How does your skin tan?

What is the tanning process? How does it work to tan your skin?

How does skin tan? Many people love the look and confidence they gain from tanning. However, how many of them actually know how this process happens. By understanding your skin’s process, you can ensure you aren’t overexposing yourself. This will help for the best, and longest-lasting tan results possible!

UV rays

UV radiation is a form of electromagnetic energy, naturally created by the sun. This is also artificially created by sunbeds, lasers and blacklights. However, although the way the light is created is artificial, the UV produced is the same as the sun. Sunbeds harness the use of UVA and UVB rays. These are both responsible for tanning the skin in different ways:

how the skin tans
sunbed at home home tanning


UVA is the longest wavelength. This penetrates deeply into lower layers of the epidermis during the tanning process. UVA is the first UV ray to impact on the tanning process, by waking up your skin’s melanocytes.

Melanocytes create and store melanin in a clear form. When reached by UVA, these release melanin, which raises to the surface of the skin in a clear form.


After UVA has reached the skin and brought melanin to the surface of the skin, it is UVB’s time to shine. 

UVB is a shorter wavelength. This works alongside oxygen to oxidise the melanin on the surface layer of your skin. This is what works to help it deepen in colour and turn brown. 

How does skin tan: Melanin

The speed of the tanning process can be affected by many different things: How regularly you tan, if your skin is dry, whether you use tanning lotion,  and your natural melanin levels. 

The more melanin you have in your skin, not only the darker your skin tone, but also the deeper and faster you will tan. This also means, the fairer your skin tone, the shorter a period of time you can spend tanning, to avoid overexposure and burning. Not only could this lead to skin damage, but it also prevents you from tanning, meaning any results already accrued are obsolete until your skin recovers. 

We always advise building up your time tanning gradually to avoid overexposure, no matter your skin type.

How to boost your tan further

Although different skin types will tan at different rates and to different depths, there are certain tips to help boost your glow.

  • Moisturise daily; dry skin reflects light. By moisturising skin, UV is able to penetrate more evenly, and you ensure a deeper, uniform tan.
  • Always use tanning lotion. Not only are these crammed full of colour-boosting technologies, as well as anti-ageing skincare and moisturisers for a longer-lasting glow. We recommend Australian Gold.
  • Increase water intake; hydrating skin from the inside out will slow down natural skin shedding, for longer-lasting colour.