Tanning FAQ

How Does Tanning Work?

Tanning is what the skin is designed to do (to protect itself from over-exposure and outside stresses)... so, moderate UV exposure to produce a tan is like exercising your muscles so they don't waste away. We call this process natural tanning. Note: we ONLY advise this for people with skin type 2+.  Natural tanning occurs when skin is exposed to UV light - both UVB & UVA. 


Special cells called melanocytes produce melanin pigment which travels to the surface of your skin. Done moderately, this strengthens and protects the skin, while the top layers turn a browner colour as a consequence. The cosmetic tan that results from repeated moderate tanning sessions is a bonus of this biologically crafted process.
 

It's important to know that: burning is not tanning! Your skin does not need to get red in order to get brown. It is equally important to know how vital it is to use good quality tan accelerator AND extender products to keep the skin hydrated and nourished during the tanning cycle. 


Just like muscles need good nutrition to perform their best, the skin also needs good care for a great tan & glowing colour.
 

In an indoor tanning environment the ratio of UVA to UVB is controlled to a degree that you are far less likely to develop a burn. 


Everyone has about 6 million melanocytes, but everyone has a different amount of melanin, according to their skin type, which is why we are all a different colour, and why people tan differently. This is why it's so important to have an individual tanning program designed for you, like we do for you here at JAVA Tanning Studio.   


Most of us have probably never even questioned this – but here’s the thing – UV light itself is invisible and has no heat. So why do we feel warm during a tanning session? It's all to do with the production of melanin pigment that's stimulated by exposure to UV light. Melanin pigment turns our skin brown, but more importantly – because clever Mother Nature has a perfect plan – melanin is an excellent photo-protectant. This means that melanin absorbs UV radiation and transforms the energy into harmless amounts of heat. The process is called Internal Conversion, and it's the reason why indoor tanning fans believe that moderate tanning and a resulting base tan protects the skin from sunburn.
 

Melanin is so efficient at protecting our skin- it dissipates 99.9% of the absorbed UV radiation as heat, so there's only less than 0.1% left to produce any potential skin damage. Most sunscreens (or artificial melanin as they are sometimes referred to) are not nearly as efficient at converting UV into heat, averaging less than 60% conversion.
 

Here at JAVA Tanning Studio, we agree with a growing global opinion that ubiquitous use of chemical sunscreens has reached dangerous over-use levels among light-skinned populations. This phenomenon goes a long way to explaining why so many people in the world today may be deficient in vitamin D. We manage our outdoor UV exposure less with chemical sunscreens, and more by covering up and seeking shade once our naturally tanned skin has taken as much UV exposure as it can handle- before we feel the tell-tale, over-heated feeling that warns us our skin has had enough. 


Don't get us wrong- sunscreens still have a place in an outdoor UV exposure management plan! They are designed to prevent sunburn. So whenever you may be at risk of sunburn- and the options of shade or covering up are exhausted or unavailable- sunscreen can be your last line of defense. It is also essential for sportspeople or others who by necessity will spend long periods of time outdoors, longer than their skin can handle.  

How Long Will It Take Me To Tan?

To build a base tan, your goal should be to have regular, moderate exposure, using products that boost melanin production for a faster, deeper result. 


You should find out your skin type and match this with the recommended tanning schedule for the tanning equipment you are using. Drop in to the salon for your skin type assessment and one of our team members will be happy to establish a tanning regiment based on your skin type.


As a general guide, if you are tanning 2-3 sessions a week with good equipment and following a proper skincare regime, you should see results after 3-4 sessions, and your base tan will be optimized after 10-20 sessions.    Remember: always leave 24 hours between tanning sessions


Tanning is a gradual, dynamic process, as you build layers of color on the surface of your skin through regular, moderate exposure sessions. Stop tanning, and your tan gradually fades away as the natural exfoliation of the surface layers of your skin shed through washing, perspiring, friction etc (you'll be familiar with this tan-fading phenomenon if you've ever spent a summer outdoors, and an autumn inside.) To maintain a tan, you need to stimulate the tanning process from time to time.

A key to good tanning results is for your skin to be very healthy & well moisturized. Healthy skin tans best, and holds your tan for longer. (People who are every-day smokers will usually find it harder to tan, as their skin- the largest organ on the body- struggles to stay in best health.) 


Great tan accelerators & extenders contain premium skincare ingredients, which keep skin in fantastic hydrated condition. Unfortunately many people are unaware just how vital using good tanning products is to balancing out the negative effects of UV exposure. Sun exposure can cause dryness which in turn can cause aging and wrinkling of the skin, so ensure your skin stays well hydrated by using specialty tanning products before and after tanning. 


Using drying soaps (like those with heavy perfumes or alcohol) can also strip your tan, so using a premium quality body wash will go a long way to helping make your tan last.  


How Many Sessions Do I Need To Get A Good Base Tan?


