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How Long Should You Tan For?

One of the greatest unknowns in tanning is when to stop. It's hard. Your skin looks fine and you're having a great time. Why stop your tanning session? It's really important. You want to tan long enough to get a deep golden tan but short enough to avoid a sunburn. Sunburns are counterproductive because you need to wait for them to heal before going back in the sun. If you avoid sunburns, you can tan more frequently and get a deeper tan. Whether your tan indoors or outdoors, it's important to time your tan properly and today we'll discuss some easy strategies to maximize your tanning session.

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Timing Your Indoor Tan

Woman Tanning In A Luxurious Swimming Pool
© – Sisoje
Tanning your indoor tan should theoretically be easy. There are simple instructions printed on the front of the tanning bed. They usually start out very low (in the 2-3 minute range your first week). My advice is to follow the instructions carefully. Also make sure to use a great indoor tanning lotion such as Hawaiian Tropic T2 Max. I say theoretically above for a reason however. Here's the hard part: At many tanning salons, the people that work there will pressure you hard to go longer than you should. After taking a break from tanning for months and having very white skin, the salespeople at my local salon recommended a time that would most definitely burn my skin. While at the salon with my friends, I have experienced the same thing. It's not just me. They try to sell everyone on a longer tan than they should! Why? I don't think they're trying to do the wrong thing. I think it's more a case of them not relating to people with fair skin. Most people that work at the tanning salon are very tan and may not remember what it's like when you're just starting out. The moral: Be nice and hold your ground. Insist that you start out slow and follow the instructions on the machine. Once you are really tan, you will be all set and just go in the be for the maximum time once or twice a week. Remember, they are great at sales and will pressure you hard. Hold your ground. If you just can't and they talk you into a longer session, one option is to get out of the bed early, but that's a last resort.

How Long Should I Tan Outside?

Tanning outside is a blast. You can get a really deep tan that way, especially if you use a great outdoor tanning lotion such as Hawaiian Tropic outdoor lotion. Tanning outside is more tricky than tanning indoors however because there are a lot of variables. Let's look at a few of the important things to consider when timing your outdoor tan:

  • What type of suntan lotion are you using?
  • Are you taking a dip in the pool or ocean?
  • How intense is the sun?
  • What time of the day are you tanning?
  • How strong is your existing suntan?

Important Factors When Tanning Outside

Let's look at these factors in a bit more detail. When you are new to tanning, you should always use a suntan lotion that has a mid to high SPF factor in the 30 to 45 range. As you get more experienced and develop really tan skin, you can relax your suntan lotion to SPF 15 or even lower (I personally use Hawaiian Tropic outdoor lotion with SPF 6 once I have developed a great tan). The key factor here is to follow the instructions on the bottle and know your limits. When you are new, I would follow the directions on the bottle to the letter meaning you should only stay in the sun 30 to 45 minutes when using SPF 30 or 45. Each time, you can experiment staying outside a little longer. Eventually, you will be able to tan for several hours at a time. At my peak, I was actually tanning outside for 3 to 4 hours at a time regularly reapplying my Hawaiian Tropic SPF 6 tanning oil. Amazingly, I had the most sexy tan skin ever and never got a sunburn. Why? I took my time to build things up and never rushed a session. (Now, I'm less tan but that's ok. You will go through peaks and valleys over the course of your life in terms of your tan level.) The next four factors in the above list will all either shorten or lengthen the amount of time you are able to spend in the sun.

Taking a dip in the pool? It's a great way to stay cool but it will also reduce the amount of time you can stay outside because your suntan lotion will wash off. One strategy is to reapply after your swim. How intense is the sun? Is it the middle of the summer? This generally means you will want to cut your session a little shorter. Likewise, if you are tanning during peak tanning hours (10:00 am - 2:00 pm), you will experience the most intense sunlight. Last, how strong is your tan? If you already have a strong tan you are likely to know your limits better. I recommend staying outside a bit longer each time.

Taking It Slow - Time Your Tan Carefully

Tanning is a great way to stay healthy and look your best. I look at tanning as a long term part of my overall lifestyle. I call it the tanning lifestyle. Since you're in it for the long term, take your time. If you are new to tanning, time your sessions carefully. There is no benefit to rushing things. Once you have a solid tan, you will know more about your limits but always remember the basics of timing your tan. Time things carefully, and you will have the sexiest tan ever.

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