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Tips for Safe Tanning & Skin Care

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What is tanning?

Find the right tanning lotion, buy them online. 

Truth be told, there's no such thing as completely safe tanning. We can aim for a healthier tan though, and that involves following specific guidelines and never taking the easy way out.

Tanning is, by definition, the skin darkening as a reaction to sun exposure. UV rays, unless approached correctly and with certain precautions, are dangerous and have been linked to skin cancer. Thus, its important to not overdo it, recognize the difference between a burn and a tan, and to wear sunblock or sunscreen every time you are out in the sun.

Tanning is addictive, and the results can be beautiful - but start slow and build on your time. As with the rabbit and the hare, slow and steady indeed wins the race, and saves you from problems down the road.




Know when to tan.


The sun is at its hottest from noon till 3 p.m, so during these afternoon hours, avoid the sun or take extra precautions.

It may be tempting to pinpoint the hours where the sun is at its strongest, but remember, that's when you are in the most danger of burning and sun damage!

During these hours, it is wise to consider hats, sunglasses, and t-shirts. Perhaps it's not as sexy as your new bikini, but it will offer protection during these extra dangerous parts of the day. You can always work on those tan lines during the hours that the sun isn't as potent.


Heed Your Skin

If you are among the fair-skinned or freckled, be very careful when exposing yourself to the sun. This also applies to those with moles, children, or the eldery. And especially be wary if you already have a history of skin cancer.

Your skin, if you are in these categories, is more susceptable to the sun's risks and thus extra precautions are necessary to assure that you are engaging in safe tanning. Make sure to wear high-SPF sunblock and reapply often. And if your skin is too sensitive for the sunscreens or sunblocks you've already tried, be sure to ask your pharmacist for hypoallergenic varieties. This will be able to protect your skin without the risk of causing it to break out.




Lather on that sunblock.

Many of us are wise and cautious enough to put on that initial coat of sunblock, fewer know that danger lies after that moment. Tanning skin care begins before you even leave your house and head to the salon or beach, and must be heeded.

When in water, not only can your sunblock wear off, but the cooling effect of the water gives a false sense of security even as the sun reaches through and penetrates your skin. Be wary and be sure to apply a waterproof block before and after water exposure. Many companies create waterproof or sports sunblocks for this specific reason.

At the same time, protect your lips! This is among the most sensitive parts of our body, and a good lip balm or lip screen is essential, just as sun screen is elsewhere.






Tanning at the Salon

Many people choose to tan in the salon versus at the beach or other outdoor sun posts. This is an excellent way to maintain a tan year-round under controlled circumstances.

When tanning at the salon, or with a home tanning bed or canopy unit, you can control the depth of your tan completely by the machine you use and how long your session is, coupled by how often you go. While salon-tanning, you will be given the option usually of UV-free tanning (via a spray tan booth) or a tanning bed (which uses UV lights). Both of these sunless tans have the potential to give you gorgeous results!

Using a tanning bed used to get a bad rap as unnatural and dangerous, but that's not accurate - it is actually safer, and if used correctly, can get you better results than the natural way!




Cosmetic Bronzing options

Some may argue that tanning beds are fake tans. However, they still involve the use of UV lights. There's an even simpler sunless tanning alternative out there that - while more temporary - is the choice of many.

Bronzing powder is the easiest way to tan that one could ask for. All you do is apply a blush-like substance as if it were face powder and watch your skin darken. Be careful, though. While bronzer is affordable and easy to use, if you go too dark, it will make your skin look dirty. The best idea is to start out with a shade close to your natural skin color and then consider building from there.




Choosing a self-tanner

Self-tanners are a growing industry, and come in many different forms.

Wash-off tanner creams and lotions are at the forefront of just about any drug store, and self-tanning pills can easily be found if you do a quick internet search for sunless tanning options. These products are all meant to instantly simulate a tan without any UV exposure. Most of these options include DHA, which when exposed to the skin turns it a brownish tint. They often don't last more than a few days, but it's perfect for that special occasion or weekend getaway.




Preparing your skin for a tan

Whether you self-tan, salon-tan, or natural-sun tan, how to tan is closely related to how you ready your skin for the experience.

Before going to a tanning bed or applying any self-tanner, you should make sure to exfoliate your skin thoroughly. This gets rid of any rough or dead skin that is left on your surface and has yet to naturally slough off and is an important part of tanning skin care.

If you skip this step, especially with liquid or spray tanners, you could end up with a blotchy finish. Then make sure to apply lots of body lotion. Beautifully tanned skin is healthy skin, and when skin is well-hydrated and supple, it looks its best.




Applying your tanner.

Your first interaction with a bottle of tanning lotion can be frightening. You may have flashbacks to commercials filled with orange-skinned girls and find yourself too scared that you will apply it incorrectly.

The important thing to remember is to cover everything evenly. Runny or blotchy tans are a dead giveaway that your tan is not natural. Also, make sure the tanner you are applying is not too dark for you. If your natural color is Casper-white, you do not want to buy a dark tanner. As you would with a bronzing powder, purchase something just a shade or two darker than your natural color. Then, as your tan builds, you can decide to darken from there.

Perhaps most importantly, after you are done tanning, be sure to wipe off the areas that you don't want tan. Natural tans tend not to include areas like soles of feet, fingernails, and armpits. Talk about the ultimate bad tan line! Make sure your personal tan doesn't either!




Be patient.

Whether you sunless tan in a DHA spray booth or apply a lotion at home, most sunless tans will take a few hours to fully appear.

Be patient! It would be a terrible mistake to think your tan isn't dark enough and reapply too soon. You'll end up either unnaturally dark, or uneven and blotchy. DHA works when it is soaked up by the skin's cells, turning them brown when exposed to oxygen.

This is a chemical reaction! So the "tan" will take a few hours to appear and will fade as the skin cells naturally slough off over the coming days.




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