Close this search box. is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Can You Get Tan When It’s Cloudy? – 5 Easy Tanning Tips

Can You Get Tan When It_s Cloudy

Have you ever looked at your skin and decided that you needed to get a tan?

Yup. We have all been there.

It seems like the only choices you are left with are to either flaunt your fair skin or soak up some much-needed sun, except it’s hiding behind clouds.

We’ll let you in on a little secret: Yes, you can tan when it’s cloudy.

Table of Contents

How Do I Tan Even When It's Cloudy?

How Do I Tan When Cloudy

You can thank the glorious UV rays for your beautiful caramel hue.

The sun’s rays are made of UVA rays, UVB rays, and visible light. The common misconception is you have to be under visible light to tan. Wrong!

Even when Mr. Sun is hiding, you can still get your tan. This is all thanks to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which can penetrate the clouds.

All About UV Radiation and UV Rays

Ultraviolet radiation is from invisible rays that are part of the energy from the sun. 

The three types of UV rays are ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), and ultraviolet C (UVC). UVA and UVB  can both penetrate the ozone layer.

We have duplicated these rays in our tanning beds and other instruments for tanning.

Why are UV Rays Tricky?

The reason why they are tricky is that you cannot see them with your naked eye.

Scientific instruments will detect them, but this means that you will have NO IDEA how many rays you are getting until you see their effect.

  • UVA has a LONGER wavelength and is associated with skin aging. This ray is the cause of skin wrinkles.
  • UVB rays have a SHORTER  wavelength and are associated with skin burning. This type of radiation affects the top layer of the skin.

Unprotected exposure from both rays can damage the DNA in our skin cells, which can also lead to premature aging, and even skin cancer.

Is It Better to Tan When It's Cloudy?

Quick answer? NO!

Less visible sunlight DOES NOT mean you will tan better.

The truth is, the ultraviolet rays that can harm your skin are more or less the same as when there are no clouds present. They can gradually cause skin cancer.

This is why you ALWAYS NEED to protect your skin. No matter how cloudy, hazy, rainy, or misty a day is, the rays of the sun can still reach you.

Can I Still Tan Under Grey Clouds?

YES, you can! However, keep in mind that thick clouds will absorb some UV rays. This means that there would not be as much UV light from the sun that can pass through.

Although you will still be able to tan, it might take longer if you see darker clouds.

Five Tips to Achieve a Tan on a Cloudy Day

1. Prep Your Skin

1. Prep Your Skin

There is still a possibility that you get a sunburn even on a cloudy day.

We suggest that you exfoliate, moisturize, and put on sunscreen before getting a tan.


Exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells, which reveals the fresh skin underneath. The fresh skin is primed to absorb your spray tan better, which leads to long-lasting results. 

A day before your tanning session, take a shower and scrub gently with your favorite exfoliating scrub.


NEVER EVER skip this step.

Applying a lotion will lock in the moisture after a shower, which improves the general health of your skin. Apply the lotion twice a day before your tanning day.

Wear Sunscreen

UV rays are STILL PRESENT on cloudy days. NEVER FORGET to put on a broad-spectrum tanning sunscreen. This will help keep the harmful rays of the sun from burning your skin.

To avoid a burn, remember to apply when you have reached your allotted time under the sun. Do this after every two hours.

The eyes and lips are often the most neglected areas for sun protection:

Protecting Your Eyes

Even though you are tanning on a cloudy day,  we advise you to still wear sunglasses. This is to protect the skin around your eyes.

The skin around our eyes is THINNER and MORE DELICATE than the rest of our skin.

Sunglasses will NOT ONLY shield our eyes from the sun; they will also protect this sensitive area as well.

Make sure to also apply a gentle sunscreen that is suitable for the skin in the eye area.

Elta’s facial sunscreen is free from irritants and fragrances that may harm the eye. 

Protecting Your Lips

To keep your lips moist and soft, make sure to put some lip balms that contain SPF.

Our lips will be exposed the whole time we are tanning, which makes them also susceptible to the rays from the sun.

Long-term damage may lead to discoloration, and this does not go away even when the burn does. 

We recommend you try out Vanicream lip balm. This must-have product contains SPF 30, making it enough to protect your lips from the sun’s harsh rays.

What If I Go Swimming Too?

Even if the label of the sunscreen product says it’s waterproof, the sunscreen has probably been washed off already after your water activities.

There might be thick clouds present, but to ensure that your skin is still protected, reapply your sunscreen after getting wet.  

You can continue your tanning without the possibility of developing a burn.

2. Choose the Right Time

2. Choose the Right Time

Part of avoiding skin damage is choosing the right time to tan.

The perfect time to tan is early in the morning before 10 am or in the evening after 4 pm.

Let's Explain Why

The sun is at its peak during the mid-morning, between 10 am and 4 pm. This means that during this window, the UV rays are at their STRONGEST.

Choosing to tan before and after this time frame reduces your UV exposure. Tanning past 5pm is usually not as advisable as tanning in the early morning.

If you are a person with pale skin, following this advice IS A MUST.

If you tan during the peak hours of the sun, you are MORE LIKELY to develop red patches due to intense UV rays than a person with naturally darker skin.

3. Pick the Right Spot

3. Pick the Right Spot

When it comes to tanning sessions, picking the right spot plays an important role, too.

The key to choosing the right place to tan is to pick a place with minimal cloud coverage.

But Why, You Ask?

During cloudy days, tanning under less cloudy spots will help you tan faster.

