How To Tan The Sides Of Your Body

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Getting an even tan all over your body is always a little complicated, regardless of whether you’re tanning in the sun or in a tanning bed. Your front and back tan, but sometimes the sides of your body don’t get the same amount of sun. And the resulting tan is unbalanced!

In this article, we’ll go over how to tan the sides of your body.

Some people find that using a tanning bed results in whiter underarms and sides, compared to the rest of the body. And even if you’re tanning at the beach, you can still end up with little color on your sides.

In this article, we are going to discuss the different positions that you can get into to balance out the color, and give you some other tips to even your tan. 


How To Tan The Sides Of Your Body

If you’re tanning in a tanning bed, there’s not a whole lot of room to move around! Your arms feel like they’re in the way, and may be blocking the light from the sides of your body. It can be frustrating!

Here are some tips to improve your tan balance. Below we’ll share some positions to try as well.

1. Did You Shave?

One of the things you need to do is to shave the areas of your body that tend to remain light after a tanning session. For example, if your underarms have hair, the hair will slightly hinder the impact of UV lights or sunlight. 

For maximum tan balance, shave the hair on your armpits before you go for a tanning session. If you shave after the tanning session, you may remove some of the tanned skin cells found on the top surface, particularly if you’re using bronzers, accelerators, and the like.

2. Mind Your Hair

Tying your hair will help make sure that the sides of your body are better exposed to UV light. If you have long hair, it can get in the way and can prevent the proper exposure of your skin to UV light. 

3. Exfoliate!

Whether you’re tanning in the sun, tanning in a tanning bed, or even self-tanning, exfoliation will help your body get a balanced tan. You want to exfoliate your body before getting a tan. Gentle exfoliation helps remove the dead skin cells on the topmost layer of the body. 

Naturally, you shed off skin cells regularly, even if you don’t see them. With exfoliation, you remove the skin cells that are about to fall off anyway and expose new skin ready to be tanned. 

Once the newer skin cells are tanned, the tan would last longer as the new skin cells won’t be shed off immediately. Exfoliation doesn’t only help prolong the tan, but it also helps to achieve an even tan. 

Positions To Help Tan The Sides Of Your Body

One of the keys to getting an even tan is to regularly change positions so that everything is even. Don’t fall asleep in one position! Every few minutes, switch positions, and be sure you consider how your arms are positioned. You don’t want them to block the sun from the rest of your body.

To properly tan the sides of your body, there are a few positions that you should get into. These positions will help better expose the sides of your body to UV light so that you will tan evenly.

These positions will help better expose the sides of your body to UV light so that you will tan evenly.

1. Spread The Arms

The first position involves spreading your arms. To do this, lie on your back on the tanning bed or towel, then your arms should be spread outwards to the sides.

Make sure that you spread your legs slightly apart from each other so that the inner thighs and inner sides of the legs are exposed to UV light as well. 

With this position, the UV rays are better dispersed to the sides, your thighs, and your underarms as well. It can help you tan those hidden areas.

2. Arms Extended

Another alternative position is to extend your arms. Just like the first position, you should first lie on your back. Then you need to position your arms above your head, or up to the head. 

This is a great position to help with the efficient dispersion of UV rays throughout your body. It helps tan your sides. You should be in this position for at least 30% of the time can so that you can give the UV rays plenty of access to the sides of your body, as well as your underarms. 

3. Lie On Your Stomach

You can help tan your sides better when you change position. Instead of lying on your back, lie on your stomach while in the tanning bed. 

Then, place your hands at the back of your head. With this position, your underarms and sides are better exposed to UV rays. 

4. Lie On your Sides

It’s worth it to spend some time laying on your sides to give the sides of your body direct UV exposure. You can rotate side to side to ensure you get an even color.

The arms should be raised and the legs staggered. 

5. Consider a Tanning Booth

Typically tanning beds are designed so you can lie on them. It’s a familiar position to tan in, and it feels natural to us. But stand-up tanning beds have their advantages.

When you use a tanning booth, you don’t have to roll over or change position to make sure that your sides are properly tan. 

The tanning booths have bulbs positioned in an even manner so you get to tan every side of the body exposed to the UV light at the same time. 

The best position while standing up is to spread your legs slightly. There are often handles or support bars that you can hold on to. These will help you position properly so that you can expose the sides of your body and your underarms as well. 

When you’re in a standard lay-down tanning bed, it can feel pretty tight and hard to maneuver your body into various positions.

When you’re in a standard lay-down tanning bed, it can feel pretty tight and hard to maneuver your body into various positions.

What To Do If You Have An Uneven Tan

If you’ve got some difficult uneven patches, you can try to even the light areas out with a bronzer, or potentially a buildable self-tanner like Beauty By Earth.

If you expect to be able to tan the next day or so, a bronzer would be a better choice, as it will wash off.

If you won’t be able to tan for a bit, using a self-tanner would be a better choice. However, they can be hard to balance perfectly without making things even worse. And you don’t really want to tan after you’ve applied self-tanner.


There’s no magic to getting an even tan, even on the sides of your body. You need to expose all of your body to UV light in an even manner for basically the same amount of time.

Although the above positions help expose the sides of your body to UV rays, you still need to rotate through them every few minutes to keep your exposure balanced.

Good luck!

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).