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Best UV Index for Tanning Safely Without Damaging Skin



by Lydia


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Summer brings along with it the best days of our lives. Everyone is outdoors, and there are unlimited activities to do. However, the season comes with more intense sun rays that might be harmful to the skin. UV exposure can cause a significant amount of skin damage or irritation. Therefore, it is good to know the best UV index for tanning for you to enjoy your time outdoors without worrying.

What is UV Index?

The UV index or the UVI is the strength or weakness of ultraviolet rays at a given time or place. Therefore, the UV index will vary depending on the time of the year. The UV index was developed in the 1990s by Canadian scientists. The scale has been used by weather forecasters who inform the public on what to expect to make the correct decisions.


Before we dive into the best index to tan with minimal risk, here is a fun fact. Tanning is not considered healthy when sunbathing. Tanning is the skin's way of forcing melanin production to avoid further damage by the sun. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid exposing your skin cells to the sun by sitting out for long periods.

Everyone loves that beautiful brown tan on the skin. As much as there is no such thing as a healthy tan, you can achieve what you want while keeping the risks as low as possible. To know the best time to go out and get sun-kissed, you need to know about the UV index scale and the best UVI for tanning. With this knowledge, you will get vitamin D while getting the best out of the abundant UV rays with zero to moderate risk.

The Best UV Index for Tanning

The UV index scale values range from 0-11. The sun's UV rays will have the most effect on your skin between 10 am and 4 pm during the day. The higher the value on the scale, the more UV radiation that your skin will experience. Ultraviolet radiation can be grouped into low, medium, and high depending on the strength of the sun and the time of the day.

0-2 is the lowest value of radiation on the scale. Therefore, the sun exposure will not prove as damaging as higher numbers would. If you have fair skin, you will not get very dark brown skin as the sun within the scale has a very low strength to harm you immediately. With moderate sun intensity like this, you can stay outdoors for an hour without sun damage to your skin. However, it is still recommended that you wear protective clothing and a hat under such conditions. An SPF15+ sunscreen is advised for maximum safety.

A UV index of 3-4 is still weak enough UV radiation. You can still go out to the beach and enjoy your day without worrying too much about ultraviolet radiation. With all precautions taken, you can spend up to an hour in the sun with such intensity. Minimize sun exposure and wear an SPF 30 sunscreen and a hat for maximum protection.

5-6 are medium, and you need to take measures more strictly than before. A hat and sunscreen are a must at this point. 30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure will not be very healthy for your skin. Wear an SPF 30 sunscreen every time you will plan to go out under that much UV radiation. Seek shade and stay there at all times.

7-8 is quite high. Limit the exposure to a maximum of 20 minutes at all times. Wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat to minimize the effects of the sun on your skin. The sunblock should have an SPF of 50+. Stay indoors between 11 am and 4 pm to reduce the chances of getting skin damage from the sun's rays.

9-10 is a no-go zone for your safety. Stay indoors at all times and wear a sunblock of 50+ to avoid sun-damaged skin. The sunlight intensity with such a UVI is one that you should avoid at all costs.

The Shadow Rule

Gone are when we needed to use our shadows to know what time it is based on the sun's position. However, we can still use the shadow to tell whether it is safe to stay outside for long periods or not. The shadow rule states that if your shadow is shorter than you, you need to stay out of the sun. When the shadow is shorter, the ultraviolet rays are stronger, leading to burns in sensitive areas.

The shadow rule is simple to use because all you need to do is look at your shadow. Kids can use the shadow rule as well because they find it playful to do. But, unfortunately, studies show that children exposed to a lot of UV have a higher chance of getting skin cancer later in life.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tanning

1. What is SPF Level?

SPF is a short form for sun protection level. Sunscreen is meant to protect the skin from harmful rays when under sun exposure. The sun protection factor is measured in numbers, for instance, SPF 15. According to the FDA, all products with sunscreen should have an SPF of 15 and above to reduce the chances of skin cancer caused by UV radiation.

An SPF level of 15 is considered low protection, while an SPF level of 50 has maximum protection. The level of UVA radiation protection, therefore, increases as the SPF level increases.

It is advised that you watch out for products that state that sunscreen only prevents sunburn and does not prevent skin cancer or aging.

However, the fact that you have sunscreen does not mean that you need to stay in the sun for longer periods. Factors that can impact the SPF include the time of the day and the weather condition of the given time. In addition, the amount of sunscreen used can affect the SPF levels and other environmental factors.

