There are different reasons why you may want to visit a tanning salon. Maybe you are going on vacation and need their skin to get a base tan so that they won’t burn easily while on holiday. Or you may just want to get a certain level of tan for your skin to look great. Or your doctor may have recommended tanning to treat vitamin D deficiency or depression.
Whatever your reasons are, it would be good for you to know that there’s a certain technique to the tanning process. An attendant would not normally stay with you after settling you in, so knowing how to use a tanning bed correctly will determine if you get an even tan or not.
Yep, it’s not just about lying still and doing nothing. It’s about proper prep, good positioning to avoid awkward tan lines, and continuous hydration which can help your skin tan faster.
Therefore, learning how to use a tanning bed is crucial, and this article will teach you.
How to Use a Tanning Bed
Tanning is the process of tanning or darkening your skin by exposing it to the UV rays from an artificial source or the sun. It’s a form of beauty for some people, but technically, it’s a mechanism our bodies use to protect us from UV lights. Tanning varies with your skin type, type of bed used, and duration.
Therefore, before even hitting the local tanning shop, you need to prepare your skin for the entire process. And the first thing you should do is determine your tanning skin type. After all, your skin type will determine the number of tanning sessions you’ll need and the duration of every single session.
Step 1: Determine Your Tanning Skin Type
Dermatologists have categorized people’s skin types starting with the lightest to the darkest. These categories include:
Skin type 1: the skin of individuals under this category is pale or very white. The color of their eyes is either green or blue, and their hair is red. Skin type 1 burns quite easily. So tanning can be quite difficult and should be done carefully.
Skin type 2: individuals under this category have light brown or blonde hair, green or blue eyes, and light beige skin. Skin type 2 tends to burn, so this process should be done correctly and safely.
Skin type 3: people with this skin have light brown skin. They also have brown hair and eyes. This skin type does always tan, but it can sometimes burn.
Skin type 4: people under this category have olive or light brown skin tone and darkish brown hair and eye color. This type of skin tans easily, but it can sometimes burn.
Skin type 5: individuals with skin type 5 have dark brown eyes and hair and brown skin. Skin type 5 tans quite easily and rarely burns.
Step 2: Choose the Right Type of Tanning Bed and Salon
Since you already know skin type, the next step is visiting the local tanning salon and asking about their tanning options. Remember, different tanning salons have a wide range of beds that use different tanning methods. Speak to the salon representative and then pick the right bed for your skin. But most importantly, make sure the tanning beds are clean. Some of the most common tanning beds available include:
Medium and Low-Pressure Beds
The low-pressure bed is a traditional tanning bed that emits UV rays in a spectrum that resembles natural sunlight. The leading difference between the medium and low-pressure bed is that the medium uses a higher wattage. Therefore, it tans faster than the low-pressure bed. Luckily, these two give an intense natural-looking tan.
However, the risk of getting burned in a low-pressure bed is quite high. Therefore, it is not ideal for people whose skin burns faster.
The high tanning bed emits huge amounts of UVA rays than UVB. Remember, UVA can penetrate the deeper skin layers and stimulate tanning. On the other hand, the UVB rays can cause sunburns if abused. High-pressure beds can cause sunburns.
In this bed, you should expect longer-lasting and deeper tans, which can take a long time to build. The high-pressure bed can be quite costly, but if you have fair skin that burns easily, then you should try this tanning bed.
The tanning booth also referred to as the stand-up bed, is a vertical bed. So instead of lying down during the tanning process, you get to stand up. With a tanning booth, you can move freely and put your body in the right position for an even tan. This is the best bed for giving you evenly tanned thighs and arms. It is also a great option for people who don’t like lying down in an enclosed space.
Step 3: Prepare Your Skin for the Tanning Sessions
Having known your skin type and the right tanning bed, the next step is preparing your skin for the tanning process. Remember, your skin will undergo a lot of changes when tanning. So you should do the following a few days before you start the tanning sessions.
Build a Base Tan
The most important preparation step for a tanning bed is building a base tan by sunbathing to avoid skin irritation. This is quite important, especially if you will be tanning using a bed that emits UVB rays or if you have not been exposed to the sun for an extended period. Building a base tan will help your skin get used to the UV rays and reduce the likelihood of getting a skin burn.
Moisturize and Exfoliate Your Skin Before the Tanning Sessions
It’s always a good idea for better tanning results to clean the skin and get rid of all the dead cells. And after your bath, make sure you apply a fragrance-free moisturizer. The moisturizer will protect the skin from burning or getting irritated.
Refrain From Using Certain Skin or Beauty Products to Avoid Irritation
When heated, some chemicals and fragrances can prevent your skin from tanning properly or cause irritation. Therefore, you should avoid using makeup, perfume, or deodorants before your tanning appointment.
Apply a Tanning Solution an Hour Before Your Tanning Sessions
Apply some tanning lotion to increase the effect of the bed. You don’t have to apply a tanning lotion before the appointment, but using it can reduce tanning sessions and duration. And that is because it can help your skin achieve the desired tan within a very short period.
