While the primary purpose of tanning is to protect DNA and the skin, it also allows for a beautiful sun-kissed complexion. To achieve this, one must expose themselves to the sun's rays for a sufficient amount of time, while being cautious of burns and redness. What is the ideal exposure time to avoid these skin issues and color the skin?
How long does it take to get a tan?
- Tanning and its effects on the skin
- What are the factors influencing tanning time?
- The exposure time to adhere to for successful tanning
Tanning and its effects on the skin.
Tanning is the result of the melanogenesis process, which is the synthesis of melanin, a brown pigment, in the skin. UV rays penetrate the epidermis and reach the melanocytes, globular cells located in the basal layer of the epidermis that contain organelles called melanosomes. Melanocytes are in contact with keratinocytes, which are present in every stratum of the horny layer. The synthesis of melanin involves a series of reactions, the final step of which is the conversion of tyrosine, an amino acid, by the enzyme tyrosinase.
The melanosomes are then transferred from the melanocytes to the keratinocytes to enable pigmentation and, most importantly, the protection of the epidermis by melanin. After this, the melanosomes are destroyed. Melanin works by coating the nucleus of the keratinocytes to form a filter that protects the DNA from the mutagenic and carcinogenic effects of UV rays. This pigment is capable ofabsorbing about 50% of UVA and 85% of UVBthat manage to reach the skin. Melanin can also capture free radicals generated within the body by UV radiation, thus limiting the premature aging of the skin.
Important : while the melanogenesis process serves to protect the skin from UV rays, it does not eliminate the need to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen on areas of the body exposed to the sun, and to reapply every two hours.
What are the factors influencing tanning time?
The time required to tan varies from person to person and also depends on environmental conditions. To avoid redness and skin dryness, here are the various factors to consider when calculating your tanning time.
The very first factor to consider before sun exposure is one's phototype. This concept encompasses an individual's skin tone and the ability of their skin to tan without burning. The most commonly used classification today is the Fitzpatrick scale, which distinguishes 6 phototypes, from the lightest to the darkest. Individuals with phototype I and II particularly struggle to tan and frequently experience sunburns. Therefore, they should expose themselves to the sun for shorter periods than those with darker skin, or they risk turning red instead of tanning.
The degree of sun exposure.
It may seem obvious, but the time required to tan will not be the same if the sun is shining high in the sky or if the weather is overcast. It remains possible to tan if clouds are present but, as they block on average 30 to 60% of the sun's rays, this will require a longer exposure time.
The position of the sun.
It is when the sun is high in the sky that its rays are most intense. Indeed, the distance traveled by UV rays through the atmosphere to reach the Earth's surface is less in this case. As a result, they are less dispersed and encounter fewer air molecules that can absorb or scatter the UV rays.
The location where you expose yourself.
The location of exposure also has an impact on the tanning time. Indeed, you will tan faster if you are surrounded by snow, sand, or if you are floating on water, as these different elements reflect the sun's rays. This is why it is very important to apply sunscreen during winter vacations in the mountains, due to the strong reflection of light by the snow.
Interestingly, the humidity level of the place where you tan can impact the time it takes for the skin to pigment. In fact, when in a humid place, the epidermis is less prone to dehydration caused by sun exposure. As a result, it develops fewer redness and tans more quickly.
The exposure time to adhere to for successful tanning.
Improper tanning time can damage the skin. That's why it's recommended for people with fair skin not to exceed 15 to 20 minutes of daily exposure in direct sunlight. This duration is sufficient to tan gradually over a fortnight. If the sky is somewhat cloudy, this time can be extended to about thirty minutes. In case of intense sunlight, exposure should not exceed one to one and a half hours per week, as it risks irritating and drying out the skin.
To start experiencing the effects of tanning, it is recommended for individuals with darker skin to expose themselves for approximately 40 minutes per day in direct sunlight, and to extend this duration to an hour if the sky is overcast. They are indeed less sensitive to UV rays. The ideal for everyone is to expose themselves to the sun during the coolest hours of the day, which are before 11 a.m. and after 4 p.m. These periods of the day provide a satisfactory tanning result and do not damage the epidermis.
Furthermore, regardless of your skin type, the use of a sunscreen is essential to prevent sunburn and more serious skin issues. While individuals with very dark skin can opt for a product with a protection factor of 30, those with fair skin must absolutely turn to an SPF 50 for protection. To this end, we offer a wide range of sun care products at Typology, ranging from a protection factor of 30 to 50.
ANANTHASWAMY H. Toxic effects of ultraviolet radiation on the skin. Toxicology and applied pharamcology (2004).
SITUM M. & al. UV-radiation, apoptosis and skin. Collegium Antropologicum (2011).