Beer Tanning- A Silly Myth or an Amazing Hack?

Is it all smelly and sticky or a natural way to get bronzed?

Written by Samara S

On Aug 22, 2023 – 7 minutes read

what is beer tanning

If you are an Instagram or TikTok user, then you must be aware of the hot trend- Beer tanning. As the name suggests, beer tanning means applying beer to the skin while sunbathing, in the belief it will enhance the tanning process. Crazy, right?  Beer tanning’ is one of the latest beauty rages to trend on TikTok, with the ‘beer’ tag racking up over 500,000 views.

The beer tan is achieved by topical application of beer on the skin for tanning purposes. You may find this tr

end intriguing, but it has captured tons of attention in recent years. And, if you are thinking this is a new viral trend in the game, then you are wrong! It is rooted in history and has resurfaced with the rise of social media influencers sparking both fascination and concern. The process is both simple and deceptive.

Some folks swear by the idea that the sugars and yeast in beer when applied topically can cause the skin to develop a tan. Picture this: you, on a sun-soaked afternoon, armed with a chilled beer, wondering if this will give the sun-kissed glow. But before you learn about the depths of this myth- let’s understand the mechanics behind the beer tan and its impact on your skin, as seen through the eyes of dermatologists.

Origin of Beer Tanning

The infamous beer tan’s concept is deeply woven into popular culture. However, the roots of this belief can be traced back to the ’70s and ’80s when people thought to achieve a bronzed complexion using an unconventional frizzy drink – beer.


Stories and anecdotes spread like wildfire that became a curious topic of conversation at beaches, barbecues, and gatherings. Its lineage traces back to ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, who revered beer for its rejuvenating properties. It was believed that the ingredients in beer, including barley and yeast, could bring a radiant complexion. Greeks and Romans also incorporated beer into skincare routines that later passed onto other cultures also.

Social Media Influence on Beer Tanning

The resurgence of beer tanning in contemporary society owes much to the realm of social media Influencers. The likes of @BeautyBrewer and @GlowingAleAdventures have intensely advocated this method of propelling beer tanning as the mainstream practice. The question of whether beer tanning is inherently gender-neutral remains nuanced. While skincare and self-care practices strive for inclusivity, beer tanning like many beauty trends can be influenced by prevailing gender norms. The language and imagery surrounding beer tanning may inadvertently cater to certain gender expectations that raise concerns about its inclusiveness. However, the practice itself is not intrinsically gender-exclusive and can be embraced by individuals of any gender.

What Do Dermatologists Say About Beer Tanning?

The big question is- is beer tanning safe? Let’s see what Dermatologists got on this. The skin gurus express concerns about the alcohol content in beer which can dehydrate the skin and the sugars that might foster bacterial growth. Prolonged sun exposure from beer application increases the chances of skin damage and cancer. Furthermore, the sticky residue left behind after the beer dries can attract dirt and grime. This can potentially clog your pores which leads to breakouts. No one wants that! Sunburn is another worrisome consequence. While beer might provide some minimal sun protection due to its antioxidants, it’s no substitute for proper sunscreen.

Why Do People Get a Beer Tan?

Well, it’s a mix of history, trendiness, and that whole natural beauty vibe. Back in ancient times, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans thought beer’s ingredients had skin benefits, so they were onto this trick way before Instagram was a thing.

Fast forward to today, and with social media influencers flaunting their beer-bronzed skin, it’s caught the attention of beauty enthusiasts. Plus, there’s this idea that beer is more “natural” than some tanning lotions packed with chemicals.

Top 9 Alternative Ways to Tan Your Skin

Looking to rock that sun-kissed glow without the beer? You hit the jackpot! Here are 10 proven methods to achieve a radiant tan without damaging your skin.

sunscreen for safe tanning


Always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to protect your skin from harmful UV rays while gradually developing a tan on your body.

Tan Lotions

You can choose tan-enhancing lotions that contain tyrosine and melanin-boosting agents. This will help you stimulate your skin’s tanning process.

Bronzing Powders

You may achieve an instant tan effect with bronzing powders. They are affordable and have a temporary sun-kissed hue that’s easily washable.

