Many people enjoy using tanning beds to maintain or develop a tan year round. Before you use a tanning bed for the first time, it is important to be aware of how to tan safely and evenly. First-time tanners should take the necessary precautions to ensure their first experience is positive.
Shave and Exfoliate Before You Tan
Dry and dead skin cells can prevent you from getting an even tan. Exfoliate a few days before you go to the tanning bed for the first time to make sure that your skin is smooth and soft. First-time tanners should also consider shaving or waxing to remove body hair before they tan. Like dead skin, body hair can block the tanning bed’s UV rays from reaching your skin and cause an uneven tan.
Use a special indoor tanning lotion. A study by the American Tanning Institute claims that using tanning lotion before you go to the tanning bed can help your tan last longer and your skin remain healthy. Indoor tanning lotions are often available at the tanning salon, though you may want to apply the lotion a few hours before getting into the tanning bed.
Always wear goggles. Your eyes are especially sensitive to the ultraviolet (UV) rays transmitted by indoor tanning beds. Only specially designed tanning goggles will protect your eyes—don’t try to protect your eyes inside a tanning bed by closing them or wearing ordinary sunglasses. Most tanning salons will provide you with goggles, but if you plan to tan regularly, it can be a good idea to invest in your own. Your lips are also more sensitive to UV rays. To protect them, put on a lip balm with SPF before getting in the tanning bed.
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Less is more, particularly for first-time tanners. Though it may seem like the longer you stay in a tanning bed, the more tan you will become, you can risk burning your skin if you stay in too long. Your first tanning session should last around five to seven minutes. For people with fair skin, this might be the maximum time they spend in a tanning bed even during later sessions. People with darker skin can add a minute every session until they reach the amount of time they want to spend in the tanning bed.
Listen to Your Body
Your body knows when it is in trouble. Pay attention to the way that you feel while you are tanning. If your skin starts to feel overheated, irritated or painful sensations, get out of the tanning bed.
Overexposure to UVA rays, which cause our bodies to tan, can be harmful whether they come from the sun or from an indoor tanning bed. “[T[here is no scientific evidence that the use of tanning beds and booths is any less damaging or harmful than exposure to outdoor sunlight,” warns Dr. Melissa Stoppler, “To the contrary, the evidence suggests that indoor tanning may be even more damaging and dangerous, especially because some people become addicted to maintaining a deep, dark tan irrespective of the season.”
Martha Quinn has been writing since 2005. Her work has appeared in various online publications. She is enjoys writing on such topics as history and education. Quinn obtained her Bachelors of Arts in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College, and a Master of Education from Lesley University. She is currently working on a Master of Arts in cultural studies at the University of Wisconsin.