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FAQ's General Tanning

1. How does tanning  work?

Tanning beds use ultraviolet (UV) light  to tan people. There are three types of UV; UVA, UVB, and

UVC. Tanning beds are  designed to concentrate optimal levels of UVA in conjunction with very low  percentages of UVB, on the outermost layers of skin so as to stimulate the  production of Melanin pigment, which is slightly pink in it’s dormant state, and  cause it to turn brown after excretion.

The more melanin cells that are present  in the skin determine the amount of pigment that will be excreted and  distributed, and therefore the extent of the tan. Tanning beds are designed to  filter this UVC, as this is a harmful type of UV.

2. How deep can  tanning rays really go?

There is an urban  legend about a “Roasted Tanner” who supposedly roasted her internal organs by  tanning too much. Don’t give it a second thought. A UVA ray (the rays in tanning  beds) can only travel as deep as the dermis, which is the middle skin layer. UVB  can’t even travel that deep.

3. Why is it important to develop a  base tan?

Moderate exposure to UVB helps  develop a natural barrier in the skin to protect the body from excessive UV  light. UVB stimulates the production of melanin, which then surrounds the core  of cells to protect DNA. This melanin substance absorbs and/or scatters  radiation.

In addition to UVB thickens the epidermis (the top layer of skin),  there by limiting the amount of UV light, which could penetrate the lower skin  layers. If this photo protection (base tan) is not developed or a sunscreen is  not used, sunburn can occur and the DNA of the skin cells may become damaged.  Repeated sunburn can result in damaged cells, which then reproduce themselves.  This can be the beginning of skin cancer.

4.  How often am I  allowed to tan?

It is suggested a  24-hour time period to pass between tanning sessions. Pigmentation and/or  over-exposure may not be fully visible for 12 to 24 hours after your original  session. Two tanning session within a 24 hour period could result in an  unintentional burn. Ask your salon for any specific requirements.

5. How long does it  take to get a tan?

This depends upon the  skin type of each individual as well as the tanning equipment they are using to  develop their tan. While some may notice significant results in just a few  sessions, it can take others several weeks of tanning three times a week to get  their  “base tan”.  Output of the tanning equipment and the tanning lamps is  also a factor.

6 Do I have to  sunburn first to obtain a good tan?

Like most activities  in life, indoor and outdoor tanning must be done in moderation. A beautiful tan  is achievable without overexposure. Reddening is a body’s warning that the skin  has been overexposed to ultraviolet light. Do not ignore this warning. 

If you  continue to expose red skin to ultraviolet rays, the skin’s natural repair  mechanism becomes overloaded. This may lead to chronic light-induced skin damage  in which the resilient fibers of the lower skin layers are harmed, causing them  to sag.

7.  Does heat  matter?

No, the temperature  of the tanning unit does not play a roll in you tanning results. You will not  receive a better tan if   it is scorching hot or average to the  touch.

8. I have reached a point that I just  can't get any darker. What can I do?

Your skin actually becomes thicker as  your tanning progresses and makes it difficult for UV light to penetrate the  upper layers of skin. This is commonly referred to as a tanning "Plateau".  Moisturizer is extremely important at this point. Your skin cells are standing  up as much as

45°, and are actually reflecting UV  rays. Using a lot of moisturizing lotion will help these cells lay down and  become more translucent, there- fore more receptive to UV rays. Our  recommendation is to use a good step 1 (or non tingle) tanning lotion for 2 to 3  tans to get your skin softened up then start a rotation with a step 2 (or hot   action) tanning lotion. Rotate your tans, two tanning sessions with the step 1  tanning lotions then, one tanning session with the step 2 tanning lotion. Keep  this rotation up and use plenty of moisturizer, you will get over your tanning  Plateau.

9. My face and legs don't tan very  well. What should I do?

Our face is the only part of our body  that does not produce it's own moisture. Our legs become a little dryer because  of clothing, hosiery etc.  Fact is that moist skin tans much better that dry  skin. Use a moisturizer at least twice daily. This is not only applicable to the  face and legs but all parts of your body.

10. A 20-minute session in a tanning  bed is equivalent to how many hours in the natural sun?

It is difficult to make a simple  comparison between the sun and modern indoor tanning equipment. Just as various  kinds of indoor tanning lamps and equipment differ in spectral output and energy  emitted, the sun's strength is dependent on several factors as well, such as the  time of day or year, the latitude, cloud cover, pollution and reflection.  Consequently, there is no formula for relating indoor tanning exposure times to  outdoor exposure times.

11. If a person  cannot tan in the sun, will he/she tan indoors?

Normally, a person  tans indoors only as well as he/she is able to tan outdoors. Yet, those  fair-skinned people who generally cannot tolerate the uncontrolled rays  of the sun often achieve some color when tanning indoors. This can be attributed  to a different spectral output as well as carefully  timed sessions in a controlled tanning environment. Skin type, heredity, and  individual photosensitivity all determine who will have success  tanning indoors.

