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Can You Get a Tan After 5PM? – 10 Tips for Better Tanning

Written by Lexi Carlson
Medically Reviewed by Denise Christine Bries, MD
Can You Get a Tan After 5PM?

It turns out that there’s a lot of research about how important it is to get tanned from the sun.

I hear I can get skin cancers? What if I tan when the sun goes down? Can you get a tan after 5 in the afternoon?

 Let’s dispel some myths about the sun so you can get out and enjoy it!

Best Time to Tan

Best Time to Tan

Is your goal to have a gorgeous tan fast in the shortest amount of time?

The truth is, getting a sun tan after 5 PM is possible, but you won’t get the benefits you need.

Why is That? Listen to This…

If you want a bronze look, there’s a MOST APPROPRIATE TIME to get a tan.

Depending on your location, the sun is generally the strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. 

Contrary to popular belief, it’s best to be outside when the sun’s rays are the strongest

In short, the peak hours are most beneficial. Some benefits of sunlight exposure during these hours include:

  • fighting cancer
  • a better immune system
  • strength and healing
  • bone health

Appropriate Time is at About High Noon, When You’re Told Not To!

Why?  Because of the shorter wavelength of UVB direct rays. It’s the least cancer-causing, and it’s health-promoting.

But, it’s IMPERATIVE to wear sunscreen formulated for tanning during these times.

You would think, “Well, wait a minute. I’ve heard not to be out in the sun after high noon because that’s when the UV rays are strong. And that’s gonna give me skin cancer.”


The varying strength of UV rays will explain the time preferences we recommend. Consider this:

UVA Rays

  • UV radiation coming in BEFORE 10 am and AFTER 2 PM
  • Longer frequency wavelength of UV radiation
  • Direct link to producing malignant melanoma

UVB Rays

  • Sun’s rays that are coming in directly at NOON
  • Shorter frequency wavelength
  • Produces vitamin D in the body. It fights cancer, strengthens your immune system, and is great for bone health. 

It may be “cooler” outside of peak time (sunrise or sunset) because of weaker sun rays.  Early morning sun may seem to have less harm. 

But in reality, it’s just the same as the more harmful sun’s rays. So it’s important to apply sunscreen NO MATTER WHAT TIME of the day.

How Long Should You Be Under the Sun?

How Long

You can tan for as little as 10 minutes if you’re not wearing any sunscreen with SPF. However, some people prefer tanning within a few hours.

And sometimes, you won’t see a tan right away.

For light and fair skin, you want to be out in the sun for about 20 minutes with 60 – 70% exposure to your body. Think shorts and tank tops.

So you think it’s enough to get exposure when you walk from your car to your work? THINK AGAIN.

Do some yard work or exercise for a few hours with your skin exposed.

There’s still a possibility for UV damage even after the sun sets. So, it’s NOT a great idea to skip the sunscreen. 

For people with darker skin, you can do it 20 minutes to 2 hours a day a few days a week.

Tanning Factors

It’s not a matter of how much sun you need to tan. Many things influence how fast a person gets a natural tan. 

Here are some factors that influence tanning:

  • People with darker skin will tan faster in the sun because they have more melanin in their skin. This makes the skin darker.
  • The angle of the sun and time of day matter. The closer you are to the equator, the more likely you are to tan.
  • The sun’s rays are stronger at higher altitudes. As a result, tanning happens quickly, even on cloudy days.
  • Direct sun exposure without having breaks under a shade can make you get tan quickly.
  • Humid climates have more moisture in the air, making tans happen faster. It also keeps a tan from fading.
  • A sunscreen’s SPF (Sun Protection Factor) can influence how much you tan.  The higher the SPF, the longer it takes for you to start to tan.

Get a Tan Faster


You can tan safely during low UV-index hours, but it’s NOT the quickest way to tan. 

It will probably take an hour or two over a few nights to gradually build up a tan.

A base tan does not reduce your risk of sunburn or other skin damage.  

