Home / Tanning / Why Won’t Your Legs Tan? – All Possible Reasons Explained + Useful Tips to Tan Your Legs Fast

Why Won’t Your Legs Tan? – All Possible Reasons Explained + Useful Tips to Tan Your Legs Fast

by  Doris Harris -  Last Updated On 9th August 2021

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Every year when summer comes around, there is nothing better than going outside and enjoying the warmth and fun of the sun. Whether it’s hanging by the pool, going to the beach, or just lounging around with friends and family, summertime is the best time to really soak up every bit of sun that you can.

By the time fall rolls around, you should feel well-rested, happy, and tan. But have you ever noticed that your legs don’t tan like the rest of your body does? Maybe you spend as much time as possible in the sun but your legs are still painfully pale and unattractive.

It’s not because of lack of trying either, you have applied sun tan lotion, laid underneath the clouds and have done everything in your power to make sure your legs look like the rest of your body. Yet, it still doesn’t work and you are left with legs that just don’t look how you want.

What is it about your legs that prevents them from tanning like the rest of you? More importantly, is there anything you can do to change things and help them tan? Or are you doomed to have light, pale legs that are left lacking?

Why your legs don’t tan? – All possible reasons explained

There are actually a lot of reasons that prevent your legs from tanning. It actually has very little to do with the amount of time you have in the sun. In fact, you can spend days under the bright UV rays and still have legs that just don’t look the way you want.

No, there are other, more important reasons that are stopping your legs from gaining that gorgeous summertime tan.

1. Melanin levels

Firstly, you might have less melanin in your system. Melanin is what causes your skin to get dark and achieve a golden tone. Your upper body has a lot more melanin than the lower part of your body.

That is why you might have tanned arms and back and neck and chest but legs that look ghostly white. This is a major, biological reason for your lack of tanned legs. Legs are just naturally slower to tan than the rest of the body.

2. Thick skin

Perhaps your legs have thicker skin, as many people’s do. The skin on the legs is thicker than the skin on other parts of the body. UV rays have a harder time penetrating the skin of the legs because of this thickness. That goes a long way to preventing the tan that you’re looking for.

Again, there is nothing you can do about the thickness of your skin – just like there is nothing you can do about the amount of melanin in the lower portion of your body. However, there are other reasons your legs aren’t tan and some of them are ones that you can easily combat.

3. Dry skin

If the skin of your legs is extremely dry, it is going to be hard to get them tanned. Dry skin actually reflects UV rays, rather than absorbs them. Therefore, if your skin is very dry, it will not retain any of the rays that hit it.

That is why it is always smart to lather your legs in lotion before you go out and enjoy the sun. Thankfully, many sunscreens contain lotion properties in them too so you can both protect your skin and also keep it hydrated at the same time.

Dry skin also prevents tanning because the drier the skin, the more it will exfoliate itself and shed the skin on the surface. How can a tan build if the skin is always shedding? It can’t.

4. Tight clothes

You can definitely apply a lot of lotion to your skin to help encourage tanning, but did you know that the clothing you wear also affects the color and look of your legs? It’s true, fashion plays a big part in your tanned legs.

Tight leggings and skinny jeans can hold your legs back from looking the way you want. If your skin is going to tan, it needs to have good and steady circulation. As you can imagine, tight pants and clothing prevent that sort of circulation.

Restricted circulation means that you won’t be getting a tan any time soon. So even if you’re wearing only your bathing suit under the sun, the clothing you regularly wear when you’re not next to the pool might have done damage and prevented you from getting tanned.

Additionally, if you are wearing tight clothing, it will rub against the skin and keep it dry. As we know, dry skin will rarely be tanned skin.

5. Shaving and waxing

Do you shave or wax your legs regularly? Did you know that this too has an effect on how tanned your legs can get? While shaving and waxing is great to get rid of unwanted hair, it also removes layers of skin too.

Of course, no one is asking you to not shave your legs if you’re uncomfortable with that, but if you are shaving your legs, you should make sure that you aren’t wearing tight clothing or doing other things to restrict tanning.

6. Exfoliation

In fact, anything that exfoliates the skin is going to promote cell turnover and prohibit even, healthy tanning. It is important that you keep this in mind during the summer season. You should be ready to take extra steps and precautions to make sure that your tanning attempts aren’t stifled by these factors.

6 Tips to tan your legs fast

Now that you know what’s holding your legs back from looking the way you desire, you need to figure out what to do to make them tan quickly. What steps can you take to help your legs achieve the dream look you’ve been longing for?

1. Stay moisturized

Firstly, you should try to avoid the things we already mentioned, such as dry skin. This can be reduced by moisturizing regularly and keeping your legs hydrated. This will help them tan more quickly and easily as well as stay tanned for longer.

