The Ultimate Tanning Bed Guide

Before you hit the tanning bed, check out these hot tips on how to get the best possible tan.

When you’ve invested your time and money in the tanning process, of course you want the experience to be as smooth and satisfying as possible.

By arming yourself with this information, you’ll be able to avoid some of the most common mistakes tanning bed novices make.

Keep reading and you’ll have the gorgeous glow you’ve been dreaming of in no time.

Before You Head to the Bed

A lot of people love consider the time they spend in a tanning bed to be more than just a way to get tan.

It’s also a form of rest and relaxation that allows you to take time out of your busy life to pamper yourself.

If it’s your first time going to a tanning salon, here’s what you should know in order to make the process as pleasurable as possible.

  • Many, if not most, tanning salons frequently run specials or offer special discount packages, reducing the price of sessions when you buy more than one at a time. Be sure to check with the tanning salons in your area to see if these specials are available. If you plan to tan on a regular basis, these deals can save you a ton of money.
  • Your tanning salon should appear to be meticulously clean and well kept. Why would you trust them to sanitize their tanning beds if they neglect general housekeeping like sweeping and dusting? Regardless of how clean the salon appears, don’t hesitate to ask them how they clean the beds. You’ll be putting your naked body on a surface that a stranger’s naked body was occupying shortly before you got there. Besides the gross out factor of imagining that you’re soaking in a pool of someone else’s sweat, lying in an unsterilized tanning bed could pose a health risk.
  • Ask the staff about their equipment strength and personalized recommendations for how long you should tan. There are many types of tanning beds, and some of them are much more powerful than standard models, requiring significantly less time. They should be able to tell you about bed strength, and they should be able to offer knowledgeable recommendations for how long you should tan during each session. For instance, in a standard bed, most fair skinned people without a base tan should not exceed six or seven minutes on their first visit.
  • Shower with a gentle body wash and exfoliate your skin before your tanning session. Sloughing off dead skin cells and washing away skin impurities will help ensure that you get the best tan possible.
  • Applying tanning lotion an hour or so before your appointment will give the product time to be absorbed into your skin and will make it more effective.
  • It’s a good idea to skip deodorant, makeup, and perfume. All of these things can interfere with the tanning process and potentially react negatively with the UV ray exposure.
  • You will, however, want to moisturize. Dry skin actually deflects UV rays, so you’ll tan faster and deeper if your skin is hydrated and healthy.

Tanning Bed Precautions

There are many precautions you can take in order to have the safest tanning bed experience possible.

Included in these are a few situations in which people should abstain entirely from tanning beds.

If you’re ever unsure, you should consult with your physician or ask a reputable tanning professional for advice. In lieu of that, err on the side of caution and skip it!

  • Don’t use oils intended for outdoor tanning. Not only are they unnecessary, because they’re not formulated for use with tanning beds, they may damage your salon’s equipment.
  • If you have tattoos, do ask the staff at your salon what type of sunblock is okay for their beds. SPF protection will protect your ink, which fades with exposure to UV rays.
  • If you wear acrylic nails, see if your salon sells coverings for them. UV exposure can cause them to yellow.
  • Wear lip balm with SPF protection. Your lips can’t tan, but they sure can burn! Sunburned lips are painful, but completely avoidable.
  • Eye protection is a must. This doesn’t mean keeping your eyes closed, or even placing a wash cloth over them. It means you need to wear the goggles. Your eyelids only block 25% of UV rays, and overexposure can lead to a wide variety of significant problems. Over time, you can develop cataracts, colorblindness, loss of night vision, and in the most severe instances, blindness.
  • It should go without saying, but if you have ever had skin cancer, or your dermatologist has found pre-cancerous cells, you shouldn’t tan indoors or outdoors.
  • If you have any major medical problems, be sure to ask your doctor if UV exposure or an increase in body temperature is dangerous to you.
  • People with contagious illnesses or skin conditions should refrain from using tanning beds as a courtesy to other patrons and staff.
  • If you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant, you shouldn’t tan.
  • If you experience a rash, tingling, or itching during your tanning session, it could be a sign of overexposure. Get out of the bed immediately, and be sure to tell someone who works there, so that they can make a note to bump your time down during your next visit.
  • Certain over the counter medications as well as some herbal supplements can cause photosensitivity, which means that you’re more prone to burning. Ibuprofen, along with common cold medications and antihistamines fall into this category. If you’ve used any herbs or OTC medicines within 24 hours of your tanning session, be sure to do your research so you don’t end up with a painful burn.
  • Many prescription drugs are contraindicated for sun and heat exposure. Some of the most common include birth control, blood pressure medications, and antibiotics.
  • Read the information you receive from the pharmacist with every new prescription you get.
    If your skin is so fair that you never get a tan from the sun, you just burn, tanning beds aren’t going to change that for you. Tanning beds produce tans using the same UV rays as the sun, so you’ll get the same results. If you fall into this category, you’re better off getting a spray tan or using self-tanning lotions.
  • The FDA requirements state that a full 24 hours must pass in between tanning sessions. This is to protect your skin, and no reputable tanning salon will allow you to tan more frequently than this. Some people try to get around this by going to more than one tanning salon. We highly recommend against this practice. Not only is it incredibly dangerous, it might make you burn, but it won’t help you get a great tan any faster.

