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Tanning in a Tanning Bed 101: FAQ

Updated on May 27, 2017

Tanning for the first time can be more than confusing. Different salons have different names for the beds, there are so many lotions on the shelves it can be difficult to pick just one, (and what if you wind up spending $80 on a bottle of lotion that you hate?), and the body always seems to tan unevenly.

Not to mention the controversy about whether tanning can cure acne, or the fact that no two tanning salons seem to have the same products.

Everything that goes into getting a perfectly tanned body can be overwhelming to a beginner. Instead of feeling confused, know what you’re doing before you set foot into a tanning salon by reading these common questions about how to go tanning.

Why aren’t my legs tanning?

Usually, the legs are the last thing to get tan. This can be frustrating because everyone wants to have those gorgeous, tanned legs for bathing suit season instead of a gorgeous tan body with pale legs that are more blinding than the sun. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is most of the time.

Women shave their legs on a regular basis, which exfoliates the legs. This means that the skin repairs itself more, and it can be more difficult to tan because the skin cells on the surface are constantly being replaced.

It makes sense that shaving less would help solve this, but that depends on how fast the hair grows. If the hair grows too fast, the UV rays won’t make it to the surface of the skin like they normally would, and you’re back to square one.

If this is a serious problem, get your legs waxed and then start tanning. You won’t have to shave your legs, and you won’t look like you’re still participating in no shave November.

Do I really need to buy tanning goggles?

You need to wear eye protection when going tanning. Closing the eyes is not enough to block out the harmful UV rays. Some salons offer their own tanning goggles to members, but there is a downside to that one.

Usually, they don’t have the strings attached to them, so they don’t fit tightly across the eyes. This means that harmful UV rays can get through those cracks at the corners of the eyes and damage the eye.

If this is the situation at your favorite salon, pick up a pair of these. They’re cheap, they’re cute and they’re effective. These are the ones I like because they block out the UV rays and the raccoon eyes aren't horrible.

How old do I have to be?

This varies by state law. In Ohio, a person can go tanning at the age of 14 with a parent’s consent. They can get a spray tan at the salon I go to at the age of 13. Other salons will not allow a person to use a UV bed until they are at least 18.

Because this varies so much, contact your local tanning salon and ask.

Do I have to use tanning lotion?

There is no law that says that a person has to use tanning lotion to go tanning, but it should be noted that tanning lotions are designed to help increase melanin and speed up the tanning process. In short, you get tan quicker if you use a tanning lotion.

In addition to that, tanning lotions are specially designed for people that are using UV beds. They have more moisturizing properties and vitamins than normal lotions do, which helps the skin stay soft and healthy instead of appearing dry and damaged. Tanning does dry out the skin, so a good moisturizer is a necessity.

Without a tanning lotion, you’ll still get tan eventually, but it will take some time.

Solid Black tanning lotion is great if you're on a budget. I use it on a regular basis, and it helps you see color quick, it smells good, and it's under $20.

What about baby oil?

Some people swear that using baby oil is the quickest way to get a tan. They slather themselves in baby oil and lay outside all day until they burn. Then, that burn turns into a tan.

With this method being surprisingly popular, it’s understandable why people would want to take baby oil with them to the tanning salon. This is not allowed, though. The oil will break down the acrylic coating on the tanning bed, and then the tanning salon will have to pay to have that repaired, or they will have to buy a new bed.

If the tanning salon finds out that a member is doing this, they may ban the member, or sue them for the cost of repairs.

How long does it take to see results?

This is the most common question asked by people that want a tan. They want a tan, and they want one fast. This varies because different people have different skin tones.

Usually, a person can expect to see results in about 2 weeks. It may not be the bronze that they want, but they will have darker skin.

How do you maintain a tan?

After you have the color that you want, you’ll want to keep that color. If you wait too long to head back to the salon, your tan will fade and you’ll have to start all over again. If you tan too often, you’ll wind up with skin that resembles leather

You want a perfect medium so you don’t have to deal with either one of those things. After you have the color that you want, go tanning once or twice a week to maintain that same color.

How long should I wait before I go tanning again?

It makes sense that if you want a tan fast you should go tanning more often, but there are limits to that. You have to wait at least 24 hours before you can go tanning again. Most salons recommend waiting at least two days in between sessions.

Personally, I go every day for two weeks, build up a good base tan, and then cut back. Going every day isn’t good for you, but I figure it will be okay as long as I don’t do it every day for the rest of my life.

Why do I have white spots?

When a person first begins to tan, they may notice that they have a spot here and there that is not tanning. If there is a random circle in the middle of a person’s back that is not getting tan, it is not normal.

This is usually Tinea Versicolor. Fungus from the scalp may wind up on the arms or back, and this results in that same fungus growing, which is why those spots stay white.

Tanning does not cause Tinea Versicolor. Most people do not know they have Tinea Versicolor until they go tanning and realize that they have certain spots that will not tan.

This can easily be treated by using topical creams, tea tree oil, or a physician can prescribe a prescription cream. You should not resume tanning until this condition is no longer an issue.

Can tanning really cure acne?

Every person with acne has heard that tanning can cure acne. It can, but it can’t.

Tanning dries out the skin, which helps dry out acne. It will help, but it may not cure acne. A person with severe acne will notice that they have less outbreaks, but it may not cure their acne completely.

On the other hand, a person that only has mild acne will notice a significant change in their condition.

It can cure mild to moderate acne, but the results will vary in severe cases of acne.

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