Can You Tan in the Winter?

LuxeLuminous is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

So, you’ve worked all summer on the perfect natural tan. And before you know it, winter starts rolling in, and you start looking as pale as the weather outside! Luckily, keeping your glow all year round is totally possible and requires just a few minor preparation tweaks and adapting to the changing conditions.

But can you get a tan in the winter? Well, that depends on where you are! You can tan in the winter, but it will likely go more slowly, and you may want to change your timing a bit.

In this article, we’ll discuss tanning in winter, and your options for color in winter.


Can You Get a Tan in the Winter?

Yes, you can still tan in the winter, even at the beach (assuming it’s not too cold to be exposed!). But depending on your location, the UV index of your area, the level of cloud cover, and your skin type, you’ll need to be out in the sun for longer, and you’ll want to shift your exposure time to maximize those UV rays.

And don’t forget your sunscreen! Your skin can just as easily get damaged in winter as in summer. 

Remember, you can even get a sunburn while skiing!

Depending on your location, the UV index of your area, the level of cloud cover, and your skin type, you’ll need to be out in the sun for longer, and you’ll want to shift your exposure time to maximize those UV rays.

Understand UV Radiation

It’s important to keep in mind that as long as the sun is out, UV radiation is present (classified by the UV Index). It just means that the intensity of this radiation differs because of the season. During the summer months, the ideal hours to tan are typically between 8:00am – 10:00am.

This is because, after 10:00, the UV Index intensity from the sun is much stronger, and extended exposure to it can cause damage to your skin. However, in winter, it changes, and the ideal time to tan moves to between 11:00am and 1:00pm.

However, in winter, it changes, and the ideal time to tan moves to between 11:00am and 1:00pm.

Because of the lower overall intensity of UV radiation, you’re going to need to grab those much-needed rays when the sun is at its strongest and highest point.

If you live in countries that receive much colder weather or fewer hours of sunlight compared to others, then it may also be necessary to increase the amount of time you spend tanning to ensure you soak up a sufficient amount of those sun rays. 

Preparation Is the Key!

This is the case with your skin, too, perhaps even more importantly during the winter months, because your skin goes through significant changes as the weather gets colder.

During winter, your skin becomes drier than in summer, which means that your skin can be damaged more easily without the proper preparation. 

Ensuring that your skin is well-prepped for changing conditions will go a long way to achieving the best results.

Here are a few skin preparation tips to help you tan safely and ensure an even tone:

Shave and exfoliate

As mentioned earlier, dry skin is very common during winter. Dry and flaky skin can cause blotchy patches when tanning, especially on parts of the body that dry out easily, such as hands, elbows, and ankles. 

Grab a good quality shaver and your exfoliating mitts and scrub away any unwanted dead and dry skin on the surface that may cause uneven coverage. For the most effective results, be sure to do this at least 24 hours before you decide to tan. This will help ensure that your skin is ready for optimal sun soakage. 

Moisturize and hydrate

Once you’ve gotten rid of the unwanted dry skin from the surface, it’s time to moisturize and rehydrate your skin in preparation for soaking up those sun rays. 

Remember, tanning simply occurs when the UV radiation penetrates deep enough below your skin’s surface for your body to produce melanin (that’s the stuff your body produces that causes tanning and protects you from burning). 

Well-hydrated skin is critical to good skin health and will tan better and more evenly than dry skin. Spending some time replenishing the lost moisture and essential oils in your skin will significantly improve the end result and keep your skin looking and feeling healthy. 

Use Tanning Lotion or Self Tanner

If you want to amp up your tanning process, you’ll want to use a tanning lotion, maybe a tingle lotion. This will amplify your tanning experience. And you can also supplement by applying self-tanner, as well.

Tanning waters are becoming increasingly popular, and we love them!

Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Water, Medium (Golden Glow) - Color Correcting and Red Cancelling Self Tan Spray, Vegan and Cruelty Free, 6.76 Fl Oz
  • THE LOWDOWN | Isle of Paradise...
  • MESS-FREE | Isle of Paradise...
  • HYDRATING | Isle of Paradise...
  • BRIGHTENING | Formulated with green...
  • TO USE | Prep skin by exfoliating 24hrs...

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

While external preparation for a tan will definitely help your skin become more receptive to the weaker

UV intensity in winter, it is just as important to bear in mind that what happens inside your body will also impact your skin for the better or worse.

Drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep all have a direct influence on the state of your skin. 

Stock up on fresh produce like spinach, sweet potatoes and peas. These are easy to add to your existing meals and are loaded with Carotene and Vitamins that are essential to help boost your skin’s resilience and make tanning easier. 


If winter decides that it’s not going to let you see the sun for weeks or months on end, using an artificial tanning method like a spray tan or tanning bed can give you great short-term results.

And with all the preparation you’ve already done, your skin will be more receptive to these methods until you can get back out into the sunlight again.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).