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How to Tan Fair Skin: Tanning Bed Before and After Guide

Written by Lexi Carlson
Medically Reviewed by Denise Christine Bries, MD
How to Tan Fair Skin_ Tanning Bed Before and After Guide

Fair-skinned individuals may ask themselves, “Can I acquire a darker tan?” “Can I still enjoy a golden glow?”

The short answer is YES, YOU CAN!

We’ve seen naturally pale skin folks flaunting a gorgeous dark skin tone, even if they burn easily. Pale skin should be addressed with caution during tanning because it burns easily!

How do they manage it? Here are our tanning tips for fair-skinned people!

How to Tan Fair Skin

Fair skin cells can be pretty challenging to tan. You need the right amount of UV rays, tanning lotions, and sun exposure to get a tan.

One wrong move could be a disaster for you!

Luckily, here are some tanning secrets from people with pale skin who share their tanning bed tips while avoiding skin damage.

  1. Before any visit to the indoor tanning bed, exfoliate thoroughly! Not shaving, not waxing, and not keeping skin moisturized all contribute to a tan that fades quickly.
  2. Always wear an SPF of 20 to 30 sunscreen lotion. This will keep your skin from getting burned. You should also wear tanning lotions or tan accelerators.
  3. On your first indoor tanning session, spend three minutes in a tanning bed.
  4. If you did not burn during your first visit, wait 48 hours before booking your subsequent tanning sessions. Enter and spend another three minutes of tanning bed use.
  5. If you aren’t burned, wait 48 hours and then spend five minutes in tanning beds. Use an after-tanning moisturizer if your skin becomes dry. You can also take a cold shower.
  6. You should be able to see a natural base tan by now. Spend eight minutes in the tanning bed after 48 hours. After tanning, apply a moisturizer.
  7. If you haven’t been burned, wait 48 hours before returning to the tanning bed for another eight minutes. Apply an after-sun moisturizer.
  8. Wait 48 hours and then get into a tanning bed for nearly ten minutes. Apply a moisturizer afterward.
  9. If you haven’t gotten a sunburn, wait 48 hours, and then enter the tanning bed for ten minutes. Apply a moisturizer afterward.

If you’ve made it this far, you should start to see a natural-looking tan on your fair skin. Always apply the right tanning products before and after using the tanning bed!

Remember that the formation of melanin in your skin cells does not cease when you exit the sunbed (or stop sunbathing) and continues for several hours afterward.

What matters is that the rays encourage your cells to begin tanning, which is why the rest interval between sessions is CRITICAL!

Some people with pale skin may BURN while using a tanning bed instead of tanning; in this instance, discontinue tanning bed use and instead choose a fake tan.

Tanning Tips for Fair-Skinned People

Now that you know how to tan your fair skin, you must know these essential tips when tanning so you don’t damage your skin, whether exposed to the sun or using tanning beds.

Always Use Sun Protection

Pale skin burns quickly. Too much sun exposure and no protection will only burn you, especially if you have pale skin, yellow or red hair, or freckles.

Some may argue that they become tanned a few days after they burn. This may be true if you have olive skin, but if you have fair skin, you have harmed and dried out your skin.

Even after staying in the sun’s harmful rays, all you’ll get is the outer layer of skin peeling off! Worse, under the layers of skin is just your natural skin tone, not a golden glow.

But how can I tan if I’m wearing sunblock?

Luckily for you, this is a common misconception.

When our skin tans, it does not always burn. Sun protection does not prevent tanning. Once the body knows it’s safe from burning, it will begin to produce more melanin.

REMEMBER: All skin types can burn, not just pale skin. Make sure to take the necessary precautions backed by scientific data to get the best tan possible and to protect your skin adequately.

Don’t Forget to Exfoliate and Moisturize

Exfoliating before tanning is essential since it helps your skin get rid of dead cells, leaving a clean slate for your tan.

This also assures that there will be no spots in your tan caused by mismatched pigments.

Moisturizing tanning lotion is ESSENTIAL, and you should do it daily! The better your skin is fed, the better the color can settle and grow.

It is critical to moisturize your skin after tanning AND WHILE tanning. Moisturize inside and out; drink lots of water and apply a moisturizing cream.

By keeping your fair skin hydrated, you may extend the life of your tan by losing cells at a slower pace.

TAKE NOTE: Pay particular care to the drier portions, such as your knees, elbows, hands, and feet. Otherwise, the tan would be streaky or orange due to the dryness.

Take Your Time and Gradually Increase Your Tan

Even though you have an identical skin tone and skin type, everyone reacts differently to the sun.

If you want to get a natural-looking tan under the sun, limit your initial session to 5 minutes.

Increase your tanning time in subsequent sessions, and inspect your complexion often.

Start with 2-3 minutes of tanning when using a tanning bed. Space out your sessions and AVOID going every day.

You can increase the number of minutes you are on as your tan develops.

Again, when using a tanning bed, only increase your time gradually, and only in 1-2 minute increments at a time.

Let Your Skin Rest After Using a Tanning Bed

Remember that tanning, or the production of melanin in your skin cells, can last for several hours after you’ve been in the sun or on a tanning bed, even for fair-skinned people.

You don’t have to sit in the sun/on the tanning bed until you notice you’ve received a tan! Your cells have already been stimulated to begin the tanning process.

