Many people enjoy sitting in front of windows during winter and feeling the warm sun that glows through them. If you are one of them, you probably hope to get some tan that way but are not sure – Can you tan through a window? The second question is whether the glass window can protect your body from harmful UV rays while enjoying.
You can technically get a bit tan through window glass, but it is not the best way to achieve your goal. Be aware that the positive effects of your enjoyment depend on the sun exposure time and the glass type installed in your windows. Sometimes it is not worth your time. Let’s see.
What is Tanning?
Getting a tan is a passive aesthetic activity that results in skin darkening after several hours of exposure to the sun’s rays. Moderate sun exposure is beneficial and helps you to look healthy.
Medically speaking, tanning is the skin’s defense mechanism that releases melanin, a pigment that absorbs radiation. That way, your skin tries to protect itself from UV rays, resulting in dark color.
As you can guess, the higher melanin levels in your body will protect you better, so people with darker skin are in a better position. Remember that the increased melanin production lasts several days to a few weeks after the last exposure, depending on the skin type.
Unfortunately, the tanning effect is not permanent and lasts about 7 to 10 days on average. However, you can slow down that process by:
- Skin exfoliation before tanning
- Taking a cool bath instead of a warm one
- Skin moisturizing
Another option for getting a tan is sunless tanning (self-tanning, fake tanning, spray tanning). When exposing your skin to the chemical compound Dihydroxyacetone, you will get a similar result like after sunbathing. Unfortunately, you can’t enjoy other benefits the sun brings to your body this way.
Can You Tan Through a Window?
It is unlikely to get a tan through a closed window, but it mostly depends on three factors:
- The window glass type you have installed in your home
- The period of exposing your skin to sun rays
- Season and the sun rays’ strength
Be aware that typical windows in most American homes and offices block most UV rays, particularly if they are:
- Coated with UV filters
- Double- or triple-paned
On the other hand, ordinary window glass in older homes offers less protection and allows you to get a tan during sun exposure.
You should know that there are three UV rays types. Since UVC rays can’t reach the Earth’s surface, you should worry only about UVA and UVB. Both can damage the skin but in different ways.
UVA rays penetrate the deep skin layers and trigger melanocytes, cells that produce the pigment melanin. It allows for getting a tan but also:
- Causes premature aging
- Causes wrinkling and sunspots occurrence
- Weakens your immune system
- Damages your DNA
- Negatively affects the blood vessels and nerves in your skin
UVB rays affect the cells in the top skin layers and cause sunburn or even skin cancer.
Remember that a max of 74% of UVA rays penetrates through standard window glass. On the other hand, it blocks 97% of UVB rays. In other words, your chances of getting tan through a closed window are negligibly low. Plus, your body can’t get any vitamin D this way.
Can You Tan Through a Car Window?
Windshields are designed of laminated glass, making them highly protective in case of a car accident. Additionally, they will protect you against 94% to 96% of UV rays.
Other car windows made from tempered glass block 44% to 96% of UVA rays, depending on the vehicle model, but they are not too protective against UVB rays. So, you can get a tan through a car window, but the process lasts longer than when sunbathing.
On the other hand, frequent driving will probably increase the risk of skin cancer development. Be aware that melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers most commonly appear on the body’s left side in people driving most of the day.
How Long Does it Take to Tan Through a Window?
Many people are unsure about the time they need to spend beside the window to get a tan. In most cases, you will see the first effects within two to three hours, but it depends on a few factors, including:
Skin type and color
Your skin type and color are essential factors in the speed of getting a tan. You will benefit most from sitting in front of the sunny window when your skin is medium and fair brown. According to science, you will probably need about three hours to get tanned in such a case.
If your skin is very bright white, getting tanned through the window will be practically impossible. Be aware that such skin is sensitive to UV radiation, so you will probably get burned instead of getting a tan.
Since black skin is highly tolerant to UV light, you can’t count on getting a tan through a window while sitting in front of it if you are dark-colored.
As you know, the sun intensity varies throughout the year, so you will get a tan faster while exposing your skin to UV rays in summer. In some cases, exposing your skin for an hour will be enough to get the desired result.
On the other hand, even hours spent in front of the window during winter will result in moderate tanning because UV rays are mild in that period.
Since you can find windows made of different glass types nowadays, the possibility of getting a tan will depend on the one you install in your home.
For instance, a typical window glass absorbs 30% to 70% of the UV rays. Therefore, you can expect to get a tan after at least two hours of sun exposure, but it depends on the glass type.
Ordinary glass – This type blocks almost all UVB rays but can’t protect you entirely from UVA rays.
Double- and triple-glazed windows – It is useless sitting in front of this window glass type and expecting to get a tan since they block almost all UVA and UVB rays from penetrating inside your home or car.
Benefits of Sunbathing through Window Glass
Besides modest results in getting a tan while sitting in front of the window, you can enjoy some other benefits of this activity:
Mental health improving
Getting the sun’s rays through the window is a successful way to fight depression. They enhance the serotonin production in your body, boosting your mood and focus and making you more productive. However, you will get a better result when sitting in front of the opened window.
Immune system enhancing
This point is pretty controversial. On the one hand, boosted mood and high serotonin levels positively influence your health. On the other hand, you can’t get vitamin D through a closed window because most modern window glass blocks the UVB rays.
Home look improvement
The natural light will visually make your room more spacious and more comfortable to stay in.
UV rays kill bacteria that thrive in moist and dark places. Therefore, you can keep your home healthy and purify the air by removing the curtain from the window during winter.
Downsides of Sunbathing through Window Glass
Prolonged sunrays exposure is harmful, despite taking precautions. As a result, you may face a few short- and long-term adverse UV rays effects:
Impossibility of getting vitamin D
Your body produces vitamin D while exposing the skin to UVB rays, but most windows in your home and vehicle block them. In other words, you need to expose at least a third of your skin to direct sunlight to make it happen. Sitting in front of the window can’t help in this case.
Sunburn, skin damage, and premature skin aging
You will probably face a problem with sore red skin after spending hours in front of the sunny window. In the beginning, you will notice pain and red skin, but long-term effects, like premature skin aging, sunspots, or even skin cancer, are not immediately visible.
Unfortunately, they are more severe. For instance, premature skin aging results in profound wrinkles even early in life. The most severe problem is skin growth appearance, which may quickly become skin cancer.
Skin cancer typically varies from small malignant growths to aggressive and potentially fatal melanoma.
You can theoretically get a tan after spending some time in front of your window, but it is not the most practical way to achieve your goal.
The result will depend on the sun rays’ intensity, the installed window type, and the time you are prepared to spend in front of it. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you will be satisfied with the result despite being patient for hours.