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Tips for Safe and Effective Tanning

Updated on July 17, 2011

Summer is approaching fast and you can’t wait to hit the beach. You pull out all of last years shorts, tanks, and bikinis and start trying them on only to realize that if you walk outside with legs that white you might blind people. No matter how slim and toned you are, everyone looks better with a little color on them. Here are some tips for safe, effective tanning so you can look your best on the beach this year.

Fake it- There are so many options for artificial tans that it makes it easy to look great without damaging your skin.  Many tanning salons offer spray on tans that cost about the same as going to a regular tanning bed. Beware of the artificial tanning booths though because they can sometimes leave you looking you just finished playing in the mud. I have found the best sprays on tans are the ones where a person actually sprays you by hand. This way the tan is customized to your skin and looks more natural. A cheaper alternative is to buy some self tanning lotion and do it yourself at home. If you are looking to just add a little natural looking color then Jergens Natural Glow is a good choice. For a deeper, more exotic looking tan, my personal favorite is Neutrogena tanning foam. The foam is easier to spread evenly than the lotion products.


Take your time – Plan your tan in advance. Don’t try to double up on tanning sessions to get darker faster because you will only burn your skin and be splotchy and peeling all summer. Starting off with just a few minutes a day and gradually working your way up to longer sessions will prevent sunburn and give you a darker, more natural looking tan.


Use sun block- While your tummy may be able to handle the sun for hours at time, other parts of your body are more sensitive. Don’t forget to apply sun block to your face, shoulders, or anywhere else you tend to burn.


Cover your hair- We all know that blow drying or using a flat iron dries out and damages our hair. However, we often forget that sun and tanning beds will ruin our hair too. Be sure to cover your hair when you will be in the sun for long periods of time or in a tanning bed. Also, if you are in a swimming pool you will want to wash the chlorine out as soon as possible and condition your hair.



Use a bronzer- If you are the type that is always either ghost white or beet red and never get that golden brown you are looking for then you may need a bronzing lotion. This will help your tan turn dark brown instead of red.


Moisturize- ALWAYS moisturize when you are done tanning. Otherwise your pretty new tan will turn into alligator scales or ashy, peeling skin. Aloe Vera is one of the best after-sun moisturizers available and it will also help ease sunburn pain if you stayed out a little to long.



Move around- If you have ever fallen asleep in the sun then you know why it is important to move around. If you stay in one position you will end up with a white tummy and a red back or zebra stripes from shadows or folds in the skin. Even if you are in a tanning bed you should flip every couple of minutes from your back to your tummy to your sides to ensure your tan is spread evenly.



Oil- free lotions- Not only will oil-based tanning lotions make your skin break out and look greasy but it is also asking for a fungal skin infection. Remember that fungus grows in warm wet places. You have probably heard people say they drench themselves in baby oil to get an extra dark tan. I made this mistake once. I covered myself head to toe in baby oil and let myself bake and short while later had the most beautiful darkest tan imaginable. A few hours later, I broke out in ringworm all over my entire body so bad I was hospitalized. PLEASE don’t tan with baby oil!



Clean the tanning bed- Fifteen people have probably laid their greased up naked behinds in that bed before you will get in it today. Please don’t rely on the staff to properly clean the tanning beds for you because it doesn’t get done. Save yourself some funky diseases and skin infections by taking an extra minute to sanitize the bed yourself before tanning.



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    • cblack profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from a beach somewhere

      Amy, I have yet to find a self tanner that doesn't have that weird smell to it.

    • cblack profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from a beach somewhere

      Maria Cole, the right tanning salon does make a difference. One place I go for a spray tan makes it look perfect and so natural but some of the other places sent me out looking like I had been playing in the mud.

    • cblack profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from a beach somewhere

      Thanks ergibson. I myself have chosen to be proactive and stop tanning this year.

    • profile image

      Amy Martin 

      7 years ago

      There are so many good quality self tanners on the market today. They are very easy to apply, don't have a bad smell and are a really nice natural brown. Thanks for the hub.

    • profile image

      Maria Cole 

      8 years ago

      The right tanning salon with the right people working can really make a difference. They can create and tailor plans to fit your unique skin. A big benefit of indoor tanning is that you can control a lot of the factors that create damage indoors whereas you cannot control the sun.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Good idea to start thinking about summer and damage from the sun!


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