12. Is indoor tanning  the same as tanning outdoors in the sun?

Yes and no. The  process of tanning is the same-skin is tanning by ultraviolet (UV) light. The  main difference, however, is that a person can not control the amount of UV  light they are exposed to while outside due to changes in the earth’s  atmosphere. Also, the sun emits what is called UV light, which is the most  harmful of all ultraviolet rays. Tanning beds filter this UVC light  out.

13. Do I really need to wear goggles  while tanning?

ABSOLUTELY! It is of utmost  importance! Your skin can tan-your eyes can't. Federal law requires all tanning  salons to supply customers with proper eye protection. This eyewear must meet  federal government standards by blocking 99% of UVA and UVB rays. Closing the  eyelids, wearing sunglasses, or using cotton balls over your eyes is not  adequate protection as the UV rays will easily penetrate these things and  continue into the eyes.

14. How do I prevent "raccoon  eyes"?

Adjust your eyewear once in a while  during your tanning session will help reduce the demarcation of tanned to  non-tanned skin. You can make this adjustment by gently sliding your eyewear to  a new position.  You should never lift the eyewear off of your eyes during  adjustment.

15. Can I tan if I am  pregnant?

Please consult your physician.  Although we know that there is no danger from UV rays since they cannot  penetrate deeper than the dermis (skin layer), pregnant women are advised to be  cautious with saunas, hot tubs, and other things that can cause excessive heat  to build up in the uterus.

16. Why do some people itch after  tanning?

Itching and/or rashes may be linked  to several unrelated causes. Some people are naturally photosensitive; that is,  they may have an allergy, which becomes symptomatic upon exposure to UV light.  Others are susceptible to heat rashes, a cause totally unrelated to UV light.  Certain chemicals or ingredients found in cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, and even  the acrylic cleaner used on the beds may cause itching as well.

Rashes caused by  these products generally occur in localized areas on which the products were  applied. You should tan with the skin as clean as possible. If discontinued use  of a suspected product does not inhibit rash, you should discontinue your  exposure to UV light until the condition subsides or see a physician.

17. What causes White  Spots?

There are several  reasons why white spots become noticeable on the body once the tanning process  begins: Patches of skin, which do not tan, could be the result of genetic  determination. White spots could also appear due to the presence of a fungus,  which lives on the skin's surface. While the fungus is harmless, it does absorb  UV light, which would normally penetrate the skin.

This fungus did not appear as  a result of tanning; it merely becomes noticeable once tanning occurs. It can be  remedied through the use of prescription drugs or topical lotions. White patches  of skin, which are often prominent on the shoulder blades and just above the  buttocks, can be caused by pressure from the body as it reclines on a hard  tanning bed surface.

This pressure inhibits the flow of blood through that area  of skin. Since blood carries oxygen, which is  essential to the tanning process, this area does not tan.  Periodic body  shifting during tanning will make these patches disappear. Certain medications  can react unfavorable with exposure to UV light.

18. Should I shower  after a tanning session?

Taking a shower after  tanning will not wash your tan away. A natural tan takes 24-48 hours to develop.  The tanning process occurs within the epidermis when melanocyte cells are  stimulated by ultraviolet light that causes them to produce the pigment melanin. 

Melanin production results in the tanned appearance of the skin and is the  skin's natural defense against the sun and over-exposure, i.e. sun burning.  Melanin travels to the surface, where it eventually flakes off. This process  allows us to develop new skin every four to eight weeks. Keeping your skin  hydrated and exfoliated will help maintain a more radiant and healthy-looking  tan.

19. Should I shower  before a tanning session?

A shower is not  recommended 1 hour before an indoor tanning session but you should remove any  makeup or perfume before the session. Some ingredients in makeup and perfume can  make skin more sensitive to UV light and lead to overexposure or  sunburn.

20. What causes the  scent that I smell after tanning?

In a word, “melanin”  is the cause. Ultraviolet light in the UVA range causes melanin to enlarge and  turn brown. During the process, dermatologists say a chemical reaction takes place.  A natural side effect of the reaction is the aroma. This occurrence is normal  whether you've been tanning inside or outside. Some tanning lotions  have been designed to minimize or prevent the odor from occurring, but  ultimately a shower will remove the odor.

21. What should I  wear to tan?

That’s up to you! Undress and tan as you wish in swimwear, underwear,  etc.

22. Are there certain  medications that will make me sensitive to UV exposure?

Yes, you should check  with your doctor or pharmacist if you have a question on any of the medications  that you are currently taking.

23. How do I protect  a fresh tattoo?

It is important not  to expose a fresh tattoo to sunlight or indoor tanning equipment, while the  tattoo is still healing, since chemicals sensitive to UV exposure have been  injected into the skin.

Cover the tattooed area completely or don’t tan until  the skin has healed. After the skin has healed the chemicals have lost their  sensitivity to UV, but continue to take moderate protective measures. Tattoos  will continue to lose their brilliancy with exposure to UV light, whether it comes from indoors or from outdoors.

24. Do I have to take my contact  lenses out when I use a tanning bed or booth?

No, although you may want to.  Although eyewear will protect your eyes and lenses from UV damage, the heat  emitted from the tanning equipment may dry out the lenses and irritate your  eyes.