Why Do Bodybuilders Tan? – Side Effects, Importance & All

You may notice in various bodybuilding competitions that bodybuilders are often deeply tan. But the question is why do bodybuilders tan? Is there any added benefit to tanning?

Yes, there are some advantages here. Bodybuilders tan to represent themselves look darker and more muscular than they actually are.

Tanning is an integral part of bodybuilding and is a key part of the training regime for most competitors.

Not only does tanning improve muscle definition and appearance, but it also improves the body’s ability to produce vitamin D, a nutrient that is important for muscle growth.

Bodybuilders who don’t tan tend to look pale and scrawny compared with bodybuilders who tan.

Many people are curious about why do bodybuilders tan. Tanned skin helps increase the visibility of their muscle, drawing the attention of spectators.

In this article, we will learn about why bodybuilders tan and much more regarding tanning. Please keep reading for details.

why do bodybuilders tan

Also Read:

What is tanning?

In bodybuilding, tanning refers to the process of darkening the skin to enhance muscle definition and create a more aesthetically pleasing appearance on stage.

The purpose of tanning in bodybuilding competitions is to make the muscles stand out and appear more prominent under the bright stage lights.

Tanning is typically done using specialized tanning products, such as self-tanning lotions, sprays, or professional airbrush tanning services.

These products contain ingredients like dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which reacts with the amino acids in the outermost layer of the skin to produce a temporary brown color.

The tanning process is usually performed a day or two before the competition. Bodybuilders often undergo a process of exfoliation and hair removal to prepare their skin for the tanning products.

They may also apply multiple layers of the tanning solution to achieve the desired darkness and evenness of color.

The darkened skin helps to create a contrast with the muscle definition, making the muscles appear more pronounced and well-defined.

The tan can also help to minimize imperfections, such as blemishes or uneven skin tone, that may detract from the overall appearance on stage.

It’s important to note that tanning in bodybuilding competitions is primarily for cosmetic purposes and does not provide any performance-enhancing benefits.

It is a temporary measure used specifically for the duration of the competition to enhance the visual impact of the muscles.

Read: Facts and benefits of eating raw eggs for bodybuilding.

Why do bodybuilders tan?

Bodybuilders are often tan in order to increase the visibility of their muscularity. Tanned skin provides a more impressive “show”, drawing the attention of spectators, and giving the impression of greater physical strength and size.

Some bodybuilders even go as far as permanently tanning their skin to increase the contrast of their muscles against their tanned skin, further increasing their appearance.

Let’s find out what ‍are other benefits bodybuilders tan.

Covering stretch marks

Body stretch marks
Body stretch marks

Bodybuilders usually do various exercises to increase the size of the muscles, among which dumbbell lifting, weight training, etc. are significant. The problem is, these can often create stretch marks under the skin surface. We often notice these marks on the triceps, biceps, and shoulders of bodybuilders. These are especially prevalent after the intensive period of weight training before competitions and championships.

Tan helps to cover these marks and other blemishes on the skin tone. That is why the viewer’s attention is focused on the definition of muscle instead of any spots and blemishes under competition lights.

Defines the appearance of muscles

Tanning Defines the appearance of muscles

Darker skin tones help to look much more prominent than lighter skin. If you are thinking of increasing muscle definition without increasing the training schedule, then fake tanning is the best method for you.

In competitions, all bodybuilders try their best to present their muscles in a strong way. Tan helps them a lot in this process. Many bodybuilders choose an extra dark tan to highlight the chest, torso, arm, and leg muscles the most.

Reflects bright light

Tanning Prevents bright light

We all know that it is important that it held bodybuilding is shows in a bright spotlight. A lighter skin tone reflects that light more easily and the muscles in the judge’s eye are often not presented as attractive.

We know this effect as a washout. Tan helps bodybuilders to present their muscles properly to the judges. It absorbs a much larger portion of the bright light and makes the muscles more visible.

Helps to look leaner

Tan Helps to look leaner
Tanning helps to look leaner

Bodybuilders spend years in the gym for two main reasons: losing body fat and gaining weight. Their goal is to make the muscles visible, even if they are not flexible.

Tan helps bodybuilders to look leaner. The dark color creates the illusion that it draws the eye inwards towards the oblique and transverse muscles of the abdomen.

Reduce the risk of melanoma

Malignant Melanoma
Malignant Melanoma

Using tanning technology by bodybuilders is not only a matter of personal taste or preference. It is a matter of life and death. A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia showed that bodybuilders who don’t use tanning beds increased their risk of developing cancer of melanoma by 10% on average.

Reversing the effects of the steroid


Bitter but true is that most bodybuilders often use steroids for a variety of reasons. These steroids have several side effects, one of which is acne. Acne is quite embarrassing and creates scars on the face that look quite nasty.

We have already said that tanning is ideal for covering any blemishes on the skin. Tan can be a viable way to relieve the scars that appear because of steroid use.

How is the tanning process?

As the competition progresses, bodybuilders go through a strange process. Beauty salon spray is not a tan, but a process that can move the skin from pale white to dark bronze. The step-by-step tanning process is described below.


