Are you missing that sun-kissed glow? Then here’s the ultimate guide on how to get a tan in winter.
There are at least three ways to get bronzed in wintertime. They each have pros and cons.
Let’s start with the basics.
Can you tan in winter?
Obvs, you could visit a tanning salon. That’s the most straightforward solution if you can afford it.
You could also invest in a home tanning booth or suntanning lamp like this one:
Sperti Fiji Sun Home Tanning Lamp
It’s hard to get through a long, dark winter when you miss the sun. You’ve heard about vitamin D sunlamps to improve mood. They won’t give you a tan. But this salon-quality tanning lamp can. It’s even FDA-approved and comes with protective goggles.
Don’t raise your eyebrows at the price until you compare it to how much regular tanning salon visits cost. On the downside, it only allows for tanning a portion of the body each time. That’s because it’s tabletop size, measuring 22 inches wide by 14 inches tall. On the bright side, you can adjust the angle and set the timer to avoid sunburn.
Think about it: in the winter, people are only going to see your face, neck, and arms anyway. You don’t have to tan your whole body unless you want to.
The lamp has UV lamps that are good for up to 1000 hours before they need to be replaced. It comes fully assembled and ready to use from the moment you turn it on.
While we’re talking about catching rays, is it possible to tan outdoors in the winter?
How can I naturally tan in the winter?
Can you get a tan in the winter sun? Yes, you can, but it might not be very comfortable to do.
Have you ever been outside skiing or shoveling snow and ended up with reddened skin? I’m not talking about red from the cold or wind burn. I mean literally sunburn. You can tell the difference because your skin will darken after exposure within a day or two (unless you don’t tan).
Even though the winter sun is weaker (unless you live near the equator), it’s still possible to tan naturally in winter. Of course, with the cold weather, it doesn’t feel very nice to expose skin, and you might end up with frostbite.
So, I’m not suggesting that you lay out in the middle of January. However, if you’re lucky to live where winter means moderate temperatures and rain instead of 6 feet of snow, you could tan outdoors. Let’s talk about how that works.
How long does it take to tan in winter?
Let’s start with how fast you burn. Someone with pale skin might get sunburned after 15 minutes at noon in the summer. But the same person might take up to an hour to burn in winter.
You’ve probably heard about the UV index:
- 1 to 2 is Low
- 3 to 5 is Moderate
- 6 to 7 is High
- 6 to 10 is Very High
- 11+ is Extreme
People living in temperate regions like much of North America and Europe experience maximum UV levels between 2 and 6 in the winter.
For example, Atlanta averages 2, Portland 1, Miami 4, and Honolulu 6 in the dead of winter.
At a UV index of 2, the average person won’t burn for 60 minutes. At 5, they might burn in half an hour.
Also, remember that being at a higher altitude increases the amount of UV exposure. So do reflect the surfaces like water and snow. Those are the reasons why people who go skiing get sunburned in February.
Naturally, burning doesn’t mean you’ll tan. It’s best to gradually increase sun exposure and avoid sunburn to minimize skin damage.
In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends up to 15 minutes of sun exposure between 11 AM and 3 PM in the winter. Those with dark skin can benefit from a longer time. Soaking up sunlight helps the body form vitamin D to stay healthy.
In summary, go outside when the sun is high. Spend at least 10 minutes but no more than half an hour absorbing sunshine. Then, if someone asks you what month can you start tanning, tell them anytime.
However, there’s an easier way to get a tan in the winter. More on that in a moment.
How to look tanned naturally in the winter?
No matter how you decide to tan in the winter, exfoliating dry skin will make your bronze turn out better. Dry skin doesn’t tan very well. And if you self-tan, dry skin will soak up too much product and go darker or look patchy and ashy.
Be sure to take care of trouble spots like elbows, knuckles, knees, ankles, and feet before tanning.
Don’t scrub too hard – it’s better to take a little off at a time than to rub your skin raw. If you have sensitive skin, try a shower gel with an exfoliator like salicylic acid or glycolic acid instead of scrubs with pumice or salt.
Otherwise, try a gentle loofah, soft brush, or one of these:
Seraphic Skincare Korean Exfoliating Mitts
You’ve heard about the multi-step Korean beauty regimen that creates a youthful complexion. Now try one of the Korean secrets for dewy-fresh skin on the rest of your body.
There’s a specific way to use the exfoliating mitt. Soak your skin in warm water for several minutes. Don’t use soap or other products. Just let your flesh soak up the moisture.
Next, soak the mitt and wring it so that it’s moist but not dripping. Use it to rub your skin gently in a circular motion. You’re likely to see dead cells rolling right off. When you’re all done, be sure to apply plenty of moisturizer.
If you start exfoliating for tanning, you’re likely to notice that it has additional benefits. You’ll experience fewer ingrown hairs, for one. You can also use this mitt to remove a fake bake tan in preparation for a new application.
