You might think that you are safe sitting under a tree in the park, escaping the hot sun. It makes sense right, if you are directly out of the sun, there is no way you could get a tan. However, this might not actually be the case.
So can you get a tan in the shade? It is entirely possible. You don’t actually have to be directly under sunlight to tan, so you can tan while sitting under your beach umbrella in the shade. The sun reflecting off of objects in your environment is primarily why you can tan in the shade, although there are other reasons too.
Forget everything you thought you knew about tanning and how to avoid the sun. Keep reading to learn how to avoid tanning too much in the shade.
Why You Can Get a Tan in the Shade
One of the main reasons you can get a tan in the shade is because the sun is reflecting off of objects in your environment. Certain environmental factors such as bright snow or pale beach sand can reflect the sun’s rays to your skin, even while sitting in the shade.
So while you aren’t directly under the sun, your skin is still being exposed to the harmful ultraviolet rays. You might even be sitting near a mirror or some other shiny surface or substance that can reflect the sun onto your skin.
Whether you can tan in the shade or not also depends on the type of shade you are under. While shade does provide some sort of protection from the sun, no shade is safe. Some beach umbrellas or tents still let through some UVB rays, which are considered the most harmful to the skin.
Check the UPF rating of your beach umbrella or shading before going into the sun. By knowing the UPF rating, you will be able to determine how much protection you will have.
Is All Shade Equal?
No. Ignoring all reflected UV rays, not all shade is equal. Thick shade from a building will offer more protection that a material shade cloth or beach umbrella.
This is because some UV rays might still be able to pass through the material used in sun-protective items. Umbrellas and shade cloths will offer some additional protection and are better than just standing directly in the sun, but you will need to wear sunscreen and protective clothing at the same time.
Always Use Extra Protection
You might skip the sunscreen if you think you will sit in the shade all day, but it is so important to wear sunscreen at all times when heading out into the sun. Also, please be sure to actually use a quality sunscreen like this one from Amazon. You’ll be amazed what a difference using a quality sunscreen makes.
You might be in the shade and feeling cooler, but the reflected rays can do damage to your skin. Some sunscreen will protect your skin from these reflected rays, and you won’t be left with a surprising suntan at the end of the day.
How to Avoid Sunburn
Knowing how to avoid being sunburned it one of the most effective ways to preserve the health of your skin. The sun can do such severe damage to healthy skin, and there is really no way to reverse the damage once it is done.
Even if you are planning to sit under an umbrella all holiday long, here are a few ways to avoid the burn:
Avoid Peak Sun Hours
UV rays are stronger at certain times during the day. These periods are when you get the most sunburned. This time is usually between 10am and 4pm, but there are other factors that contribute to how strong the sun’s rays are at certain points:
- UV rays are stronger at higher altitudes
- UV rays are stronger in spring and summer
- Areas closer to the equator have higher sunlight strength
- Reflective surfaces like snow, water, ice, concrete, and sand can all make the UV rays stronger
Wear the Right Clothing
Certain clothing offers more protection from the sun than others. Sometimes clothing items come with a UPF rating, which shows how much protection the fabric offers you from the sun.
Certain fabrics and conditions make the fabric more protective:
- Darker dyes absorb more light which makes them more resistant to sunlight, and therefore more protective than lighter colors
- Fabric that is densely woven or thick offers more protection as UV rays cannot get through the thick fabric
- Longer items of clothing provide protection to more skin. Long shirts and long pants cover more surface area on your body and obviously offer more protection.
- There are certain brands that focus primarily on sun-protective clothing. These items have been made to be as sun-protective as possible and offer a UPF rating of 30 and higher.
Taking the right accessories along when you are in the sun can save you discomfort and sunburn, even in the shade. Accessories that are made specifically for sun protection are more effective.
- Hats are great to use to protect your face from the sun. A wide-brimmed hat is ideal for keeping the sun off of your face, neck, ears and head. Make sure the hat is made from tightly woven fabric so that it lets minimal sunlight through.
- The right sunglasses can provide you with 100% UV protection, and make being outside much more bearable when the sun is at its brightest. It is not the darkness of the lens that determines the protection, so check the label to see what level of protection is offered. Wraparound sunglasses offer extra protection to the delicate skin around the eyes, so are even more effective at blocking out the sun.
You will need to wear sunscreen even when in the shade. Choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays burn the skin while UVA rays penetrate the skin and cause more serious issues.
The sunscreen you choose should be at least SPF 15 or higher, and it will need to be applied every 2 hours, or when you are done swimming.
Don’t forget those hard to reach areas such as your back or the top of your feet; these areas often suffer the worst sunburn.
Can I tan in overcast weather?
You can definitely tan in overcast weather. In fact, you can land up badly burned from tanning in overcast weather. Most people think they don’t need to apply sunscreen when it is cloudy out, but in actual fact, up to 87% of the sun’s rays penetrate through the clouds.
People often get severely sunburned in this weather, because they don’t expect it to happen and avoid any precautions.
Can I tan through a window?
While you might think you could get a tan sitting next to your window, it probably won’t happen.
Normal glass absorbs around 97% of the sun’s UVB rays, which are responsible for nasty sunburns, and 50% of UVA rays which also do some damage.
Windows provide around SPF30 protection, so it is still possible to get a tan through a window, you will just have to be sitting next to a window with strong sunlight to notice a difference.
Can I tan through clothing?
It is possible to tan through clothing. While different fabrics and materials offer different levels of protection, UV rays can pass through most ordinary clothing, and you can wind up getting a tan through your clothing.
What is the most effective way to avoid sunburn?
Truthfully, the best way to avoid sunburn is to stay indoors in a dark room. UV rays can still reach your skin while you are indoors, whether it is through your window or reflecting off of the floors by the open door.
This is why it is so important to always have some sort of sun-protection on you, as you never really know when you are being burned.
Is it safe to tan gradually?
No tanning is 100% safe. At the end of the day, any contact with UV rays is harmful. They only damage your skin and can even cause lasting damage, no matter how much you want that golden glow. It is much safe to opt for a self-tanning lotion or a spray tan at a salon.
Tanning in the Shade
Not to promote any paranoia about the sun, but it is very possible to get a tan even when you think you are safe from the sun. Environmental factors and objects around you can reflect UV rays that reach your skin and give you a tan. You don’t have to be sitting directly in the sun to tan, and that can be quite worrying.
Trying to avoid the sun your whole life isn’t going to work. The best option is to take precautions to best protect your skin when out in the sun. Sunscreen, sun-protective clothing, and accessories will help your skin avoid any serious damage from the sun.