Nourish Your Tan For A Glow That Will Last

Posted by Kevin Hermansen on

A tan complexion has been an American beauty goal for decades. From the runway to the red carpet, America's elite has long sported this trend - giving off an air of luxury and confidence. Can you blame them? Radiant skin makes you feel amazing, and it even makes you look thinner! Tanning blends in cellulite, stretch marks, and other skin blemishes that can be distracting, allowing the eye to instead focus on your body's natural lines. Muscle lines also seem more defined on a tan body. Think about every bodybuilder you have ever seen. Have you ever noticed one that wasn't rocking a tan? Probably not. That's because they have caught on to the fact that darker skin gives the illusion of greater definition. At Tanning Beds Direct, we want everyone to be able to benefit from this genius beauty secret - not just professional athletes and celebrities. So, we put together this guide to help you learn how to tan to look thinner. You'll be looking slimmer and more radiant in no time!

There are several different methods you could use to look thinner through tanning. Whether you prefer using UV lights, misting, airbrushing, lotions, or a combination thereof, you can get a great tan without hours spent laying out under the sun. Which, during the colder months, may not be such an appealing option. Each method has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, and come in various levels of investment - both time and financial. Read on to find which is the best for you.

Not introduced to America until 1978, tanning beds quickly caught on, and have been widely used to give men and women a luminous glow year-round. The man-made UV light produces a beautiful tan

indistinguishable from a day spent outdoors, and the process tends to dry the skin, leading to a reduction in the appearance of acne. It's an all-around makeover miracle worker.

People flock to tanning salons not only for the beauty benefits, but for the psychological benefits as well. Many studies have suggested that light exposure is powerful in treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Plus, tanning beds can help treat a Vitamin D3 deficiency and boost energy. They have also been shown to increase a person's risk of developing melanoma by 20 percent, though, so be sure you consider all the information and consult with a physician before you begin a regimen. You may also consider "Cocktail Tanning" to cut down on your time under the lights, which we'll go into further in just a bit.

What To Expect

When you go to a tanning salon, you typically have two choices: a bed to lay on, or a booth to stand in. Both options are great, though the booth is more likely to give you an even tan. When you lie down on the booth, parts of your body are pressing against the bed, creating pressure points. This can create white spots and an uneven tan. If you go with a bed, just be sure to adjust your position while tanning so you can get a flawless glow.

Salons also usually have several different classifications of bed. How are they different? Typically, the difference in the beds lies in the UVA to UVB ratio. When there is a higher percentage of UVA light than UVB light, people usually experience a tan that appears faster and fades slower. However, beginners are encouraged to start off with the lower level (and higher UVB) beds to more quickly build up a base tan and avoid burning. You also want to start off with less time under the lights if you're a first-timer (and you want to avoid turning into a lobster). Start off small and work your way up.

Will you be tan right away? Not likely. Tans take time to build up, and the key to bronzing success is consistency. Talk with your salon technician to figure out how often you need to come back to build up and then maintain the color you're after. The good news? Tanning is fairly inexpensive, and you can often get a monthly membership for less than your daily cup of coffee.

Tip: Moisturize! Salons aren't just trying to rip you off with all of those lotions they offer. Tanning lotions made specifically for tanning beds will help you develop your color faster and protect your skin from drying out too much (causing wrinkles and premature aging). So, it is definitely worth the few extra dollars to buy the lotion and lather up before entering the bed or booth. Also, don't forget to lotion up after your salon visit. The bed tends to soak up a lot of your skin's moisture. Rehydrating often with lotion will protect your skin and extend the duration of your tan.

Spray tan booths are the simple answer for those who want to get a gorgeous tan without the rays - and without spending a fortune. For a pretty reasonable price, you can step into a booth and have the sunless tan sprayed evenly over your body, often without even making an appointment. Another great thing about spray tans? They typically last 5-7 days, which is longer than some other methods. So, if you are getting a spray tan before a special event, book your appointment for about 2-3 days beforehand for a tan that is at it's peak.

