Can You Tan in the Winter? [Tips & Tricks You Can Try]

Are you wondering, “Can you tan in the winter?”

A couple of years ago, I was shocked to learn that you can get a tan even during the coldest winter months.

So, I’m here to talk about tanning in winter and everything you should know about it.

Just Keep reading. 

Quick Summary

  • You can get a tan in the winter if you spend enough time outside in the sunlight or use tanning products.
  • Winter sun can be as bad for your skin as summer sunlight. 
  • You should always apply sun protection lotion when spending time outside in the sun. 

Is Tanning Possible in Winter? 

If you’re looking for the short answer to the question, “Can you get a tan in winter?” it’s yes. Tanning salons don’t stop working during the winter, and you can also purchase an at-home tanning machine. 

But can you still get a tan in winter without a tanning bed or the best at-home spray tan machine? Surprisingly, yes. 

As dermatologists from WebMD explain,

“Tanning is a sign of the skin reacting to potentially damaging UV radiation by producing additional pigmentation.” (1)

So, tanning has nothing to do with how hot the weather is but with exposure to UV rays and their harmful radiation. And during winter, the UV rays are still powerful enough to cause skin damage.

I remember getting a nice tan during a ski trip with my daughter. She is a professional skier, and I wanted to start learning to ski as an adult, and ended up with almost a sunburn!

Who would have thought that skiing could get you a tan? l

It’s just that people get more sun exposure during the summer and tend to avoid the outside during the coldest months. That’s why you’re less like to get a “healthy glow” in winter. 

READ MORE: Can You Tan After Botox?

But what about sunburn?

Can you get sunburned in winter?

The answer is shocking. 

How About A Sunburn: Can You Get One in Winter?

According to skin cancer specialists from,

“Tanning is a sign of the skin reacting to potentially damaging UV radiation by producing additional pigmentation.” (1)

“In the right winter weather conditions, you can sustain sun damage just as easily as during the summer.” (2)

UV rays are responsible for sunburn as much as they’re responsible for tanning. But while tanning increases melanin levels, sunburn causes skin damage and inflammation. 

In general, UV rays are strongest during the hot summer months. But they don’t disappear in colder months. 

Moreover, snow and ice make excellent reflecting surfaces for harmful UV rays. So, the rays hit your skin twice during the winter months, increasing the risk of premature skin damage. 

And can I get a tan on a cloudy day? Yes, you can. That’s why applying sunscreen is an excellent idea, no matter the weather conditions. 

But is the winter sun bad for tanning? You’d be surprised.  

Is the Winter Sun Bad for Tanning? 

As I already said, UV rays aren’t as strong in winter as in summer. However, snow and ice reflect the UV rays, so your radiation exposure is almost the same as in hot weather. 

Moreover, according to studies, dense clouds block up to 50% of the UV rays. So, the winter sun can be as bad for your skin as summer.

You still need to watch your exposure time and apply tanning lotion or sunscreen with sufficient sun protection to keep your skin healthy and prevent skin cancer.

And what is the best time to get a tan? The sunlight is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Tanning in this interval guarantees you’ll get bronzed skin quickly, but you also risk sunburn. So, it’s better to tan early in the morning or after 4 p.m.

But what about tanning in winter? How long will it take for your skin to darken under the cold winter sun? 

How Long Does It Take to Tan in Winter? 

According to studies, you need to spend more than two hours outside to get the recommended dose of vitamin D in winter without sunburning.

Unfortunately, in winter, you can’t spend hours outside tanning, or you risk getting frostbite or catching a cold. So, you may need a few weeks of sun exposure to tan in winter.

However, some countries have mild winters with plenty of sunlight, so you’ll tan in a couple of days if you spend your time outside. 

And how can you tan naturally in winter? Let’s find out!

How To Tan Naturally in Winter? 

To tan naturally in winter, you need to spend sufficient time outside using suitable sun protection creams to ensure you don’t get sunburn. You must also watch out for frostbite if you tan in cold places. 

Of course, it’s easier to tan in winter by using self-tanning lotions. These products contain chemicals combine with amino acids to darken the skin, affecting only the dead skin cells. 

You can always consider tanning beds, but you’ll have to be careful not to overuse them. And I’ve got more valuable tips for you for getting tanned in winter. 

3 Extra Tips For Getting Tanned In Winter

Do you know that more than 90% of skin cancer is due to sun exposure? That’s why it’s vital to follow these simple tips to protect yourself when getting tanned in winter. (3)

1. Don’t Overuse Tanning Bed

Many people opt for tanning beds in winter to maintain their bronzed skin. But overuse of tanning beds contributes to skin damage and can increase the risk of skin cancer.

So, make sure you wait a couple of weeks between tanning sessions and don’t spend more than the recommended amount of time inside the tanning bed for your skin type. 

And watch this video to learn more about how to tan safely. 

2. Use the SFP Lotion

Winter sun isn’t as safe as you think because you still get plenty of UV exposure. Always apply a lotion with a high SFP to protect your skin from excessive damage and reduce the risk of skin cancer. 

3. Exfoliate

If you’re using self-tanning products, don’t forget to exfoliate the dry skin to ensure an even tan. Moisturizing is also vital to keep skin damage to a minimum. 


Can You Tan in 20 Minutes a Day?

You can get a tan in 20 minutes a day if you have fair skin. However, more than 30 minutes of sun exposure can result in skin burns. 

Do You Tan Faster in Water?

Water reflects the sunlight, so you can get a tan faster by splashing in the sea. But it’s also easier to get sunburn. 

Is 30 Minutes in the Sun Enough to Tan?

People with light or pale skin need 10 to 30 minutes to tan in the sun. 


Can you tan in winter? Surprisingly, you can get a tan in winter, even if you don’t live in countries with warm winter weather.

However, you’re still in danger of UV radiation in winter. You need to take precautions to keep your skin healthy and avoid sunburn.

lady tanning on a tanning machine

What do you think about this topic? Can you tan in the winter? Share your experience in the comment section.


  • 1. Contributors WE. Save Your Skin From Too Much Sun [Internet]. WebMD. [cited 2022 Oct 27]. Available from:
  • 2. Winter Sun Safety: What to Know About Protecting Yourself During Colder Months [Internet]. The Skin Cancer Foundation. Available from:
  • 3. Facts about SKIN CANCER [Internet]. Available from:
About Subani

Subani is an experienced content writer and blogger. She has a passion and knack for writing in weddings, health, beauty, and holistic wellness niche.

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