If this is your very first time going into a tanning bed, it's very likely that if you go for more than 8 minutes, give or take one or two, you will burn. There are so many factors that apply when deciding how many minutes to go.
First of all, do you have a fair, medium or dark complexion to start with? Generally, the lighter complected you are, the shorter period you can go. If you don't tan in the sun, then you will very likely not tan in a tanning bed. A friend of mine turns into one big freckle if she tans, so she's resorted to sunless tanning options. Freckles are spots of highly concentrated melanin. Because tanning is basically the production of melanin in your skin, tanning will definitely increase the visible freckles.
Secondly, how much sun have you been exposed to lately? Are the areas of skin that have been exposed in the sun going to be the only areas exposed in the bed? A lot of people tan in bathing suits or bras and panties to prevent their "sensitive areas" from being burned.
Third, if you have moles or tattoos you should protect them with a medium to high SPF sunblock. (That will NOT guarantee that you will not develop skin cancer, since tanning beds do significantly increase your chances of skin cancer and premature aging). Tattoos do fade with age no matter what you do, but constant UV exposure will cause them to fade much faster.
ALWAYS PROTECT YOUR EYES!
Your retinas can burn even through your eyelids, and your eyelids hurt REALLY bad when they burn. Burning of the lenses and retinas of your eyes can result in permanent blindness, cataracts and other painful and often blinding problems. Long-term exposure to natural sunlight also can result in eye damage, but in the sun, people generally are more aware that their eyelids are burning. Under indoor UV lights, exposed skin remains cool to the touch. In addition, the intensity of lights used in tanning devices is much greater — and potentially more damaging to the eyes — than the intensity of UV rays in natural sunlight, so PLEASE PLEASE wear goggles or stickers over your eyes. The salon should provide them for little or no cost.
Very well exfoliated and hydrated skin tans the best! The salon will have a million lotions to choose from. You can choose to use a bronzer, which typically has self tanning agents in it to help speed your tanning process. The bad side to bronzers is that some brands will cause streaking. Plus, you'll need to immediately clean your hands with a moist towel or if possible with soap and water. I like to bring baby wipes or similar when I go. They also have tingle effect lotions, which WILL cause reddening and tingling of your skin, which should usually go away after a few hours. In my personal experience, tingle lotion has caused splotchy tanning and white spots. Sometimes you'll find lotions that mix the two, tingling bronzers, such as GO Dark! Lotion by Synergy Tan. That's what I use the first few sessions of the tanning season. Then there are the accelerator lotions, which are just a hydrating lotion that promotes the production of melanin.
There is a myth that showering after tanning will wash the tan away. That is NOT true. However, it's not really a good idea to immediately shower after tanning. The best thing to do is to use an after sun lotion or a tan extending lotion which is designed to rehydrate UV-dried skin. It would be okay to shower a few hours afterwards, but make sure that you keep your skin as well hydrated as you can by keeping it exfoliated and moisturized with lotion.
ABSOLUTELY DO NOT TAN IF YOU ARE BURNT!
Even if your skin isn't red anymore but you're peeling or you still have a little bit of the burnt feeling. That is the most damaging thing you can do to ruin your tan and increases the risk of skin cancer. Tanning on top of a burn is not only painful, but dangerous.
Last but not least, I would definitely recommend sanitizing the bed before you get in it, even if the sign says, "This bed has been sanitized" or "Ready to Tan!". Certain bacteria and fungi can survive on dry surfaces for days and not every salon employee cares as much about your health as you do. I always ask for two towels before leaving the counter. Most salons leave the sanitizer spray in the room with the bed. Don't be afraid to soak it down! Some of my friends bring their own disinfectant wipes, but I don't personally recommend it. If the disinfectant is too abrasive it can damage the acrylic plastic and I wouldn't want to be responsible for replacing it.
If you need answers on anything else, please feel free to e-mail me at PERSONAL EMAIL REMOVED. I hope it helps!
Try these links for any additional information: Importance of Eye Protection While Indoor Tanning by Aaron Andrews Tan Indoors Indoor Tanning Facts Indoor And Outdoor Tanning Tips