The primary goal for getting a base tan is to increase your skin’s resilience against UV exposure and to avoid burning while enjoying that vacation down south. There is obviously cosmetic benefits of tanning, like the confidence that comes when you rock your bathing suit at the beach, but avoiding the discomfort of a painful sunburn on the flight home is number one!
To develop a base tan, you want to gradually increase your exposure time in a UV tanning bed until you reach the manufacturers maximum time – without burning. Using your skin type analysis as a guide, you will start at the lower end of the exposure time, then increase it by a minute or two each visit until you reach the max time.
At Planet Beach, we only offer high intensity tanning units (stand up and lay down) with most units having between 9 and 12 minute maximum exposure times. For example, a skin type 2 tanner might start at 2-3 minutes in one of our units, then increase by 1-2 minutes for each subsequent session until reaching the maximum tan time. Maximum tan times are programmed by the beds manufacturer based on how many lamps there are and how strong those lamps are.
My recommendation for building a base tan is to tan for 2 consecutive days, (waiting the mandatory 24 hours between sessions) then taking a day off. Continue on the 2 on-1 off frequency until you reach the desired color, then go 1 to 2 days per week to maintain results.
The length of time it takes to develop a base tan has many contributing factors:
- Your Skin Type ~ This is one of the biggest factors. A skin type 2 tanner is likely going to take a solid month of tanning 2 days on 1 day off to get a good base tan and see really nice color. Comparing that to a skin type 4 who is likely going to get really dark rich color in less than 2 weeks.
- Frequency ~ The more often you go tanning, the more melanin you will develop, and the darker you will get. For those that don’t have a lot of melanin naturally, it’s going to take time to develop the melanin before you have enough of it to darken the skin. The key is to go frequently, for short exposure times in the beginning and gradually increase your time.
- Quality of Bed & Lamps ~ This comes down to the facility you choose. In tanning, you get what you pay for. A reputable facility will track how many hours are on each set of lamps so they are changed as the useful life of them is reduced. Tanning lamps are most effective within the first 10% of their life, and the useful life of a set of lamps is usually between 500 hours to 1000 hours depending on the type. Tanning lamps will still light up even if they are past the useful life, but one way as a customer you can keep an eye out is by looking at the top and bottom of a lamp for a darkened grey band (about 4 inches from each end). There will be no color differentiation on a brand new bulb, and the useage band will gradually get darker the more the lamp has been used.
- Tanning Lotion ~ Choosing a good tanning lotion will make a significant difference in the results you see. Indoor tanning lotions are specifically formulated with a wide variety of features to suit every tanner. Dry skin reflects 40% of UV light, so using an indoor tanning lotion immediately before your tanning session will help you maximize your results and make your skin feel incredible! To learn more about tanning lotions, check out our Tanning Lotion 101 Blog Post.