Step 3: Wear Protection
Parts of your body like the genitals, breasts, and buttocks shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight. So to avoid irritation, you should wear a bathing suit when tanning. If you choose to tan naked, you should cover your breasts and genitals with tanning stickers, a washcloth, or a hand towel. Make sure you also apply a moisturizer in places that can be irritated by the UV rays.
Some salons permit nude tanning, so make sure you confirm their policies before removing your clothes.
Goggles are always provided in the salon, but you can always bring your own. Remember, even with closed eyes, the UV rays can penetrate your eyelids and damage or irritate them. With time overexposure to UV rays without goggles can cause blindness, cataracts, loss of night vision, and color blindness.
Make sure you slide the goggles periodically while tanning to prevent raccoon eyes. Just avoid lifting or removing the goggles completely. Never put on your contact glasses when tanning, as they can damage or dry out your eyes.
Extended exposure to UV light can easily fade the tattoo ink and dyed hair. Therefore, make sure you get the right sunscreen to cover your tattoo and get a cap. The UV light has also been known to affect acrylic nails, so make sure you ask the attendant if you have to cover them.
Step 4: Familiarize Yourself With the Tanning Bed You’re Using
After you have done the above preparations, you should go to the tanning area and ask the staff to explain the process. Knowing the tanning process can help you work with an unfamiliar bed. Some units have buttons to help you control the fans or have some bulbs for tanning your skin which you can control.
Remember, being in the tanning booth for 20 minutes is equivalent to sunbathing for over 4 hours. And while the sun contains both UVB and UVA radiations, the tanning bed uses only the UVA. The UVA is known to penetrate deeper into the skin. So it’s crucial that you know how to use the tanning bed if you want to prevent your sensitive skin from getting burned.
And depending on the salon, you might have to close the lid and switch it on while inside. So try and learn how to operate the tanning booth before lying on the bed. So make sure you do the following when tanning:
Step 5: Set the Timer
Some salons don’t have a staff member on standby to tell you when to flip your body when tanning. Luckily, most tanning beds have a timer that is visible from the inside, so make sure you locate it and monitor your entire session. Therefore, you must find out if you will be receiving guided instructions or not while tanning.
The timer is normally set by the salon attendant before you get in, and the time is determined by your skin type. If you have darker skin or base tan, then your tanning session will last for 20 minutes. If you have sensitive or fair skin, your tanning time will not exceed 7 minutes.
Step 6: Lay in the Bed on Your Back With Your Legs and Arms Spread
Lay down with your arms resting on your sides or with your legs together to get a spotty or uneven tan. Stretch out your entire body on your tan bed to ensure that every part of your body gets exposed. If you plan on tanning the skin under your arms, then you can lift your hands over your head for a few minutes when tanning.
Step 7: Bend Your Knees
When you lay flat on the bed, your buttocks tend to push against the back of your thighs, resulting in some tan lines. To avoid getting these lines, you should bend your knees to get an even tan on your legs. Bending your knees will elevate your legs slightly. And make sure your thighs are not touching each other.
If the machine has more than enough space for you to bend your legs, you should bend one knee first and then switch to the next after a few minutes.
Step 8: Flip to Your Stomach Midway Through the Session
For you to tan your backside, you must adjust your position and lay on your stomach halfway through the sessions. And then put your arms on your sides with the palms facing downwards. Normally, the time to flip is indicated by the timer or the staff member. If this position feels uncomfortable, you can prop up your chin using your arms.
When using a tanning booth, you never have to worry about flipping to the side to get an even tan.
Step 9: Tanning Your Sides
Even though the bed has been tanning your sides indirectly, you should spend at least half a minute laying on each side. You can dedicate the last few minutes to working your sides for an even tan. Focusing on every side of your body will ensure that your body is tanned evenly.
Step 10: Wait for About 4 Hours Before Bathing
The tan requires a few hours to settle and soak into your skin cells, so make sure you don’t bathe immediately. Showering right away can create some splotchy lines within the tan or even dull the tan. And if your skin feels dry, you should apply some moisturizer instead of taking a bath.
Your skin will continue to darken for a period of between 24 and 72 hours. And if you are not pleased with the results, you can always book another tanning session. Remember, some people need at least three sessions to attain the desired golden glow.
There are several things you must do before you hit the tanning salon and while you’re in the tanning bed.
Since your skin will be exposed to UV rays for an extended period, it must be well hydrated. Make sure too that you get protective tanning gear, including the goggles and a bathing suit. If you have some tattoo or dyed hair, you should make sure they are well covered, as tanning can fade the tattoo ink. And then book your tanning sessions once you’re ready.
But before you even get into the tanning bed, you should find out how it works and when you need to turn the body. Remember, staying in a certain position for an extended period can result in some tan line. After each session, you should not take a bath immediately. You should wait for at least four hours for the tan to settle. Showering immediately can dull the tan.
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