Can You Actually Tan If You Have Freckles?

tanning with freckles

Spending hours under the sun hoping for a perfect tan but ending up with sunburns and sensitive skin. Relatable right? 

So, can people with freckles tan? Yes, certain people with freckles can get tanned in the sun though it’s a good idea if the sun is strong or if more time is spent tanning to wear a lotion with SPF.  

Below we will cover how to actually tan in the sun safely and what to expect if you have freckles. Along with alternative options such as spray tanning.

How to Tan With Freckles & Fair Skin

If you have freckles and want to tan in the sun: When tanning in the sun it’s a good idea to tan when the UV is not as strong. Typically in the summer the UV rays are strongest from 10am-4pm. 

Tanning during this timeframe typically makes you more prone to burning though. This is why tanning earlier in the morning or later in the evening after 4pm can work well.

Knowing that it’s a good idea to tan in the sun when the UV index or rating is lower. The ideal rating for this testing period is a UV rating of 1-3 which you can find online or on a weather app on your phone. 

This way you can test out tanning in the sun without a big risk of skin irritation or burning. If you are planning on tanning for a longer period (1 hour or more) then it’s a good idea to wear an SPF cream of at least 20 SPF. 

If after tanning following this technique for 1-3 days for 1-2 hours per day and you still notice no tan or burn then you can try to tan during a more peak time frame (with UV rating 3-5), during 10am-4pm which is arguably the best time to tan outside.

If your skin starts to become sensitive or burns it’s likely your skin won’t be able to tan easily and therefore it’s a good idea to opt for a sunless tanning method instead. This way you don’t have any risk to your skin and you are guaranteed to get a gorgeous tan in no time.

Here are some of the sunless tanning methods you can use.

Tanning Lotions and Sprays

Freckles tend to appear when melanin builds up under the skin due to genes or being exposed to sun rays.

Due to this and the fact that people with freckles tend to burn more easily it’s a good idea to consider alternatives like self tanning. Opting for a spray tan or lotion is a more safe alternative. 

Spray tans will help you achieve a beautiful tan without altering your inner skin.

This method might not even out your freckles, but will minimize their appearance.

Some of the self-tanning product choices;


Bronzers are known for their instant glow effect on the skin. Bronzers are more flexible than dyes because they come off when washed.

We Recommend: b.tan Self Tanner Spray

Self Tanner

Self tanner is sometimes a mixture of bronzer and DHA. The bronzer gives the instant glow as mentioned above and the DHA actually gradually darkens the surface level skin over a period of hours. Self tanners tend to have both elements though sometimes may have 1 or the other.

We Recommend: Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam

Spray Tan

High-quality spray tans are available in beauty salons. A solution is customized according to your skin tone and sprayed evenly on your skin. 

For more advice on tanning if you have pale skin check our article – spray tan tips for pale skin.

A Note on Tanning Beds

Most people prefer tanning beds to direct sun tanning because tanning beds are convenient, fast, and comfortable.  

Tanning beds use UV rays to stimulate melanin production so tanning beds will darken your freckles the same as direct sunlight. 

Tanning beds tend to emit strong UV rays to give a natural looking tan in no time. The problem with this for people with freckles is their skin is often pale and can not tolerate this intensity well and can sometimes lead to irritation and burning. Therefore I recommend avoiding tanning beds if you have freckles and are wanting a tan.

Instead opt for the sun tanning method I suggested before or go for a self tanning method like spray tanning.

Don’t forget to check our article comparing freckles with sunspots so you know what the difference really is – sunspots vs freckles.

Related Questions

Are All Freckles Sun Damage?

Some freckles are inherited but only occur when exposed to sun rays and are more common in people with red hair and fair skin. 

Freckles appear because of an increased melanin concentration on parts of your skin.

Even though some freckles appear as a result of sun damage, freckles are a result of the skin protecting itself from harmful sun rays.

So it is safe to conclude that not all freckles are sun damage.

Do Sun Freckles Go Away

Yes, avoiding further sun exposure can help sun freckles fade over time.

Since sun freckles are a result of skin damage, you might need to use chemical methods to completely get rid of them. 

Some of the recommended chemical methods are the use of topical creams that contain glycolic acid, laser treatments, cryosurgery and retinoid creams. 

Do Freckles Mean You Cannot Tan?

No. You can still get a tan with freckles.

Safe tanning can be a good way of achieving an even skin tone if you do not like your freckled skin.

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