Reflective tanning blankets have been used for quite some time to speed up the tanning process. Used outdoors under the baking summer sun, the reflective blankets are supposedly helpful with gaining a summer tan in a shorter period of time, without any products needed.
While this sounds like a great solution to pale winter skin, are reflective tanning blankets worth trying? We think not, mostly because it still puts you at risk of sun damage.
Thankfully, there are alternatives to reflective tanning blankets, and we are more than happy to tell you about those. But first, let’s learn a little more about why reflective tanning blankets might cause more harm than good, despite the golden glow they may give you.
What Are Reflective Tanning Blankets?
Reflective tanning blankets are made from silver reflective material. They are placed under the body and help to reflect light to those hard to reach places that you might not reach when lying out in the sun.
The silver reflective material reflects UV rays from its surface towards the body, and these reflected UV rays help to tan the skin.
The reflective tanning blanket also helps to speed up tanning outdoors by reflecting more rays towards the skin, compared to just tanning using the direct rays from the sun.
What Are They Used For?
Used for tanning outdoors, reflective tanning blankets help to accelerate the tanning process without the need to use other tanning products applied to the skin. The reflective rays cover areas that are sometimes hard to reach by the sun, giving an even, natural tan.
The reflective tanning blankets also claim to keep the body cool when tanning, which helps to work against dehydration and overheating.
Do Reflective Tanning Blankets Work?
Reflective tanning blankets do work. They attract sun rays down towards the body and then reflect the rays back out to areas of the skin. There are both reflective blankets and towels that can be used while next to the pool or out at the beach.
Are Reflective Tanning Blankets Safe?
Tanning in the sun is never completely safe, and damage done to the skin from the sun can lead to many conditions that can be lifelong.
When UV rays reach your skin, the cells in the epidermis are damaged. This prompts the body to increase blood flow to the affected areas, which is why sunburn appears red and feels warm to the touch.
The first signs of sunburn appear as red and painful skin, and it can sometimes take up to 48 hours for these symptoms to first appear.
Using a reflective tanning blanket attracts and reflects more than the normal amount of UV rays to the skin, tanning them faster but also damaging the skin faster as well.
Effects of Sun Tanning
Also known as photoaging, premature aging can be caused by extended exposure to UV rays. This can cause the skin to develop wrinkles, dark spots, and leathery skin.
There are two types of skin cancer that can be caused by tanning. Melanoma is less common but is more dangerous. This is a skin cancer that starts in the epidermal cells which produce melanin. Non-melanomas occur in squamous cells and develop in sun-exposed areas of the skin, such as the ears, neck, face, lips, and hands. Severe cases of skin cancer can be life-threatening.
Eye damage is common from overexposure to the sun. It is the sunburn of the cornea in the eye. Symptoms include tearing, pain, hazy vision, and swollen eyelids. If treated, the symptoms are not long-lasting.
Another form of eye damage, cataracts are the clouding of the natural lens of the eye. This can lead to decreased vision and possible blindness. The symptoms include clouded vision and or pain in the eyes. Cataracts are treated by being surgically removed.
The use of reflective tanning blankets can enhance the effects of UV rays from the sun, and therefore increase the amount of damage done to the skin.
Where To Find A Reflective Tanning Blanket?
It is fairly easy to find reflective tanning blankets or towels online, although they are not as popular as they once were as many people are now aware of the dangers of tanning in the sun.
It is uncommon to find these reflective blankets in stores, as people are now opting for self-tanners or tan accelerators to avoid spending too much time in the sun.
Alternative To Reflective Tanning Blankets
It is advised to avoid using reflective tanning blankets, as the possible damage to your skin is not worth the golden tan you might achieve. Luckily, there are alternatives to reflective tanning blankets if you are looking to still get a bronze glow.
Self-tanners are becoming more and more popular as people are wanting to spend less time damaging their skin in the sun. Self-tanners use an ingredient called DHA, which reacts with the skin to create a bronze tan.
No sun is needed for the reaction to take place. Self-tanning products can come in many forms, such as lotions, mousse, oils, sprays or gels. They do not last as long as natural tans and can sometimes look a bit orange, but they are the safer option.
Tan accelerators can be used as lotions, sprays, pills, drinks or injections. These accelerators increase the skin’s production of melanin, which is responsible for the darkening of the skin. These accelerators cut down the time needed to be spent in the sun, achieving a darker tan quicker.
Bronzers are artificial tanners that offer up an instant stain to the skin. These do not last long and can often appear quite dark compared to the natural tone of the skin. The benefit is that bronzers do not need the sun to work and develop on the skin almost instantly. Bronzers are notorious for staining hands and clothing if not used carefully.
Tanning beds have been used for ages. They offer a comfortable alternative to sitting outdoors in the sun. However, tanning beds emit the same UV rays as the sun which are responsible for tanning the skin.
With that said, tanning beds are more controllable than the sun, so many people choose this option for a natural-looking tan while avoiding artificial skin products.
Do I need sunscreen when using a reflective blanket?
If you are set on using a reflective tanning blanket to achieve a deep glow, remember to use sunscreen to give your skin some protection against damage from the sun. A low factor sunscreen will give your skin some protection, but you should still be able to tan through this sunscreen a little bit.
Should I tan gradually?
It is much safer to tan gradually, for short periods over a few days, than a long tanning session in one go. If you tan for too long in one day, you will land up with bad sunburn that can have irreversible damage on your skin.
Instead, opt to spend an hour outside each day, gradually tanning your skin. This way you are avoiding too much damage, and you are still in control of the tan you will develop,
Should I use baby oil with a reflective blanket?
Back in the day, many people used baby oil slathered all over their body as a tan accelerator with reflective blankets. Do not do this. The baby oil will enhance the rays of the sun and almost cook your skin like oil would a roast chicken. It is incredibly unsafe for your skin and you will land up with a really painful sunburn!
Should I use a reflective blanket for fair skin?
Those with pale or fair skin should avoid using a reflective tanning blanket. The blanket will attract a large number of UV rays to the skin and cause damage quite quickly. Only those who have medium to dark skin should attempt to use a reflective blanket.
Is coconut oil good for tanning?
Coconut oil can help your skin tan faster, but can still also cause damage to your skin by attracting UV rays to your skin in an unhealthy quantity. However, coconut oil is good to keep your skin moisturized, which helps limit burning and peeling after tanning.
Does a reflective blanket work in the evening?
It would be safer to use a reflective blanket in the evening as the rays from the sun won’t be as potent later in the day. This means there will be fewer UV rays directed and reflected to the skin, which could mean it would take longer to tan, but also means there will be less damage done to the skin when tanning during the evening.
Reflective Tanning Blankets
While many people in the past swore by tanning with reflective tanning blankets, it is probably better to avoid using them now. The UV rays are drawn and reflected back to the skin and are amplified in strength. While this might tan the skin faster, it can cause serious sunburn and lasting damage that just isn’t worth it.
There are many other great products available to use, such as self-tanners and tan accelerators which cause minimal damage to the skin, and lead to a gorgeous, glowing and radiant-looking tan. Protect your skin from the sun, you will thank yourself later!