Now I'm not calling myself an expert here by any means, BUT, I do happen to work at a tanning salon. So I've picked up some extra tips and tricks along the way to help people achieve the best authentic (or fake) tan possible. Whether you use the beds or actually spray tan, these might help you out on your next visit.
(If you are totally against sun-bed tanning for obvious reasons, please skip over this article. I realize this is a choice at everyone's own discretion, so if you don't agree with it that's completely fine. This is specifically for those who choose to tan because they want to!)
1. Tingle is for your body, not your face
Please...for the LOVE, do not put a tingle lotion on your face in the tanning beds. Just don't do it!!! This lotion is not made for areas this sensitive. It's horrible for the thin layer of delicate epidermis that your facial skin has (which is supposed to be treated with face-friendly products only). AKA, products that were made specifically for your face and formulated with careful ingredients.
(Side note for anyone that does not know what a tingle lotion is/ what it does: It pulls the blood vessels under your skin to the surface creating a red "tingle" reaction which allows the sun rays to penetrate more deeply and effectively; creating a quicker and deeper tan.)
If you really do care about tanning your face, like I do, then make sure to invest in a quality facial tanner made specifically to tan your face in the tanning beds. This is the safest option with the best benefits (won't clog pores, won't harm facial skin, and it'll have important vitamins for your face in it, etc.).
2. Tan-extender is a MUST
This is so important with any tanning routine! If you are going to pay money to achieve good color, you need to make sure you're doing everything possible to extend and retain that color as long as possible outside the beds (otherwise, what are you paying for?). Using cheap "tan-extender lotions" from Walmart or local drug stores can contain alcohol, sulfates, and other drying properties that actually strip your tan and take away moisture from your skin.
Big no from me.
That's why it's always important to get a true tan extender from a local tanning salon to ensure the quality of it is real and trusted. Your tan extending lotion should actually be doing something to help your tan, not hurt it. If you're using a tan extender daily in place of your regular lotion, you'll see a huge difference in the life of your tan. (As well as silky smooth skin, so who doesn't love that?)
3. Barrier-cream is your best friend
If you spray tan regularly, I'm sure you can back me up on this. Barrier cream is essential to any sunless-tanning experience. Barrier cream is basically a cream that you apply (before you spray-tan) to areas that are dry, or prone to dryness that the spray tan might stick to while you are spraying. It blocks the spray and helps reduce the amount it will accumulate to a certain area, like normally your hands. Your hands tend to have the ability to turn orange while the rest of your body looks fine. This can be because of dryness, as well as the micro-lines we have from our fingerprints and creases. So lather on that barrier cream like your life depends on it; you'll thank me later. (Most salons will provide this cream, but others might make you buy it. It can vary but just ask if you're not sure.)
4. Pre-spray tan routines are essential
If you regularly spray tan, or are spray tanning for the first time, it is so important to have a pre-spray routine. First couple of things to do/ keep in mind:
1. Shave & EXFOLIATE
I put exfoliate in all caps because so many people can forget this crucial step, but it is such a big deal to have a clean, fresh layer of skin for your spray tan to stick to. This will ensure the best overall coverage and color of your spray.
2. Rinse your body with water and soap
3. Don't put on any body lotions after exfoliating/ shaving, leave it completely dry before you spray
I've seen too many people apply buttery body lotions before they come in to spray tan and then complain when the spray doesn't stick to their skin. This is because lotions like that create a thin film that can allow the spray to slip right off, so just come with a clean layer of skin and you're all set.
4. When you arrive to spray, make sure you have a PRIMER
Using a primer lotion specifically made to prime your skin for a spray tan is what will give you the best spray possible, as well as help it last on your skin. USE IT!
5. Switching between beds will get you the darkest
This is something not everyone understands (I didn't either until I was educated on it) but NEEDS to understand because it can change your tanning results drastically. If you are tanning in the beds, it's essential to switch up the type of tanning beds you are laying in every time you go. This means that beds that strictly build your melanin (lower level beds) are not meant to be used every single visit. In order to get the color and darkness you want, you have to lay in beds that have bronzing bulbs as well (higher level beds).
This means that the higher level bronzing beds are actually bronzing the melanin in your skin that has been produced, which is allowing you to achieve the deepest tan possible. If you are only laying in a "building bed," you will eventually hit a tanning Plato and your tan will not continue to develop and darken in these beds. It hits a stopping point because your skin can only go so many shades darker until it has produced all it can produce without further help. In order to break this Plato and continue getting darker, you have to bronze the melanin already there.
Same goes for the higher level beds. If you are only laying in higher level bronzing beds and not switching it up every couple of times to tan in building beds, your tan will not excel. This is because the bronzing beds are meant to bronze the melanin that you ALREADY have produced in your skin (since they don't build melanin, they're only meant to bronze it), and if you don't have any melanin produced or being produced, then you don't have anything to actually bronze. You have to have a good balance of switching between the building and bronzing beds in order to actually continue achieving the best tan possible.
(Side note: melanin is the dark pigment produced by your skin when exposed to sunlight — artificial or natural)