When it comes to moisturizing, you should use a hydrating, non-comedogenic moisturizer about 12-6 hours before you start your tanning. This will keep your skin moist and will also promote tanning too.

You surely know that there is no lack of moisturizers that you can buy. While it is great that there are so many types you can buy, you have to be certain that you are getting the right type. There are certain lotions that assist with tanning, and are oil-based.

You should look to find lotions that heal and hydrate and come with ingredients such as aloe vera, lotus extracts, and argan oil. You will not find these in just any lotions and moisturizers. You will probably have to shop around to find the very right fit for your skin. Check out our recommended list of top hydrating tanning lotions here.

2. Avoid tight clothing

If you are on a mission to tan your legs, stay away from tight clothing. Aim for loose clothing or bare legs and you will boost your tan! As you can’t do everything, try and follow at least some of these. For example, if you are going to shave or wax your legs, refrain from tight clothing.

3. Plan your hair removal

There are other things you can do as well. For example, if you’re shaving or waxing, do it a full day before you want to tan. Planning ahead like this and giving your skin time to recover from the shaving and waxing will help it get tanned. When it comes to any sort of exfoliating of the skin, try to do it a good day or two before scheduling tanning or time in the sun.

4. Use a dry brush

There are also products that you can turn to that will help tan your legs, even if there are things holding them back from looking as good as you want. For example, the market has plenty of dry brushes that help. Dry brushing improves circulation and reduces cellulite. Most of them are small, compact, and can fit in your purse or bag.

5. Use self-tan

Of course, there is also self-tanner that you can buy and apply to your skin. Not only is self-tanner a great way to keep your skin protected from UV sun rays, it will also keep your skin glowing and looking exactly like you wanted.

However, you will want to make sure you have found a self-tanner that you like. How does it feel? How does it smell? How much does it cost? Once you find the self-tanner that is right for you, apply it regularly so that your skin can start to darken and find the right, golden tone.

6. Try a tanning bed

If you are looking to get tanned legs as soon as possible, you can always choose to use a tanning bed. Tanning beds are definitely the fastest way for you to get a tan. It comes with its advantages – such as the speed – and some disadvantages too.

Of course, tanning beds are going to cost you money, sometimes you might need a tanning salon subscription to use one. Additionally, it’s very easy to get carried away in a tanning bed and the vast change in your look in such a short amount of time can often be startling to those closest to you.

It is important that you aim to have a well-balanced and even-looking tan. Do not overindulge in tanning beds. However, if you are looking to have your legs looking dreamy in no time at all, tanning beds are the best approach. However, tanning beds might not be a permanent solution but they sure are a quick one.

Tanning best practices

If you decide to try to tan under the sun, there are certain things to keep in mind and tips to remember when you are aiming for a tanned look. Firstly, you should go to great pains to keep your legs moisturized and free of tight clothing for at least 24 hours before you are in the sunlight.

You should also still apply sunscreen. Yes, sunscreen is meant to protect you from UV rays but that doesn’t mean it will stop your tan. If you are going to get tanned legs, you should apply sunscreen that is at least SPF 30.

This will keep you free of sunburns but will also let your skin soak up enough UV rays to look even and golden-brown. Getting a tan the old, natural way under the sun isn’t as easy as you think. It isn’t as simple as just lying under the clouds and letting the sun do its work.

You have to choose the right time, sit there for the right period, and also make sure you are getting a full-body tan. You should choose a spot by the pool or on the beach where the sun is unobstructed. You can’t have trees providing shade over your whole body if you are looking to get tanned legs.

You will need to have your legs – or any part of your body that needs tanning – exposed to the sun. This is why it is so important that you are at least wearing some sunscreen.

Once you are in the sun for a while, you need to also move around and make sure that every part of your body gets a good dose of Vitamin D and even sun exposure. This is vital even if you are looking to just get your legs tanned.

Surely, you don’t want your legs to be darker than the rest of your body, or vice versa. Therefore, when you are tanning, turn on your side, then on your stomach, then on your back. Stay in one position for a set amount of time, then change positions and stay in that spot for a while too.

This will create an even look across your entire body. The sun will do its work but you will have to assist it a bit by allowing access to your body and making sure every part of it is touched by the sun.

There are many reasons why your legs aren’t as tan as you’d like. Some of them are biological, some of them are completely preventable.

But the good news is that no matter what is causing your pale legs, it can be combated with some helpful tips and tricks. Even if you have struggled with pale legs all your life, you can still make them look as tanned and gorgeous as you have always wanted.

Also Read: Can You Shower After Tanning? (Is it Safe?)

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