To achieve your desired results, your tanning sessions should be in short periods, however. This decreases the risk of getting sunburns in your exposed skin.

Are There Any Spots I Should Avoid?

We are glad you asked.

Avoid tanning under the shadows of buildings, fences, or even trees. Just because you are in the shade does not mean you are not receiving any sun exposure.

When you tan under the shadows, you might fall into the trap of thinking that your tanning sessions could be longer. We also don’t recommend that you get a tan through a window.

However, this is NOT TRUE because you still run the risk of exposing yourself to unhealthy UV levels under the shade, even if it’s cloudy.

4. Use a Tanning Lotion

4. Use a Tanning Lotion

Craving for that bronzed look? We got you.

An indoor tanning lotion helps you to tan safely.

Moist skin tans are MUCH BETTER than dry skin. A tanning lotion keeps your skin moisturized and also reduces the drying effects of the sun’s UV rays.

Pick a tanning lotion that is appropriate for your skin tone. After you have done so, apply it to your entire body to avoid uneven patches.

What If I Have Dry Skin?

If you have dry skin, tanning oil instead.

Oils attract and focus the sun rays onto the skin to give you that perfect tanned skin. 

Hampton Sun’s tanning oil is not only hypoallergenic but also non-greasy. Not to mention that it contains aloe vera gel and vitamin E, giving you an even sun-kissed glow.

Or, you can also consider buying a tanning lotion with low SPF. This ensures that your body is well-moisturized and protected during your tanning sessions.

Can I Use Baby Oil as Tanning Oil

Because we want you to avoid sunburns, we are going to say no.

Using baby oil as tanning oil is not advisable because it absorbs MORE UV radiation. 

Even when you tan on a cloudy day, there is a higher risk of skin damage because this type of oil fastens the tanning process.

5. Make Yourself Comfortable

5. Make Yourself Comfortable

Achieving a perfect tan does not have to be stressful. Whether you are tanning on a sunny day or overcast day, elongate your body.

This ensures that your tan remains even regardless of the weather. The way to achieve this is to look for a lounge chair or lay on a comfortable towel.

  • Of course, do not get too comfortable as much as to burn one side of your body.
  • Avoid staying in the same position for too long, as this can damage the exposed skin.
  • Keep on turning on your back and sides so that the entire body absorbs the same amount of sun exposure. 

How Long Should I Wait Before Turning?

Good question!

To get something out of tanning on a cloudy day, tan each side for at least 10 minutes before turning. Use a timer if you are the type to forget how much time has already passed.

If You Have Pale Skin...

If you have paler skin, it’s BEST if you tan during a cloudy day first. This prepares your skin to build a tan gradually, without the risk of sunburn.

Remember: The more exposure to UV rays, the more the body is induced to produce melanin

Slowly preparing your skin to tan will give you enough time to build up protection against sun damage. Also, this ensures that there are lower risks of developing skin cancer. 

When your skin has been exposed to the UV rays of the sun, your body produces melanin for 48 hours. This means that the bronze hue you are aiming for will not show straight away.

Consider tanning for short intervals first. Maintain the same length of time for your next tanning session.

6. Stay Hydrated

6. Stay Hydrated

It does not matter if you have light or dark skin. Being under the sun dehydrates us. 

Aside from getting sunburnt, excess exposure to the sun can cause dehydration and heat exhaustion. 

The best way to avoid getting dehydrated is to constantly drink water during your tanning.

  • If you do not keep yourself hydrated, there is a possibility of you feeling lightheaded and dizzy.
  • If you are the type of person who enjoys flavored drinks, you can consider preparing a fruit shake for yourself.


One of the best fruits during long exposures under heat is watermelon. This fruit is rich in lycopene, vitamins A and C, and beta carotene.

When you blend watermelon into a drink, you maximize its sun-protective power. WATERMELON is also really hydrating because it contains hydrating salts, minerals, and sugars. 

How Do I Take Care of My Skin Post-Tanning?

How Do I Take Care of My Skin

There are only two important steps to remember after your tanning session – take a cold shower and moisturize.

Cold Showers are a Must

After spending some time under the fluffy clouds, getting rid of the sweat or lotion is necessary.

A cold shower after tanning is better than a hot one to avoid drying out the skin. Besides, it is also refreshing after a long day under the clouds.

Avoid exfoliating after tanning.  This can make the skin LIGHTER and affect the tanning process.

Don't Forget Your Moisturizer

After your shower, make sure to apply moisturizer. Don’t just apply anything available on the market.

Use a moisturizer that is made from natural oils. This will not only hydrate your skin, but oils also bring some vitamins.

To save you time and energy, we already found the perfect product for you!

Hempz moisturizer contains shea butter and ginseng, which locks in moisture leading to SMOOTHER SKIN after a day of tanning.

Can I Use Petroleum Jelly Instead?

NO! Do not apply petroleum jelly after tanning because it locks in excess heat. This can lead to dryness and wrinkles.

We don’t want that ruining your beautiful tan.

Some Last Words...

Some Last Words

On days when Mr. Sun is not shining as brightly, it is still possible to get a tan even if it’s cloudy.   

No matter your skin color, there is a real risk of developing a burn in your skin if you stay outside for too long, regardless if it’s a cloudy day.

Sunscreens are your BEST FRIENDS when you are planning to get that bronzed look.

Never forget to protect your skin from the sun.



September 6, 2021 – Updated article formatting and content

July 16, 2021 – Reviewed and updated article links

Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.