Skip to Content

Can You Get a Tan Through a Window? Yes, but It’s Not Advisable (2024)

This site is supported by our readers. We may earn a commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through links.

can you get a tan through a windowYou certainly can get a tan through a window, but it’s not recommended.

Most windows block out UVB rays, but UVA rays can still penetrate, causing tanning and premature aging.

Prolonged exposure to UVA rays boosts your risk of skin cancer.

For your safety, consider applying sunscreen indoors when close to uncurtained windows for extended periods.

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t bank on a "window tan": While you might catch a few rays, it’s not an effective way to get a tan, and you still risk sun damage.
  • UVA rays: the sneaky culprit: Even though windows block most UVB rays, UVA rays can still sneak through, leading to premature aging and increasing your risk of skin cancer.
  • Protect your precious skin: Apply sunscreen indoors if you’re near windows for extended periods. It’s like putting on a protective shield against harmful UV rays.
  • Vitamin D dilemma: Windows block UVB rays, which are essential for vitamin D production. So, soak up the sun directly or consider supplements to ensure you’re getting enough of this vital vitamin.

Can You Get a Tan Through a Window?

YES, you can get a tan through a window, but it isn’t advisable as it still exposes you to harmful UVA and UVB rays that can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer. It’s crucial to take sun protection measures, even when indoors, to ensure your skin stays healthy and protected.

Understanding Window Tanning

Understanding Window Tanning
Tanning is a result of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds. This radiation causes damage to your skin cells and increases your risk of skin cancer.

When your skin is exposed to UV rays, it produces melanin, a pigment that colors your skin, hair, and eyes. Melanin is your body’s natural defense mechanism against UV radiation, and the more you have, the better protected you are. However, this increase in melanin production is a sign of skin damage.

UV rays come in two forms: UVA and UVB. UVB rays are responsible for sunburn and cause the skin to increase melanin production a few days after exposure. UVA rays, on the other hand, penetrate deeper into the skin and cause premature aging, wrinkles, and some skin cancers.

While windows do block most UVB rays, they allow some UVA rays to pass through. This means that while you’re unlikely to get a sunburn through a window, prolonged exposure to strong sunlight can result in a tan and cause skin damage over time.

Can You Really Tan Through Glass?

Can You Really Tan Through Glass
Most windows block the UVB rays that cause sunburn, but they can still let in some UVA rays, which can penetrate the skin more deeply and cause tanning. However, the amount of UVA rays that can pass through a window is typically not enough to cause a significant tan.


Now, let’s explore the differences between UVA and UVB rays and how they relate to tanning through windows.

  • UVA rays account for 95% of UV radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface and can penetrate through glass. They’re associated with skin aging and play a role in skin cancer formation.
  • UVB rays make up 5% of UV rays and have higher energy. They’re responsible for producing sunburns and play a significant role in causing skin cancers, especially malignant melanoma.
  • UVA rays have lower energy and a longer wavelength than UVB rays, allowing them to penetrate the middle layer of the skin (dermis).
  • UVB rays possess slightly more energy and a shorter wavelength, reaching only the outer layer of the skin (epidermis).
  • Tanning through windows is primarily influenced by UVA rays, which cause tanning and can pass through glass.

Types of Windows and UV Penetration

The effectiveness of UV protection depends on various factors, including window materials, glass thickness, building design, and window orientation.

Window Type UV Transmission
Standard Clear Glass 85%
Double-Pane Glass 25% – 40%
Triple-Pane Glass 8% – 15%
Tinted Glass 10% – 25%
Low-E Coated Glass 8% – 15%
Laminated Glass 5% – 30%
UV-Blocking Film

The Science Behind Tanning and Windows

The Science Behind Tanning and Windows
The science behind tanning through windows involves understanding the different types of ultraviolet (UV) rays and how they interact with glass. Here’s what you need to know:

  • UVA vs UVB Rays: UVA rays are longer, penetrate deeper into the skin, and are responsible for tanning, wrinkles, and skin aging. UVB rays are shorter, possess higher energy, and mainly cause sunburns.
  • Window Filtration: Normal glass used in home, office, and car windows effectively blocks UVB rays. However, it only partially blocks UVA rays, allowing up to 74.3% of UVA radiation to pass through.
  • UV Intensity and Timing: The intensity of UV rays varies throughout the day, with the highest intensity typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when you need to be most cautious about UV exposure, whether indoors or outdoors.
  • Vitamin D and Window Sunlight: UVB rays are essential for vitamin D production in the body. However, windows block most UVB rays, making it challenging to get sufficient vitamin D from sitting by a window. Direct sunlight exposure remains the best source of vitamin D.

