Do You Tan Better Wet Or Dry?

Anyone (especially the ladies) will agree that you look healthier and more radiant when tanned. There is, however, the dispute about whether you tan better when wet or dry, and with so many different opinions, it is enough to confuse anyone. So, once and for all, do you tan better, wet or dry?

It is better to tan dry after applying a deeply moisturizing body lotion to lock in your skin’s natural moisture. Tanning dry for short intervals and spread over a few days will help you to tan safely and evenly. Gradual tanning is much healthier for your skin and will make your tan last longer.

Going to a special event or on holiday and want to get that perfect tan? We will discuss the best methods for the best results! Let’s get right down to business and find out if you tan better when you’re wet or dry. You will be looking sun-kissed in no time!

Do You Tan Better When Your Skin Is Wet Or Dry?

A little Vitamin D derived from sunlight never hurt anyone. Exposing your skin to sunlight is very healthy and helps your body produce endorphins. However, there is a difference in tanning wet compared to dry. For the optimal tanning result, it is better to tan when you are dry.

When tanning dry, it is essential to ensure that your skin is moisturized and hydrated. Moisturized skin creates a protective barrier and helps to give you a more even and deeper tan, and causes it to last longer.

Because the sun’s UV rays draw moisture from the skin, already dry skin will become even dryer and flakier. To get the best tan and protect your skin simultaneously, limiting your sun exposure to a maximum of 15 minutes (while changing your position throughout) would be best. This lowers your risk of skin cancer by 50%.

If you want to achieve an even better tan, tanning on the sand, for instance, at the beach, will increase your tan significantly. The UV rays from the sun reflecting off the sand add an additional 20% of UV rays on top of your direct UV rays from the sun. You’ll obtain a tan much more quickly and won’t need to spend too much time out in the sun if you use this tanning technique on the beach sand.

Why Do You Tan Better When You Are Dry?

Simply wetting your body with water or misting it just before your tanning will not improve your tan. Once again, dry, moisturized skin tans much better than tanning while you are soaking wet.

By lightly patting yourself dry after a shower, leaving most of the moisture on your skin, applying cream or a low SPF sunblock on your body and face will lock in most of the remaining moisture leaving your skin hydrated.

Lying on top of a floatable device on water or near water can better your tan. Besides the direct UV rays from the sun, you are getting an additional 10% of UV rays that reflects off the water.

Will You Tan While You Are Dry & Wearing SPF?

Sunscreen protects by acting as a barrier, limiting the number of UV rays that may reach the skin. This makes tanning more time-consuming and helps prevent or lower your risk of skin cancer. Nevertheless, you will still get a tan while wearing 15, 30, or 50+ SPF.

There are several factors to consider, including:

  • Skin type
  • The SPF levels
  • The duration of your tan

Can You Tan Through Water?

You may easily tan while swimming if the water is clean and shallow. UV-B rays (which damage the outermost layers of the skin and causes most skin cancers) cannot penetrate the water beyond a few meters.

Therefore, if you are planning to submerge yourself in the water while you tan, you may end up with a very uneven tan. Despite what you may think, sunburn can still occur in water as shallow as 1.6ft (0.5 m) because 40% of UV-B rays can get through.

As with sitting outside of the pool in direct sunlight, getting a sunburn when sitting on the water’s surface without protection is possible. About 30% of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are reflected by water, while 70% are still intense enough to penetrate the surface.

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What Can Help You Tan Better (Cool Tanning Tips)

Let’s look at the many things you can try to achieve a better tan:

  • Change positions frequently (every 5 to 10 minutes or so) from lying on your stomach to your back and vice versa.
  • Use a high-quality tanning oil with a natural SPF but do not use it as a replacement for your sunscreen. The aim is to tan, not get sunstroke!
  • Check the weather forecast to find out at what time of the day the sun’s UV rays are the strongest and if it coincides with the strongest at the time of your planned family picnic at the beach, ensure to adjust your skin protection and tanning time accordingly.
  • Taking breaks in the shade to prevent burning is essential and helps you achieve a more even tan.
  • Don’t spend more than 2-3 hours in the sun, as your body can’t produce melanin after a certain period (this also depends on a person’s skin).
  • Preparing your skin before tanning by shaving your legs, using a gentle exfoliant to get rid of dry, flaky skin, and applying a sufficient amount of deep penetrating moisturizer to protect your skin and keep it hydrated.
  • As strange as this may sound, reflective towels and sheets work efficiently and are safer when a base tan has been established, as they attract and reflect the sun’s rays onto your body.
  • Because sea salt is so effective at drawing sunlight to your skin, intermittent dips in the water and reapplication of tanning lotion may greatly enhance your tan.
  • Sunlight reflects off the water and bounces right onto you since water reflects sunlight. Therefore, the best ways to get a serious sun tan is to lie on the water on a floatable device like a Lilo or another type of fancy floating pool lounger or to swim in the water.
  • If you lie on the beach, you’ll be close to the sand, and just as the sun reflects off the water, so will it reflect off the sand and onto your skin.


Knowing the best way to tan is important because you don’t want to burn your skin. You simply want a beautiful, healthy glow.

Tanning dry with properly moisturized skin is the best way to tan, and remember that moderation is key. Avoid lengthy tanning sessions and get that desired glow gradually.