A beautiful tan can be difficult to achieve, especially if you want a natural tan that comes with laying outdoors.
This type of natural tan lasts longer than one you would get from a tanning bed or a spray tan, but you may also be worried about getting a painful burn that might lead to skin damage, especially if you have never tanned before.
However, there are twelve sun tanning tips that you must follow in order to get a great-looking tan while you stay safe at the same time.
Whether you simply want some color for the summer months or you’re trying to build a tan for an important summertime event, getting a tan outdoors can be easy, relaxing, and even fun.
1. Understand the Basic Principals of Tanning
Many people believe that there is only one type of sunlight, which hit the earth in the form of UV rays.
However, there are two different types of UV light that filter down from the sun: UVA and UVB. The UVA rays are what tan the skin, while the UVB light has the potential to burn the skin.
As you tan, the skin absorbs the UV light, which stimulates cells inside it called melanocytes.
These cells produce melanin, the pigmentation that darkens the skin.
The more UV light your skin absorbs, the more melanin the body produces to protect it, which darkens the skin gradually.
This means that if you want to build a base tan, you will have to give yourself enough time to do so, as you will not tan in one day.
Impatience with your tan will only lead to sunburn and skin damage, so keep in mind that getting an even tan is a process, not a one-day event.
2. Gather your Tanning Supplies Beforehand
Before you begin tanning, you should gather everything you need so that you can concentrate on laying out without interruption.
You will need a comfortable chaise or a thick blanket so you can lie comfortably in one spot for about 45 minutes, tanning lotion that’s formulated for outdoor use, eye protection, and water to keep you hydrated as you tan.
Some people believe that putting on sunscreen will keep them from getting a tan, but keep in mind that these lotions block UVB light while allowing UVA to filter through.
If you tan without these lotions, you’re much more likely to get burned.
Remember, many of these oils are used as an accelerant for cooking, and your goal is to tan your skin, not cook it!
When you lie out to tan, you should wear eye protection that’s certified to provide UV protection.
Not only do you run the risk of damaging your eyes, but the skin around the eyes is some of the thinnest and most sensitive on the body, and if you don’t protect it with UV sunglasses or goggles, it likely that it will start to wrinkle prematurely.
If you aren’t sure if your sunglasses offer UV protection, ask your eye doctor for assistance with choosing a pair that will.
3. Exfoliate and Shave Before You Tan
When it comes to sun tanning tips, this is one of the most important and also one that is often overlooked.
Exfoliating the skin before you tan sloughs away dead skin cells and other impurities that could hamper your tanning efforts.
If you don’t exfoliate, you’re only tanning layers of dead cells that are only going to wash away the next time you shower, which will result in an uneven tan.
In order to prevent this, exfoliate the skin with a gentle body poof in the morning, on the same day you tan.
Don’t forget to exfoliate the skin of the face as well.
Not only will exfoliation reveal new skin that’s prime for tanning, it will also make your tan last longer and allow your sun tan lotion to be more effective.
If you’re planning on shaving your legs or bikini area before you tan, you should do so at least 24 hours before you tan.
Shaving can irritate the skin, and irritated skin that is exposed to the sun can cause painful bumps, rashes, and redness in those areas.
Rashes and other skin problems due to irritation will ruin your tan, so it’s important that you shave the day before you lie out.
4. Build a Base Tan
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they first start tanning is that they lay out for much too long on the first day, thinking that it will allow them to tan faster.
This usually results in a bad sunburn that can even include blistering of the skin and skin damage.
To avoid this, it’s important that you build up your base tan slowly. To build a base tan, buy a tanning accelerator or lotion that hydrates the skin and boosts melanin production.
Put this lotion on about twenty minutes before you plan to lie out and then tan for a total of twenty to thirty minutes your first day.
As time goes on, you can gradually increase the time you spend tanning until you build a base tan safely.
5. Choose the Right Time of Day for Your Tan
If you want to build your tan more effectively, you need to sunbathe at the right time of day.
While some people like to lie out in the early morning because they believe this is when the sun’s rays are the strongest, it’s actually more effective if you lie out between the hours of 11 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m.
The sun is at its hottest during this part of the day, and it will allow you to tan faster, especially if you create a schedule where you sunbathe at the same time every day.
Keep in mind, though, that tanning during the hottest part of the day also increases your risk of sunburn, so you should keep your sessions short, at about 30 to 45 minutes.
If you decide to lie out longer, don’t forget to re-apply your sun tan lotion every 25 minutes or so. It’s almost impossible to tell when you’re getting a sunburn as it happens, so it’s best to limit your sessions to under an hour.
6. Decide What to Wear
If you have a private yard, you can sunbathe in the nude to eliminate tan lines that some people find unattractive.
However, most people don’t really have this option unless they live in a remote area, so you will have to decide what will give you the least visible lines.
If you’re concerned about these lines, then wearing a barely-there bikini will do the trick. In fact, most two-piece suits will allow you to get an all-over tan.
You can always undo you bikini top when you lie on your stomach so that you won’t develop lines on your back, especially as you develop your base tan.
If you do tan in the nude, remember that your breasts and genitals are more prone to burning than other areas of the body, and unless you want to deal with an extremely painful burn, limit their exposure to the sun until you’re sure they have developed a base tan.
While it’s important to use eye protection, protecting your scalp, the tips of your ears, and the back of your neck from the sun is just as important. (Just ask anyone who has ever experienced sunburned ears!)
