How to Get a Dark Tan (Safely)


We all want to look our best. For many, that means getting a dark tan during the summer.

But unsafe tanning practices can damage your skin cells, lead to premature aging, and increase your risk of getting skin cancer.

Thankfully, there are strategies you can use to get the tan you want without putting your health at risk. We’ll cover the best ways to do that in this article.

The basics of getting a dark tan safely

  • Exfoliate your skin before going out
  • Use nutrient-rich SPF 30 sunscreen
  • Vary your tanning time based on the time of day
  • Change positions every 15-30 minutes
  • Make sure to stay hydrated
  • Eat foods that are rich in beta carotene and lycopene
  • Don’t stay out for longer than your body can produce melanin

We’ll give you more in-depth information on how to use each of these tips properly in the sections below.

Here’s what you’ll need

You don’t need a whole lot to get a dark tan safely. The main things are:

The key to tanning safely lies more in what you do around your tanning sessions than in any particular product outside of a good SPF 30 sunscreen.

Step 1: Prepare your skin

It’s good practice to exfoliate your skin the night before tanning. Doing this can make the tan that you get last longer since the skin cells that it’s on will be less likely to flake off.

It’s also a good idea to pick up some after-sun care products before going out. For example, having a soothing aloe vera gel on-hand is a must.

Step 2: Pick your favorite SPF 30 sunscreen

Now you’re ready to select the sunscreen that you’ll use for your tanning sessions. General protection sunscreen from a reputable brand can get the job done as long as it’s at least SPF 30.

But you may also want to look into some specialty sunscreen options that are better for your skin.

For example, Australian Gold sells plant-based sunscreen and botanical sunscreen, which are both packed with nutrient-rich ingredients like Kakadu Plum and eucalyptus. 

These enable you to get the dark tan you want without having to worry as much about the damage you could be doing to your skin.

Step 3: Choose the right time of day

The sun is strongest from about noon until 3:00 PM. If you want a fast tan, that could be the best time to go. But it’s also the time at which the sun can do the most harm to your skin.

If you’ve got a fairer complexion, then it could make sense to go earlier in the morning or later at night. Doing so will let you get your tan without putting your skin at such a high risk.

Just keep in mind that your skin can be in the sun for longer when the sun’s rays aren’t as strong. So you should measure the ideal time for your tanning trip based on the time of day that it is.

Step 4: Wear the right clothes

It’s also important to wear the right types of clothes while you’re out tanning. The ideal outfit for you will depend on what you’re going for.

If you want an all-over tan, then wearing a bikini or swim trunks is okay. Just keep in mind that if you’re exposing a lot of skin, you may not be able to stay out for as long during each tanning session.

If you’re not worried about getting a complete body tan, then covering up a bit could allow you to stay in the sun longer. It can be especially beneficial to wear light, airy clothing that allows the breeze to pass over your body and cool you down.

The color of clothes that you wear can also be important. Black clothing draws in the sun's rays, whereas white clothing will repel them. So you can stay a lot cooler while you’re tanning if you decide to go with a white outfit instead of a darker one.

Step 5: Change positions every 15-30 minutes

It’s surprisingly easy to burn when you stay in the same position for too long while tanning. Doing so is also a great way to get an uneven tan.

That’s why it’s good practice to change your position every 15-30 minutes. Move from side to side and front to back to get an even, all-over tan.

Step 6: Eat foods that are rich in beta carotene and lycopene

Research shows that beta carotene may help people tan without burning. So it’s a good idea to consume foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and kale when you’re trying to get a darker complexion.

Foods that are rich in lycopene are also good to eat while you’re tanning. These are some studies that suggest this nutrient can provide some natural protection for your skin against harmful UV rays.

Lycopene-rich foods include tomatoes, guava, and watermelon.

Step 7: Don’t stay out longer than your body can produce melanin 

It can be tempting to stay out tanning for a long time. But even if you were willing to risk the potentially harmful side effects of doing so, you wouldn’t even get much of a benefit out of this.

The pigment melanin is responsible for tanning. Your body can only produce it for about 2-3 hours at a time.

So if you stay out longer than 3 hours, you’re only risking more damage to your skin – you’re not going to get a darker tan.

Step 8: Consider using sunless tanning products while your tan develops

The key to getting a dark tan safely is not overdoing it in any single tanning session. If you work at your tan gradually, you can get the complexion that you want without risking too much damage to your skin.

But that might not fit with your timeline for getting tan. If it doesn’t, you could look into using sunless tanning solutions while you work on getting a natural suntan.

For example, we sell sunscreen with bronzer so that you can look tan while you’re getting tan. That way, you don’t have to rush to get the dark look that you want.

Don’t let these problems impact your progress

It’s possible to get a dark tan safely. But as you work towards that goal, there are a few potential pitfalls to watch out for.

Using sunscreen with harmful ingredients

Some sunscreen brands will seemingly put almost anything in their products. Ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate can disrupt your hormones and damage your skin.

It’s always better to use products like plant-based and botanical sunscreen when you have the option. These products are designed to nourish your skin while you tan instead of harming it.

Staying out too long when the sun is at its peak

Perhaps the easiest way to damage your skin while tanning is simply staying out too long. Once you get past about the 3-hour mark, it’s time to call it quits for the day.

At that point, your skin likely won’t be able to get any tanner. But the sun will continue doing damage to your body.

So make a point of spreading your tanning across multiple days instead of trying to fit it all into one or two.

Forgetting to protect parts of your body from the sun

Most people know that they should apply sunscreen before going out in the sun. But it’s easy to forget to do this on certain parts of your body.

So the next time you go out tanning, make sure to put some sunscreen on your ears, toes, neck, and fingers.

It’s also important to take care of your lips with chapstick or balm that has built-in SPF protection.

Failing to stay hydrated

Experts recommend drinking 15-20 glasses of water per day while tanning. Doing so will help to keep your skin from drying out while you’re spending extra time in the sun.

It’ll also keep you hydrated, which is important. Prolonged exposure to the sun when you’re dehydrated can cause heat exhaustion and even heat strokes.

Australian Gold has everything you need to get a dark tan safely

Getting a dark tan safely is only possible with the right sunscreen. That’s why you should check out Australian Gold’s line of suncare products.

Sell a wide variety of botanical and plant-based sunscreens, in addition to our nutrient-rich general care line. We even have sunscreen with bronzer in it to help you look darker while you tan.

Check out our online shop to find more affordable, healthy products that can help you enjoy your next day in the sun safely.