The Best Way to Get a Tan on Holiday

Updated April 17, 2017

Most people have experienced some sort of sunburn, and the worst time to have a brutal, painful burn is on vacation. After a long day in the sun, it is hard to enjoy a night out on the town at your vacation destination. But coming back from vacation with a golden tan can brighten your life for weeks. Sun does not have to be your enemy on vacation, if you know how to handle it.

Apply sunscreen liberally all over your body, especially the face. A common misconception is that wearing sunscreen prevents tanning. In fact, sunscreen promotes a healthier glow. According to WebMD, being exposed and unprotected in the sun increases the risk for wrinkles, sunburn and skin cancer.

Move to the shade and get out of the sun for 15 minutes every hour. The sun's rays are extremely brutal near the sand and water because they are both highly reflective surfaces. The Mayo Clinic says that spending time outdoors puts people at high risk for heat stroke. Relax under an umbrella to prevent heat stroke and sunburn.

Reapply sunscreen every half hour to hour depending on how easily you burn. Always reapply after you go in the water or if you are sweating. These activities cause sunscreen, even waterproof, to wash off the skin's surface. Dr. Jennifer Stein, a New York City dermatologist, says you should wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Stay hydrated throughout your time in the sun. Despite your level of comfort or discomfort in the sun, your body is sweating much more than usual. Replenish those fluids, which helps your skin stay hydrated, but also prevents nasty events like heat stroke. For the same reason, avoid alcohol while you spend time in the sun.

Rotate your body every 15 minutes. To achieve an all over tan, you have to expose each side of your body an equal amount of time. WebMD suggests using clothing and hats to cover overexposed areas.


If you have very fair skin, spend less time in the sun and more in the shade. Fair skin burns very easily and often skips the tanning step. If you have a family history of skin cancer, wear sunscreen with a higher SPF and apply it more regularly.


Do not worry if you are not the ideal shade of brown after one day in the sun. Your skins requires time to adjust to the amount of sun exposure.

Things You'll Need

  • SPF 30+ sunscreen
  • Beach umbrella
  • Hat or visor
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About the Author

Megan Pratz began writing professionally in 2010. Her work has been published on, where she writes mainly health and beauty articles. Her health experience comes from covering local and national health concerns for a broadcast news wire. Pratz graduated from the University of Maryland in 2010 with bachelor's degrees in broadcast journalism and psychology.