How to Get the Perfect Tan

List: Posted: 09/23/11

Ever looked at yourself in the mirror and noticed your body is about three different colors?  Do you want to get the perfect tan but don’t have time to lay out in the sun every day?  Do you cover yourself from head (or neck) to toe because you don’t have enough color?  If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you may want to consider indoor tanning booths!


While the concept might be frightening to some, it is essential to many.  Personally, I overcame my fear of it after doing some thorough research and then actually trying it out.  I would definitely encourage you to do some research on the effects, both positive and negative, of indoor tanning. But, like anything else, tanning in moderation can be a fun and healthy experience.


There are three basic things you need to know: the different types of tanning equipment, the different types of bulbs (tanning power), and the different types of tanning lotions. 

Types of Tanning Booth


When you think about indoor tanning, you likely imagine yourself lying in a tanning bed.  Although the majority of tanning salons do use beds, there’s also an alternative that is quickly gaining popularity—the tanning booth, which requires the user to stand rather than lay down.  More and more tanning salons are turning to booths because they take up less floor space and they are a lot easier to clean than beds. 


Booths offer several benefits to consumers, including freedom from pressure points (which creates a more even tan), stronger bulbs (which means more color in less time), and more hygiene since the user does not actually touch the tanning surfaces.  A disadvantage of the tanning booth is reduced relaxation.  While I do enjoy the evenness that booths provide, I also like the comfort and relaxation that beds deliver.


Understanding Tanning Power


When it comes to tanning power, it can get a bit tricky and confusing, especially because every tanning salon (or chain of tanning salons) refers to power levels differently.  The main difference between tanning levels is the amount of pressure inside the bulbs.  Low pressure beds and booths provide plenty of UVB rays.  They require more sessions to build a base tan and they require more frequent use to maintain your color, but I personally prefer low-pressure because they allow for a gradual, more natural looking tan. 


High pressure equipment, on the other hand, filter out most of the UVB rays and allow more UVA rays to reach the skin, creating more immediate results.  They provide a much faster tan, but it’s also important to remember that a higher level means a hotter tanning experience.  High pressure tanning booths and beds usually require less sessions to build a base tan and require a lot less maintenance than low pressure machines. 


In addition, some high pressure machines also feature adjustable facial exposure.  In other words—the higher the pressure, the less time it takes to build and maintain your tan.


Chose your Lotion


Now that you’ve chosen your preferred tanning equipment and method, it’s time to choose a lotion.  Lotions are important because they hydrate the skin while simultaneously helping your skin maintain its tan longer. 


There are three main types of tanning lotions—bronzer, tingle, and accelerator.  Bronzer lotions are very popular because they deliver extra darkening power, so they help build a darker tan in a shorter period of time.  Tingle lotions (sometimes referred to as “hot bronzers”) have special ingredients that will give your skin a tingly feeling.  They increase the skin’s blood flow, which can speed up your tan but can also leave your skin with a reddish look immediately after completing a tanning session. 


From my personal experience, I have found that tingle lotions offer little value over regular bronzers, and the tingly feeling can be uncomfortable.  Accelerator lotions (sometimes called “maximizer lotions”) can provide you with a tan a lot quicker because they have enzymes that promote melanin production.  Melanin is a natural enzyme that creates color in the skin.


Something very important to keep in mind is that outdoor tanning lotions or oils should never be used with indoor tanning equipment.  Indoor tanning lotions should be applied immediately before every tanning session and should not be washed off for at least 3 hours after tanning because they continue tanning your skin hours after you’ve left the tanning salon.  Once you do shower, you should use a moisturizer, such as Lubriderm, Noxzema, or any other high-moisturizing lotion. 


To maximize your tan, you may want to exfoliate prior to tanning in order to get rid of dead skin cells.


Protect Yourself


Some other things to consider: eye protection, lip protection, nude tanning, and water consumption.  Eyewear is extremely important!  In fact, it is required by law.  Eyewear is essential in order to prevent vision problems that can be caused by exposure to UV rays.  Tanning salons provide eyewear and many salons offer it for no cost at all.


You should take out your contact lenses before tanning.  It is also important to remember that lips tend to burn easily, so it’s necessary to protect them with lip balm that contains SPF protection. 


Last but not least—the issue of tanning in the nude.  Personally I prefer to tan in this manner simply because it eliminates tan lines.  Also, it can sometimes get quite warm inside the beds/booths (depending on the pressure), and clothes will only add to that. 


If you find that some parts of your body tan faster than others, you may want to wear clothing over the area that tans faster as a way of allowing the other body parts catch up.  I know it may be a bit nerve-wracking to think about taking all your clothes off and just laying (or standing) there, but I promise you that tanning bed rooms and tanning booths are completely private.  If you go to a venue where this is not the case—run! 


Stay Hydrated


Water is also very important in maintaining your tan.  Drinking good amounts of water will help maintain your skin hydrated, leading to a longer-lasting tan.


Research shows that moderate exposure to UV rays is healthy and necessary for various reasons, including the production of Vitamin D.  I would definitely never use a high pressure machine for the maximum amount of minutes allowed every single day, but moderate and reasonable exposure certainly has its benefits and will give you a glowing, healthy tan!

Tanning Salons

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      The material in this article is for informational purposes only. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of See Additional Information

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