“There is no such thing as a healthy tan” – how long you can stay in the sun

Don't forget sunscreen, sunburn is dangerous.
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels – Mikhail Nilov

Summery tanned skin – for many a beauty ideal. But a deep tan is unhealthy and all too often we run the risk of sunburn. We explain how dangerous sunburn is and why you should stay indoors when it’s hot.

If you want to get a tan, you have to go outside in the sun. So far, so clear. But how long is sunbathing safe? And is a sunburn automatically dangerous? Our answers to the most frequently asked questions about tanning and sizzling in the sun.

How dangerous is sunburn?

Sunburn should never be taken lightly. It can cause severe acute pain, lead to skin cancer in the long term, and sunburn causes the skin to age. Dermatologist Christian Merkel even warned against the SZ last summer: “Every sunburn counts and increases the risk of skin cancer.”

As the name suggests, sunburn is a burn of the skin. As a kind of warning function, the body reacts to too much sun with inflammation, sunburn. In the long term, the burn leads to DNA damage, which in turn can cause skin cancer, according to the dermatologist at SZ.

Skin cancer is a common disease. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) states that in Germany every seventh man and every ninth woman up to the age of 75 suffers from skin cancer. The number of diseases has increased over the past ten years.

Can I also get a healthy tan?

Even if a light tan may look nice and healthy, tanning is purely a protective mechanism of our skin and is not necessary. What’s more, the European Code against Cancer, a project of the WHO International Center for Research on Cancer and the European Union, indicates that tanned skin is a sign of sun damage. “There’s no such thing as a ‘healthy tan,'” the website reads.

However, sunlight is important. The body can only produce vitamin D when our skin comes into contact with the sun. It only becomes dangerous when we get too much sun.


Is sunscreen enough for sunburn?

First of all: Adequate sun protection is important and you should never go out in the sun for longer without sunscreen. But a high sun protection factor (SPF) alone is not enough to prevent sunburn. This requires repeated application of cream as soon as you have been in the water while bathing or have sweated.

Before sunbathing, you should apply plenty of sunscreen to your skin to protect yourself from sunburn.
Before sunbathing, you should apply plenty of sunscreen to your skin to protect yourself from sunburn. (Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / skeeze)

And a lot is also a lot: Stick to the rule of thumb of 25 milliliters of sunscreen per full-body application. If the sunscreen runs out quickly, find a recommended new one. Here you will find our tips: Sunscreen test: These are the best sunscreens

Also interesting: Cream your back yourself: This is how it finally works

How long can I tan in the sun?

It is difficult to give an exact time here, because the individual sun time depends above all on your skin type. Fair-skinned people should be more careful and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, especially if their skin is not used to it. Darker skin types don’t get sunburned quite as easily, but they shouldn’t go outside for long without sunscreen either.

Also read: Self-Tanners: Why you should stay away from them

At the beginning of summer, it is best to use the following timeline as a guide: At the beginning, you should not be in the sun for more than 20 minutes. After that you can increase the time in the sun by a third compared to the day before.

Midsummer: when am I even allowed to go out in the sun?

On hot, sunny days above 30 degrees Celsius, we recommend that you better not sit or lie directly in the sun. On hot days, take special care of yourself and those around you (especially the elderly and small children). Here are some important tips:

  • Put on a hat or cap so the sun doesn’t burn directly on your head.
  • Stay indoors between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and avoid the sun.
  • Drink enough water, especially if you sweat a lot.

  • It’s better to stay in the shade, you’ll slowly tan there too.
  • Strenuous sport in the heat is not recommended, it is better to postpone sport units to early in the morning or in the evening when it is cooler and the sun is not shining so strongly. Important: However, ozone levels can be high in the mornings and evenings; regardless of the temperature. Even with high ozone levels, you should protect yourself and, for example, postpone sports to another time.

Read more on Techzle.com:

  • Sleeping in the heat: 12 mistakes and how to avoid them
  • Animals suffer from the heat: Here’s how you can help
  • Sustainable sandals: 7 vegan and fair summer shoes

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