Health Risks of Window Exposure

Health Risks of Window Exposure
Window exposure poses health risks, including an increased risk of skin cancer due to UVA ray penetration. Long-term exposure to UVA rays can also accelerate premature skin aging, leading to wrinkles and fine lines.

Skin Cancer Concerns

Skin cancer is a serious concern, and UV exposure is a significant risk factor. Overexposure to UV radiation can cause skin cell DNA damage, leading to genetic defects and mutations that result in skin cancer. The two types of UV rays, UVA and UVB, both contribute to this risk. While UVB rays cause sunburns and are associated with skin cancer, UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are linked to premature aging and skin cancer development.

Type of UV Ray Wavelength Risk Factor
UVA Longer Skin Aging, Skin Cancer
UVB Shorter Skin Burning, Skin Cancer

UV rays are a well-known carcinogen, causing basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. These types of skin cancers often occur on sun-exposed areas and are usually curable when detected and treated early. Additionally, UV exposure that leads to sunburn increases the likelihood of developing melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer.

Premature Aging

UVA rays are the primary cause of premature aging. They penetrate the deeper layers of your skin, causing wrinkles, sunspots, and reduced skin elasticity. Even on cloudy days, you’re still exposed to UVA rays, which can also pass through ordinary glass. So, if you spend a lot of time sitting by a window, your skin could be at risk of premature aging.

To protect your skin, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends adopting a year-round sun protection regimen, including seeking shade, wearing UV-blocking sunglasses, and applying sunscreen daily. They also suggest installing solar window film, which can block up to 99% of harmful UVA rays.

Vitamin D and Window Sunlight

Vitamin D and Window Sunlight
Windows block most UVB rays, the type needed for vitamin D production. While you’re unlikely to get enough vitamin D from window sunlight, consider alternative sources like supplements or direct sunlight exposure.

UVB Rays and Vitamin D Production

UVB radiation is essential for vitamin D synthesis, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy skeleton and preventing osteoporosis. While the sun is the primary source of UVB, it isn’t the only one. Vitamin D can also be obtained through diet and supplements.

UVB radiation from the sun is absorbed by 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin, which is then converted into previtamin D3 and, subsequently, vitamin D3. This process is less efficient in individuals with darker skin pigmentation.

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with chronic pain and an increased risk of several diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Supplementation of vitamin D has been investigated as a potential treatment for chronic pain, but the evidence is inconclusive.

To prevent vitamin D deficiency, it’s recommended to have sensible sun exposure, eat vitamin D-rich foods, and take supplements if necessary.

Alternative Sources of Vitamin D

If you’re concerned about your vitamin D levels, there are other ways to get your fill.

Vitamin D supplements are a great option, and they’re available online or over the counter.

You can also try to include more oily fish, mushrooms, and free-range egg yolks in your diet.

Fortified foods like milk, breakfast cereals, and orange juice are another way to boost your vitamin D intake.

Sun Protection Strategies for Indoor Spaces

Sun Protection Strategies for Indoor Spaces
To protect yourself from indoor UV exposure, consider applying sunscreen even when working indoors, as windows may not fully block these rays. Additionally, you can use window treatments like blinds or curtains that block UV rays to reduce your exposure further.

Sunscreen Use Indoors

While it’s not necessary to wear sunscreen indoors, you might want to consider it if you spend a lot of time near windows with direct sunlight.

Clothing might be sufficient protection, but if you want extra defense against skin damage from UVA and UVB rays, blue light, and electronic devices, sunscreen can help.

Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and reapply it every two hours or after sweating to maintain efficacy.

Window Treatments for UV Protection

Now that you understand the risks of UV exposure and the importance of sun protection, let’s explore some window treatment options for UV protection in your indoor spaces.

Here are three effective solutions to enhance UV protection in your home:

  1. Window Films: These thin layers applied to your windows can block up to 99% of UV rays, protecting your skin and furnishings from damage. They also reduce glare and heat transfer without sacrificing natural light.
  2. UV-Blocking Window Treatments: Blinds, shades, shutters, and drapery offer varying degrees of UV protection. Sheer shadings, such as Silhouette® Window Shadings, can block up to 88% of harmful rays while maintaining your view and natural light. Solar shades are another effective option, blocking up to 99% of UV rays with varying levels of opacity.
  3. UV-Blocking Roller Shades: These shades provide UV protection and insulation, reducing heat transfer and glare. Some varieties are cordless and easy to install, making them a convenient option for renters or those seeking a more temporary solution.

