Tanning safely takes time, and through many sessions in the sun or on a tanning bed, you can develop a dark, bronze tan.
However, some people notice that after tanning for some time, their skin doesn’t get any darker, and their tan stops developing.
How tan can you get? How tan you can get depends on your skin type, and how much melanin your body is capable of producing. There are six recognized skin types and all of these tan to different levels before they stop tanning.
Knowing your skin type will help you understand if there is a limit to how tan you can get, and what your potential tan limit might be. Keep reading to find this out!
Is There A Limit To How Tan You Can Get?
There is a limit to how tan you can get, and this limit is determined by your skin type. This, along with a few other factors, can stop you from tanning past a certain point.
Other than your skin type, you might stop tanning once you have spent too much time in the sun, and your skin has become thicker from this.
Your skin tans when you are exposed to UV rays, and when exposed to UV rays, your skin produces more melanin, which darkens the color of your skin. If your skin is too thick from tanning previously, the UV rays will not be able to penetrate deep enough to have an effect.
Spending time in the sun is damaging to your skin, even if you develop a tan and not a burn, as a tan is proof that your skin is being damaged, so if you notice that your skin is not tanning past a certain point, then it is best to not try tan in the sun any longer.
Do Different Skin Tones Have Different Tan Limits?
Your skin type is one of the biggest factors in determining how tan you can get. Your skin produces melanin when exposed to UV rays, and melanin acts as a pigment to darken the skin.
One thing to understand is that melanin produces two different types of pigment, eumelanin, which is brown, and pheomelanin, which is yellow and red.
This is important because people who are fairer skinned tend to have more pheomelanin produced, and not eumelanin, which is why they battle to turn brown when tanning, and why they end up just burning instead.
There are currently 6 skin types recognized by the FDA, and knowing which skin type you have will help you understand how your skin fairs in the sun, and whether you should choose to tan naturally or not.
Skin Type 1
This skin type is pale white and very fair, with lots of freckles, blue or gray eyes, and sandy or red hair, and never tans easily. When out in the sun, skin type 1 will burn rather than tan, no matter the circumstances.
Do not use a sunbed or attempt to tan with skin type 1.
Skin Type 2
This skin type is white to light beige, with fair skin with possible freckles, blonde to brown hair, and green or gray eyes. With this skin type, you will burn easily in the sun, and tanning is often minimal, if at all. Care should always be taken when attempting to tan.
Skin Type 3
This skin type is beige and fair to light brown, with no freckles, dark blonde or brown hair, gray or green eyes, and experiences moderate burning in the sun. Under the right circumstances, skin type 3 can tan gradually to a light brown color, but no further than this.
Skin Type 4
This skin type is light brown, with dark brown hair and brown eyes, and fairs better in the sun. Burning minimally in the sun, skin type 4 tans well to a moderate brown color.
Skin Type 5
This skin type has a moderate brown tone, deep brown skin, dark hair, and dark eyes, and rarely burns in the sun, rather tanning to a dark brown color with little help.
Skin Type 6
This skin type is dark brown to black with black hair and dark eyes, and it hardly ever burns and instead tans very well in the sun. Skin type 6 has the best natural protection from the sun.
Does Skin Type Affect Dangers Of UV Exposure?
Not only do you have to consider how much your skin type allows you to tan, but you also need to be aware of whether your skin type will experience increased risk when exposed to UV rays.
All UV exposure from the sun or a sunbed is harmful to your skin, no matter your skin type. However, your skin type, age, and health all play a role in how damaging the sun can be.
Those with medium to dark skin tones, such as skin types 4, 5, and 6, are less likely to burn in the sun, but this does not mean that they are not exempt from damage. All skin types can develop damage from UV exposure, but lighter skin tones are more at risk.
Generally, if you have pale skin and blonde, light brown, or red hair, you are more likely to experience skin damage from the sun, and tanning might not be the best option for you.
What To Do When You Have Reached Your Tan Limit
If you think you have reached your tan limit, and no matter how many times you sit in the sun or spend time in the sunbed, your skin does not darken, you might be looking for an alternative.
It is very highly recommended to not try to develop your tan further by exposing your skin to UV rays, but this doesn’t answer your question on how to get a darker tan!
The safest way to proceed, to darken your skin, is to use a self-tanner (we like this vegan one from St. Tropez) or a spray tan. There will be the right tan color to help you darken your skin more to a deeper bronze tone, but you can achieve this without having to spend more time in the sun.
Your skin will love the change from tanning to spray tanning, and not having to sizzle away in the sun, no matter your skin type. You’ll have more control over how even your color is, and how dark you want to go.
What Factors Affect How Much You Tan?
There are quite a few factors that affect how much your skin can tan. The main factor is your skin tone and how your skin fairs in the sun, but there are also environmental factors that can affect your tan too.
Here are some factors that affect how much you might tan:
- If the UV index is lower where you are tanning, the UV rays will not have much of an effect on your skin.
- You might be tanning too early in the day or too late at night, and there is not enough exposure to develop a tan.
- You are using too high of an SPF, which is not allowing UV rays to penetrate through to darken your skin.
- You are not exposing your skin evenly to the sun, and only some areas are tanning while others are not.
How Tan Can You Get?
There is a limit to how tan you can get, and this is mostly determined by your skin tone. Darker skin tones produce more melanin and resist burning more, being able to tan browner and quicker. Lighter skin tones do not produce as much brown melanin, and therefore do not tan much.
When deciding to tan, or considering whether to try and tan past a certain point, you need to know your skin type and whether tanning anymore is possible. Once your skin has produced its maximum amount of brown melanin, you will not tan any further.
There are other factors that determine how tan you can get, so have a look through the above guide to find out whether you have tanned to your max, or whether there is something else causing your tanning plateau.
How do you get the darkest tan?
To get the darkest tan possible, you should use a tan accelerator to help your skin make the most of the UV rays and to keep your skin hydrated to prevent burning and uneven tanning.
If you want to avoid the sun, you could use a dark spray tan or dark self-tanner, but make sure to choose a tone that will suit your skin color, and not look too unnaturally dark.
Does wet skin tan quicker?
Wet skin does not necessarily tan faster, and misting your skin will not have much of an effect. You can tan quicker when in water, as the UV rays reflect off the water and are amplified onto your skin.
Do arms tan faster than legs?
Arms tend to tan faster than legs, as the skin on your legs does not produce as much melanin as the skin on your arms.