Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How to Pick a Tanning Bed Lotion

Since Spring is quickly beginning to feel a lot like Summer (in the South, anyways) a lot of pools are opening up early. One of my friends told me she wants to use a tanning bed to get a quick base tan before pool season really kicks off and asked me if I could do a post about the different types of indoor tanning lotions. Naturally, I said sure! And.. here we are.

I'd like to point out that I am not an indoor tanning expert, and you should definitely take your natural skin tone into account and always make sure that the staff at your tanning salon is properly trained and consult them if you have any questions. 

Also, please remember that tanning beds ARE NOT SAFE. Using them (even once) increases your risk of developing the skin cancer melanoma and not wearing protective eye wear can cause cataracts and arc eye. With that being said, I'm not trying to preach. I have used tanning beds in the past and still do on a very infrequent basis.

First, let's give you a mini lesson on how tanning beds actually work so you can understand exactly why lotions are important.

TANNING BED BASICS
The sun emits UVA and UVB rays. Tanning beds, on the other hand, mainly emit UVA rays. These rays penetrate deeper into the skin but is supposed to be less likely to burn you. Using a tanning lotion will further prevent the risk of burning. Many tanning lotions include Tyrosine which stimulates your skin's production of melanin, the pigment that adds color to your skin and thus helps create and maintain your tan. In addition, lotions also have other beneficial goodies for your skin like Aloe Vera to moisturize, Copper to reduce blemishes, and Vitamin E which can help fight signs of premature aging.

And now.. onto the lotions!

ACCELERATORS
These lotions are great for beginning tanners or naturally fair skinned people who don't already have a base tan. They are a "step one" product and usually have good amounts of moisturizers in them. Because of this, I read that you should apply these lotions about an hour before tanning to give the moisturizers time to soak into your skin. Personally, I have used accelerators in the past and I always applied mine right before getting into the tanning bed. I don't think I could get into one comfortably without having just applied lotion. That's just me, though.

BRONZERS
Bronzers can be considered another "step one" product and you'll often see bronzers and accelerators mixed together in one product. These are by far the most popular lotions on the market, and have sunless tanners mixed into them. They are meant to speed up the appearance of a tan with a fake tan while your skin catches up to the fake tan. Just like with regular sunless tanners, there are two types of bronzers: regular (immediate tan) and delayed (gradual tan). Also, remember to wipe your hands off immediately after applying these lotions so that you don't end up with the dreaded orange palms over time!

Personally, bronzers are my favorite indoor lotions. The only time I go to a tanning bed is when I'm super super pale and I love having instant gratification even if it is fake. And like I said, eventually your body will catch up to the sunless tanner in the bronzer and it just makes you that much darker. Also, the sunless tanner in bronzers doesn't streak when it starts wearing off of your body and you don't have to completely exfoliate before applying the bronzer. That's a huge plus and one of the reasons I gave up on regular sunless tanning.

MAXIMIZERS
Maximizers are a "step two" product for tanners who have already achieved a base tan and are looking to further darken their tan level. These lotions generally don't have high levels of moisturizers in them, and should be applied directly before tanning.

TINGLES
Tingle lotions are for advanced tanners only. Possibly considered a "step three" product, they stimulate your skin and cause an increase in blood circulation right below your skin (which can boost the production of melanin) creating redness that can last for hours. You will definitely feel the heat when using these lotions, and you run the risk of burning or ending up with welts. Beginners and people with sensitive skin can find these very unpleasant to use. Also, remember to wash your hands before touching children if you have used a tingle lotion, as they can end up miserable for hours. However, tingles are one of the most effective lotions out there and they produce great results when combined with a bronzer.

I love using tingles when I lay out in the summer. To me, I don't feel like I'm actually getting any sun unless I have that tingle burn going on. Even though I know that's not really the case, I find it very relaxing.. but I would never use a tingle in a tanning bed.

BODY BLUSH
I'll be honest and say that I have no experience with these lotions. From what I've read, body blushes are a substitute for tingles without the burning and heat sensations. Their reddening and blood circulation increasing powers don't seem to be as potent, but they could be a great alternative for tanners who cannot handle the intensity of a tingle lotion.

FACIAL TANNERS
Most tanning lotions are not designed to be applied to the facial area. The skin on your face is much thinner than the rest of your body and can burn much easier. You can choose to use a facial tanner which is specifically formulated for the face, or use SPF to prevent getting a facial tan at all and just use makeup to match your complexion to your body. The only problem with using makeup is that it will wash off if you get wet and then you'll have a white face and a tan body. Yikes! A third option would be to use SPF and then use a sunless tanner on your face. I tell you how the foolproof way to apply sunless tanner to your face here.

AFTER-TAN MOISTURIZERS
These lotions are sold as "add ons" to your tanning lotion purchase. I've purchased them from the tanning salon, and I've purchased them from other places.. and I'll be honest and say the only difference in getting them from the tanning salon (to me) is the price. You can get great moisturizers almost anywhere, just make sure that you pick up one that is not mineral oil based and apply it within 5 minutes of getting out of the tanning bed. Moisturizers with hemp are especially wonderful post-tanning, in my opinion.

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As far as tanning lotion brands go, I prefer Australian Gold and Designer Skin products but Swedish Beauty is good too. Remember that a good tanning lotion should be an investment, not something you just buy on a whim. This is what you're trusting to get your body tan and not burn yourself. Don't be afraid of buying several small packages to test out several lotions before you commit to buying a whole bottle! Packets usually have enough for 2 applications so you can see how well you really like the lotion to help avoid buyer's remorse.

Hope this was helpful! Happy tanning, whether it be indoor, outdoor or sunless!

♥ M

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