Some people much prefer the tan they get from the sun and are adamant that a natural tan trumps a self-tanning product any day. Tanning beds offer a quick and easy solution to getting a natural tan, without having to step foot outside.
One thing to remember is that tanning beds emit the same UVA and UVB rays as the sun, and therefore can damage the skin just as much as the sun.
If you choose to tan in a tanning bed, how do you do so safely? Take precautions before, during, and after your tanning session. Shower, exfoliate and moisturize your skin before tanning, use a tanning accelerator that’s right for your skin while you’re in the tanning bed, and do not tan more than once in 24 hours.
While you will never be able to fully protect your skin from damage when using a tanning bed, there are ways to lessen the damaging effects, and to leave your skin nourished and glowing, rather than dry and red.
How to Tan Safely in A Tanning Bed
Whether you have been using a tanning bed for quite some time, or are looking to start developing a brown tone in a tanning bed, these tips are so important to ensure your skin is kept as healthy and protected as possible.
What To Do Before Tanning
You can’t just show up to your tanning appointment unprepared.
You need to start preparing your skin in the days leading up to your tanning-bed time, to ensure that it is ready to tan safely, and able to hold the tan for longer as well.
- It is always a good idea to shower, exfoliate and shave one or two days before your tanning bed session. Exfoliating your skin helps remove all excess dead skin cells, and if not removed, these could lead to peeling which would just strip the tan off anyways.
- Shaving before is a good idea because if you shave after you tan, this could strip your new tan away.
- Once you have exfoliated, showered and shaved, you should apply an oil-free moisturizer to lock in some extra hydration.
- Check your medication before going to tan in a tanning bed. Some prescription medicines can cause the skin to become sensitive to UV rays, which will land you with sunburn instead of a suntan.
- Just before your tan, apply an SPF lip balm to your lips. Many people forget to protect their lips and land up with a beautiful tan, but dry cracked lips.
- Before you leave for the salon, remove all makeup, jewelry and do not wear any essential oils or heavy perfumes. This could act as a barrier to your skin tanning evenly.
What To Do During The Tanning Session
Once your skin is perfectly prepped to go into the tanning bed, there are a few more things to remember to tan safely.
- Once you are in the privacy of the tanning room, disrobe to whatever level you are comfortable with. The fewer clothes you wear, the more complete tan you will have. However, if you choose to tan nude, be sure to protect areas that are not normally exposed to the sun.
- You must apply indoor tanning lotion to your skin. These help your skin tan safely by containing moisturizing ingredients that prevent the skin from drying, and which help your skin turn a golden brown instead of a burnt red. Apply the tanning lotion in a circular motion over your whole body.
- Do not enter a tanning bed unless you have eye protection. Your eyes will suffer damage if you use a tanning bed without anything covering your eyes. Most salons rent the eye protectors out, or you can purchase your own, which is more sanitary, that you can carry along to any appointment you need to.
- Do not tan longer than recommended for your skin type.
What To Do After Your Tanning Session
The work is not done yet. You may have prepped your skin well, and paid great attention to keeping your skin safe while in the tanning bed, but you still have to put some work in once your tanning session is done to keep your skin protected, hydrated, glowing, and allowing your tan to stay around for longer before fading.
- Do not even think about returning to the tanning salon the day after your tanning session. Most tanning salons will turn you away, as per the 24-hour tanning policy. The tanning process does not stop as you leave the tanning bed, and your skin needs some extra time to further develop the color and to recover from exposure to the UV rays. You should wait at least 24 hours before your next tanning session, but to be safe, wait 36-48 hours.
- Use a good tan extender to ensure long-lasting results, keeping your skin hydrated and glowing, allowing your tan to glow.
- Maintain your tan by tanning 1-3 times a week. Most tanning salons will sit with you to develop a personalized tanning retention plan, suiting the tanning sessions to your skin tone and tan preference.
- Keep moisturizing your skin, using a tanning extender and a good moisturizing lotion daily. It is best to do this after a bath or shower, to lock in extra moisture.
Facts About Indoor Tanning Safety
According to the American Academy of Dermatology:
Tanning beds are not safer than the sun – The notion that it is safer to tan in a sunbed compared to tanning in the sun is incorrect. Your skin will still be exposed to UV rays, which could cause lasting damage, and lead to an increased risk of developing skin cancer. Due to this, the FDA requires warning labels that are present on all indoor tanning beds.
Tanning beds make your skin age quicker – Those who tan often in the sun or tanning beds will have skin that ages quicker. Wrinkles, age spots, and loss of firmness make skin appear older than it is, and often, this is irreversible.
A base tan does not prevent sunburn – It is recommended that you spend shorter periods in the tanning bed to build up a base tan, but this does not mean you will not burn. A base tan is something to build a deeper color on, it will not protect your skin from damage during prolonged tanning sessions.
Tanning beds do not give off enough vitamin D – You cannot get the recommended dose of vitamin D from tanning beds, they emit mostly UVA rays, but your body needs more UVB rays to make vitamin D. To make up for this, you should consume a healthy diet.
Tanning can become an addiction – Many people do not realize that some people are addicted to tanning. Without a steady dose of UV rays, some people can begin to feel depressed or fidgety.
Tanning beds do not help hide stretch marks – Tanning in a tanning bed might make stretch marks more visible. To hide stretch marks, you should use a self-tanner.
A Safer Option To Tanning Beds: Self-Tanner
Factoring in the damage that can be done to your skin by tanning beds, you might want to look for an alternate option. The best solution to giving your skin a gorgeous tan, but protecting it from damage, is to use a self-tanner at home.
Self-tanning lotions can be found at most drugstores, or they can be ordered online. Choose a self-tanner with added moisturizing ingredients, and use additional lotions daily, as self-tanners can sometimes dry out your skin.
Other than drying out your skin, self-tanners are a much safer option for obtaining a gorgeous tan without the damage done by UV rays.
How long should I tan for in my first session?
You need to start your tanning schedule slowly, to avoid being sunburned. This is especially important for those with light skin tones. Only spend between 10-15 minutes in the tanning bed for your first few sessions.
Once you have done this a couple of times, you can increase your session time to between 15-20 minutes. This allows for safe exposure time, but you will still be able to build a dark tan over time.
Why should I use a tanning lotion?
You should only use a tanning lotion which has been specially designed for tanning beds. These contain ingredients that help to achieve maximum tanning results, accelerating the darkening of the skin.
Tanning lotions also contain ingredients that help to replace essential minerals, moisture, and nutrients lost during the tanning session. Many contain antioxidants that protect the skin from damage and promotes firming and anti-aging. A tanning lotion will help you build a tan faster in a shorter period.
Why do I need to wear eye protection in a tanning bed?
Closing your eyelids does not provide enough protection in a tanning bed, so you will need to wear eye protection to prevent any further damage being done to your eyes.
Your eyelids are too thin to prevent ultraviolet light from reaching, and damaging, your eyes.
Tanning Bed Safety: Conclusion
If you have your heart set on using a tanning bed, you need to practice safe-tanning. Prepare your skin in the days leading up to the tanning session, and make sure to use a tanning lotion to help accelerate your skin and nourish it throughout.
Do not spend longer than necessary in the tanning bed, and be sure to keep your skin hydrated in the days and weeks following your tanning-bed time.