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You might think that applying tanning lotion is simply just rubbing it in and washing it off when you’re done. Believe it or not, there is a specific way it should be done to give you the best possible results.
Indoor tanning lotions can get expensive, but they play a vital role in achieving great color. They supply your skin with the essential moisture it needs to soak up those tan-producing rays. Tanning lotions also nourish your skin with essential oils, extracts, and vitamins that soften and smooth skin and prevent signs of aging.
If you apply tanning lotion without properly preparing your skin, you could be missing out on your tan’s full potential! Before you head to the salon for your tanning session, follow these steps to prep your skin, apply your lotion, and clean up after tanning.
Before You Apply Tanning Lotion
- Exfoliate. Use a pre-tan exfoliator to scrub off dry and dead skin. Smooth skin will help you obtain a streak-free tan.
- Shave. This avoids tanning lotion accumulating near hair follicles. No one wants a bunch of little bronzed spots all over their legs!
- Wear something you’re okay staining. Many tanning lotions are tinted right out of the bottle or contain bronzers that darken with UV light.
How To Apply Tanning Lotion
- Squeeze a generous amount of lotion into the palm of your hand. Too much lotion is better than too little since dry skin won’t absorb as much UV light as moist skin!
- Rub the lotion evenly over your skin to avoid dark patches.
- Avoid putting too much lotion, especially bronzers, on the face, specifically under the eyes, around the nostrils, or by the hairline.
- Before you tan, wipe off lotion from the palms of your hands and in between your fingers. Lotion sometimes gathers in between fingers, making them darker than the rest of the hand, which would just look weird!
How To Wash Off Tanning Lotion
- Wait a few hours before showering to ensure you’ve given the lotion adequate time to work it’s tanning magic. For lotions with bronzers, you typically need to leave bronzers on for a few hours after tanning to get the full results of the bronze.
- Use your favorite body wash to lightly soak the skin and wash off the lotion.
- DON’T Exfoliate again until you’re ready to tan again!
Tips for Beginner Tanners
When I first attempted indoor tanning, I had no idea what I was doing! No one likes feeling unprepared. I didn’t have tanning goggles, I didn’t have tanning lotion, and I certainly had no idea how to apply it either!
Luckily for me, the people at the tanning salon I went to were super helpful and talked me through the steps. My love for tanning was instant, and after months of tanning, I became a certified tanning technician at that very salon! Now, it’s my pleasure to get to help guide other first time tanners!
So here are some of the questions that most commonly get asked by newcomers:
Does tanning bed lotion really work?
Absolutely! Tanning lotion ensures skin is properly moisturized to absorb the maximum ultraviolet light that develops a tan.
Did you know dry skin can repel up to 50% of UV light? That means if you’re not using a tanning lotion, you could be losing up to 50% of your tan’s potential color! And that doesn’t even take into consideration all of the other benefits that tanning lotion offers your skin.
Tanning lotions have the ability to:
- Create a darker tan through the use of bronzers.
- Enhance and extend the life of your tan.
- Increase micro-circulation and oxygenation to stimulate the melanin cells that produce your tan.
- Soften and smooth dry or rough skin.
- Help prevent the signs of aging associated with tanning.
Can I use regular lotion in a tanning bed?
No. You should never use a regular lotion in a tanning bed. If a lotion isn’t designed for a tanning bed, it should never be used in one. It could contain ingredients that can actually damage the acrylic of the tanning bed.
For this same reason, you should not use sunscreens or oils in a tanning bed. In fact, when you show up at the salon, they may actually ask to see your lotion to ensure you are using proper tanning lotion. Those tanning beds are expensive and they don’t want to replace them just because someone used the wrong lotion.
How long before tanning should you apply tanning lotion?
Yes, but most people wait to apply their tanning lotion at the tanning salon.
When you put lotion on too early, your skin has time to absorb the moisture. This can be good for some skin types, but not those with dry skin. If you have drier skin, it’ll suck up that moisture and leave your skin wanting another coat before you’ve reached the salon. Remember, dry skin is the #1 enemy when trying to get an amazing tan.
Another reason many tanners wait to put their lotion on is that your skin needs to be very well-hydrated. Speaking from experience, it feels kind of uncomfortable being all lathered up with lotion while dressed and driving to the tanning salon. It rubs off on your seat, your clothes, and this can also leave you needing a second application. More lotion, more money!
The best way to avoid needing to reapply your lotion is to just do it the one time. While you’ll probably feel rushed trying to apply your tanning lotion quickly the first few times, you’ll soon be a pro and will be able to blend, rub, and wipe in no time!
Should I put tanning lotion on my face?
If you want an even tan over your entire body and face, then yes, put tanning lotion on your face. This will ensure you don’t look like you’ve face-swapped with someone who’s way tanner than you!
Tanners who use dark bronzer lotions sometimes choose a lotion without bronzers specifically for their faces. Bronzer lotions, when not evenly applied, can cause streaks or blotches. Using a tan accelerator lotion on your face can prevent discoloration on your face.
You can use cosmetic bronzers or a tinted face moisturizer after you’ve tanned to even out your face’s color.
Can I use any moisturizer after tanning?
It’s important to moisturize after you tan because it helps enhance and extend your tan’s color. While your skin will benefit from using any moisturizer, a specifically designed after-tanning lotion has additional things to help sooth your skin.
These lotions can offer anti-aging ingredients like hemp seed oil to help minimize fine lines, or aloe and vitamins to help sooth skin and repair UV damage. My personal favorite is Juicy by Designer Skin. It smells so yummy!
Indoor tanning is definitely one of the best ways to achieve a long-lasting tan without spending hours under the sun. Please remember that tanning indoors does come with the risk of exposure to UVA and UVB rays. If you have extremely sensitive skin and burn easily, definitely consider opting for a spray tan or self-tanner instead!
If you’re aware of the risk and ready to get a killer tan, then I hope this guide on how to apply tanning lotion was helpful for you! Happy tanning!