Tanning safely involves applying a sunscreen of at least 20 SPF and only spending about 15 minutes in the sun to build up a tan. Once the skin starts to tan, the person can generally increase the amount of time they spend tanning in the sun.
Before tanning, the sunscreen needs to be applied at least 20 minutes before going into the sun. This time is needed for the sunscreen to be absorbed into the skin. Once out in the sun, people have to remember to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours. Those who are swimming or sweating a lot, need to reapply more often.
Knowing how much sun is too much is the key to safe tanning. Skin that is darker has more melanin. The lighter a person's skin is, the less melanin they have and the easier it is for them to burn in the sun. People who have skin that burns easily should stay out of the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. because this is when the rays of the sun are the hottest. This does not mean that fair-skinned people have to stay indoors during these hours, but it does mean they need to apply sunblocks with higher SPFs during these hours.