We guess that no one would ever want to burn their skin except for a tan. Thus, the UV index for tanning is an essential measurement to know how much sun exposure you need to get a tan on your skin.
Any range between 2-4 on the Uv index is considered a good index for tanning, and the higher the index, the riskier it’ll be to damage your skin and eyes. On that note, this article provides some valuable information you really need to know on the UV index for tanning. Together with things, you generally need to know when you get exposed to the sun. So, keep reading to learn more about UV index and tanning!
What Is the UV Index?
The UV index is an international measurement that illustrates the intensity of ultraviolet rays at any presented period and region. It operates as an effective medium to promote public knowledge. Moreover, the UV index signal people about the necessity to utilize protective stratagems when exposed to UV radiation. The strength of UV rays changes throughout the year, depending on how near you are to the sun. For instance, in December, the sun is nearer to the earth in the Southern Hemisphere than in the North, implying that the level of ultraviolet emission will also be more powerful.
This measurement was initially introduced to the world in the 1990s by a group of Canadian scientists. The original UV index was in a range of 1-10, and the values were based on those ordinarily found in the area. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified the effectiveness of this tool before long. Then, they raised the UV index as an element of its international program and advanced the scale open-ended to introduce more southerly countries. Therefore, at present, UV index values as great as 14 can be observed in tropical parts of the world.
The chart below will illustrate how the UV index functions.
What Is the Shadow Rule?
When talking about the UV index for tanning, we cannot forget the shadow rule. The strength of ultraviolet rays from the sun is undeviatingly associated with the angle of the sun or the altitude beyond the horizon. The solar altitude at any presented clock time changes with season and latitude-longitude. The shadow rule obliquely circumscribes the sun’s altitude by examining the length of a person’s shadow through the time sequence of a day. When the shadow on a parallel surface in the sun is even in size to the height of the person determining the shadow, then the sun’s altitude beyond the horizon is 45 degrees. In middle latitudes, the strength of UV rays is generally inversely proportionate to the length of the person’s shadow. Therefore, when a person’s shadow is shorter than the person is tall, the strength of UV radiation from the sun is more prone to cause sunburn.
What Is the Best UV Index for Tanning?
According to the National Health Service (NHS) warning, a healthy tan does not actually exist. Thus, it is necessary to take precautions since no UV index is unequivocally good for tanning. But, if you want to dodge burning, don’t lie out for lengthy periods of time without sunscreen within 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. through the summer months and endeavor to shade every possible time.
As per the UV scale, individuals with light-colored skin want to be more cautious. However, those who have darker skin could be able to stand more exposure.
Furthermore, the sun is highest in the sky at midday, which means the sun rays are the most powerful through that time of the day. So, if you prefer to tan quicker in a short period, this is regarded as the best time ( usually between 10 a.m. and 4.00 p.m.).
Here we have explained in brief, regarding the precautions you could take and how to stay safe when you are under the sun for tanning.
#01 – UV Index 0 – 2 – Low exposure level
- The standard time it takes to tan: 60 minutes.
- Precautions to take: Use SPF 30+ sunscreen and wear sunglasses.
#02 – UV Index 3 – 5 – Moderate exposure level
- The standard time it takes to tan: 45 minutes.
- Precautions to take: Use SPF 30+ sunscreen every 2 hours, wear a cap/hat, sunglasses, and go under a shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
#03 – UV Index 6 – 7- High exposure level
- The standard time it takes to tan: 30 minutes.
- Precautions to take: Use SPF 30+ sunscreen every 2 hours, wear sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and find a shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
#04 – UV Index 8 – 10- Very high exposure level
- The standard time it takes to tan: 15 – 25 minutes.
- Precautions to take: Use SPF 30+ sunscreen every 2 hours, wear sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and find shade within 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
#05 – 11+ UV Index- Extreme exposure level
- The standard time it takes to tan: 10 minutes.
- Precautions to take: Use SPF 30+ sunscreen every 2 hours, wear sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, endeavor shade within 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. And wear long sleeves and pants if possible, limit your time staying outdoors to a minimum.
In a nutshell, the best UV index for tanning is a range between 2-4. But, remember that you should nevertheless wear a sunscreen of SPF 15+ and not be more than 60 minutes in the sun. After this, you jeopardize overexposure and get your skin burned.
How High Does the UV Index Have to Be to Tan?
Depending on the genes, some people will get a tan faster (45 minutes or less), even on a more moderate UV index. Meanwhile, others can cautiously spend some more time under the sun. Therefore, a time period of 60 minutes is considered an average though it is not a rule.
But, this doesn’t indicate that someone can’t get sunburned on multiple other levels. They can, but this occurs much quicker.
However, spending 15 minutes under the sun when the UV index is between 5-6 will appear in a tan (while 30 minutes are sufficient for you to get sunburn). While a UV index of 7-8 will make you tanned and sunburned quicker.