The tanning process begins with exfoliation. Through which to remove all the excess dead skin cells from the body. This makes the skin smooth and ready to hold the tanning product easily. Experts recommend using natural exfoliating blends, such as olive oil and sugar, when bathing.


The next step is to shave all the body hair. Hair removal is another important step to help keep the tan stuck in the body.


The best time to tan is the day before the competition. Typically, a tanning product is a liquid mixture that is sprayed or rolled. The organizers of the competition set a designated area for the contestants to get their tan.

The contestants enter several small booths in the tanning area where they are sprayed all over their bodies. This process takes only a few minutes and takes a short time to dry. Competitors after the first coat can do their normal work after dressing.

But usually have to return to the competition for the second coat. When the tanning is complete, the contestants are covered with a slightly adhesive film that rubs or streaks when wet.

Why is tanning so important?

There are several reasons bodybuilders emphasize tanning as part of competition preparation. The benefits they receive through tan are:

  • Tan helps bodybuilders look leaner
  • Defines muscle definition
  • Equalizes skin tone and covers blemishes
  • Absorbs bright stage light and helps bodybuilders look more muscular
  • Tan is more visually pleasing
  • Can present themselves more interestingly to the audience

Just like wearing black for a slimming effect, dark colors add contrast and shade in the right places to prepare bodybuilders muscles look fatter and slim in certain parts.

What tan do bodybuilders usually use?

Bodybuilders use fake tans to obtain a tan. The fake tans are prepared by spraying the skin with chemicals that bind to the skin and allow the body to absorb the chemicals. The tan remains on the body after the bodybuilder stops using them. Fake tans have several problems, however.

Actually, they use spray tan. Most bodybuilders have some type of tan called base-tan. You can achieve this base-tan by staying out for a week or two. You may see the bodybuilders doing sunscreen a few weeks before the competition. It brings a natural tan, but it is not the famous tan seen on stage.

The spray tan they use makes them extremely attractive. It works a lot like paint and makes their body look much more attractive than it really is. However, washing these spray tans quickly rarely causes any serious side effects.

Effect of fake tan

Tanning from the bed or the sun can bring incredibly terrible results to your skin. When tanning on the beach or using a tanning bed, it exposed the skin to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which are very harmful.

Studies show young people use tanning beds, which increase their risk of skin cancer by 75 percent. Also, as you go through this process, your skin will look dull and wrinkled over time.

However, you can use spray tan, they are relatively safe. It is quite healthy as there is no need to use UV light. There is no possibility of experiencing problems like cancer because of their use.

One of the major disadvantages of spray tan is that it can enter your body through breathing. Some studies have shown that these chemicals can cause problems such as asthma, COPD, and even lung cancer.

In contrast, tanning from the bed or the sun can be quite dangerous and can lead to serious skin problems. So it is advisable to avoid this if possible.

Related FAQs:

Is tanning necessary for bodybuilding competitions?

Tanning is not mandatory for bodybuilding competitions, but it is highly recommended. It helps enhance muscle definition and creates a more visually appealing look on stage.

What tanning products are commonly used in bodybuilding?

Bodybuilders often use self-tanning lotions, sprays, or professional airbrush tanning services. These products contain ingredients like DHA that react with the skin to produce a temporary tan.

How should I prepare my skin for tanning?

To prepare your skin for tanning, it’s important to exfoliate to remove dead skin cells. This helps ensure an even application of the tanning product. It’s also common to remove any body hair prior to tanning.

How far in advance should I tan before a competition?

Tanning is typically done a day or two before the competition. This allows the tan to fully develop and any initial color to settle, providing the desired look on stage.

How many layers of tanning product should I apply?

The number of layers will depend on your desired darkness and the specific tanning product you’re using. Bodybuilders often apply multiple layers, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next, until they achieve their desired color.

How long does a competition tan last?

A competition tan is temporary and will gradually fade over time. It is designed to last throughout the duration of the competition day but will likely begin to fade in the following days.

Can I remove the competition tan easily?

Yes, the competition tan can be removed with regular showering and exfoliation. Additionally, there are specific tan removal products available that can help speed up the process.

Are there any risks or side effects associated with tanning for bodybuilding competitions?

Tanning products are generally considered safe, but some individuals may experience skin irritation or allergic reactions. It’s important to test the product on a small patch of skin prior to full application and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Can I use tanning beds for bodybuilding competitions?

While tanning beds may provide a tan, they are not commonly used for bodybuilding competitions. The application of specific tanning products allows for better control over the color and appearance desired for bodybuilding competitions.

Should I consult a professional for my competition tan?

It is advisable to consult a professional or seek guidance from experienced bodybuilders who have gone through the tanning process before. They can provide insights, tips, and recommendations to help you achieve the best results for your competition tan.

Final Verdict

In the full discussion, we wanted to explain some general queries such as what is tanning? Why do bodybuilders tan? And all the related information regarding bodybuilders tan. If you are a bodybuilder or you have a goal, then we hope this article can help you.

Tan is an integral part of the world of bodybuilding. This allows a bodybuilder to multiply his beauty and present himself to his audience in a more attractive way.

But tanning has many advantages as well as some disadvantages. We hope that by overcoming the complications, you can successfully make yourself more attractive through tanning. Thanks.

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