Tan Oils Instead of Beer Tanning

You can incorporate natural oils such as coconut, argan, or macadamia oil into your skincare routine. Tan oils can intensify the depth and longevity of your tan.

Tanning Beds (with Caution)

If you are considering tanning beds, you must consult a professional and adhere to recommended session durations. Because they are a controversial choice for tanning due to UV exposure, supervised sessions can offer controlled tanning.

Nutrient-Rich Foods

You are what you eat. Consume foods high in beta-carotene, like sweet potatoes, carrots, and spinach. These foods can impart a warm undertone to your skin that enhances your tan (2).

UV-Blocking Clothing

While shopping, get clothes with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) to shield your skin from UV radiation during outdoor activities. This will help you get a subtle tan without causing sunburn.

Professional Spray Tans to Substitute Beer Tanning

Go to your nearest dermatologist to get spray tan services for an even, customized tan that typically lasts about a week or more.

Mindful Sun Exposure

Enjoy the sun’s natural rays, but wisely. You should limit exposure during peak hours, take breaks in the shade and consistently apply sunscreen.

Getting a tan can boost your confidence, it’s important to protect your skin from the risks that could result from too much UV exposure (1). With these easy options available, you can comfortably achieve a tan that suits your personal preferences and that’s good for your skin.

Disadvantages of Beer Tanning

We know beer tanning sounds tempting but you must always consider the two sides of the coin. Let’s dig into the darker side of this beauty cult. Here’s what you should know:

risks for beer tanning
  • Skin dryness: Beer might be refreshing to drink but slathering it on your skin can have the opposite effect. The alcohol content in beer can dry out your skin that leaves your skin feeling tight and uncomfortable (3).
  • Bacterial growth: Sugars in beer might make it taste great. But sugar on your skin? A big no! It can attract bacteria like a magnet. This could potentially lead to breakouts, redness, and other skin irritations.
  • Not an alternative for Sunscreen: If you think beer can replace sunscreen, think again. Relying solely on beer for sun protection is a recipe for trouble. Sunscreen offers proper UV defense whereas beer doesn’t.
  • Spots and pigmentation: Dreaming of a smooth, even tan? Beer tanning is not a ladder to success! It will leave you with an uneven, patchy tan that’s far from glamorous.
  • Sensitivity warnings: Skin sensitivity is real. Not just sugar and alcohol, but beer also contains various compounds that could trigger allergic reactions that cause redness, itching, and discomfort.
  • Temporary Glow: That post-beer glow might seem amazing, but it’s often short-lived. The color you see is more likely to wash off in a day than leave a lasting tan.
  • Cancer-causing agents: Excessive sun exposure, even with beer increases the risk of skin cancer. It’s not a gamble worth taking.


So, there you have it – the entire picture on beer tanning. From ancient brew baths to Instagram-worthy beer-coated beach days, it’s a ride through time and trends. Just remember, your skin is delicate, and excessive sun exposure is harmful. Mixing beer and sunbathing with beer on your skin will be a recipe for disaster. Seek professional help if you are looking to get a beautiful bronzed chiseled look or go for other safer options such as tan lotions, tan oils, or bronzers.


Does beer work for tanning?

It works temporarily but has various side effects.

Does tanning prevent sunburn?

No. There are no studies that prove this claim.

How does tanning darken your skin?

Depends on how you tanned your skin. If it’s tan beds, then the tan will last a week or more.

  1. Hoel, David G., et al. "The risks and benefits of sun exposure 2016." Dermato-endocrinology 8.1 (2016): e1248325.
  2. Mathews-Roth, M. M., et al. "A clinical trial of the effects of oral beta-carotene on the responses of human skin to solar radiation." Journal of Investigative Dermatology 59.4 (1972): 349-353.
  3. Lodén, Marie. "Role of topical emollients and moisturizers in the treatment of dry skin barrier disorders." American journal of clinical dermatology 4 (2003): 771-788.
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Samara S


Samara is an expert in skincare and beauty products, offering valuable advice on skincare routines and product selections tailored to every woman’s individual needs.

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