What is UV Tanning?
UV tanning is a method of cosmetically darkening the natural pigmentation of one’s skin via exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Most commonly, individuals are exposed to UV radiation while in the sun, but with the advent of artificial tanning beds and booths, it is now much easier to reap the benefits of UV tanning no matter the time of year or location. While sun tanning in moderation can produce many positive effects (increased production of melanin and vitamin D), it should be noted that an overexposure to UV light has also been linked to health risks such as a reduced immune response, sunburn, and skin cancer. To get the most out of your tanning routine, you should spend some time learning about how tanning works and the best method of tanning based on your natural skin color, history, and other biological factors.
How Does it Work?
Ultraviolet radiation, commonly defined as invisible rays of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum, are responsible for the skin-darkening effects of UV tanning. The presence of UV rays – via tanning lamps or natural sunlight – triggers the skin’s inner layer to produce more melanin, the pigment that colors the skin. Tanning lamps, a.k.a. tanning tubes or bulbs, vary widely in performance and output, but are generally long, low- or high-pressure fluorescent bulbs fitted into either tanning beds (horizontal enclosures in which the tanner lays down on an acrylic surface covering the bulbs and pulls down a canopy) or tanning booths (vertical enclosures similar in function but designed for the tanner to stand up while surrounded by tanning bulbs).
10 Tips to Get The Most Out of UV Tanning
- Do your research. Weigh the benefits and risks of UV tanning versus other methods.
- Choose a tanning location that you trust and that will best suit your needs. Be sure to consider quality and quantity of equipment, knowledge and approachability of staff, sanitation, convenience, pricing, and customer reviews.
- Before tanning for the first time, have an honest discussion with your tanning professional regarding your goals and expectations. A good salon will give all first time tanning clients a skin type survey and will use it to suggest a starting point and plan of action for achieving the best results possible.
- Take a shower and exfoliate prior to each tanning session. You want to be clean and free of dead skin in order to achieve the most even, long-lasting results.
- Use a high quality tanning lotion specifically designed for indoor tanning. Potentially expensive but definitely worthwhile, a good lotion can increase your tan up to 70% while keeping your skin soft and smooth.
- Wear protective eyewear!!! In order to prevent serious eye damage from UV rays, it is highly recommended (and in certain states mandatory) that tanners wear special protective goggles or the disposable version known as “winkies,” both offered for sale at most UV tanning locations.
- Use a tan extender after tanning. These specialized lotions are designed to extend the life of your tan by replenishing some of the moisture and nutrients you may have lost in the tanning process. Some even incorporate bronzers to give you a little extra glow.
- Try to avoid showering for three to four hours after tanning. Your skin needs this time to fully absorb the tan so you can get the best effects.
- Wait at least 48 hours between tanning sessions. This will allow your tan to fully develop and will lessen the potential for overexposure.
- Tan in moderation and DO NOT BURN. If your skin does ever burn, wait until the burn is completely gone before tanning again and reduce the length of your next sessions.