What exactly is in a spray tan? It isn't a paint or a dye like you might think. Instead, it's a chemical derived from the sugar found in plants called DHA. When your body comes in contact with the mist, a chemical reaction takes place, darkening the color of your skin. Now, before you freak out about spraying yourself with chemicals, this isn't pesticides we're talking about here. The FDA has declared DHA safe, as long as it is not consumed or inhaled. To ensure that you are tanning safely, you should always wear protective lip balm, protective eyewear, and nose plugs while in the booth. These items will likely be available for purchase in the salon, and are well worth the investment.

Nurture Your Tan

Spray tans take some more preparation on your part to get right. Remember the days when spray tans meant coming out looking like an Oompa Loompa? Well, thanks to major advancements in the industry, those days are long gone. There are, however, certain measures you can take to ensure a more natural-looking, longer-lasting tan.

  • Do all of your shaving and waxing the day before your tan (24 hours in advance), to prevent skin irritation.
  • The day of, exfoliate your skin and shower with a non-moisturizing soap. Oily, moisturizing soaps will make it harder for the tanning solution to stick.
  • Don't use ANY cosmetics the day of. That includes make-up, perfume, cologne, lotion, and even deodorant. You don't want to put a barrier between your skin and the DHA.
  • Wait 8 hours (4 at the minimum) before showering or sweating after your spray tan. The tan takes a few hours to set in - you don't want to disrupt it before the process is complete.
  • Moisturize frequently. Healthy, hydrated skin holds a tan a lot better than dry, malnourished skin.
  • Drink water - lots of it! This goes along with moisturizing. The more you hydrate, the longer your tan will last.

TIP: Wear loose fitting clothing and open shoes (weather permitting). You'll want to disturb the tan as little as possible for the first few hours to ensure that it takes to your skin properly. Don't rush it and try to cram a tan into a packed schedule. Make sure you have time to relax and let the tan settle after your session.

Just like spray tan booths, airbrush spray tans use DHA to produce a beautiful, deeper hue in your skin tone. The difference is, instead of stepping into a machine that sprays you down, a trained professional uses an airbrush to spray the solution over you. The benefit? With airbrush spray tan, you get a custom application by someone who knows what they are doing (assuming you go to a qualified airbrush technician - which we strongly recommend). Every body is different, with different coloration, blemishes, problem areas, etc. The problem with the spray tan booths is that they treat everyone the same. Sure, you can choose how much of the DHA is sprayed onto you (and thus how dark you get), but other than that, every person is getting the same exact tone and application. With an airbrush spray tan, you can get one that is truly custom to you, giving you the most natural look.

Of course, a custom look means a heftier price tag, and this is definitely the most expensive tanning method. It also involves doing your research to find the best airbrush technicians in the area and making an appointment far ahead of time. Trust us, you don't want to let just anyone do this for you - it could go very wrong. Like the spray tan booth, it takes some preparation, and the same exact same tan nurturing rules as above apply here.

Due to the costliness of this method, many people reserve an airbrush spray tan for a special event. That's another great thing about an airbrushed tan - you can customize it to your outfit, and which areas you are going to want to highlight! It also gives you the option to look even thinner - with contour tanning. An experienced airbrush technician will be able to artfully make you look thinner with special application around your arms, thighs, chin, abs, and chest, giving you the flawless look you desire.

TIP: Schedule your appointment well in advance to make sure that you are getting a top-notch technician. If you're planning on doing this for a special event, you'll want to make your appointment for the day before. Like a spray tan booth, it takes a little while for the tan to take full effect. 24 hours is when the tan is at it's peak.

I'm sure you've heard the horror stories - blotchy orange skin, practically purple knees, and dark, stained hands. Indeed, those are all possibilities with self-tanner. However, there are actually quite a few really good self-tanners on the market today. The trick is just picking the right one and applying it with care.