Resting after exposure to the sun’s rays or from the tanning bed session will aid you greatly in achieving the tan you desire.

You will tan faster when resting than sitting longer in the sun or under the tanning bed!

Make Sure to Eat Healthy and Keep Your Skin Nourished

Your skin needs the building block l-tyrosine to produce melanin. Make sure you use tan accelerators containing l-tyrosine before entering the tanning bed.

Applying them over your SPF lotions directly feeds your skin the ingredients required to get a tan.

A typical diet does not necessarily influence how effectively they tan, but if you’ve got delicate and pale skin that quickly burns, it can make a tremendous impact!

Foods high in antioxidants, such as dark, leafy greens, dark berries, dark chocolate, and vegetables, are known to increase melanin formation.

Flavonoids, which can be found in green tea, are also beneficial, as are Vitamin A (carrots and sweet potatoes), Vitamin C (citrus and leafy greens), and Vitamin E (grains and nuts).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Always drink plenty of fluids in your diet. Water helps keep the skin moisturized and prevents it from becoming dry when exposed to the sun.

Feel Free to Cheat a Little—Nobody’s Gonna Know

Certain tanning products, like a tan accelerator, speed up the tanning process and kick-start your skin’s natural tanning, no matter the skin type.

A self-tanner is perfect for all skin types, not just for fair skin if you want to see results QUICKLY.

Whether tanning in the sun or using a tanning bed, feel free to use self-tanners!

Using a bronzer-containing tan accelerator will give it a tint, a different slight tan-colored hue that will make you look tanned before you’ve even begun tanning.

Choose tan accelerators with carrot, coconut, or watermelon as components since they work well with tanning and offer numerous advantages for your skin.

High-quality tanning accelerators contain vitamins, antioxidants, and important fatty acids that nourish the skin and promote ideal tanning conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tanning

Do you still have questions about fair skin tanning? Here are some of our most frequently asked questions!

Are Tanning Beds Safer than Outdoor Tanning?

Sunbeds, sunlamps, and tanning booths emit the same damaging radiation as sunlight, UVA rays. UVA rays account for approximately 95% of all sunshine.

Tanning beds emit UVA rays, which enter the skin deeper and destroy collagen, the fundamental building component of our skin and elasticity.

Furthermore, they may cause dark patches and leathery, wrinkled skin that can cost thousands of dollars to correct later in life, if at all feasible.

A tan is your body’s attempt to defend itself from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays. Tanning on a sunbed is no safer than tanning in the sun.

Long-term exposure to UV radiation raises your chances of acquiring malignant melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer!

Tanning beds may raise your chance of developing skin cancer, depress your immune system, cause vision difficulties, and prematurely age your skin.

The devastation does not stop there.

These rays can also harm your eyes, producing inflammation, conjunctivitis, or age-related cataracts, especially if you do not wear goggles.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, tanning beds emit 100 times higher UV levels, or the predicted intensity of ultraviolet radiation, than the sun.

This can cause significant harm to the exterior and interior tissues of your eyes and eyelids. You MUST wear goggles when using tanning beds and get regular eye exams.

Which UV Rays Are Harmful?

Sunlamps and tanning beds can offer a beautiful glow all year, but this equipment’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation poses significant health hazards.

Any tan is an indication of skin deterioration.

Moreover, a tan is the skin’s reaction to UV radiation. Your skin will recognize the rays as an attack and defend itself by making more melanin.

This damage will result in prematurely aged skin and, in some circumstances, skin cancer over time.

UV-A and UV-B rays are the two forms of UV radiation that permeate the skin.

  • UV-A rays penetrate the skin and are frequently connected with allergic responses such as a rash.
  • UV-B rays are the most responsible for sunburn.

Both rays can cause skin damage and can lead to cancer. Tanning beds are equipped with lamps that emit both.

Prolonged exposure can raise the chance of getting skin cancer!

Melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, has been related to severe sunburns, particularly at a young age.

I’m Scared of Burning. Is There Another Way to Get a Tan Without a Tanning Session?

Sprays, lotions, and other kinds of fake tan are a terrific way to acquire a tan without harming our skin, especially for those who cannot tan owing to fair skin that burns too readily.

Visiting a beauty salon for a high-quality spray tan produces FANTASTIC results, but it may be pricey over time; fortunately, other cheaper options are available!

You can also use a store-bought tan product or lotion. A five-minute fake tan application can achieve faultless results in as little as four to six hours.

And, because your tailored spray tan can last up to a week, it’s the ideal addition to your sunless tanning routine for a rapid boost of color.

Another option is to utilize natural vegetable dyes to color the fair skin; however, these only last a few days, and any tanning technique cannot stay longer than a week.

Another type of fake tan is bronzers, which wash off with soap and water but offer a lot of versatility, and there are lotions that you can apply yourself at home using a tanning mitt.

CAUTION: Remember that none of these treatments give any UV protection, so if you find yourself in the sun, a decent quality SPF sunscreen is still essential.

Final Thoughts

Now you know that fair-skinned people can also get a beautiful tan, ensure ample protection while your fair skin tans.

Remember that no amount of beauty and color is worth safety and protection.

If your body is telling you it is burning, you should listen and get out of the sun or tanning bed!

The central premise is straightforward: take care of your skin, and it will take care of you! Now, enjoy that beautiful sun without fear of damaging your fair skin!