The easy way to get a tan in the winter
You guessed it – I’m recommending bronzing lotion. It’s the best secret for how to stay tan forever. It’s also the best way how to get tan fast.
Beauty by Earth Self Tanner Tanning Lotion
Have you tried sunless tanning before? What product did you use?
I’m picky because I’ve had orange skin, a patchy tan, and adverse reactions. But I knew there had to be something out there that worked. After all, sunless tanning is safer than indoor tanning when it comes to developing wrinkles or ending up with skin cancer.
Eventually, I discovered this delicious and effective self-tanning lotion and now I’m a fan. Unlike drugstore self-tanners like L’Oreal and Jergens, it doesn’t contain parabens, artificial fragrances, or other nasty ingredients.
Since it’s a lotion, it’s more moisturizing than self-tanning mousse or wipes.
It’s even mild enough to use on the face!
The only con is that there is a little bit of self-tanning odor once the DHA (dihydroxyacetone) starts interacting with the skin. But it’s very mild and goes away after an hour or so. The lotion itself has a pleasant vanilla herbal scent.
The fake tan starts developing in a few hours. If you put on lotion at bedtime, you’ll wake up bronzed. Apply it the next day and the color goes deeper. You won’t get super dark with it, but you’ll look naturally sun-kissed in the winter.
The tan lasts about a week but starts fading after 4 days. If you apply the lotion twice a week, it will maintain the color.
Happily, I’ve never had my skin go orange even when I wash with bar soap. (Long story short: alkaline soap will cause a self tan to go orange. That’s why spray technicians will tell you to rinse with water only to remove the guide color, then later shower with a pH-balanced body wash).
To get the best results, exfoliate and shave before applying the lotion. Go easier on dry spots that might go darker like elbows and knuckles. Use an applicator mitt or wash your hands after application to keep your nails and palms from becoming discolored. Swipe the back of your hands with what’s left on the mitt to finish up.
Then, after applying the lotion, don’t shower or sweat if you can help it for at least an hour, preferably 8 hours.
b.tan Ultra Long Lasting Self Tanner Kit
Make it easy on yourself and get everything you need in one kit. This one comes with self-tanning mousse and an applicator mitt. The bottle lasts for multiple applications and the mitt is washable and reusable.
If you exfoliate before tanning, the color from this product lasts up to 11 days. Although it fades gradually, feel free to reapply to maintain your tan.
Note that this is an express self-tanning mousse. That means the color deepens the longer you leave it on before you shower. If you wash after one hour, you’ll get a light tan. If you wait overnight, you’ll wake up with a vacation tan.
The formula is paraben-free and mild enough to use on the face. It’s also vegan.
St. Tropez Self Tan Facial Mist
Both sunless tanning products above say they are gentle enough for the face, and I haven’t heard any complaints. However, this facial tanning mist was specifically formulated for the face by a major sunless tanning brand.
Self-tanning products by St. Tropez are trusted by celebrities and people around the world. They produce a streak-free tan with no orange aftereffect and no strong odor. (That’s good news as it’s right under your nose!)
This mist is even easier to use than lotion or mousse. It’s perfect for the face as you can apply it under or over makeup. Not only is it hydrating for the skin, but it also protects against pollution with antioxidants.
Pump the bottle 3 to 5 times and wait for at least 4 hours to see the tan develop.
Summary of how to get a tan in winter
Now that you’ve seen the possibilities, which one are you going to try?
Remember that whichever way you go, your tan will turn out better and last longer if you exfoliate first and keep moisturized.
Whether in a tanning bed or with a sunlamp at home, you can comfortably develop a tan during the deepest, darkest winter. Factor in the cost of traveling to the salon, and you may opt for a UV lamp instead. Just remember to keep sessions short to avoid sunburn.
Brrr – are you brave enough to bare your skin under the winter sun? Even when sunbathing is out of the question, get outside for UV therapy. Your body needs a little sunshine to make vitamin D. It can help ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder depression, too.
In the depths of winter, you’ll get the most sun exposure between 11 AM and 3 PM. If you’ll be outside for a half hour or longer, you might even need sunscreen (depending on where you live). Take it easy and take care of your skin.
Just because a certain political figure turned out orange doesn’t mean you will. Choose a self-tanning product that you’re willing to use once or twice a week to stay tan.
If you don’t want to bronze your whole body, target the areas people will see like your face, neck, and arms. You can also visit a salon to get a spray tan all over.
Exfoliate before sunless tanning and use a moisturizer to extend your tan.
The best part about sunless tanning is that you can be tan in as little as an hour with express tanning mousse. Otherwise, it might take as long as 4 to 8 hours, but it’s still faster than waiting for your skin to react to UV exposure.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article about tanning in winter. If you’ve questions, feel free to leave a comment below.