If you are looking for a deeper tan from spending time in the sun, you might have come across reflective tanning blankets and wondering if they work, and if they are safe to use.
A reflective, or foil, tanning blanket will increase the strength of the UV rays hitting your body as well as reflect it onto difficult to reach areas. This can result in a faster, deeper, more even, tan.
If you use a reflective blanket for tanning, it is safe to do so if you are careful, as is the case every time you expose your body to UV rays. You should limit time spent using the blanket and pay close attention to your skin’s reaction, in order to prevent burning.
Let’s take a more detailed look at how these blankets work, and how to use them safely.
How Reflective Tanning Blankets Work
Before we talk about if reflective blankets are good to use it’s important we firstly talk about how to use them. Reflective tanning blankets are made from a silver material that reflects the rays from the sun. The material is highly reflective, which attracts the rays and not only amplifies them in their reflection, but also reflects them onto areas of your body that are hard to reach.
The result is a deeper, more even tan, whilst spending less time under the sun. In the past, the blankets were seen as a magic ‘deep tan sun reflector’ because the results are so noticeable.
Another reason that reflective tanning blankets are popular is that the surface can help to keep you cool whilst lying in the sun.
To use a suntan reflector, simply lay it flat underneath you whilst you are lying in the sun. They can be placed on a sun lounger, on the grass, or on the sand.
The material is easy to clean, but delicate, so make sure the surface you are lying on is free from things that could damage or tear the blanket.
You can also use a solar tanning blanket with a tanning bed canopy if you don’t want to tan under the sun. Simply place the tanning blanket underneath you before you lie down, as part of your normal canopy set up.
Are Reflective Tanning Blankets Safe to Use?
Reflective tanning blankets are safe to use if caution is taken. There are a number of known risks associated with over-exposure to the sun, most notably, in causing skin cancer.
Over-exposure to UV rays can also cause skin to age more quickly, by causing wrinkles and toughening of the skin. UV rays pose a risk to the eyes, as exposure can cause cataracts and corneal burns. Too much sun also suppresses your immune system, even though the right amount of sun is good for vitamin D production.
Badly burnt skin will also lead to peeling, which will defeat the point of the tanning session in the first place, as the layer of skin underneath will not be tanned.
Because reflective tanning blankets amplify UV rays and help them to reach more areas of your body, it is important to take extra care to avoid burning.
For the first time you use a suntan reflector, it is recommended that you limit a session to fifteen minutes. This may seem like a very short time, but it is enough to burn, especially if you are fair-skinned. You can build the length of sessions by five minutes more each time, paying close attention to your skin and making sure that you are not burning.
Wear sunglasses or tanning bed eye covers to protect your eyes whilst using a reflective tanning blanket.
Use a high SPF sunscreen on sensitive areas of your body, notably on your face and on exposed nipples. Make sure the sunscreen is waterproof if you are planning to swim in between tanning sessions.
When starting out it’s a good idea to avoid using reflective tanning blankets between 11am and 4pm. The sun’s rays are already highly concentrated during these times and increasing their strength even more is very likely to lead to burning. While it will speed up tanning tan it may be unsafe to do so especially when first starting out. For more information on this check our articles, best time to tan and can you tan after 4pm.
Lastly, make sure to re-hydrate your skin after spending time in the sun using a reflective tanning blanket. UV rays dry your skin out, so applying lotion or aloe vera for an extra cooling effect is essential.
Alternatives to Reflective Tanning Blankets
Using blankets has become much less common as people have become more aware of the risks associated with over-exposure to the sun. If you are looking to achieve a beautifully bronzed complexion without the risks, here are some alternative options!
Visiting the salon for a spray tan is a great sunless tanning option. The color is designed to be long-lasting, and staff are highly experienced in offering an even tan.
Forget the orange streaks that have historically been associated with spray tans, the technology has moved on a lot since then.
At home self-tanners often also contain DHA (the long-lasting bronze color) and with a bit of practice, you can achieve the same golden glow as you would expect from spending a week in the sun.
Sunless tanning is the only way to get a tan without posing a risk to your health.
Tan accelerators stimulate melanin production in the skin, which is the chemical responsible for darkening of the skin. Using a tan accelerator can help you to achieve a darker tan whilst spending less time in the sun.
Tanning beds are very popular. People mostly visit a salon to use tanning beds, but they are also available to buy for the home.
Tanning beds emit UV rays, just like the sun, and so pose the same risks as over-exposure to the sun. The time spent on a tanning bed, however, is easier to control and therefore could still be considered safer than using a reflective tanning blanket.
Why Do People Tan with Foil?
Reflective tanning blankets have a foil-like appearance. The highly reflective material used for tanning blankets looks very similar to kitchen foil that you will have at home.
People use them to achieve a darker and more even tan from the sun. As mentioned above, however, this approach has declined in popularity as awareness about the dangers of sun exposure has increased.