When you ask the question “How many tanning bed hours is right for me?” the answer is that there is no answer!
If that sounds a little strange, it is because the amount of time you should spend on a tanning bed will depend partly on the make of tanning bed and partly on your skin.
How Tanning Beds Work
You need to understand how tanning beds or booths work. What they do is to mimic the action of the sun. At mid-day in summer the sun emits 95% Ultra Violet A Rays (UV-A) and 5% UV-B. A tanning bed will do much the same thing, but the lamps vary according to the different manufacturers, so with some you will need longer to tan than with other makes.
The epidermis, or top layer of your skin, contains melanocytes which are cells that produce melanin. When these cells are stimulated with ultra violet light they produce a pigment which turns your skin a darker shade. The longer you are exposed to the UV rays the darker your skin will get as more melanin is produced. The purpose of this is to protect your skin from the rays of the sun and a tanning bed does exactly the same thing.
Next, you need to work out your skin type. Most tanning salons will be able to help you with this. Skin types range from type 1 to type 6. Type 1 is very light skin which can burn very quickly, while type 6 is dark skin which will tan very quickly.
Usually you will need to start off with a short period on the tanning bed, gradually increasing the time over a period. Recommendations vary, but many salons will suggest four or five minutes to start with.Bear in mind that different UV lamps have different strengths and output, so what is right in one salon may be very different in another.
The salon staff should be able to advise you, but remember that very often the salon is looked after by a teenager, so you may wish to discuss a tanning schedule with the owner or manager.
You should always leave at least 48 hours between tanning sessions and aim to tan no more than three times a week.
Remember that you should understand that it is possiible to cause long term health damage by using a tanning bed too often. It has been known for people to get skin cancer from too much use of UV light from tanning beds, but then the same thing is possible if you spend too much time in the sun.
In fact, only forty years ago sun protection factor cream was hardly ever heard of. It was only when people in Australia began to suffer badly from skin cancer that sun creams were developed and are in use as much as they are today.
While it might seem counter-productive, you should always use a tanning lotion in a tanning salon to protect your skin from too much UV too quickly. This is especially true if you have a light or fair skin which burns readily. Obviously, getting that golden glow is your main goal, but it should not be at the possible expense of your health.
You should also wear goggles in order to protect your eyes and don’t look at ultra violet lamps any more than you would look at the sun; this can certainly lead to eye damage and even blindness. Most good tanning salons will supply goggles free of charge as a matter of course.
In addition you should use moisturizing cream on your body for a week before starting to tan, together with an exfoliating cream. This will ensure that dead skin cells are removed and that your skin has a healthy sheen and will not dry out. You should continue to use moisturizing cream while you go for your tanning sessions.
Never tan for more than twenty minutes at a time, even if you have dark skin type 6. In general, a good tip is to listen to your body. If your skin starts to become prickly or irritated, or feel too hot, stop tanning.
As a rule of thumb, your tan will naturally fade over a period of a month, so you may need a couple of sessions to top up every four weeks or so.
For the most part, tanning beds are quite safe, but you do need to take precautions. A parallel is driving a car; there is nothing inherently dangerous in a car, but driven recklessly it can kill. People who have suffered skin cancer from using tanning beds have done so because they used them too often and for too long – in some instances, several times a day.
When you first use a tanning bed, your main goal should be safety; always start out with short sessions, and build up gradually. Little and not too often is the key. See how your body reacts to it before increasing the length of your session and never go over 20 minutes in one session.
When using tanning bed lotions always follow the instructions to the letter. There are some lotions that merely protect you from too much UV, while others are designed to assist you in getting that deep, rich tan that you want. Goggles should always be worn since, apart from damaging your eyesight, you run the risk of getting wrinkles around the eyes if you do not use them.
Long term, there is always the risk of skin cancer. The risk is greater for people who have fair skin, have blonde or red hair, and have green, blue, or gray eyes. There is also a greater risk for people who sunburn easily, live at high altitudes, or have a family history of skin cancer.
You should also drink plenty of water in order to keep your skin moisturized from the inside out. Drinking water is always good for your health, not just when you are tanning. When you finish each tanning session it is a good idea to use more moisturizer on your skin in addition.
Using a tanning bed will make you look good and feel good. Just be certain that you take all the necessary precautions.
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