It is crucial that you wear additional protection (sunglasses, a hat/cap, and high SPF sunblock) in all circumstances. Similarly, if the UV index levels are too high, you should restrict outside time and stay as much as possible in the shade. In other terms, if the UV index is high, you will tan quicker, and if the UV index is low, it will take you longer to get that tan you always desired.
The Types of UV Rays
There are three kinds of ultraviolet rays that we need to know, emitting from the sun.
The fun fact: UV “A” stands for “Aging,” and UV “B” stands for “Burns.”
#01 – UVA Radiation
This is the least powerful sort of UV radiation, but the most copious, and 95% of the UV light that strikes us is UVA. It does not encourage your vitamin D levels, and UVA infiltrates clouds and car windows. We tend to be exposed to UVA rays all year round. Moreover, UVA radiation seeps deep into the skin and generates wrinkling, leathering, and premature skin aging. It makes UVB-induced damage more severe and raises your chance of advancing melanoma and other skin cancers.
#02 – UVB Radiation
UVB radiation is the second most powerful type of UV radiation. It enters the top layer of the skin and is the leading cause of sunburn. In addition, UVB is the primary cause of melanoma, basal cell, and squamous cell carcinoma. Moreover, UVB radiation is also accountable for producing vitamin D in your skin. Most people get sufficient concomitant sunlight on their skin to make the required amount of vitamin D, still with sunscreen application.
#03 – UVC Radiation
This is the most delicate type of UV radiation. But luckily, the sun’s UVC is consumed by our atmosphere before it enters the earth’s surface. However, there are additional sources of UVC, such as arc welding. Thus, workers necessitate to guard themselves with face shields, eye protection, and protective clothing.
Can You Get Tan with a UV Index of 4?
The answer to this question is relatively short and sweet. You actually can get a medium tan with a UV index of 4, according to the scale. Level 3-4 is still a pretty low rating, and you’ll have to stay under the sun for about 45 minutes to get tanned (we have mentioned this on top).
Can You Tan in 5 UV?
A UV Index reading within levels 3 and 5 indicates that there is a fair chance of tanning for an average individual. As mentioned before, at this level, it is recommended to endeavor shade within 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are most powerful. However, the time duration to tan can range by skin type, but it is roughly around 30 to 45 minutes at a moderate UV level.
Does the Morning Sun Make You Tan?
Actually speaking, the morning sunlight exposes us to a distinct type of daylight that we do not get the rest of the day. The percentage of getting a tan under the early morning sun exposure is comparatively very low. Why does this really happen even if you are a person with very fair skin? The main cause for this is, the early morning sun is especially low in UVB rays.
As mentioned before, this ray is the sort of light that impacts our upper layer of skin. UVB light is what provides our skin a tan or burns, depending on how deep and long we are exposed to it.
Alternatively, the sunlight in the morning is plentiful in UVA and IRA (infrared) lights. According to the research, IRA rays are effective for health. The analysis of morning sunlight and infrared light is apparently fascinating.
Countries with the Highest UV Index
In regard to the data, New Zealand has high UV levels when compared with the other countries on earth. UV levels during the summer months are higher in New Zealand than at related latitudes in the northern hemisphere. However, different countries in the southern hemisphere have more eminent UV levels than New Zealand. And, the following countries have higher UV levels: Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Chile.
According to the statistics, New Zealand’s high UV levels provide the country with one of the most leading melanoma occurrence rates in the world.
When is UV Radiation At Its Peak?
Though you need a beautiful bronze-shaded tan, we really hope you don’t need to get yourself burned as a crisp. Therefore, knowing when the UV radiation gets at its peak before stepping out for a tan is vital. UV radiation is usually highest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., through the summer, on a bright, cloudless day. Some countries announce a UV index for each day on the weather broadcast. However, this does not imply that a burning hot sunny day is the most suitable way to get a tan.
On certain days, depending on your skin, even quick exposure can cause sunburn. If you want to tan these days, you should use more powerful sunscreen in order to provide your skin some level of camouflage from UV radiation. Even when tanning on a less sunny day, sunscreen is crucial.
Is Tanning During Peak Hours Safe?
According to specialists, tanning through peak hours is not recommended. As we discussed before, the best time to tan outdoors is early in the morning or the afternoon, before the sun goes down. However, if you befall to be in the sun during the peak UV index hours, you should take precautions to reduce your risk.
It is advised not to use lotions or oils, including tan accelerators, during this time, under any condition. While tanning lotions are an excellent help in getting that glowing darker skin tone, it is to your best advantage to use SPF protection, preferably during peak hours. In fact, products with a low SPF will not prevent you from getting a tan, but they will ensure that UV harm to your skin is insignificant.