Getting the Ultimate Tan

There are lots of reasons people use tanning beds.

Some people use them to get a base tan before going on vacation or hitting the beach in the summer.

Others use them during the winter, in order to maintain their summer tan.

You might decide you’d like to be tan for a special occasion, like a wedding or photos.

Whether you prefer a light glow or a deep, dark tan, these tips will help you get a great look from your time in the tanning bed.

  • Always use a high quality indoor tanning lotion. There are a lot of things you can skimp on, and the generic versions will be just as good as the name brands.
  • Unfortunately, indoor tanning lotions are not one of them. You really do get what you pay for. It’s better to pay more for a product that works than throw away your money on a cheaper product that is worthless. These products accelerate the tanning process by stimulating melanin production. They also keep the skin supple and hydrated, so your tanning session won’t dry out your skin. Remember, moist skin tans faster than dry skin, so a great indoor tanning lotion will help you squeeze more color out of each tanning session.
  • You can wear a bathing suit or underwear in the tanning bed if you want to, but most people go bare in order to avoid tan lines. Nothing ruins the look of a nice deep tan with your favorite strapless dress like pale straplines. If you’re worried about cleanliness because of other patrons, just make sure that your salon properly cleans their beds. If it’s a modesty issue, rest assured that most tanning beds are in private rooms with locking doors, so no one is going to walk in on you.
  • If you do tan in the buff, remember that some parts of your body see the light of day a lot less frequently than others. Nipples and genitals are particularly prone to painful burns, so cover them with a washcloth or hand towel for most of your session, only exposing them for a minute or two the first time. You can increase exposure time minute by minute each new session, until you are tanning without the Tarzan and Jane coverage. Take heed, these are not parts of your body you want to experience a sunburn. Ouch!
  • If you want to track your tanning progress without wearing clothing for the tell-tale lines, ask your salon if they have tanning stickers. By wearing a sticker in the same place during each session, you’ll be able to watch your tan get deeper. Plus, a lot of the designs are adorable, so you’ll have a cute temporary tattoo.
    Remember to reposition your limbs a few times throughout your tanning session. Change the position of your arms so that your hands are resting palms down through half of the session, and palms up for the remainder of the time. Spend the first half of the session lying with your toes pointed straight up, then allow your legs to fall open, so your toes are pointing outward. This will help prevent uneven tanning and white pressure lines.
  • You can also reduce the appearance of raccoon eyes by adjusting your goggles. Just don’t lift them off your face, and make sure that your eyes remained covered by them at all times. Use a sliding motion to reposition them without breaking contact with your skin.
  • Start slowly and increase your time gradually. A lot of people assume that more time is better, and that if you get an initial burn, you’ll tan more quickly. This isn’t true. If you burn, you will actually have to miss time in the bed waiting for it to heal, slowing down the tanning process. Redheads are notoriously incapable of tanning.
  • When you’re establishing a base tan, it is recommended that you use a tanning bed every 24 to 48 hours. Most tanning professionals actually suggest 48 hours in between tans, as this will actually give your skin time to heal and adjust, which makes the tanning process faster, rather than slowing it down.
  • Once you’ve achieved the color you desire and want to maintain it, rather than keep getting darker, you should reduce your number of weekly visits. Instead of going every 24 to 48 hour, hit the tanning bed two or three times a week.

Tanning beds, like most things in life, do carry a degree of risk.

As an informed adult, you have the right to weigh the pros and cons of anything you choose to do.

For instance, getting drunk and getting behind the wheel of a car is extremely reckless and dangerous.

No one would argue that you should do that.

But drinking responsibly, having a few drinks with friends now and then and not getting behind the wheel seriously limits the dangers of alcohol.

Intelligent adults get to make decisions about their own bodies and lives, and each will come to different conclusions about what is right for them.

We hope that you will thoroughly research the topic and carefully consider the pros and cons of tanning beds before making your decision.

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