    In addition to these options, you can also explore UV-blocking exterior roller shades, blackout curtains, and even UV-protective window tinting for your car. Remember, when selecting window treatments, consider factors such as energy efficiency, privacy, and aesthetics to find the best solution for your specific needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is sunbathing through a window good?

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

While it’s unlikely you’ll get a tan through a window, you can still be exposed to harmful UVA rays, which cause premature aging and skin cancer.

You also won’t get vitamin D, as UVB rays, blocked by glass, are needed for its synthesis.

Can you get a tan through a double glazed window?

Double-glazed windows act like a layer of sunscreen or the ozone layer, blocking most UVB rays and only allowing a small amount of UVA rays to pass through. While you can get a slight tan from UVA rays, it would take a very long time, and the risks are minimal.

Can you get vitamin D through the window?

A stitch in time saves nine." No, you can’t get vitamin D through a window. Glass blocks the UVB rays necessary for vitamin D synthesis. Direct sunlight exposure is key to getting your dose of the "sunshine vitamin.

Can you get tan from indirect sunlight?

Yes, you can get a tan from indirect sunlight. It’s not just direct sunlight that causes tanning — UV rays reflecting off surfaces like snow, water, and sand can also lead to tanning, even when you’re sitting in the shade.

Is a window a good option for tanning?

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." While windows block most UVB rays, some UVA rays can still get through and cause tanning and skin damage. It’s possible to get a slight tan through a window, but it’s not very practical and could take a long time.

Can you get a suntan through a window?

Yes, it’s possible to get a suntan through a window, but it’s not very effective. While windows block most UVB rays that cause sunburn and tanning, they let through some UVA rays, which cause skin ageing and cancer.

Is it possible to tan under a window?

Yes, but it’s challenging. While windows block most UVB rays, they allow some UVA rays. So, with prolonged exposure to strong sunlight, a tan is possible, but it’s equivalent to wearing SPF30 sunscreen.

Can You tan or burn through windows?

Yes, you can tan and burn through windows, but it’s less likely and less intense than direct sunlight. Windows only partially shield you from UV rays, and prolonged exposure can still harm your skin.

Can you get a tan from a car window?

Yes, it’s possible to get a tan through a car window, but it’s not very practical. Car windshields block all UVB and 80% of UVA rays, making tanning while driving unlikely. Side windows and sunroofs are more dangerous, as they let in more UV light.

Can you get tan through double glazed windows?

You’re unlikely to get a tan through double-glazed windows, as they block most UVB rays and allow limited UVA rays to pass through, making it difficult for your skin to produce melanin and achieve a sun-kissed glow.

Does the type of window matter?

You might wonder if the type of window matters, and the answer is yes – while most windows block UVB rays, some, like tinted or low-e windows, can block more UVA rays, reducing your chances of getting a tan.

How long does it take to tan through a window?

You’ll need prolonged exposure to strong sunlight to tan through a window, which is unlikely, but possible. The amount of time it takes depends on your skin type, window type, and sun’s intensity, but it’s generally not a recommended or safe way to get a tan.

Can you get vitamin D from other sources?

You can get vitamin D from sources like fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and supplements, in addition to direct sunlight exposure, which remains the best way to produce vitamin D, especially for people with lighter skin.

What are the signs of sun damage?

Subtle signs signal sun’s sinister effects. You’ll notice wrinkles, age spots, and uneven skin tone. Your skin may feel dry, rough, or leathery. Watch for freckles, moles, or growths that change shape or color. Don’t ignore persistent redness or scaling.

What about blue light?

You’re exposed to blue light through windows, which can cause skin damage and accelerate aging. Wearing SPF protects against blue light, UVB, and UVA rays, making it essential for daily use, even when working from home or sitting near windows.


Think you can get a safe tan through a window? Think again!

While it’s true you can get a tan through a window, it’s not a good idea. UVA rays can still penetrate, increasing your risk of skin cancer and premature aging.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and beard care expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and get fatter. His work has been mentioned in countless notable publications on men's care and style and has been cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.