Amy Willbanks, lotion account sales manager at Master Tanning, knows a lot about tanning beds and what they can do to your skin. In this video she emphasizes the importance of using a good tanning lotion when you’re tanning indoors (though truth be told, it’s probably just as important to use lotion when you’re outside, as well!).
How to use lotion
When you apply your lotion, put it on 10 to 15 minutes before your tanning session so that your skin can absorb it and it can do its job moisturizing your skin. When applying your tanning lotion you want to make sure you apply at least 10-15 minutes before your tanning session. That way it allows time to absorb into the skin and moisturize your skin. Rub your lotion in evenly.
Hitting a wall
Over time, you can lose your tan, and you can hit what Willbanks calls a “tanning wall” when your skin won’t take any more tan. Lotions can help you avoid that problem. If you tan with dry skin, then the ultraviolet line is reflected, so you’re losing tan even as you’re supposedly acquiring it—up to 50%, according to Willbanks.
Types of tanning lotions include accelerators, bronzers, and tingles, and they need to be applied in the correct order to work effectively and prevent you hitting that wall. The great thing is that you don’t have to remember the order, because it’s alphabetical! You’ll begin with the accelerator, and then go on to the bronzer, and finish off with the tingle. Every lotion has a specific role to play in ensuring you get the tan that you want.
You’ll begin with the accelerator. It contains a plethora of important nutrients for your skin that will help it stay hydrated and moist. The accelerator helps nourish the skin, and give it the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay younger-looking. The accelerator is also essential especially for anyone who is just starting out, because without it you might end up with a tan that’s more orange than you want.
You’ll know that it’s time for a bronzer when you stop tanning. This is when you hot that tanning wall spoken of earlier. You may return to the tanning bed but nothing is happening: you’re not getting darker and it feels like you’ve reached your limit. But you haven’t! All that you need is to change your lotion. Bronzers are the second step in your tanning regimen: they continue to moisturize your skin but their added ingredients make your melanin change color naturally. And the bronzing lotion itself adds color to your skin as well, so this is when you might see a dramatic difference.
Stage three is the tingle lotion. What a tingle lotion does is bring the oxygen up to the surface of your skin. This in turn helps oxidize the skin cells. Why do you care? Because when your cells are oxidized, your skin will tan faster, tan darker, and hold that color longer. So this isn’t a step that you want to skip.
However, it’s important that you’re aware that a tingle lotion will redden your skin slightly and make it feel itchy for two to three hours after your tanning session. Both of these side effects will disappear completely, but you need to be aware that they’ll happen, and the really important thing is to not take a shower directly afterward. The shower will reactivate the tingle.
So what happens if you hit another tanning wall? Switching your lotions around will take care of it. Go back to a bronzer for a while. Then do an accelerator. Back to the tingle, or up to the bronzer gain. The key is to keep your body from growing too accustomed to using the same lotion over and over again.