The best way to protect these sensitive areas is to wear a wide-brimmed floppy hat.
The hat you choose should have a brim that extends at least three inches all around.
Not only will you be protecting the top of your head, which is more vulnerable to the sun than you might think, you will also be avoiding a sunburned nose that will make you look like a certain Christmas reindeer.
If floppy hats aren’t your style, you can still protect these areas with a cloth or denim shade cap.
These caps come with long lengths of fabric that offer your face and ears protection.
While you’ll want your face to tan evenly along with the rest of your body, it’s vital to remember that the skin on your face is more sun sensitive, so you will have to take extra steps to protect it.
7. Use a Timer to Develop an Even Tan
There’s few things that are worse than falling asleep during a tanning session and waking up 30 minutes later to find that while you’ve baked your front, your back and the backs of your legs didn’t get any exposure at all. To avoid this, take a timer outside and set it so that when it goes off, you will know to roll over onto your stomach to tan your other side as well.
If you tend to fall asleep while you tan, make sure the timer is loud enough to wake you.
For extra convenience, there are a number of smartphone apps that you can use to keep track of your tanning time.
Some of these apps even offer sun tanning tips when you first open them, allowing you to learn even more about the tanning process.
8. Put Your Hair Up
If you have long hair, you’ll need to twist it up onto the top of your head so that it’s off your neck and back.
While you might think that putting your hair into a ponytail is enough, it can still cover a part of your back and interfere with your tan, especially at the neck and between the shoulders.
Not only does putting your hair up keep it from blocking the UV rays that your skin needs in order to tan, but it will also keep you from getting too sweaty.
Not all sun tan lotions are waterproof, and the more you sweat, the more likely your sunscreen will run. Don’t forget to put lotion on the back of your exposed neck.
9. Use the Right Moisturizers
It’s important to do as much as you can to prolong the life of your sun tan.
After all, you put a lot of care into getting it and you don’t want it to fade away quickly.
The best thing you can do for your tan is to keep your skin hydrated. Hydrated skin is less prone to flaking and peeling, which are the two main reasons tans start to fade.
To keep this from happening, use a moisturizer that’s made for tanning and use it daily, both as you tan and then again in the evening, to keep your skin moist and hydrated.
There are certain moisturizer ingredients you should avoid if you want to keep your tan looking healthy.
The two most damaging ingredients are alcohol and those that are added for fragrance.
These two ingredients will dry out the top layer of your skin and cause it to peel and flake, which will damage your tan.
Alcohol and fragrance may also irritate sensitive skin and cause problems like rashes and redness, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Make sure that you read labels when you use moisturizers and avoid trendy lotions that have a strong scent if you’re trying to preserve your tan.
10. Take Lukewarm Showers
Another way to keep your tan looking great is to be aware of the water temperature when you shower.
While hot showers may feel great, the hot water contributes to dry skin.
Therefore, the more you shower, the more your skin dries out, and the faster your tan will fade.
To keep this from happening, shower with lukewarm or tepid water instead, and use a soap that contains moisturizer.
Try and avoid fragrant body lotion, as the ingredients contained in these lotions open contribute to dry skin.
Taking cool showers after tanning is an even better option because it will wash away all the lotions and accelerator without drying the skin.
After you shower, be sure that you blot your skin dry instead of toweling off. Scrubbing your skin dry with a towel will only encourage flaking and peeling, causing damage to your tan.
11. Know Your Own Skin
While the dangers of tanning are well known, only you can decide if it’s right for you.
This is why it’s important to understand how your own skin tone will affect how quickly you tan and whether outdoor tanning is the right choice for you.
As you tan, monitor your skin daily and check for any signs that might indicate that your skin is reacting negatively to your tanning regimen.
These signs include new or darkening age spots anywhere on the body, new or darkening moles that seem to be growing, and the development of new and noticeable wrinkles.
These are all signs of premature aging due to sun exposure, and since everyone’s skin reacts differently to tanning, you may experience some of these signs or none at all.
However, only you can decide what the best option is for your skin.
In order to tan safely, you should make yourself aware of the risks and check your skin often to ensure that you’re tanning in the healthiest way possible.
12. Boost Your Tan with Exercise
You probably already know that exercise is good for both the body and the mind, but it can also help your tan.
Your tan will last longer if you keep your blood circulating, so hitting the gym before and after you tan will make your tanning regimen more effective.
The better the blood flow is in your body, the more efficiently your body absorbs UV rays.
For best results, you should exercise right before you tan, and exercises like cardio will benefit blood flow because they get the heart pumping.
If you want to keep moving as you tan, then one option would be to run or jog at the hottest part of the day while wearing tanning lotion.
If you enjoy tanning this way, be sure to choose a waterproof lotion that won’t drip off as you sweat. Don’t forget to carry water with you to stay hydrated!
With so many sun tanning tips out there, the tanning process can be confusing for beginners, but following these twelve tips will ensure that you tan as safely and effectively as possible.
Keep in mind that your own individual skin type and tone will play a large role in how effective tanning will be for you, so be patient and don’t overdo it.
For optimum safety, work with a dermatologist or your doctor as you maintain your tanning regimen and have him or her recommend products that will reduce your chances of skin damage that’s caused by the sun.
Playing it safe and knowing how to avoid the risks will keep your skin beautifully tanned all year long.