But you can reduce time spent outside during peak hours and still develop a dark tan.

Here are 10 tips for faster tanning:

1. Start Slow

Are you a beginner? You can start with a 10-minute session

When you begin to feel comfortable, GRADUALLY INCREASE your sessions by 3-5 minutes.

2. Exfoliate

Remove all dead skin BEFORE you start tanning. Exfoliate or else, your tan will flake off.

3. Put on Suntan Lotion

If you are pale-skinned or have fair skin, this is important even after 5 pm.

Sunscreen plays a MAJOR role in protecting your skin from harmful rays. You can use a tanning lotion with low SPF. 

REMEMBER: You want the best tan to look sun-kissed but NOT sunburnt. And that’s why your tanning lotion should always at least containing some SPF.

4. Change Positions

Flip sides frequently to have an even tan after 5 pm. Set a timer and adjust your position every few minutes.

5. Eat Lycopene and Beta Carotene-Rich Foods

These are your watermelon, carrots, and tomatoes.  It naturally darkens the skin and helps protect your skin from UV rays.

But you still need to put on your sunscreen when tanning! So just don’t forget to wear sunscreen.

6. Hydrate

It’s easy to get dehydrated and lose skin moisture when you’re out in the sun for a short period of time, even if it’s past 5 pm

Drink at least 8 ounces of water every day. Reduce the time of your sessions if you feel tired, dizzy, or have a headache.

7. Use Tanning Lotions

To reduce the time you’re out in the sun, you can use tanning oils and indoor tanning lotions.

Use high-quality natural tanning lotions to give you a good tan. 

Good-quality tanning lotions keep your skin safe from having an allergic reaction. 

8. Apply Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera gel soothes sensitive skin after being out in the sun after 5 pm. 

Apply it after a shower to take care of irritated skin.

9. Wear Sunglasses

Your eyes are sensitive to sunlight. Rays from the sun can cause a lot of eye problems. 

That being said, it’s best to wear eye protection when you are outside.

10. Don’t Overdo It

Rest your skin. Spend time in the shade every so often. 

Sure, it may be relatively safe to tan two days in a row but don’t do it all the time!

Tanning Alternatives after 5 PM

Tanning in the evening doesn’t give you the same results as tanning during the day. 

But sometimes circumstances don’t allow you to tan while the sun is out and that’s why tanning in the evening became a thing for some people.

If your only time is after 4 PM, 5 PM, or in the late hours, there are other options:

  • You can tan without wearing sunscreen.
  • Either use a spray tan or spend time at a tanning salon.

Tanning Beds


The tanning process using a tanning bed can be a bit longer if you have extremely pale skin. A tanning session might require longer exposure

Please note that tanning salons and a tanning bed will not give you a healthy tan. 

It’s not comparable to the health benefits you get if you spend time under the sun. 

You risk getting cataracts, premature aging, and permanent skin damage.

Self Tanners

Self Tanners

If you don’t want to go to a tanning salon, you can use self-tanners instead. They are way better for a lot of reasons. 

Most Importantly, They’re Safer Than Tanning Beds.

None of the dangerous and unattractive side effects we mentioned.

Just apply them to your skin, wait 6-8 hours, and voila! You’re good to go!

A self-tanner is so convenient when you have an event that requires you to get a golden tan. It’s easy to use, safe, and effective. 

That’s why these products are the choice of celebrities and famous people everywhere. 

There’s NO reason to spend any time in the sun or tanning beds without sunscreen!



Getting a tan after 5 PM is possible, but you won’t really get results right away. Between 10 am to 4 pm, the best time to tan quickly is at NOON.

There are no real health benefits to tanningaside from looking nice and golden. But hey, we’re not here to judge. You do you.

All we’re after is that you’re protected, and you get your daily dose of Vitamin D while you’re at it.

Like hitting two birds with one stone.

Make sure you hydrate, roll over frequently and wear a product with SPF 30.