Tanning Salon advice? (Help me look like I know what I'm doing)

First of all, I’m white. Incredibly, astonishingly pale. I do know I am capable of tanning, it just takes me time and patience.

My sister recently invited me to go on a roadtrip with her to San Diego (Woo!) Last time I went I was ill-prepared, very white, and I burned. This time, I plan on having a dencent tan before I get there. Not too dark, but not the day-glow complexion I have now. I figured I’d try a tanning salon, but I’ve never been, and I’m clueless as to etiquette, procedures, etc. I tried calling one and asking some questions, but the first thing they asked is “What type of bed do you want to use?” Not a question I would even begin to know how to answer. So my questions are -

  1. How do I choose a good one, and what type of bed should I use?

  2. What items should I bring/use, if any?

  3. Any tips on etiquette, or anything else I should know?

This is a one time thing, and I am aware of the risks. I plan on being careful about not burning, and I already know how many sessions I need and how long each should be. Everything else, I’m clueless about.

How to choose a good one - hmm. If you live somewhere where this is convenient, you could visit a couple of establishments to check to see if they look clean. Otherwise, I think they’re all about the same. Some offer more amenities – water, mints, music, they clean the bed, not you, etc. Of course, these places cost more too. I usually just look through the yellow pages and call to compare prices. You may want to ask them when they last changed the lights on their beds. They have to change them periodically, so if they answer, “I don’t know” their lights might be weak. I have no idea how long the lights last, though, so I don’t know that the answer will help you that much.

If they asked you what kind of bed you want, they may be referring to “high pressure” beds. The lights in high pressure beds are stronger and sessions are shorter. For instance, you might tan for 7-10 minutes instead of 20 (a fairly standard time).

They may also be referring to “stand-ups” as opposed to actual beds. A “stand-up” is what the name implies: a cubicle sort of place where you stand up the whole time. The lights surround you, so you tan evenly. These sessions are also usually shorter.

What you should expect when you go in:

  1. They will ask if you’ve been there before. Since you haven’t, they’ll give you a form to fill out. It will ask about your skin type, if you burn easily, allergies to sunlight, etc., and will probably include a waiver of some kind that you sign. It may be the same form that you initial whenever you come in so they can keep track of your sessions.

  2. You need eye protection. Some places supply it, some places make you buy it. Eye protection is either goggles or disposable sticker-like things that you put on your eyes. If you ask, “Do you have Wink-Ease?” they should know you mean the disposable things. I prefer these because they are least likely to give you a raccoon effect. I would say most places do supply goggles. You will almost always have to pay for the disposable ones. (They range from $.25 to $3.00)

  3. They will probably offer to tell/show you how the beds work. If they don’t, ask. Probably they’ll take you to the room, show you the controls for the fan, the bed itself, and possibly the radio/CD player. These are pretty easy and vary from place to place. You may want to bring a CD in case they have a CD player.

Also, I highly recommend tanning accelerator. It makes a big difference and you can tan less often. It is pretty expensive, but I think it pays for itself because it saves you money on sessions. Generally they don’t allow products used for outdoor tanning - I’m talking about specific indoor tanning accelerator. I’ve only seen it at tanning salons and beauty supply stores. You should be able to buy it from them. Most places have samples (which cost about $5) as well as regular-size bottles.

You can tan nude or keep some clothing on or bring a bathing suit. Bring some water to drink afterwards - I always feel dehydrated. Often salons will have water available. If you will be lying down in a bed, turning from your back to your stomach halfway through will give you a more even tan.

Obviously I know way too much about this. I know it’s bad bad bad, but I still tan once every 2 weeks or so.

Wow! You pretty much hit it all on the head. The only thing I’d emphasize is the time spent in the bed. Do not think that only 7 minutes in a bed isn’t going to do much for you. Those suckers are strong! And the accelerant is a great idea because it actually does work. Just make sure you get the tanning bed type and not the outdoor type.

Oh, and the goggles, use the goggles!

Another dedicated tanner here (I go every day - I told the receptionist it was my life’s ambition to look like George Hamilton). As was said earlier, start slow - you’ll burn to a cinder if you’re not careful.

Has anyone here tried the “mystic tan” or something like it?

