How To Tan Faster And Darker At Home

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If you want glowing, bronze, tanned skin like you’ve just spent the last couple of weeks basking in the rays of the French Riviera, we are going to discuss how to tan faster and darker at home.

We will be comparing different tanning methods and products. We’ll highlight how they work, their benefits and drawbacks, and how long each method takes to tan. You’ll be able to decide which method is best for you.


How to Tan Faster and Darker At Home

There are a few ways to get that darker tan at home. In this article, we’ll discuss the following options:

  • Sun tanning
  • Tanning oils
  • Sunless Tanners
  • Tanning Waters

You can use a combination of these to achieve beautiful, glowing tan skin.

Sun Tanning

How Does Skin Get Sun Tanned?

The sun’s UVA rays penetrate the lower layers of the skin where they trigger cells called melanocytes to produce melanin. Melanin is your body’s defense against Ultraviolet rays and reacts by producing a brownish pigment on your skin (a.k.a. a tan).

That “healthy glow” is your body’s reaction to skin damage from the sun.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Suntan?

Your skin tone will dictate how long it takes for you to tan and/or burn. Someone with darker toned skin could get a noticeable (tan) color change in their skin within 30 minutes of sun exposure, whereas someone who has a lighter skin tone may take a lot longer to see tan results.

Someone who is very fair and has, for example, very light skin, blue eyes and red hair may not even tan and just burn. Those with lighter complexions will take longer to tan but are much faster to burn.

Risks of Sun Tanning

There are clear benefits to tanning and sun exposure that have been downplayed over the last 50 or so years. But that doesn’t mean you should slather on the baby oil and lay out in the sun all day with no protection!

Long sun exposure without protection is a bad idea. Tanning in the sun without a sunscreen with SPF won’t make you tan faster or darker, it will just make you burn faster.

Those sunburns are what you really want to avoid.

Yeah, they hurt. But sunburns (particularly in youth) will potentially lead to skin cancer down the line.

And of course, sun tanning will lead to premature skin aging, like wrinkles and sunspots.

A note on risk:

Everything we do, from driving a car to crossing the street to sitting on the couch entails some sort of risk level. Each of us needs to choose our risks, and weigh them against the benefits to us.

Choose your risks wisely, and we will not judge.

So you might be asking yourself, how am I supposed to tan if I am using sunscreen?!

SPF in Sunscreen Products

The way SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, works is that if your unprotected skin would normally take 10 minutes to get a sunburn, then applying a sunscreen with SPF 15 would take your skin 15 times longer to burn.

In other words, you could spend 150 minutes longer in the sun without burning.

SPF is only the measure of the blocking power of Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which will give you a sunburn.

Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays are the deeper penetrating rays that tan your skin.

What this means is that, contrary to popular belief, you can use sunscreen with regular SPF and still tan.

Regular SPF doesn’t affect your tanning time or the color you develop, it just means you can spend longer in the sun before you show signs of burning.

However, Broad spectrum SPF blocks out both UVA and UVB rays. If you don’t want any tan, stick to broad-spectrum. If you understand the risks and still want to tan, you can avoid broad spectrum sunscreens.

You are not going to be getting much of a tan using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, and hopefully, you are smart and informed about the risks of UV exposure without protection.

So let’s look at how to tan faster and darker at home using some different methods.

Tanning Oil

How Does Tanning Oil Work?

Tanning oil intensifies your skin’s response to being exposed to the sun’s UV rays to help you develop a deeper and darker tan in a shorter period of time.

Tanning oil attracts and focuses UV rays onto the skin and accelerates the production of melanin, which gives your skin a darker color.

Now tanning oil can seem like the perfect solution – less exposure with a darker, faster tan!

Yes, this is true. But here are a couple of things you need to take into consideration

  1. Most tanning oils on the market do not have adequate SPF.
  2. Covering yourself in oil refracts UV light from the sun, amplifying the intensity of the sun’s UV rays. This means you will not only burn faster, but you are intensifying the sun’s skin-damaging effects.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Suntan with Tanning Oil?

Now everyone’s skin is different, so there is no measurement of how much faster you would tan with tanning oil, but it is faster than tanning without.

Risks of Tanning Oil

Tanning oil can be thought of as basically covering your entire body in a magnifying glass.

The risks of premature aging and skin cancer are higher than with regular sun tanning.

Pro Tip:

Tanning oil can be thought of as basically covering your entire body in a magnifying glass.

Sunless Self-Tanners and Fake Tan Products

What are Sunless Self-Tanners?

Now if you are looking for a quick tan with zero sun exposure, a sunless self-tanner is the way to go.

A sunless self-tanner is literally a fake tan in a bottle that you just apply. You can choose your desired tan color – from light to dark.

If you are looking for a darker tan, here are some best-sellers:

How Self-tanners Work

The active ingredient in self-tanners is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA works by reacting with dead cells on the skin’s surface layer to temporarily darken the skin and simulate a tan.

A tan from a sunless self-tanner will last about 7-10 days, and it is an entirely chemical process. You’re not actually tanning your skin, you’re just coloring the dead skin cells a darker color.

How Long Does it Take to Tan with a Sunless Self-tanner?

A sunless self-tanner usually takes anywhere from 4-10 hours to work, depending on the product you use.

Risks of Sunless Self-tanners

The active ingredient – DHA, can be drying for your skin. This can be easily remedied by moisturizing.

It is important to note that it’s been found that with long-term, overuse, the free radicals released by DHA cause oxidative stress that can accelerate skin aging, which translates to fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and sagging. DHA also lowers Vitamin D levels.

It’s also important to note that this is only with long-term, overuse – like every week for several years.

A sunless self-tanner should probably not be used to maintain a 365 day year round tan, unless you’re okay with premature skin aging.

But if you are only using it once in a while, self- tanners are perfectly okay and the risks of premature skin aging does not apply.

Tanning Water

What is Tanning water?

Tanning water is a water-based clear spray, blended with moisturizing ingredients and dihydroxyacetone, or DHA (which is the active tanning ingredient). It hydrates the skin while creating a temporary simulated tan.

Tanning water is relatively new on the “fake bake” scene and it’s become very popular.

Tanning water is different from sunless self-tanners in that it includes moisturizers to overcome the drying effects of DHA.

It’s also clear, so it won’t stain and there is much less waiting time after application.

However, it’s harder to apply, because you can’t see where you’ve already spread the tanning water. It’s colorless.

How Does Tanning Water Work?

Tanning water uses DHA as the active ingredient. It works in the same way as sunless self-tanners by creating a chemical reaction with dead cells on the skin’s surface layer to temporarily darken the skin and simulate a tan.

But there are no bronzers or instant color products in the tanning water, so it goes on clear.

How Long Does it Take to Tan with Tanning Water?

A sunless-self-tanner usually takes anywhere from 4-10 hours to work, depending on the product you use.

Risks of Tanning Water

The risks are the same as those with sunless self-tanners, except for the drying effects on the skin because tanning waters have added moisturizers.

Long-term overuse of tanning water can result in premature skin aging and lowered Vitamin D levels.

Take Away

If you were wondering how to tan faster and darker at home, sunless self-tanners and tanning waters are your best options with the least risks. They usually take from 4 to 10 hours to work and use DHA that reacts with your surface skin cells to get a tanned look, instead of harmful UV rays.

It’s important to note that a tan from self-tanners and tanning waters do not provide you with an increase in sun protection. You still need to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 if you are spending time outside in the sun.

Just be mindful of sun exposure and overexposure to DHA. Regardless of how great you think you look with a tan, it’s not worth risking your long-term health.

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).