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Pre and Post Camino Burn/Tan Issues


New Member
So I have two concerns both concerning sun, sunburns, and tans.

The first is a serious concern about how much sun you get on the camino. I'll be hiking the frances from june to july. I live near Boston so summer won't have been here long by the time I leave and the chance that I'll have gotten any sun yet is pretty much nil. I don't burn terribly bad, or rather I'm not over sensitive to a little sun, but I am concerned that even with a hat and copious amounts of sunscreen that I will get a bad burn in the first few days. Any advice on prevention either on or before the camino?

So I guess my second question seems like a really weird a superficial issue, but hear me out! I just learned that I'm going to be in my brother's wedding at the end of August as a bridesmaid (outdoor summer wedding in short strapless dresses, strappy sandals/shoes, you know the drill) and I'm a little concerned about the kind of weird tan that I will most likely get from hiking the camino (for the record I'll be back in the states on august 1). What can I expect? Anyone ever do anything to keep it even or even it out after their return from the camino? I'm not a tanner at all in my day to day life, but for this one event I'm a little anxious! :oops:

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Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
My experience on the Frances has always been in May and June, and there was plenty of sun - June and July will be considerably hotter and sunnier.

If you want to reduce the chances of burning and avoid tan lines, I can only suggest the following:
In addition to sun block, wear a UV protection (sun-proof fabric) long-sleeved shirt and hat (hat brim should be wide enough to cover the back of your neck and shade your face). If you could tolerate long pants of the same material, that would be best, otherwise, if you wear shorts with a good sun block you will still have sock tan lines. Walk early in the day, keeping in mind that 11 to 3 o'clock is when the sun is the strongest.

Perhaps by the end of August your tan lines will have faded - in any case I think there are products that help blend things in.

Best of luck.



Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
I have very fair skin as well ~blame the Irish ancestors!~ and had serious concerns that I might get sunburned as well. However, I was glad to find that a sunhat and modern high factor sunscreens did the trick. I did try and keep out of the sun in the hottest part of the day as much as I could as well, by starting early on hot days. The worst 'tan marks' I had were ones that unavoidably marked out all the long distance pilgrims: these were the sock marks on the back of the legs- not the front, just the back... I seem to remember they faded reasonably quickly though when I came home to a southern hemisphere winter.


RIP 2015
just to echo Margaret a bit
because you are walking east to west the sun is mostly at your back as I found out to my cost with burnt elbows back of neck and very sore backs of my ears-in fact quite hard to get an even tan-I would go for the cover up and go for a spray or bottle later on-not that I know about these things of course :oops:
Covering up may be your best option, combined with a hat and lots of sun block.

I had put on copious amount of sun block and I still came out looking like a roast turkey. I have tan lines on my arms (rolled up sleeves), my legs (shorts on some days) and sock lines. Three months on, my tan lines are still faintly visible. I had walked in Oct when it was said to be the cooler month. That said, I both burn and tan easily.

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Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
I burn very easily. I used sunblock and a hat and did not burn. I did get the tan lines on the backs of my legs with the clear sock line. Short of wearing light weight long pants, I'm not sure there is much to do about that.


Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances('05, '07), Aragonese ('05), del Norte / Primitivo ('09), Via Tolosana (Toulouse '05), Via Podiensis (Le Puy '07), Via Lemovicensis (Troyes '09), VF ('12), Winter Camino ('13/'14) Cammino d'Assisi ('14) Jakobseweg (Leipzig - Paris '15) San Salvador/Norte ('15) Ignaciano ('16) Invierno ('16)
As an Australian I too am very consious of the sunburn factor. Apart from the usual sunblock appliction several times a day, I would not consider walking in anything other than a long sleeved shirt to protect my arms and a very wide brimmed hat (I do resort to shorts though as opposed to long trousers). In addtion to that, I have little half gloves (that can be bought from the anti-cancer council in Aust) that protect my hands. These gloves cover the top of my hand whilst leaving the palms open to the air. I too always walk the camino in summer. A friend jokingly says that you can always tell an Austrlian because they will be the ones wearing the long sleeved shirts!

regards, Janet

William Marques

Staff member
Strange this topic has gone so far without mention of the Camino tan. Not like the Panda tan of skiers but that left sided tan you get because you are walking west nearly all the time and that side of you catches the sun all day whereas your right side is shaded to some extent.
Time of past OR future Camino
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Étoilepolaire (perhaps we are related?) should take the advice of a longsleeved shirt, taking care to keep your collar up (farmer`s tan, anyone?). Not only will your local cancer group approve, this will be the only way you can avoid strapline tans.

I should note, with respect to the ankle tan, mine lasted 3-4 months… so you might want to go for lightweight full-length hiking trousers.


Active Member
William Marques said:
Strange this topic has gone so far without mention of the Camino tan.

When I saw this topic I was going to post on that very thing... :) I wore long pants from SJPP until I got close to the Meseta, and then the heat forced me to zip off my pant legs and enter the Meseta with lily-white skin. Very soon, my left leg was burned on the back, and it got bad enough even w/sunblock that I put a kerchief over it for awhile.

I also got a bit of a burn on my left forearm, so I put lots of lotion on it. I bought a wrap to stabilize my left wrist due to pain caused by repetitive stress from my trekking pole, and that helped protect it until the tan kicked in. I also wore a brimmed hat, so I had no problems with my neck and ears... :arrow:

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Nunca se camina solo
Is this the kind of thing you mean? The white ankle and white knees style. I think it is the authentic look and it is perfectly normal in Santiago! Maybe it will catch on elsewhere! :)


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Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Oh yes, it's positively de rigueur fashion for peregrinas and peregrinos! :D



Nunca se camina solo
Hmmmm - now there's an idea. A new Magazine which focuses on all aspects of life of the modern pilgrim with, of course a serious emphasis on Pilgrim Fashion. A kind of peregrino version of Cosmo. Maybe we could call it Compo and become trendsetters such as people going to work with socks pinned to the outside of their briefcases so they can dry or changing into flip flops when you reach the office....not to mention tan lines, bandanas, team building exercises which involve sleeping in a room full of snorers....endless possiblities.


Active Member
JohnnieWalker said:
Is this the kind of thing you mean?

Yep! And I almost forgot the "sandal tan" pattern on my feet from post-trail town/city walking after setting up shop at the albergue of the day...probably all sorts of creative design possibilities there... :arrow:


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