It is a booth that you stand in while it sprays you… I haven’t tried it yet… I am worried that it wouldn’t be even… and it is kind of expesive…

In my limited experience in tanning… I have used the “Dr. Kern” beds… I have fair skin, so once a week during the winter keeps me from being pale, without looking like I go to a tanning salon…
Each bed is different… It depends when they change the bulbs…
I usually use a Dr. Kern for 15 minutes…

I tried a stand-up once… for 10 minutes… and it burned the hell out of me… much stronger bulbs…

The cheaper the session is, the weaker the bed.

The “mystic tan” stuff is kind of neat. I tried it once and the coverage was even but it faded fast.

From one fair-skin to another…bring a towel. This is such a necessity for me that I’ll turn around and go back home to get it than tan without it.

I don’t mean a big beach towel; take a hand towel or even a washcloth. And here’s why…obviously some parts of your body are more sensitive to UV light than others. They need to tan slower. For me, that’s my tush and between my boobs. When I’m lying there and they start to tingle (you’ll know what I’m talking about - you instantly think “I’m burning, I’m burning!!!”), I slide the towel under my rear or roll it up and put it between my boobs. Ahhh, relief.

And for heaven’s sake, put your arms over your head every once in a while when you’re lying there. There are very few things less attractive than white armpits.

I’m so pale I make Queen Elizabeth look like Queen Latifah, but I revel in it! I say, if you must go tan, use some of the newer self-tanners. I hear they don’t make you go all orange anymore, and you’ll avoid the awful skin damage that comes with tanning!

I am not an avid tanner, but I was in a similar situation when I had to attend a wedding in Belize in the middle of January. The only thing I would add to the great advice in this thread is ALWAYS ASK IF THEY JUST PUT IN BRAND NEW BULBS! If the bulbs are new (and they change them frequently) you will need to tan for even shorter amounts of time than you are already planning if you don’t want to burn.

Like **lovelyluka[\b] I use the towel for sensitive parts, always one on my face and one on my butt. And to add even more reasons to tan with your arms over your head, you will get lines on your back-inner arm if you don’t.

"What’s wrong with pale? "

Ah, yes. The Consumptive Look that was so popular. Add a little, tiny cough with a drop of blood and you’ve got the makings of a tragic opera.

Maybe now, but see us again in 20 years and then we’ll compare who looks better.:slight_smile:

What IS the Mystic Tan thing?

Mystic Tan is a self-tanner that is applied by a fine mist that sprays on you while you are in a booth. It is applied very lightly and evenly, so it looks like a real tan, and it dries quickly.

Don’t forget to use sunscreen when you are outside even if you do go to a tanning salon. You can still burn. I have very pale skin but with an application of good sunscreen or two I can stay outside all day with out even a slight burn.

I’m always stunned by people who intentionally get a tan. Don’t you realize you look like a piece of toast? YUCK!!

At the risk of sounding like everyone’s mom- seriously consider a self-tanning lotion. I had a mole removed from my leg 4 years ago and it turned out to be a malignant melanoma. I had to have another surgery and more tests to make sure that it hadn’t spread. Apparantly, these little suckers spread really fast and can be quite deadly once they do.

 Luckily, it hadn't spread- but, according to my doctor, I'm not out of the woods until the 5-year mark.  I have to have skin exams every 6 months (I have had 3 biopsies already since the mole- happily, all benign) and I couldn't give blood after 9/11.  Yup, I'm regretting the times that I lathered up with baby oil and toasted myself.

Some of us prefer toast to oatmeal.

Guess you folks chiming in about wrinkles and skin cancer failed to see this

Very helpful folks.

So, here’s what I recommend:

  1. As mentioned, check to see how often they change the bulbs…if they’ve changed them recently you can burn more quickly.

  2. As mentioned, start slow and turn for a more even tan…be aware that if you just lie on your back and if you’re naked, you’ll have weird white spots on your pressure points.

  3. Be mindful of your armpits…the lie-down beds don’t get them tan and you can end up looking dorky…so raise your arms for a bit…

  4. All places SHOULD supply their own goggles…I’m pretty sure it’s federal/most states law that you must wear these

  5. I’d recommend the mystic tan the day before you leave (if it’s available). I pay 10 bucks for it, but it’s completely safe…it’s a self-tanner. If you use the lotion they should supply you can avoid weird streaks on your ankles/hands. It looks great and real! Just make sure and HOLD YOUR BREATH or you will vomit.

Stay out of the tanning beds and stick with the self tanners.

You will thank me years down the road.

Another vote for self-tanners.

Oatmeal for skin now is better than dried-out mottled leather for skin 30 years into the future.