What UV Index is Best for Tanning – Get More Sunlight In Less Time

What UV Index is best for tanning? If the question has been gnawing at your mind for a while, our guidelines have some revelations to put it to rest.

Exposure to UV is bound to happen the moment you step into the outdoors, but the garments you have on should reduce the touch of the sun to a meager, harmless amount.

The one problem is that this doesn’t apply in tanning, as your semi-nude state during the session won’t afford you that level of protection. You need a wise approach to the UV-related factors, or your health will be compromised.

If you care to know what UV index is best for tanning, we have rounded up multiple facts explaining its effects and the range causing little to no damage to the skin.

You’ll also find some doctor-approved tips to improve your tanning experience in the later sections. 

What UV Index is Best for Tanning?

Why Is The UV Index So Important To Understand?

Understanding the UV index helps more than you think
Understanding the UV index helps more than you think

One thing is for sure; there is no point in trying to keep yourself away from the UV rays. They are a part of the sunlight by nature, and you have no choice but to accept that some will sink into your skin to achieve a perfect tan. 

You can, however, control the exposure degree by sunbathing under a UV index good for tanning, which refers to the intensity of the UV rays. It rises and falls at different times of the day in correspondence with the changes observed in the weather.

This UV index (or UVI for short) actually has a system of measurement. The UV index scale begins at 0, but don’t try to target this in your next outdoor tan, for this low value has only been recorded at nighttime. 

What follows is, of course, 1 and 2, the non-damaging levels where risks of sunburn are pretty much nonexistent. As you might have guessed, they indicate what you expose yourself to on cloudy days, the ones without heat from the sun. 

3-5 translates to moderate UV rays, 6-7 is high, and 8-10 is close to the alarming level. Anything above 11 falls in the extreme zone where you face absolute risks of sunburn.

It isn’t going to be easy predicting the UVI using human eyes, but you don’t need to anyway. Information involving these parameters should already be mentioned in the daily weather forecasts. 

What is the UV index to aim at?
What is the UV index to aim at?

How Long To Tan For Each UV Index?

Is a higher UV index better for tanning? In a way, yes. We all know for a fact that with higher intensity in the sun comes darker skin in less time. That said, measures should be taken, and sunscreen of +30 SPF is the first to prepare since future sunburns are more likely to develop this way.

What the number in the UVI indicates concerning sun tolerance.

  • UV index 1 tan time (low): 60 minutes or so until skin reddening
  • UV index 3 – UV index 5 tan time (moderate): 45 minutes or so until skin reddening (sunscreen reapplication is recommended after 2 hours)
  • UV index 6 – UV index 7 tan time (high): 30 minutes or so until skin reddening (sunscreen reapplication is recommended after 2 hours)
  • UV index 9 tan time (very high): 15-20 minutes or so until skin reddening (sunscreen reapplication is recommended after 2 hours)
  • UV index 11+ : 10 minutes or so until skin reddening (sunscreen reapplication is recommended after 2 hours)

Which UV Index Is Best To Tan?

If you want to play it safe instead of speeding it up, limit what your skin contacts to 3-7 UVI only, and rub yourself in tan accelerating body lotion beforehand.

This is a trick to fuel the making of pigment, allowing you to shorten the time spent tanning in the sun regardless of the low UVI (a UV index of 2 for example

Not all skins are made equal, and failing to differentiate them increases the chance of seeing serious burns on your arms or legs a day or two later. 

Fair complexion, or something beige-like, is susceptible to this issue due to their sensitivity to sunlight, leading to the lowest UV index to tan (Index 1) being their finest choice.

A UV index of 5 or above still works, as long as you don’t let your pale skin stay out for longer than 15 minutes, and use sunscreen to avoid the damaging effects of the radiation.

There is little need to maintain a cautious attitude like this when your skin is on the browner end of the spectrum. The olive shade makes sunburn quite a challenge, and it’s a breeze to tan that already close-to-perfect look. 

Then again, we’re on the topic of UV radiation, one of the potential factors of future skin cancer once you step over the line with the exposure, so it’s imperative for the session to be brief (about 20 minutes).

In case you prefer some relaxation under the warm caress of the sunlight, 30 minutes are all you should spend in that comfy spot.

What Is The Best Time For Sunbathing?

The best UV index to tan outside grants you smooth and naturally dark skin if combined with the best time for outdoor tanning.

Multiple researchers have concluded that March to October is the ideal period, seeing as the sun exposure is strong and the UVI intensity climbs to a higher level during this time frame. The months from May to August are the peaks of it all.

You should begin your tanning anywhere between 10 a.m to 4 p.m when you get to tan with a UV index of 4 at least. The sun rays become less direct leaning towards the dusk, reducing the radiations in the light. Tanning might get slower, but if you have no problem with that, coming later certainly guarantees your safety to some extent.

How To Get A Safer Tan?

Using The Suitable Sunscreen

It pays to have a reliable sunscreen
It pays to have a reliable sunscreen

SPF is the top criteria to go after, but you can’t rely on that alone. Rather, take from the racks items that say “broad spectrum” – the terms for long-term protection against the dangerous side of UVA and UVB rays.

There should be a UVA star rating somewhere on the bottom of the bottles for good-quality options. Your final goal is either SF30 or SF50. Both have plenty of filtering power to counter up to 98% of the unwanted sunlight components even for tanning under a low UV index of 3 or 2. For those who are dark-skinned, a rating of SF15 should do the job.

Make sure to reapply the sunscreen after 2 hours! You don’t want to lose any of its protective capability.

Have The Right Food In Your Meal

Eating sun-friendly food strengthens your skin
Eating sun-friendly food strengthens your skin

Expanding your eating routine to include more food items that improve your adaptation to UV exposure might be a good idea.

Some fruit and vegetable families, particularly those red in colors like apples, oranges, tomatoes, or beets, are known as a rich source of lycopene – an antioxidant to build strength in your skin. 

Another option of supplement for the post-tanning health of your skin is polyphenols.

Packed with anti-inflammatory properties, it soothes the reddened spots and fights off the damages right inside the cells. A deep bite into fresh berries or a long sip of cocoa and green tea pumps your system with polyphenols right away.

Cover Up

Occasionally shield yourself from the sun
Occasionally shield yourself from the sun

The rule of thumb for tanning is to never prolong your stay in the harsh sunlight unless you’re asking to come home severely burned.

Keep intervals of a break between sessions and find yourself some shade if you intend to hang around on the beach for the whole day. 

Don’t forget to slide a pair of sunglasses over your eyes while shielding the top of your head with a massive hat. Maximum protection is always a priority.

Schedule Annual Meeting With Dermatologist

Timely checkup is necessary
Timely checkup is necessary

None of us want a disastrous end for a tan that’s supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable.

When you’ve already considered yourself a fan of tanning under the sun, you might as well pick up the habit of seeing a dermatologist once in a while to rule out the possibility of cancer cells developing.

The possibilities aren’t high if you set a time limit for the tanning, but one can’t be too careful.

Watch out for irregular moles or suspicious marks that you’re sure to have never been a part of you earlier. They can be the tell-tale signs of health problems and have to be resolved in time. 

Conclusion

What UV index is best for tanning? It shouldn’t be difficult to tell the answer by now – 3 to 7 UVI. Basking in the sun has its perks as you can see, evident the most in the attractive skin tone it rewards you with later on. Let it be that way. 

Learn the ideal UV index for tanning that actually works out for you, and the hours it takes to transform your untanned body as desired. Be aware of the side effects. Grab yourself a sunscreen with efficient SPF ratings to minimize the chance of sunburns. That’s how you step up your tanning game!

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