How to Get the Best Tan in a Tanning Bed – 11 Actionable Tips

girl tanning

Whether you’re a beginner asking how to use a tanning bed or a regular tanner, you’re guaranteed to learn some useful tanning bed tips here. There are several things that you can do both before and after your session to achieve optimal results. In this article, you’ll find a total of 11 tips that are worth knowing as a tanner.

Read on to find out what you need to know to get the best tan in a tanning bed.

#1 Know Your Skin Type

Tanning beds have different levels, of which we will go into more detail in a little bit, and so knowing your skin type is essential before you make your appointment.

There are 5 skin type categories in total.  

Skin Type 1

The first one is very pale and/or white skin, sometimes with freckles that burns very easily, making tanning a bit of a challenge.  

Skin Type 2

This skin type is a light beige color and the expectancy rate to burn is also high.  

Skin Type 3

The third skin type is a light brown complexion that doesn’t typically burn with ease but burning can still occur if the correct tanning practices are not followed.

Skin Type 4

Olive skinned people fit under this category, as well as light brown. These skin types don’t typically experience burns especially since the required UV exposure time is at its minimum.  

Skin Type 5

The final skin type is a natural brown skin tone, not much tanning is needed, and even so it is a breeze to get a tan, and burns are rarely ever experienced.

#2 Choose the Right Tanning Bed

As already briefly mentioned, tanning beds have different levels to them.

A good tanning salon should have at least six options to choose from and you can ask the resident tanning specialist or consultant if they have the right bed for your skin tone.

All tanning beds come in levels 1 through 6. Therefore, identifying your skin type comes in handy.

Low pressure beds would be considered as level 1 and level 2 which feature low pressure bulbs, whereas levels 3 and 4 offer medium pressure bulbs, and levels 5 and 6 have high pressure bulbs and are considered high pressure beds.

The low-pressure beds are ideal as introductory levels for first time tanners, skin types one and two, as well as for those who don’t need to tan much – skin types four and five. The UV rays emitted from these beds are in a spectrum that is similar to that of natural sunlight. Despite the low level, they still produce color quite quickly and there is still the risk of sunburn, so timing is crucial, as always.

High pressure beds emit increased amounts of UVA rays and do this at a faster rate than their lower leveled counterparts, resulting in a longer lasting tan. These can be suitable for skin types one, two, and three when seeking a deeper, darker complexion.

#3 Exfoliate

Moving on to ways how you can prep your skin, the first of which being to exfoliate your skin a day or two beforehand.

According to the Boston Globe, our skin makes up about 16% of body weight, resulting in roughly 1.6 trillion skin cells depending on a person’s size. Of those billions of skin cells, between 30,000 and 40,000 fall off every hour and almost a million skin cells are lost over a 24-hour period.

By exfoliating before your tanning session, you can ensure that your skin is not only clean but also free of any dead skin cells, enabling a longer lasting tan.

#4 Hair Removal

For tanning beginners, it is a good idea to shave or wax any hair before your tanning session so that the tan can develop properly.

Hair can act as a barrier when it comes to tanning, causing you to expose your skin longer than you need to.

On the other hand, do not shave or wax afterward. By removing hair, you are essentially exfoliating the skin to an extent, causing the skin cells with pigment to shed off resulting in your tan lasting less than it should.

Moreover, if you partake in laser hair removal then you shouldn’t use a tanning bed for a minimum of one week after. It’s also not a good idea to tan in a tanning bed before laser hair removal, as skin that is already tan can get burned by the lasers and also block them from reaching the root of your hair follicles.  

#5 Moisturize Before & After

It would benefit your skin to moisturize right after tanning as it cools your skin, recovering any moisture lost during the tanning process, and results in a better looking tan. It also helps prevent dry skin which can sometimes lead to rashes from a tanning bed.

Just make sure that you use a non-oil based light moisturizer before your tanning session, as any oil can also act as a barrier over the skin.

We Recommend: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

The more hydrated your skin is, the better it will absorb the tan so don’t be shy to moisturize both before and after. It should be routine for you to moisturize daily, whether you’re currently tanning or not so that you can maintain soft skin.

You can keep your lips moisturized as well by applying some lip balm (that has SPF protection) before.

#6 Tanning Attire

For the best color consistency throughout your entire body, going nude seems to be the obvious choice – provided that’s even an option, that is.

Just be sure to cover any areas that would never typically be exposed to the sun, as the skin in these areas is more sensitive and can burn easily, such as nipples and private parts.

For those who aren’t comfortable with that, there are other options: the second-best option would be wearing a bikini or boxer briefs.

#7 Wear Goggles & Adjust Them

It is required by law to wear goggles while tanning in a sunbed. Some salons provide them to you free of charge, whereas other salons will only sell them.

It is necessary to protect your eyes at this time due to the intense UV exposure that is generated by tanning beds.

It cannot be compared to when you’re lying out in the sun where UVA and UVB hit you at varying levels, while rays in a tanning bed hit you uninterruptedly at a shorter range with much more intensity. This can cause permanent damaging effects to your eyes as your eyelids are too thin to prevent those invasive rays from reaching your retina, iris, and pupil.   

#8 Time It

Timing is crucial; too little results in no tan and too much will leave you burned.

Your very first tanning session should only last between 4 to 8 minutes, depending on your skin type. This would need to be repeated for several sessions until being increased slightly and gradually.

Should your skin ever get burned by a tanning bed, it is important to wait until the burn has completely subsided before approaching a tanning bed again and you should lower the time spent inside next time.

#9 Don’t Stay Still

A lot of us make the mistake of lying still for the entire tanning session. This can prevent certain areas from getting tanned, leaving you with an uneven and unsightly tan at the end of it.

Such areas include the chin, your underarms, and the insides of your legs. The areas where your body is touching the tanning bed also won’t tan very effectively.

To fix this, simply move slightly and change your position every now and then while in the sunbed.    

#10 Use a Tan Extender

Tan extenders, sunbed creams, and tan accelerators are all designed to keep your skin moisturized and hydrated whilst also intensifying the production of melanin, resulting in a darker tan – that lasts longer.

There are many different types out there so that any skin type can find the right one for them. Beginners should avoid bronzers because they provide a little extra color and we’ve already established that beginners need to be more cautious and tan more gradually at the start.

#11 Repeat

It is a regulation by the FDA to wait at least 24 hours between sessions, so if you’re wondering how often you should use a tanning bed, about once a week to three times a week at most would be right to maintain the perfect tan.

That waiting time is nothing to be of concern, considering how the production of melanin in your skin cells continues even after you get out of the sunbed for several hours, as time is needed for the color to properly develop and even be visible.

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