Can You Get Tanned Through the Clouds?

Wondering if you can get a tan even though it's a warm, overcast day? It's probably not the first time you're asking yourself that question. So, let's find out!

If you are like me, you like to get away from home during the Summer. I hate being cooped up at home, especially during the best months of the year. As a result, I usually try to go somewhere warm so that I can relax and work on my tan. However, a day inevitably comes when it is cloudy outside.

That being said, the clouds do not necessarily make it too cold to go to the beach when it is the middle of July. So, can you get a tan through clouds?

I have asked myself that question before, trying to figure out if I can still work on my tan on overcast days. I would not lie on the beach while it is raining, but if it is still warm, I would still do it while it is cloudy. With that in mind, is it possible to get a tan through clouds? 

Can you get a tan through clouds? 

The quick answer to this question is that it is possible to get a tan through clouds. It is true that there are times of the day when you might not feel the Sun, but that does not mean you are not exposed to its rays. You see, researchers have shown that upwards of 90% of UV rays penetrate the clouds. As a result, almost all of the rays that are responsible for skin tanning and burning can still reach you on cloudy days. 

As a result, it is important to be prepared every time you go outside during the summer months, regardless of whether the sky is blue or grey. Without proper protection, your skin will tan, which you might be happy about. However, your skin can also burn through the clouds, so you need to prepare for that scenario. 

Is the same thing true in the winter?

You might think that it is not possible to tan in the winter because the Sun is not strong enough. However, that would be an incorrect assumption. While it is true that the Sun is not as strong during the colder months of the year because of the way the Earth is tilted, but UV rays can still penetrate the clouds. 

The common belief is that people do not tan in the winter because the Sun is not strong enough to affect their skin in any significant way. However, the fact is that people do not tan in the winter because most people do not want to spend that much time out in the cold. There are just not a lot of people that enjoy putting on their winter pants to go hiking in the cold. So, if you plan on going on winter hikes or you enjoy ice fishing, you still need to put on skin protection. 

How do you tan? 

If I had not made it clear already, you get tanned by UV rays. When UV radiation penetrates your skin, your body responds by producing melanin. Melanin is a dark toned pigment that protects the skin from UV rays. The longer you stay in the Sun, the more melanin your body will produce. 

Typically, people with darker skin have more melanin than those with lighter skin. As a result, people with darker skin are more likely to get a nice tan, whereas people with lighter skin have a greater chance of burning. That is not to say that people with darker skin cannot burn, they can, it is just less likely. 

Things to know about UV rays 

UV rays are the things that come from the Sun that make you tan and burn. Scientists have actually managed to duplicate these rays in tanning beds and other similar instruments. Using these rays to tan your body can make you feel and look good, but you need to be careful because too much can be dangerous. 

Rays from the Sun are also a source of vitamin D, which helps you feel and sleep better. However, when you spend too much time in the Sun without tanning lotion or protective clothing, your skin can burn, you can get heatstroke, and you can even develop skin cancer. 

Unfortunately, it is difficult to gauge the strength of UV rays at any moment in particular. That is because they are invisible to the naked eye. That can be detected by some instruments, but you will never be able to see them. As a result, it can be difficult to gauge their intensity. You can make estimations based on your previous experiences, but you cannot know for sure. 

Types of UV rays 

There are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. 

UVA rays account for roughly 95% of the total radiation that is produced by the Sun. They can penetrate the surface of your skin through the epidermis, all the way down to the bottom of the dermis. These are the rays that accelerate the aging process of the skin and cause wrinkles to form. 

UVB rays attack the top layer of your skin, making them the number one cause of sunburns and skin cancer. Additionally, it is possible for them to damage the DNA in your skin. These rays can burn your skin in as little as 15 minutes. 

Finally, UVC rays are almost entirely absorbed by the atmosphere, and as a result, they do not reach the Earth’s surface in any significant way. So, you do not need to worry about these rays affecting your skin in any meaningful way. 

What are the best ways to protect your skin? 

The easiest way to protect your skin from the Sun is to avoid it entirely. If you do not want to burn or tan your skin, staying indoors is the best way to prevent it. That being said, not many people are willing to stay inside all the time, and as a result, you need to find other ways to protect yourself. I certainly would not be willing to stay inside at all times. 

The next best thing you can do is wear Sun protection. Sunscreen is the most popular option, and it is popular for a reason as it does a great job of protecting your skin. It is important to note that not all sunscreen is of equal quality. All sunscreen is given a Sun protection factor (SPF) rating. The higher the rating, the better protection you get from the Sun. The rating is a number that essentially tells you how much more time it will take for you to burn. So, if you wore SPF 30 sunscreen, it would take 30 extra minutes for the Sun to penetrate the sunscreen to start burning your skin. Sun protection should be worn regardless of whether you are lying on the beach or strapping on your boots for a hike.

Final thoughts 

Getting a tan is something most people enjoy doing, and even if you do not like it, it can be unavoidable at times. You might think that you can go out when it is cloudy to avoid changing the color of your skin, but that is not the case.

It is possible to get a tan through the clouds, and in fact, it is likely that this will occur if you stay outside for an extended period of time. So, if you want to avoid tanning and burning, it is important that you wear Sun protection regardless of the color of the sky.

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Jakob Staudal

I love to spend time outside and reconnect with nature every now and then and cut-off all the noise from social media and everyday life.