Summer means it’s time to start showing off those legs! But it can be tricky to get that perfect bronze. In this article, we’ll look at how you can tan your legs in the sun fast while avoiding painful sunburn.
Why do my legs take so long to tan?
Do you know what we hear a lot? “Why won’t my legs tan in the sun”? You aren’t alone in your frustration.
The skin on your legs tends to be thicker than other areas of the body which makes it harder for the UV rays to penetrate. It might also not be producing as much melanin or pigment.
How long does it take for legs to tan in the sun?
When it comes to achieving a tan, understanding your skin type is the first and most important step. It can help you determine the best approach for bronzing your legs in the sun in a safe and timely way.
The amount of time needed for legs to tan in the sun varies from person to person depending on their skin tone and natural pigmentation levels.
Fair-skinned individuals take longer than those with darker complexions to develop a noticeable difference in color when exposed to direct sunlight. For instance, light skin may burn in 20 to 30 minutes in the summer.
But sunburn isn’t the goal here. It’s getting tan. So, let’s talk about the total length of time to develop a tan.
Let’s say you lay out today for 20 minutes to half an hour. Will you notice a difference tonight or tomorrow? Maybe. Most likely, it will take more time in the sun. You’ll need to go out again for another half hour in another day or so to deepen the color. But try to avoid sunning every day to give your skin time to recover and darken naturally.
Those with medium complexions should expect results after approximately 3-4 hours of direct exposure while those with light skin may see results within 1-2 hours of sunshine.
The important takeaway here is to go slow. (If you’re in a hurry, use a self-tanner. Scroll to the bottom of the article to learn more).
Follow the steps in the next section to avoid sunburn while tanning outdoors so you can develop a beautiful bronze on your legs.
What makes you tan faster in the sun?
Preparing your skin is the first step. To get a deep, even tan, it’s important to ensure that your skin is ready for the sun. Exfoliating before you hit the beach or pool helps to remove dead skin cells and allows the skin to absorb the rays faster.
Seraphic Skincare Korean Exfoliating Mitts
Prep for tanning while rejuvenating and cleansing your skin. These exfoliating scrub mitts are made of a super-soft microdermabrasion material that’s gentler and more effective than chemical exfoliants or loofahs.
Here’s how to get the softest skin imaginable. Start by steaming your skin with warm water in the shower or soaking in the tub. There’s no need for soap or bath oil. Then, dampen the mitt and squeeze out the excess. Use a circular motion to exfoliate one section of your body at a time. When you’ve finished, use your favorite bath soap as usual. Also, wash out the mitt and let it air dry. Apply moisturizer and enjoy smoother skin.
It’s smart to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. It’s best not to rely on natural oils such as coconut because they don’t provide adequate protection from harmful rays. Tanning oil without sun protection may intensify the sun’s rays and get you burned, but not tanned, faster.
Broad-spectrum sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays from harming your skin and that helps prevent sunburns, wrinkles, age spots, and cancer caused by too much exposure to the sun.
Don’t worry – you can still tan while wearing sunscreen. It just takes a little longer, but you’re less likely to burn and suffer from long-term consequences like premature aging and skin cancer.
Sunscreen may seem like it’s blocking out all of those beautiful rays from giving you that golden glow, but the truth is there are simple steps you can take to make sure your tan isn’t ruined from applying lotion.
As we mentioned, exfoliate first. And after tanning, apply moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated. When your skin is healthy and moisturized, it tans more easily and retains color for longer.
Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Lotion Sunscreen SPF 30
Reef-safe sunscreen like this protects you against sunburn and premature aging while it defends wildlife and waterways from poisoning. It’s dermatologist-tested and made with skin-nourishing antioxidants to help the skin recover after time in the sun.
Moreover, it’s oil-free to avoid clogging pores, plus it’s not greasy or sticky. Instead, it’s effortless to apply and lasts for up to 80 minutes in the water. It even smells like a tropical vacation.
Take note that Hawaiian Tropic makes a sunscreen with a lower sun protection factor like 8. Some people prefer to use that for tanning as it filters out fewer UV rays. However, it raises the risk of sunburn and skin damage at a cellular level. Yes, you might tan faster, but is it worth it?
Set a timer and rotate every 15 minutes
When you lay out to tan your legs, set a timer for 15 minutes. This does two things: it keeps you from getting burned and makes sure you get an even tan.
People with fair skin should limit sun exposure to 15 minutes total per session unless they are wearing sunscreen.
Persons with medium to dark complexions can stay out longer. In fact, they may need to if they are soaking up rays for their bodies to create vitamin D. Still, be smart and protect yourself from skin damage. You’ll thank yourself later in life.
