Everybody tans at a different rate depending on a number of factors. Before you set out on having a day in the sun to tan, it can be useful to have an estimate on how long it’ll take you to get a bit of colour.

woman smiling on the beach

This can be especially useful if you’re on holiday and have a schedule to stick to or if you’re just worried about spending more time out in the sun than you need to. Here are a few estimates of how long it may take you to tan, taking into account some important factors.

Skin Colour

The colour your skin already is can determine how long it will take for you to reach your desired tan. A darker-skinned person will not need to be in the sun for more than one hour before noticing a deepening of skin tone.

In fact, someone with a darker complexion may see a recognisable difference in around 20 minutes. This is because people with darker complexions already have a naturally big amount of melanin in their skin and so their body can produce more quickly.

It is recommended that someone with a darker tone still uses sun cream to protect themselves from UV rays, an SPF 15 sun cream would be a perfect amount of cover.

People with fairer skin will take a little longer to tan as they will have better results with a gradual build-up. If you have really fair skin then you should not sit in the sun for too long and expect a tan, as you are more likely to get burns.

a woman sunbathing at the pool wearing sunglasses

If someone with fairer skin attempted to get a nice tan in one sitting it could take well over an hour, but this comes with a large risk of potential burning. Not everyone’s skin reacts the same to the sun, so if you know that you are not very prone to burns, then you may be fine to try and tan in one sitting.

However, if you know that you are very susceptible to burning then you should take a slow approach to your tanning process. It is recommended that you tan for around 30 minutes each time, stopping earlier if you notice any red appear on your skin.

If you do this a few times throughout the day you will notice a nice natural tan starting to form. In terms of sun cream, you should make sure you are at the very least using an SPF 15 sun cream.

During times that you are giving your skin a break, you should use a sun cream with a higher SPF as it will give you better coverage and help prevent burns.


How long it’ll take for you to tan also really depends on how sunny it is. It will take a little longer to tan on days that aren’t too sunny, but if the weather is really good you could achieve your tanning goals really fast.

Even if it’s a consistently sunny day, you will achieve different results at different parts of the day. The sun is at its highest point between 12pm-4pm, depending on the day.

When the sun is at its higher point, its rays are usually more intensive and so more effective when it comes to tanning. Make the most of this time and try and take in as much sun as possible.

a very tanned blonde haired woman sitting on the beach

If you are of a fairer complexion, this is when you should be using your more heavy-duty sun cream as you will be exposed to more UV rays. Using a sun cream with a high SPF will protect your skin, but due to the intensity of the sun, you will still feel its full effects and achieve a nice tan.

No matter what your skin tone is, you do not need to sit in the sun for more than an hour before you’ll start to notice a big difference in your skin tone, however, if you notice that your skin starts to redden at all, it would be recommended that you spend some time in the shade.

It is easy to miss the peak sunbathing time because of commitments like work or preset plans. If you know that you will be busy between 12pm-4pm, it would be recommended that you try and tan in the morning.

The sun will be a lot brighter then than later in the evening. This once again will mean that you won’t have to spend too much time focusing on tanning as you can spend around 20 minutes earlier in the day taking in the sun, and then you can let it build up during the day while you’re busy.

You Know Your Skin Best

Once again, these time estimates can not accurately represent how all skin types may react to the sun. There are a number of factors that may make your skin tan at a different rate from someone with a similar tone as you.

For example, if you have dry skin you will take more time to tan as someone with oily skin. Only you really know how long it will take for your own skin to take to the sun.

a tanned female relaxing on a sunny holiday

Go off past experiences when it comes to tanning and also take into account a number of environmental factors. For example, if where you are sunbathing is shrouded at all. Paying attention to little details like that will help you determine your proximity to the sun and how long it will take you to tan.

It is also important to know that just because you are not seeing immediate results does not mean that your body isn’t tanning. With a lot of skin types, it is likely that you will not see the skin darken until the next day, so you should not push yourself when it comes to sun exposure.

Make sure that you are not spending more than a few hours under direct sunlight in order to prevent any burning that may ruin the tan that you have been able to achieve.

If you would like to make the tanning process even easier you should take a look at our amazing tan tablets. Click the link below to find out more.

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