How to Build a Base Tan


A deep dark tan can make you look like the picture of health and fitness. Unfortunately, many people set out to get a tan the wrong way. Instead of trying to build a base tan first, they try to load up on UV rays and end up with severe sunburn, blistered skin and even sun poisoning. If you want the beauty of deeply tanned skin, you’ll first need to build a base tan to make your skin less vulnerable to sunburn.

Things You'll Need

  • Tanning lotion
  • Moisturizer
  • Access to a tanning salon

Use a quality tanning lotion that contains L-Tyrosine and added moisturizers to increase your skin’s melanin production while building a base tan. Tanning accelerator lotion helps your skin tan easily because it brings the blood to the surface and gives you that all-important “tingle” factor. A slight tingling sensation on the skin lets you know that the accelerator is doing its job. However, these types of tanning lotions have different effects on different people and one that causes mild tingling sensations for one person may cause severe pain for another. Talk to a tanning salon professional for help with selecting a tanning lotion that’s right for your skin type.

Gradually increase your exposure to UV rays to build a base tan and avoid sunburn. While three minutes in a tanning bed doesn’t seem like long enough to produce any real results, it’s more than enough time to become sunburned if you have fair skin. Limit your first few indoor tanning sessions to 2 to 5 minutes and gradually increase the session lengths as you build your tan.

Visit a tanning salon daily, or at least every other day, to build a base tan. Frequent exposure to UV rays is just as important as gradual exposure when building a base tan.

Use a quality moisturizer to help your skin replenish the vitamins and nutrients lost during the tanning process. Select a moisturizer that contains L-Tyrosine and anti-oxidants and apply it to your skin immediately after tanning sessions and baths or showers. Moisturized skin tans much faster and darker than dry skin.

Use a sunless tanner until you are able to build a base tan. If building a base tan is taking longer that you expected you might enjoy the instant sun-kissed glow you’ll receive from the use of sunless tanning products. Many sunless tanners now contain bronzers to help you apply the product more evenly, but if you’re nervous about self-application, talk to someone at your tanning salon about spray tan applications. An airbrushed spray tan looks natural, makes your skin feel silky, and produces a deep, dark tan in a matter of hours. If you need a dark tan before you have your base tan established, a spray tan may just be the temporary fix you need.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you’d prefer to sunbathe outdoors to build a base tan, just be certain to limit your outdoor exposure to 15 to 20 minutes per day for at least a week. After the first week, try to increase your daily exposure to sunlight by at least 5 to 10 minutes each week until your base tan is established.
  • Talk to someone at your local tanning salon about tanning supplements to help you build your base tan.
  • Most dermatologists agree that exposure to UV rays may cause premature aging of the skin and increase your chances for developing melanoma (skin cancer). See Resources below to learn more about the harmful effects of UV rays.
  • While some people with certain skin disorders and those affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder may benefit from the use of tanning beds, you should discuss your condition with your doctor before you begin a tanning routine to determine whether the benefits of indoor tanning outweigh the risks.

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