble getting significant color when tanning then it might help to plan your beach day with cloud coverage in mind.

What is the Best Time to Use a Tanning Bed?

Well, as mentioned before it’s probably a good time to pursue using a tanning bed when the outdoors aren’t giving you the results you’re looking for.

Tanning beds can give you pretty good results if you use the right tanning products for your particular skin type as well as the correct type of bed.

One of the perks of using A tanning or sunbed is how quickly it can tan your skin compared to the sun. However, the lamps that are used in some of these sunbeds emit UV light at extreme levels – that combined with the fact that they hit your skin directly at shorter distances as well as unrelentingly may do more damage than the sun would.

This is why it is extremely important to cut down your time in these sunbeds as much as possible as well as to determine which ones to use.

There are several different types of bed from low to high level, so make sure to speak with the tanning advisor at the salons for some guidance.

For the most part, all sunbeds are alike so basically, they are season-less, meaning there is no timetable for using them.

Tanning this way is completely dependent on your personal time. It is better to use them every two days or so (not every day) until you arrive at the desired skin color and avoid alternating indoor and outdoor tanning, just stick to one method at a time.

Avoid over-exposure in any form, so even when you tan every couple of days, don’t lay out in one session for an extended period of time and try to minimize the use of high-level tanning lamps.

Some people believe that using a warm bed gives better results, yet there isn’t any plausible reasoning behind this.

Yes, a warm sunbed may be more welcoming and comfortable to get inside opposed to a cold one, especially if your surrounding is cold. So if this is something you’d like, just arrange it with your tanning salon.

Pre-warming the bed doesn’t reduce the time of UV exposure by any recognizable amount either since UV intensity is measured when they reach extreme levels. There is an ongoing debate about the findings behind this theory because sunbed users have had different experiences combined with others who have more technical explanations. In my experience pre-warming doesn’t make a difference, although I prefer using a booth or standing bed so that I don’t have to touch the surface of the interior.

When are UV Rays Strongest?

To sum up, we have established that UV rays from the sun are strongest when the solar altitude is at is peak and this time frame is between the hours of 10 am to 4 pm during Spring and Summer seasons. Even though this is the best time to tan so that you can obtain significant color it is also the most dangerous, so beware.

Sunbeds have more controlled UV exposure and it’s just a matter of the various bed wattage total and alternating UVA and UVB exposure to suit your tanning needs. Level 4 to 6 beds can deliver dramatic tanning results since they deliver more UVA exposure, which is responsible for bronzing your skin oppose to burning your skin (Which is a result of excess UVB rays). UVA levels, in this case, is at its strongest and more effective state but again, over-exposure will have long term damaging effects, so tan with caution.

Now that you know what is the best time to tan, perhaps you will see better tanning results. Remember to protect yourself, so use sunblock and intensifier lotions that can help you to tan faster and subsequently reduce the time you spend under UV exposure.


American Cancer Society, What Is Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation? See webpage index:

Serm Murmson, What is Solar Altitude? see webpage index:

I'm Amelia Hong, a proud staff writer for, hailing from sunny Los Angeles. My passion for the outdoors and wellness reflects in the informative content I create about tanning and skin care. When I'm not busy writing, you'll find me spending quality time with my family and my wonderful dog, Archie. I truly believe that a healthy glow stems from a balanced life full of love and laughter.