2. What are UVB and UVA?

Sunlight has different kinds of sun rays. Ultraviolet rays are harmful to the skin and can lead to skin damage and other conditions. There are two types of ultraviolet rays; UVA and UVB. UVB rays are dangerous and can cause sunburn. In addition, UV rays play a big role in causing skin cancer and the black mole or malignant melanoma.

UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin surface layers than UVB radiation would. UVA is responsible for early skin aging or photoaging that leads to wrinkle formation. There are more UVA rays UVB rays in sunlight. UVA will be approximately 500 times the amount of UVB in sunlight. It is, therefore, easier to protect your skin from UVB rays compared to UVA. It is important to note that there is no good UV index for your skin. Therefore, any level of radiation is not advised.

3. How does the Skin Tan?

When your skin gets exposed to UVA radiation, melanin is produced as a protective measure. UVB radiation triggers the production of even more melanin from the body. High levels of UVB pose a very high risk of getting a sunburn. Sunscreen should have enough SPF levels to protect your skin in case of any exposure.

4. At what Time is UV Radiation Highest?

UV radiation happens during the day. The sun is weak in the morning or evening hours on any given day. Between 10 am and 3 pm is the period when the sun is at its hottest, and you might get radiation despite your skin type. The weather and the season determine the strength of the sun. With a heavy cloud cover, the radiation will not be as much as a day with clear skies. Little amounts of UVA and UVB will reach the surface of the earth on a cloudy day.

Exposing your skin for a short time on a very hot day can lead to sunburns. You need to apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat because you can get sunburn by being out for just minutes. The season of the year will determine whether you will get sunburn or not. For example, it is impossible to get sunburns during winter. However, this year has seen near-record high temperatures during summer, and that is a condition that can cause sunburns and skin peeling from excessive heat.

You need sunscreen with a broad spectrum SPF for maximum protection from the sun depending on your skin type.

5. Should I Sunbathe?

Sun exposure is something that is advised against most of the time. You can wait for summer all year, and sometimes you want to enjoy what the sun has to offer. You might find yourself traveling to tropical countries to experience some warmth. However, it is important to always keep in mind that exposure to the sun's UV rays can be harmful in the long run.

As you might know, you can get vitamin D which allows the body to absorb calcium and phosphorous just by sitting out in the sun. Sun can also be good for skin with acne. You can tan safely in the sun by bringing tanning beds to the beach or by sitting out. If you have no sunscreen on, take at most 15 minutes in the sun. If you have darker skin with excess melanin, you might need to take longer in the sun.

If the sun is stronger than normal, you will need a thick layer of broad-spectrum sunscreen.

How to Reverse Sun Damage

Before you get sun damage, to begin with, wear sunglasses, protective clothing, and a hat. You can wear a hat with a wide brim that protects not only your face but your shoulders as well. Your shoulders and back get exposed to the most amount of UV rays. Wear sunscreen and ensure you are safe at all times.

There are, however, times when the sun is abnormally hot, and exposure to dangerous ultraviolet radiation is more than likely. The sun can affect your skin, and there are different ways of going about professional skin treatments. However, high levels of UV radiation can lead to you developing skin cancer, fine lines, aging skin, and dark spots.

a) Fine Lines

Tanning by UV radiation affects the natural collagen levels in your skin. When the UV index is high, you need a higher skin protection factor. Your skin becomes dry and wrinkled when the collagen levels are low. You may end up having dull-looking skin as a result as well. You can go for skin peels to get rid of the dull-looking surface and stimulate new cell turnover.

Microneedling stimulates new cell growth in the body and the production of collagen. The skin triggers the body's natural healing process when you undergo micro needling leading to younger-looking skin. Your skin will be plumper and smoother after microneedling. The process should only be done by medical professionals and not be done at home. If you have to do it yourself, find tools that are recommended for use at home.

b) Deep Set Wrinkles

A sunny day with double UV strength can lead to burns on the skin. Before considering other measures, always wear protective clothing and apply SPF 30 sunscreen every 2 hours when out in the sun. When the UV index is high, you can get deep-set and stubborn wrinkles. When this happens, you can use dermal fillers to get rid of the wrinkles. In addition, there are anti-aging injectables for you to consider.

c) Dark Spots

Direct sunlight causes the production of excess melanin. Excess melanin can cause dark spots on the surface of the skin. You can get rid of the dark spots by microdermabrasion.

Final Take

There is no good UV index for tanning. You can consider artificial tanning if you have to. Always be on the lookout for the sun's intensity when going out and limit staying in the sun for long periods. Avoid unnecessary unprotected sun exposure. Weather forecast companies provide the daily UV index, and all you need to do is google.


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