Anyhow, if you’re in the sun during peak hours, be watchful of the time. It’s always necessary to observe how long you’re sunbathing, but it’s crucial throughout this time of the day. We warn you about this because even a couple of minutes could distinguish between tanning and burning.
Therefore, try to manage your exposure through peak hours, as recurred exposure to a powerful UV index causes most skin cancers.
Indoor Tanning Beds for Tanning
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) facts, indoor tanning beds are not considered a safer option than the sun for tanning. Their data shows that tanning beds, tanning booths, or tanning lamps could dramatically increase the risk of developing skin cancers in an individual. Moreover, they can cause severe injuries to eyes and skin conditions like wrinkles, age spots, and stretch marks. Hence, it is strongly recommended to avoid indoor tanning as much as possible.
Some Facts About Sunscreen and SPF
When it comes to tanning, it is essential to know about sunscreen and SPF.
Sunscreen generally obstructs and absorbs UV rays through the incorporation of physical and chemical particles. This process is fundamental to battle against both UVB and UVA rays. For instance, organic particles such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide reflect UV radiation from the skin. And at the same time, composite particles in the sunscreen respond to radiation before it infiltrates the skin. This chemical performance on the skin is important to secure to safeguard against multiple skin health conditions which occur due to tanning.
SPF or the Sun Protection Factor is another constituent that we should acknowledge with the sunscreen we use. The number on the description of a sunscreen supervises the level of sunburn camouflage on the product. Usually, the sun protection factor symbolizes how long we could stay open to the sun before getting sunburned with the application of sunscreen. For instance, it takes 30 times longer to burn with sunscreen with SPF 30 than without sunscreen. However, it is constantly advisable that the sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours when you are exposed to the sun.
Which SPF Is Good for Tanning?
Sunscreen or an SPF product guards you against dangerous UV rays. However, you might still get tan while using it. That’s mainly because no SPF or sunscreen can prevent 100% of the sun’s UV rays. According to dermatologists, the SPF 30 can obstruct up to 97% of UVB rays. While on the contrary, the SPF 15 can obstruct up to 94% of UVB rays. Someone would believe there would be more of a contrast as 30 doubles 15, but honestly, there is only a 3% variance. Also, there is only an extra 1% variation between SPF 45 and 30 since SPF 45 only obstructs about 98% of UVB rays.
Most of you may be convinced by the idea that applying a higher SPF is better for you. But experts have discovered that there are genuinely downsides to utilizing products with very high SPF. As an example, SPF of 50 or greater includes higher UVA protection. UVA protection is essential, but it really stimulates skin aging and can even cause skin cancers when you have that in excess amounts. In fact, applying high SPF may be advantageous to not getting a sunburn in the short run. But they double the amount of skin-damaging transmission to your body than lower SPF’s in the long run. Therefore, try to choose a sunscreen with SPF 15 to SPF 30.
Is SPF 8 Good for Tanning?
As we have mentioned in the sections on top, any sunscreen with a lower SPF than SPF 15 is basically regarded as a non-protector from UVA and UVB rays.
Some Tips to Get the Best Tan Safely
Apart from choosing the right sunscreen, being mindful of the time, and avoiding indoor tanning or sunbeds, here are some other helpful tips to consider when you are in the mood for that tan-tan.
#01- Go under a shade
When you are out sunbathing, take breaks from time to time and seek shade whenever possible. This measure will reduce the risk of sunburns and pave the way for a long-lasting tan.
#02- Stay camouflaged
While seeking shade, it is important that you stay covered, particularly if you have burnt areas. Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeved-clothing or pants (if you are comfortable with them).
#03- Consume foods that include beta carotene.
Foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, and kale can assist you tan without burning. Some studies explain that beta carotene can aid in reducing sun irritation in people with photosensitive diseases.
#04- Prep your skin before tanning.
Preparing your skin before going outdoors can help your tan remain longer. Try exfoliating or scrubbing your skin before tanning since skin that hasn’t been exfoliated is more inclined to peel off. Applying an aloe vera gel after tanning may also aid in keeping your tan longer.
#05- Monitor your Aftersun products.
This is especially important in terms of your water consumption, but we are really pointing to your skin’s hydration in this circumstance. If you have irritated your skin, you want to relieve it to block blistering and more inflammation. In fact, hydrated skin will also indicate that the tan you craved all this time will last longer.
In short, a lot of these products have a high percentage of alcohol, which means they will dehydrate your skin out even considerably, irritating, consequently failing your tan faster. Therefore, combine your hydration back in with one of these, alternatively.
The UV index is a helpful measurement when you step outside, intending for a tan. And, remember that tanning is solely a personal choice, and therefore you are responsible for its good or bad consequences. And we hope our article was sophisticated enough to fill you in with information about the UV index for tanning.
Sources and References
Cancer Council Australia
Massey University New Zealand