What UV Index is Best for Tanning?

uv index chart

UV index represents the strength of the sun at a given time and place and, depending on your climate and skin type, certain UV indexes are better for tanning.

Read on for a better understanding of what UV index is, why it matters, and how you can utilize this to achieve a nice tan.

Understanding UV Index

First and foremost, what is UV index? Also known as UVI, this is the strength or weakness of ultraviolet rays at a given place and time and represents the risk of sunburn.

The UVI varies depending on climate and season and was developed by Canadian scientists in the 1970s.

It consists of a scale from 0 to 11+ and is often used by weather forecasters to inform the public, so you may have noticed it there before.

On the scale, 0 or very close to it mainly occurs at night, 1-2 are low, 3-5 are considered to be moderate, with 6-7 being high, 8-10 very high, and 11+ being extreme.

Low levels can be expected on very cloudy days especially in winter, moderate tends to be on cloudy days in spring or autumn, high on sunny days in spring or autumn, very high occurring on very sunny summer days, and extreme usually taking place on very sunny days in tropical zones and/or at high altitudes.

Which Index is Best to Tan?

In order to tan, both UVA and UVB are needed because the former darkens the pigment cells in your skin, while the latter causes your skin to produce more pigment cells.

Exactly which index is ideal for tanning truly depends on your location, altitude, and skin type.

To find out your skin type, you can check out this article here for a more in-depth look and understanding.

The higher the UVI, the faster your skin can burn. It’s best to take advantage of your own skin’s natural protective mechanism by promoting the tanning process with the use of a tan accelerating body lotion. This way, your skin is already producing more of those pigment cells without the need for UVB damage.

In addition, you’ll have a higher chance of developing a tan even in a low UV index and less time needs to be spent in the sun overall, saving you from unnecessary harm that the sun’s rays cause.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends a minimum of 15-30 minutes of sun exposure between March and October, daily, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and to avoid the sun during the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. during summer.

Therefore to answer the questions what UV index is good for tanning – well a moderate or high UV index (between 3 and 7) would be more than enough for most skin types to achieve a tan and is arguably the best UV index for tanning. If you want to be more cautious, go and tan outside when the UV is on the lower end of this scale. Also if you want to tan faster, tanning when the UV is higher, for more on this please read – how to tan faster and darker outside.

Keep in mind it’s recommended when spending long periods of time in the sun, a broad-spectrum sunscreen must always be worn.

It’s finally worth noting that temperature does not affect tanning as is sometimes misunderstood. For more on this check our article – how hot does it have to be to tan?

What Kind of Protection is Needed?

Seeing as the sun’s rays can penetrate through clouds, sunscreen really needs to be worn every day but even more so in summer.

Your eyes, lips, and scalp are the most sensitive areas that need to be protected with glasses, lip balms, and protective hair styling products, all of which contain at least 30 SPF protection.

It’s worth mentioning that only 3% of UVB rays can enter your skin when wearing SPF 30, and 2% with SPF 50. No sunscreen can fully protect you from the sun, so it should be reapplied for every 2 hours you spend in the sun to ensure continuous protection. For more on this check out our article on – can you tan with sunscreen.

We Recommend –

Sunscreen: Sun Bum Mineral SPF 30

Lip Balm: Sun Bum SPF 30 Lip Balm

Hair Protection: AVEDA Sun Care Protective Hair Veil

Sunglasses: SOJO Classic Round Sunglasses

Can You Get Tan with a UV Index of 5?

Yes, it is possible to get a tan with a moderate UV index (3-5); how much time you need to spend in the sun depends on your skin type as well as the season and altitude. Sunscreen should be worn at all times.

What is a Safe UV Index?

Technically, no UV index is safe, but the safest ones are the lowest, being 0-2, as these are when the sun’s damage is considered to be minimal.

What is The Best Temperature to Tan?

Temperature has nothing to do with tanning, as it’s possible to get a tan in the South Pole at -20°C and even to get a sunburn.

Only the UV index is relevant when it comes to tanning and even this varies depending on the climate, season, and altitude.

What is UV Index 6?

UV indexes 6-7 are considered high levels and usually occur on sunny days in spring or autumn. Sunscreen of at least SPF 30 should be worn at all times, even on cloudy days.

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