Many women, including myself, spend an awful lot of time trying to get that pretty glow year round. Tanning lotions, oils, and foams, bronzers, spray tans and yes, tanning beds are just some of the ways we try to get that sunkissed look. The girls from The Jersey Shore are proof that tanning can even become addicting! However, having a nice tan can also make you look healthier and thinner, if you do it right.
I'm sure that you know this already (I know that I've heard it a million times, myself), but for my own peace of mind, I want to preface this blog post with a reminder that indoor tanning beds are not good for you. If you're not worried about the obvious and serious risk of skin cancer, then maybe the idea of turning into a wrinkled leather handbag by the time you're 50 is enough to scare you away from it! That's actually what did it for me, as superficial as that sounds. It's important to remember that tanning isn't the kind of thing that anyone should do long term. If you do decide to try out a tanning salon in preparation for your wedding day though, it's absolutely essential that you visit your dermatologist at least once a year to get checked over.
You would never know it if you saw me now, but I used to be a pretty seasoned fake baker. I first started tanning when I was in high school, and did it off and on through my freshman year in college. From that point on, I tanned more sporadically...I would go for a month or two in preparation for an event or a vacation, but I knew that I couldn't keep it up regularly for much longer without causing serious damage to my skin in the long run. That, and tanning is pricey! Anyway, after I graduated college, I quit tanning beds all together and stuck with the home tanning systems and spray tanning instead. By the way, if you'd like to try sunless tanning first, I recommend the St. Tropez line. I also use the Jergens Natural Glow gradual tanning lotion on a regular basis for a little something nowadays. I don't consider myself a tanner anymore, but I did lift my ban on tanning for my wedding day. I fell in love with a strapless dress; not to mention the fact that I was having a destination wedding in Mexico, where I'd be in a bikini 90 percent of the time. I was not going to have tanlines.
Ultimately, I was able to get rid of my tanlines, and I had built up a great base that kept me from burning the entire two weeks I was in Mexico for my wedding and honeymoon. While tanning is not good for anyone, I can definitely understand a bride's willingness to get into a tanning bed in preparation for her wedding day. I mean, really...we have to wear white! What else are us pale girls supposed to do?! I get it, trust me. So today, I thought that I'd share my indoor tanning tips. You may be surprised to hear that there are tricks to getting a great, even tan - most of these I have learned the hard way!
Tanning Bed Tips for Brides
- Get tanning lotion. I can't say that I know much of the science behind it, but I do know that I've tried tanning with and without it, and it definitely makes a huge difference! You'll want to bring your bottle of lotion in with you, and apply it to your entire body right before you get into the tanning bed.
- If you're looking to purchase some tanning lotion, do not let your tanning salon talk you into shelling out $100 for a bottle of the stuff. You can find the exact same tanning lotions on Amazon for less than half what they'll try to charge you. There are a million different kinds, so your best bet is to read the reviews and find the one that best suits your needs and budget.
- Be sure to get a tanning lotion that is designed specifically for indoor tanning - it's different than the regular stuff you use at the beach. I would start looking at the more popular brands Designer Skin and Australian Gold.
- Personally, I look for a lotion that doesn't have bronzer in it. Most indoor tanning lotions are going to have bronzers in them because they're designed so that you can apply it, tan and then go on with your day without having to shower immediately after. However, I always feel icky after tanning, so I usually shower sooner rather than later. Maybe it's just me, but I think that most tanning lotions have a distinctly bad smell to them, too. Essentially though, the added messiness of the bronzers just isn't worth it when I'm just going to wash it off right away.
- Tan naked. Most of you will know to do this already, but I know that I wore a bikini when I first started tanning because I wanted to see how dark I was getting. Trust me when I tell you to resist the urge to do this, because you'll end up wanting to get rid of those tanlines eventually anyway. When you do begin tanning, remember that your arms and legs, which are exposed to the sun on a daily basis, are going to react better to the tanning beds than the other places where the sun don't shine ("Private skin," let's call it). For that reason, it's super important that you start off slowly when you first start tanning so that you give your private skin enough time to get used to the UV exposure. Those private areas are super sensitive to the beds, and can burn really badly, very easily if you're not careful.
- Position yourself in the tanning bed for an even tan.
- One of the biggest giveaways that you tan indoors are the crescent shaped white spots you can get right underneath your butt cheeks when laying down in the tanning bed. You get them when your butt cheeks get smushed down on the glass and crease. I've seen them on girls of all body types, too - doesn't matter how big or small you think your butt is ;) To avoid getting these spots, just make sure that you pull your butt cheeks up a bit when you lay down in the bed. If you get uncomfortable doing this (my back always starts to bug me), you can also try bending your knees up slightly so that your butt doesn't get as quite as smushed!
- Another problem area is in and around the armpits. If you keep your arms down for the duration of the tanning session, you'll start to get a soft tan line down the sides of your body where your arms are blocking the light. That, and if you get dark enough, your armpits will look freakishly white in comparison to the rest of your body. Trust me, I learned this lesson in high school! In order to avoid these problems, I usually lay with my hands down at my sides for the first half of my tanning session, and then lay with my arms up above my head for the rest of the time.
- Keep your chin up! When I first started tanning, I noticed that the area on my neck right beneath my chin wasn't getting as dark as the bottom half of my neck and chest. I think that I was naturally laying with my head tilted down slightly. When you tan, just make sure that you're laying with your head tilted up a bit so that you don't have this same problem!
- Those little eye goggles the tanning salons will provide you can give you a little tanline on your eyelids if you get dark enough. I would just wear them for half the time, then I would take them off and keep my eyes shut for the rest of the time in the tanning bed.
- Be patient. A common misconception about tanning beds is that you'll get tan overnight. This is usually not the case, unless you're incredibly blessed, or you've been hitting the tanning beds for a long time already! It's important that you allow plenty of time before the big day in order to get the tan that you want, safely. If you try to rush it - go tanning too often or stay in the tanning beds for too long - you'll just burn and peel. It does take time. This is especially the case if you're trying to get rid of tanlines that you've had for most of your life. I actually started tanning five months before the big day to be really safe!
Usually, the tanning salon will tell you to make sure that you can commit to tanning three or four days in a row when you first start so that you can build up a base. You'll start with a short amount of time just to see how your skin reacts, then if you don't burn, you'll add another minute or two onto your time at your next session, and so on until you're at the maximum time allotted (this is dependent on the bed you're using - they'll tell you what it is). Once you've built up your base and are able to tan without burning at all, you should plan on tanning at least two or three times a week until you have the tan that you want. Once you're happy with your color, you should continue going to the tanning salon once or twice a week up until your wedding day in order to maintain it.
- Be prepared.
- Bring your iPod and earphones with you so you can listen to music while you tan.
- Try your best to go tanning without any makeup on; you'll get better color that way. I always kept those makeup cleansing wipes in my car so I could wipe off all of my makeup right before I tanned after work at the end of the day.
- Moisturized and exfoliated skin is always going to tan better. This is why applying tanning lotion right before you tan helps you get better color. You should also try to avoid showering right before your tanning session because the shower will dry out your skin.
- You probably will sweat in the tanning beds, so deoderant is always a good idea! Also, this should go without saying, but make sure that you use the towel they provide to dry yourself off, and wipe down the tanning bed before you leave - it's just common courtesy for the salon employee who cleans up after you :)