Now, if you’re wearing sunscreen, the 15-minute mark only means that it’s time to roll over and enjoy another 15 minutes before going indoors.
In either case, keep an eye on the color of your skin. If it looks pink, you’re burned and need to get out of the sun.
When is the best time to tan your legs in the sun?
Knowing when to head outdoors for a little bit of sun can help you get perfectly tanned legs in no time.
If you have pale skin, start tanning before 11 AM and after 3 PM. This avoids the hottest part of the day with the strongest sunshine and lowers your risk of sunburn.
If you protect yourself with SPF30 or higher sunscreen, you can venture out between 11 AM and 3 PM. Keep a close eye on your skin and don’t overstay your time in the sun. About half an hour should be all you need.
If you skip a day between tanning sessions, it gives your body a chance to create melanin to darken your skin. Repeated daily exposure to the sun might darken you faster but it raises the risk of skin damage.
What are the risks of sun tanning?
According to the American Cancer Society, overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation has been linked to an increased risk of melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. (1)
Additionally UV rays can damage your DNA cells and cause premature aging through wrinkles and age spots.
How to get tan legs without tanning?
Tanning in the sun is a popular way to get glowing, golden skin. It just feels good. But with the range of health risks associated with spending too much time in the sun, it’s important to consider healthier alternatives.
If you’re looking for a way to achieve a sun-kissed glow without UV rays, there’s an excellent way to get bronzed in a matter of hours. Use a sunless tanning product.
Start the same way you would for tanning outdoors. Exfoliate your skin before applying self-tanner. This will help even out and deepen your color by removing dead cells from the surface of your skin.
Next, follow the directions to apply the mousse, lotion, or wipes. It might be easiest to use an applicator mitt or latex gloves to avoid staining your nails. At a minimum, wash your hands after putting on the sunless tanner. If you’d like to tan your hands, use a paper towel to swipe product across the tops and avoid staining the palms.
Now, let the self-tanner work for as many hours as needed. This could be as brief as one hour or as long as 8 hours. During that time, don’t shower or get too sweaty so that the product doesn’t streak.
Self-tanning is a very rapid way to get bronzed without the risk of sunburn or skin cancer. It can help your legs go dark fast.
Bondi Sands Liquid Gold Self Tanning Foam
How would you like to have a base tan in only 2 hours? If you want to go darker, all you have to do is reapply and wait a little longer. Put it on at night and wake up looking like you spent time at the beach.
This self-tanning mousse will bronze you faster than laying out under the sun. It creates a golden tan with DHA, a safe ingredient that interacts with the top layer of skin. (It works like when you slice open an apple and it turns brown).
It’s cheaper than going to the salon for a spray tan, plus the color lasts for about a week before it fades gradually. It’s easiest to apply it evenly with an applicator mitt.
Skinerals Tanning Mitt
Protect your hands when applying self-tanner by using a reusable, washable mitt. The soft and velvety-smooth texture makes for even application every time without streaks or dark spots. The interior is lined to prevent the product from staining your hands.
Sunless Tanning Lotion by Beauty By Earth
This gradual tanning lotion is made with only natural ingredients including organic aloe vera, shea butter, and a blend of botanical extracts. It moisturizes while it bronzes.
Apply it at night and wake up with a healthy glow. Put it on again the next day and go darker. It doesn’t tan the skin as deeply as self-tanning mousse, but it’s close. Happily, you can choose either Fair to Medium or Medium to Dark oceans. They both come with a satisfaction guarantee.
Australian Gold Spray Gel Sunscreen with Instant Bronzer SPF 50
Forget the traditional greasy sunscreen. Try this spray gel with sunflower seed oil, olive fruit oil, and aloe vera. The natural, friendly ingredients will protect and nourish your skin while you tan. Yes, it has a high SPF rating and that’s good if you don’t want wrinkles and skin cancer in the years to come.
Don’t worry about the strong sun protection because the formula also has instant bronzer. It takes care of that winter pale skin right away.
Besides the smooth, non-sticky texture, it has an enjoyable delicious orange creamsicle fragrance. Yet it’s free of harmful ingredients like artificial dyes, drying alcohol, gluten, and PABA. What’s more, it continues to protect the skin for up to 80 minutes in the water so don’t be afraid to take a dip to cool off.
As you see, tanning your legs in the sun can be done safely and quickly by following a few simple steps. First, prepare your skin for sun exposure by exfoliating. Second, tan in short, timed sessions to avoid burning and build a good base tan. Third, use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to protect against further damage from UV rays. Fourth, use a self-tanner if you are unable to get outside or want to continue tanning without direct sunlight. Soon have those bronzed legs you’ve been dreaming of!
1. https://www.cancer.org/healthy/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/uv-radiation.html What is UV radiation?