How to Get the Best Suntan

Updated April 17, 2017

Having a suntan can make you look and feel healthier but getting that perfect sun-kissed glow takes some work and preparation. You need to take extra care of your skin when you are sunbathing, both before and after exposure. However, spending too much time perfecting your tan can cause sunburn which means damaged, red and peeling skin. If you follow these simple steps you can have that beautiful bronzed look in no time.

Exfoliate your skin before you start a sunbathing regime. This will remove any dead skin cells on the surface of your skin and prepare it for tanning. Use an exfoliating scrub and wash with warm water in the shower or bath. You can do this once a week while you are tanning to keep your skin looking and feeling fresh and healthy.

Apply a suntan lotion half an hour before you are exposed to the sun. This will allow you to tan gradually and prevent sun burn which can damage the skin and slow the tanning process down. Make sure you apply lotion to all of the exposed areas on your body, not forgetting areas like the tops of your ears and feet. Ask a friend to apply it to any hard to reach areas and make sure reapply every two hours you are in the sun and straight after you have been in the water.

Position yourself on a towel or sun lounger so that you tan evenly all over. When lying on your back, keep your legs straight and flat and your arms away from your body. Make sure you turn over on to your front at regular intervals so you get a tan on both sides of your body.

Keep a watch handy so you can keep track of how long you have been sunbathing. It is not recommended that you sunbathe for more than two hours a day, says Instah, because overexposure to the sun can damage your skin, increase the risk of sunstroke and cause sunburn.

Take a cold or tepid shower after a day in the sun instead of a long, hot shower or bath which could dry your skin out, says Bikini Sunshine. Exposure to the sun will naturally strip the skin of some of its moisture so pat yourself dry with a towel after showering, instead of rubbing yourself dry to help it lock in more moisture. Applying a good quality moisturising lotion after tanning is an essential way to keep skin hydrated which will help you hold onto to your sun-kissed colour for longer while keeping your skin looking healthy and glowing.


Keep yourself hydrated when sunbathing by drinking lots of water. This will keep your skin supple and healthy and help you to avoid overheating in the sun too. Choose your bikini or swimming shorts wisely, less is more in this case so choose a bikini that is strapless to avoid annoying white strap lines on your shoulders and wear swimming shorts rolled up above the knee or a pair of speedos if you are feeling really brave.


Sunbathing can damage the skin, increase the risk of skin cancer and cause premature ageing so it should be done taking all of the necessary precautions including wearing sun block, avoiding overexposure, staying hydrated and keeping skin moisturised.

Things You'll Need

  • Warm water
  • Exfoliating scrub
  • Suntan lotion
  • Towel
  • Sun lounger
  • Watch
  • Moisturiser
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About the Author

Emily Watson started writing in 2008. Watson has been published in "Children & Young People Now," "Youth Work Now," "Accent magazine," "The House Hunter," "Gap Year Business," "Timeout Education" and online at and She holds an honors degree in history from Newcastle University and has a PMA-Group postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.