A woman tanning

The Best Way To Get A Tan If You Have Pale and Fair Skin

The key to building a great golden tan on fair skin is patience and proper planning. Here's our professional guide.
Updated: November 9, 2022
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Tanning comes easy for some people. You know the types, the women with flawlessly golden skin all year round. How do they do it?! It’s one of life’s great mysteries.  However, millions of fairer-skinned beauties don’t quite have the same experience. For them, tanning can be a tricky minefield of do’s and don’ts, careful precautions, and pinpoint timing.

But don’t lose hope, if you have pale or fair skin, you too can get a gorgeous tan in time for beach season, all you have to do is take it easy and follow our helpful tips.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

Build a solid base

Fair skin, just by its nature, is much more sensitive to the sun than darker skin. This means that people with lighter skin won’t be able to expose themselves to the sun’s rays for too long. This is fine though, as it’s important to go slow when starting to build a tan. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your tan.

Slow and steady wins the race, so we’d recommend spending no more than 15 minutes a day laying in the sun. Remember to change positions in order to let the sun kiss every part of the body, otherwise, the eventual tan may be unbalanced. Also, ALWAYS wear sunscreen! The sunscreen should have a minimum of SPF 30 to protect the skin. Failing to correctly apply sunscreen can result in burning, peeling, and other forms of uncomfortable skin irritation.

Another thing to consider is sun hours. For example, the sun isn’t as powerful before 10 am and after 4 pm, so for novices, these could be excellent hours to get used to the tanning process. The risk factor is lower, and you can gain confidence in what you’re doing.

After a few days, you can increase your sunbathing time to about 20-25 minutes a day. The key here is gradual progress and not jumping in at the deep end too early. Most people don’t need to tan for more than 30 minutes a day to maintain a great-looking tan, but for beginners, it is important to build a solid foundation through baby steps.

Remember to exfoliate and moisturize

In order to get a great tan, your skin needs to be clear of potential roadblocks. Exfoliators are fantastic at scrubbing away unwanted dirt, pollutants, and dead cells from the surface of the skin, which will let the sun’s rays massage the skin unimpeded.

Combining this with a good moisturizer, either in cream or gel form, will assist in keeping the skin sufficiently hydrated throughout the time it is exposed to the sun. Moisturizer not only helps the skin retain water, but it also nourishes the skin with healthy ingredients and creates a nice protective shield against sun damage. Using these two products regularly before and during tanning should give your skin the best chance of developing a healthy golden tan over time.

Take a shade break

Look, the sun is a powerful beast, and people with pale or fair skin are its prey. You must resist the urge to fry yourself and get into the habit of taking well-timed shade breaks. If you’re at the beach, this means finding a cool bar to chill in or a big tree to sit under, while still being able to enjoy the rest of the day with friends. Getting a great tan isn’t about extended sessions in the sun, but rather tactical sunbathing with a strategy.


That’s about it! Taking it slow and doing things correctly is the best way of developing a summer tan for your fair and pale skin.  Follow the advice above and over time you will see great results.

Oh, and remember, ALWAYS wear that sunscreen! We’ll be watching you!

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