When it comes to self-tanners, your options are plentiful. Lotions, gels, mousses and sprays all have a presence on the market. Which should you choose? That is completely a matter of preference (and skill). Lotions typically give a tan that lasts longer than a spray, but sprays are easier to apply, increasing your chances of a more natural-looking tan. Mousses and gels give you the fastest drying time. Whatever you choose, though, don't pick one with an orange base! Choose one with a dark brown/black or green base. Apply in a circular motion to prevent streaking, and be sure to go easy around your knees and elbows; avoid your ankles all together. These are areas where the tanner tends to pool, and gives you an uneven-looking application. If you are an anxious first-time user, invest in some self-tanner remover wipes.

Don't worry if you don't see an immediate difference. Most self-tanners (especially lotions) build upon themselves. The more often you apply, the deeper the tan will get. This method requires the most frequent application, but luckily it is quick and very inexpensive. The same active ingredient in spray tans (DHA) is the active ingredient here, so the same rules apply. The more hydrated you are, the longer your tan will last.

TIP: Wear gloves, or use an applicator mitt or brush. This will save your hands and help you blend in the tanner for a more natural look. Applying it with your bare hands often leaves ugly stains that lets the world know your glow isn't real. Also, if you're using a spray, do it in the shower! It will save you a huge headache when it comes to clean-up.

Sure, all these methods are great on their own, but for the ultimate look, we actually suggest using a combination of all of them! Cocktail tanning (or double dipping, as it is sometimes called) simply refers to getting a spray tan immediately following a UV tanning session. Why? Tanning beds take several session to get the coloring you're after. If you are preparing for an event or a last minute getaway, you may want to achieve that look faster. It is illegal (and very unsafe) to use a tanning bed or booth twice in one day, so double dipping is your way to get that glow quicker. Plus, the UV rays in the tanning bed open up your pores, perfectly preparing your skin for maximum absorption during the spray tan, giving you a much better outcome than either method on its own.

Cocktail Tanning is a wonderful method for anyone seeking a quick tan, but if you want to make your tan last as long as possible, we actually suggest adding on the airbrush and self-tanner techniques as well. This is also our recommendation if you have an important event coming up and want to look your best. Show off your best you, by following our step-by-step guide to tanning in preparation for an event.


You have a couple of options here: build a base tan over a couple of weeks using UV tanning, or indulge in the cocktail tanning method. If you want to build a base tan, start tanning a couple of weeks before your event to give your tan enough time to develop - remember, it doesn't happen on the first try. If the cocktail method is more your style, head to the salon a few days before your event. Soak up the warmth and the rays, and open up those pores. This will give you a good base for your perfect event tan.


If you're doing a cocktail tan, this step comes immediately after your UV tanning session (in the same appointment). You prepared your skin with the tanning bed or booth, so now it is primed to soak up that sunless tan solution for an all-around tan and natural-looking glow that will last longer than with just the spray tan on its own. Again, this should be done a few days before your event, even if you already built up a base tan through UV tanning.


Go ahead and indulge! This is where you get to customize your tan - for both your body and your outfit. Ask for contour tanning to emphasize your natural muscle tone, de-emphasize problem areas, and make you look thinner for your big event. Make an appointment for the day before your event, giving it just the perfect amount of time to develop.


For a little extra glow, use a light layer of your favorite self-tanner the morning of the event, making sure to give it plenty of time to dry before you get dressed. Be warned, though. Don't try a new self-tanner the day of your event! Only use your favorite tried-and-true self tanner. If you don't have one, skip this step. You don't want to throw away all that effort you spent forming the perfect tan on some mystery self-tanner that is going to turn you orange - it's always better to be safe than sorry. Self-tanner is also a good way to keep your glow going long after the night is over. Use it in the days following your event to maintain your tan, and enjoy your look for much longer.

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