Sun Tanning Questions

Tanning in a Shade: Can it Happen?

Written by: Anastasija

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It’s summertime, and the sun is shining. You’re probably eager to get outside and enjoy the warm weather, but as soon as you get settled in underneath the sun, a massive cloud roll in to cast a shadow overhead.

At this point, you might wonder, “Can I tan in the shade?”

The short answer is yes—you can tan in the shade. However, it will take a bit longer than usual to catch a glow. If you’re curious about how the shade can impact your tan, you’ve come to the right place! Keep reading to learn more about how you can tan in the shade.

While it’s entirely possible to get a tan in the shade, the intensity of your tan will vary depending on the type of shade you’re in. For instance, taking shade underneath an umbrella will leave you more exposed to the sun than taking shade indoors. This is because the sun’s UV rays can penetrate different materials and structures in different ways.

Can You Tan Through Clouds?

sunb for weightloss

As we’ve discussed, you do not have to be in direct sunlight to get a tan. If there are UV lights reflecting on you in some way, then your skin is absorbing those rays. This includes when you are underneath a cloud. Clouds can also reflect UV radiation, which may mean that you’re getting more exposure than you think. For these reasons, it’s important to always wear sunscreen while you are outdoors, even if there is a cloud overhead.

EnvironmentSun Exposure Level
Direct SunlightHigh
Partial ShadeModerate
Full ShadeLow
Table 1: Sun Exposure Levels in Different Environments

Also read: Should I Wear Sunscreen Every Day? (Advantages and Disadvantages)

Can You Get Burnt in the Shade?


Yes, your skin can get burnt in any location where UV rays are present. Although it is less likely that you will experience a severe burn while you are resting in the shade, it is still possible. For that reason, you should apply sunscreen even when you plan on spending most of your time in the shade. The risk of getting sunburned while you are in the shade are even more so for those of us with extremely fair skin. This is because fair skin lacks melanin, which helps to block out damaging UV rays.

Also read: Do You Need Sunscreen When It’s Cloudy? (Explained)

What are UV Rays?

Ultraviolet or UV rays are an invisible form of electromagnetic radiation that can come from the sun or an artificial source, like a tanning bed or sun lamp. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation can increase the pigment of melanin in your skin.

EnvironmentUV Radiation Intensity
Direct SunlightHigh
Partial ShadeModerate
Full ShadeLow
Table 2: UV Radiation Intensity in Different Environments

There are three main categories of UV radiation:

UVA Rays

UVA rays have the longest wavelength of all the UV rays. They can freely travel through the Earth’s atmosphere and are even able to pass through translucent surfaces such as windows. If you are not wearing sunscreen, UVA rays can penetrate deep into the middle layer of your skin. This form of ultraviolet radiation is best known to increase signs of aging and darken the melanin in your skin.

UVB Rays

UVB rays differ from UVA rays because their wavelength is much shorter. Although the majority of UVB rays will be absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer, the rays that pass through can penetrate the top layer of your skin. This is the ultraviolet ray responsible for leaving you with a tan or even the occasional sunburn.

UVC Rays

The least harmful form of ultraviolet radiation is UVC rays. UVC rays have the shortest wavelength. For this reason, they are completely absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer and will not be able to reach your skin or cause any damage to it.

What Makes UV Rays Stronger?

There are certain conditions that amplify UV rays, making them stronger than usual. For example, if you are located in an area that is close to the equator, you will be more susceptible to strengthened UV rays. The closer you are to the sun, the stronger its rays will be, so it only makes sense that UV rays are strengthened at higher altitudes.

The same goes for reflective surfaces such as mirrors, snow, water, ice, sand, and even concrete. Any reflective surface can contribute to the strength of UV rays. The sun’s rays will bounce off of these reflective surfaces, so there is a greater chance that they will absorb into your skin.

FactorInfluence on Tanning Potential in the Shade
UV RadiationEven in the shade, some UV radiation may reach the skin
Skin SensitivitySome individuals may tan more easily even in the shade
Sunscreen UsageApplying sunscreen in the shade can further reduce tanning potential
Duration of ExposureLonger periods in the shade may decrease tanning potential
Table 3: Factors Affecting Tanning Potential in the Shade

It’s also important to keep in mind that UV rays are more impactful during the spring and summer months. That’s why it’s so important to protect your skin during these months with sunscreen that has increased SPF.

Best Sunscreens for the Shade

sunscreen 3

If you’re in need of a great sunscreen that can protect your skin from UV rays, we’ve got you covered! These high SPF sunscreens can protect your skin all day long whether you are playing beach volleyball in the sunshine or resting in the shade.

Also read: What is The Best Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide? (5 Recommendations)

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Milk Body & Face Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Milk Sunscreen SPF 100 | Sunscreen For Body & Face | Broad Spectrum SPF + Antioxidants | Oil Free Sunscreen Lotion | For Sun Sensitive Skin | Oxybenzone Free
  • This travel size sunscreen is non-sealed
  • SPF 100 sunscreen for face and body, specifically formulated to help protect skin that burns easily.

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This nourishing sunscreen feels lightweight on your skin, making it the perfect option for children and those of us who have sensitive skin. Its unscented formula features a broad-spectrum SPF, which means that it can protect your skin against all of the sun’s harmful rays. It is also non-comedogenic, so you don’t have to worry about this product clogging your pores.

Bare Republic Clearscreen Face Lotion, SPF 100

Bare Republic Clearscreen Sunscreen SPF 100 Sunblock Face Lotion, Water Resistant with an Invisible Finish, 2 Fl Oz
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Bare Republic Clearscreen Sunscreen SPF 100 Sunblock Face Lotion, Water Resistant with an Invisible Finish, 2 Fl Oz
  • CLEAN SUNSCREEN LOTION. A clear, clean lotion you're going to love! Our non-greasy SPF blends in invisibly to provide healthy, high-performance protection that's clearly best-in-class.
  • SHEER + LIGHT. Now more transparent than ever, our most advanced sunscreen lotion from Bare Republic is super sheer and light, but tough enough to keep up with all life's adventures!

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While it is important to use sunscreen all over your body when you are outdoors, it is even more crucial to ensure that you apply SPF to your face regularly. This can help to protect your face against signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, or dark spots. This sunscreen from Bare Republic is lightweight and breathable. The mineral-based formula helps to protect your skin against UVA and UVB rays and is water resistant, so you don’t have to worry about it washing off in the waves.

About Anastasija

Welcome to my website! I'm Anastasija, and as a redhead with a sensitivity to the sun, I embarked on a quest to find the perfect sunless tanner six years ago.

After extensive research and four years of personal experience, I'm here to share my wealth of tips and tricks for achieving a beautiful, sun-kissed glow.

Whether you're interested in self-tanners, spray tans, or safe sun exposure, this website covers it all.

Join me as I provide valuable insights and guidance for various methods of getting that desired tan.

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