Tips for a Perfect Tan—Even for the Fair-Skinned

Updated on March 1, 2016

Building a Great Tan, Step-by-Step

Okay, I know this isn't a politically-correct topic. I know that tanning is bad for you. Tanning is unhealthy. Yes, I've read all the information about tanning and tanning beds, and I still choose to tan. That hasn't been outlawed by our government . . . yet. They are proposing a "tanning tax" however, to help pay for the new health care bill. If they can figure out how to tax us for sunlight, they'll do that, too!

I use a combination of sunless tanning, tanning beds, and natural sunlight to achieve a golden brown color in the spring and summer.

I love the sun. I don't tan to look good in a bikini. I'm a large lady, and I'll never look good in a bathing suit again. I just love the way the sun makes me feel. I've read articles about people like me—we're actually addicted to sunlight. The exposure releases endorphins in our bodies or something. Also, if I get a good tan before we start making our summer beach trips, I don't have to worry about burning while I'm engaging in one of my favorite activities, saltwater fishing. Uh-huh, I can hear some of you muttering under your breath: Doesn't this idiot know about sunscreen?

Been there, done that. I always seem to miss a spot or two on a tender area and spend the rest of my vacation in pain. Also, the sunscreen makes my hands all slippery; hard to bait a hook or handle fish with slippery hands. The fragrance gets on the bait, too, and the fish don't seem to care for it.

I also need to explain that I'm pretty fair-skinned naturally, from mostly Scottish and English descent. If you have a darker complexion, you can skip some of the steps. To even out your tan at any point, use an artificial tanner. You'll be amazed at how real it looks when added to a little real tanning. An expert told me this is because UV light dries out the skin, so the indoor tanning lotion can really be soaked up.

Anyway, now that I've warned you that tanning is bad for you, I'll share my tips, if you're still interested. I need to first tell you, however, that I rarely tan my face. I cover it with a cool, damp washcloth while I'm in the indoor tanning beds and while I'm in the sun. I don't want a bunch of wrinkles! My face usually gets a tan, anyway, just from being outside on my deck. If it doesn't match my body, I use facial bronzers. I usually wear a hat or visor at the beach to keep my face shaded.

Tanning Tips

  1. Exfoliate thoroughly before your first visit to the indoor tanning bed.
  2. Get in one of the commercial tanning beds for eight minutes the first day.
  3. If you didn't burn from visit number one, wait 48 hours and return to the bed. Get in for 10 minutes.
  4. If you're not burned, wait 48 hours and get in one of the commercial tanning beds for 12 minutes. If your skin is beginning to get dry, use an after-tanning moisturizer. Exfoliate before tanning.
  5. You should be seeing a little color by now. Skip a day and then spend 15 minutes in the bed. Apply after-tanning moisturizer.
  6. If you're not burned, wait 48 hours and return to the tanning bed for the full 20 minutes. Use after-sun moisturizer.
  7. Wait 48 hours and get in a mega bed for almost the full time limit. The limit for most mega-beds is 12 minutes, so get in it for 10. Moisturize and apply an indoor tanning accelerator.
  8. Still not burned? Good! Wait 48 hours, exfoliate, and get in the megabed for the full limit. Moisturize and use an indoor tanning accelerator.

Most of the time, I use the lie-down indoor tanning beds, but occasionally I'll visit a stand-up tanning booth. Stand-up tanning is a great way to tan the underside of the arms and the sides of the body.

At this point, I won't get any darker from the indoor tanning beds no matter how often I visit. Now, I need the real sun!

  • I use of of those reflective silver floats in my pool. I don't use tanning oil yet. I just moisterize when I come inside after a couple of hours of sun.
  • Once I'm not getting any darker, I boost my tanning with tanning oil that doesn't contain any sunscreen. Sometimes I use oil with a tanning accelerator.

That's it! If I can't get in the pool for several days, I'll make a visit to the indoor tanning bed just to maintain my tan.

Let's review the main tanning tips:

  • Exfoliate regularly.
  • Build your tan gradually.
  • Visit the commercial tanning beds regularly.
  • Avoid burning.
  • Use sunless tanning lotion to even-out your tan.
  • Use after-sun moisturizer.
  • Use a stand-up tanning booth occasionally.
  • Use tanning oil with a tanning accelerator as a boost after you have a tan.
  • Keep your face covered!!

A commercial tanning bed.
A commercial tanning bed.
A stand up tanning booth.
A stand up tanning booth.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • profile image

        OzzieMillie 

        6 years ago

        I work as a fashion photographer and it is not uncommon for me or a co-worker to get burned - lights, props - anything! When these accidents happen, without hesitation, i apply Made From the Earth "Pure Aloe Vera Treatment". I keep this product on hand at all times. I went to the beach with my children and experienced the worse sun burn i have ever experienced. I fell asleep in the sun. I remembered this product was for burns and i prayed it would work... MAGIC is the best word for this product. It was soothing, fast acting, cooling, long lasting, non-greasy, non sticky.

        I went from being in tears to wearing clothes and leaving the house in 2 days.

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Thanks a bunch, Maria! Just take it nice and slow!

      • profile image

        Maria Cole 

        8 years ago

        These are some great tanning tips! I am also very fair skinned and building up a tan is the way to go (rather than roasting one day here and there). I do like to use a tanning lotion from the very start. It keeps your skin nice and hydrated throughout the processed. If you are not a fan of tanning lotions, then I would suggest using a regular hydrating lotions when you get out of the tanning bed. You don't want to show off you tan if you have dry skin! Thanks for this awesome hub!

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Thanks for visiting, Kelly!

      • profile image

        Kelly Varela 

        8 years ago

        Habee, another great hub. Thanks for informing the public on a great tanning technique.

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Dohn, you're lucky to tan easily. Still, you need to be careful not to burn!

        Funny, charlie! You always leave good comments!

        HH, I didn't know that about those from South Germany - I guess I always think of Germans as blonde and blue-eyed. Thanks!

        Mine, too, CM! I need to hit the tanning bed!

        Thanks, Duchess, for the kind words!

      • profile image

        Duchess OBlunt 

        8 years ago

        I love that you first warn us this is not good for you and then go on to tell us how to do it right! I had to grin when you said the government hasn't outlawed this YET. So true and yet so politically incorrect. Love it.

        I'm mostly of Scottish and English decent too, but since I don't have a love of fishing - or anything else that requires exerting energy - I prefer to stay out of the sun. But. Loved the hub it was fun and informative.

        I begin to see how you earned the number one spot on the best new hubbers. Congratulations.

      • carolina muscle profile image

        carolina muscle 

        8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

        This time of year, my tan fades into a memory.... rats.

      • Hello, hello, profile image

        Hello, hello, 

        8 years ago from London, UK

        That is one thing I have not to worry about because coming from South Germany we have dark skin and dark hairs.

        Congratulation for all the nomination you received. You deserved it.

      • profile image

        ralwus 

        8 years ago

        I never had a problem of tanning having so much Cherokee blood in my veins. I was so dark as a kid mom would scrub me raw thinking it was dirt! God that hurt. My one aunt said to me once that many people thought I was half black back then. haha Some even treated me that way. Now I must stay out of the sun because of my 'condition' and I have lightened considerably. Enjoy it while you can now Habee,

      • dohn121 profile image

        dohn121 

        8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

        Yeah, I have no problems getting a tan. Once when I went to Cocoa Beach when we were visiting Walt Disney World, I was so bent on getting a tan that I burned up like marshmallow because I fell asleep on the beach! The next four days, I practically cried in the shower. Damn was that painful.

        Thanks for a great read, habee!

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