The Guide to Tanning

By theguideto

There are three ways to achieve that beautiful bronze tan: sun tanning, using a tanning bed, and applying self-tanning creams. It’s easy enough to achieve a tan through any of these methods, but they may have disastrous consequences if you don’t do them properly. Follow these tanning guidelines to get the best and safest tan of your life.

Sun Tanning: Safely Soak in the Sun

Tanning is the natural reaction of your skin to protect itself from potentially harmful ultraviolet (UV) light. A suntan may look alluring, but it may also lead to skin cancers. Here’s a step-by-step guide to safely bathe in sunlight.

  • Step 1: Your eyes can be easily damaged by ultraviolet rays if you lay out directly under the sun. Make sure to wear protective sunglasses before sunbathing. Also, wear the appropriate outfit to avoid getting tan lines. Some beaches allow sun bathing in the nude to even out the tan.
  • Step 2: Apply sunscreen on your skin with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 and above. The higher the SPF, the stronger the sunscreen’s barrier against UV rays. Remember that sunscreen is different from sunblock. Sunscreen protects your skin while still allowing some UV rays to tan your skin, while sunblock completely blocks light.
  • Step 3: Start tanning, but avoid doing it during the sun’s peak hours of 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Sunbathe for 10 to 15 minutes while taking note of the color of your skin. Usually, sunbathing for 10 to 15 minutes is enough to darken your skin, so you may stop at this point. As your skin gets darker, you may increase the time of your exposure to the sun to get a darker tan.
  • Step 4: Reapply sunscreen after 20 minutes. Cover all the spots that you previously covered, and then continue sunbathing if you want to.
  • Step 5: Observe the color of your skin. If it’s already too dark, then you may already have a sunburn. Contrary to some people’s belief, sunburn doesn’t leave an even tan. In fact, it causes skin to become splotchy and blistery since your blood vessels are broken. To avoid getting sunburn, don’t sunbathe for a long period of time, and avoid wearing clothes with dark colors because they absorb too much heat.
  • Step 6: Tans are temporary, and the faster your skin peels off, the faster the tan disappears. To keep your tan for a long period of time, use an after-sun lotion immediately after sunbathing. Also, apply moisturizer on your skin twice daily to keep it from getting dry and shedding off.

Tanning Beds: The Quick Way to Get a Tan

Using a tanning bed is safer than sunbathing, because you get to adjust the settings of the machine to produce the skin tone you like. A good tanning salon will not allow you to tan too much to take care of your health as a customer. Follow these procedures to properly tan using a tanning bed.

  • Step 1: Check the tanning salon’s facilities. The staff should be knowledgeable with the proper credentials, and the place should be clean. The salon should have a disinfecting policy since customers always sweat in the tanning beds. You can contract a skin disease from lying on a tanning bed if it’s not regularly disinfected.
  • Step 2: Tell the salon staff anything that might affect tanning results, such as medications you may be taking.
  • Step 3: Make sure that the staff has you fill out a Skin Type Analysis Form which determines your skin’s reaction to tanning. Take a minute to fill out the form for your own safety.
  • Step 4: Decide on the skin tone you want to achieve. Salons typically provide pictures of different tan levels that you can use to make up your mind. You can also cut out magazine pictures beforehand and show them to the staff.
  • Step 5: Ideally, the staff should help you figure out how long you should tan. You can also do this yourself though by checking out the chart on the tanning bed.
  • Step 6: Take off your clothes. You may wear a bathing suit, underwear, or nothing at all. Then, set the controls, and hit start.
  • Step 8: Wear protective goggles before getting inside the tanning bed. If you live in the US, the goggles should be approved by the FDA. Salons usually provide their own goggles, but if the salon doesn’t have them, then stop everything and get a pair of goggles first. Without goggles, your eyes can get permanently damaged by the UV light inside the machine.
  • Step 9: Get in bed and stay there until the bed turns itself off. When you’re finished, apply a sunscreen or sunblock on your skin to prevent sunburn. You may return to the salon later to prolong your tan.

Self-tanning Creams: Fake Bake, Real Safety

Both sunbathing and using tanning beds involve UV rays that can cause skin cancer. If you don’t want that risk but still like to get that golden skin tone, try self-tanning creams, also known as “fake bakes.” The proper way to use these creams is as follows:

  • Step 1: Self-tanning creams contain DHA that stains dead skin cells, making your skin look darker. Buy a self-tanner that has a visible color, so you can see how much you’re applying.
  • Step 2: Test the tanner on a small spot on your skin to see if you’ve got any negative reactions to it. If you develop rashes, then dump the cream and buy a new one.
  • Step 3: Exfoliate using a loofah before applying the cream to get the best results.
  • Step 4: Thoroughly rub the cream into your skin, paying special attention to your elbows, ankles, backs of knees, and tan lines if you have them. You may ask your friend to help you reach the areas that you can’t reach by yourself. Wearing rubber gloves is a good idea because the cream can also stain the palms of your hands. Also, make sure to wipe excess cream to avoid an uneven tan.
  • Step 5: Wash your hands after application, and wait 15 minutes before getting your skin wet.

Whatever tanning method you choose, don’t do it too regularly or you may damage your skin. Instead of baking yourself for a quick fix, spend more time outdoors to get your regular dose of sunlight. Always put your health first before anything else to avoid complications.


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