Your Situation: (no tanning for more than a year)

Skin Type 2:  20 - 30 sessions (5 - 10 weeks)

Skin Type 3: 15 - 25 sessions (5 - 9 weeks)

Skin Types 4 up: 10 - 15 sessions (3 - 5 weeks)


Tanned last summer + intermittent sessions since:

Skin Type 2:  15 - 20 sessions (3 - 6 weeks)

Skin Type 3: 6 - 15 sessions (2 - 5 weeks)

Skin Types 4 up: 6 - 9 sessions (2 - 5 weeks)


Tanned Last Summer + Regular Sessions Since:

Skin Type 2:  8 - 15 sessions (2 - 5 weeks)

Skin Type 3: 6 - 9 sessions (2 - 5 weeks)

Skin Types 4 up: 3 - 6 sessions (1 - 2 weeks)


NOTICE: we do not have any Skin Type 1 listed on here because if you happen to be a Skin Type 1 - YOU CAN NOT TAN!  It's not that we don't want you to pay for tanning and come use our equipment - it's simply that YOUR SKIN will NOT TAN so you will be wasting your money and efforts trying to tan and, you can possibly harm yourself trying.


These are estimates based on how healthy your skin is at the beginning of the tanning process.  Our team members are happy to work out a tanning regimen to fit your specific needs.

Sunburn: It's NOT the same as tanning!

  The medical name for sunburn is erythema. Sunburn occurs when too much energy is absorbed by the skin, causing tiny blood vessels in your skin to burst from excessive sun exposure. The resulting sunburn (which may be experienced as redness, tenderness, itching & pain, followed by peeling, dryness, unevenness, and often increased sensitivity to the affected area) can cause permanent skin damage, and should be avoided at all cost. Many people falsely assume that sunburns 'fade' into tans but this is not the case. Sunburn is an injury in the top layers of the skin.

 Moderate, repeated exposure to UV light in a non-burning fashion can assist the development of a 'base tan'. Thickening the uppermost layers of skin, repeated non-burning exposures following appropriate exposure guidelines has been shown to provide the skin with a natural SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 2-3. To illustrate this with an example- if your skin tends to burn in, say, 15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen, then an SPF2 provides twice the protection- meaning your burn time increases to 30 minutes. Thousands of tanners around the world use this 'base tan' formula- as acquired by a course of moderate indoor tanning- and combined with sensible shade-seeking outdoor behavior and good quality SPF sunscreens- to give them better protection against sunburn in the outdoor environment. So do we! The California Tan SPF range of suntan lotions (which are available by ordering through JAVA Tanning Studio & Contempo Spa) provide a range of protection, combined with luxurious skincare ingredients and added tanning-help boosters (in the SPF15 or less formulas) to let you tan outdoors with a reduced risk of sunburn (not to be used in our sunbeds though).   When it comes to tanning indoors (in sun beds / stand-up booths) you must remember sunburn is an injury to the skin. It is NOT a necessary part of the tanning process! In fact, sunburn will slow down the rate at which you achieve a tan, as your body has to turn its attention to repairing the damage caused by the burn before it can continue the tanning process to get you brown. If you ever burn in an indoor tanning facility, discuss this with the staff there. If they do not seem to be concerned about the health of your skin, or if they don't know that burning is detrimental to your tanning progress, find another place to tan. The Golden Rule of Smart Tanning is: DON'T EVER SUNBURN!!
 

There are risks associated with over-exposure to sunlight. From an aesthetic perspective, over-exposure can lead to skin dryness, which in turn helps the process of wrinkling and aging of the skin along. There is great potential risk to the eyes in relation to exposure to UV light- so it is imperative you wear good, close-fitting eyewear when using a sun bed. In addition, infection can be shared between users of eyewear, the goggles you use must be properly disinfected between you and the last user, since this can be a difficult challenge (as some goggles have crevices) we recommend that you purchase your own pair and clean them regularly. In fact, if a client does not have their own pair of goggles (we offer some for sale) the tanner will NOT BE ALLOWED to use our sun bed/booth without proper eye protection. We also offer Wink-ease disposable eye protection for a minimal cost of .75Cents / pair! That’s a small price to pay to protect your eyes from UV damage! .  The relationship between exposure to UV light and the development of skin cancers is complex. What is agreed is that over-exposure to UV light should be avoided, and that certain groups of people are more sensitive to negative effects. Particularly, skin type 1 people should not ever use a sun bed, and they should be extremely careful during the spring and summer months to avoid over-exposure to sunlight. 

What Does UV Light Do For Me?

Experts believe that exposure to light can treat the condition S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder syndrome, or the 'winter blues'). People may suffer from this syndrome in the winter months, and in the worst cases doctors prescribe expensive, hospital-based UV light treatments. Some doctors recommend their patients use a sun bed to informally treat themselves for this reason- because a few controlled sessions in a sun bed can be just as effective but at a fraction of the price. There are also many different styles of 'light boxes' or light-emitting units available that people use when their location or lifestyle prevents them from having access to much natural light. Dermatologists also use light to treat various non-life-threatening skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema.  
Exposure to light is responsible for keeping our circadian rhythms in check- through the action of the hormone melatonin- produced by the pineal gland. This can be helpful in reducing the effects of jet lag. We know the sun energizes and relaxes us- why else do people cheer up and calm down when the sun comes out? UV light exposure resulting in a natural cosmetic tan also increases our self-confidence and gives a general sense of well-being.

Broad-spectrum chemical sunscreens may prevent many of these beneficial effects of light exposure from occurring through the inhibition of the absorption of UV light. It is important to note that the sun can be fierce and people can sunburn rapidly in this part of the world.  JAVA Tanning Studio & Contempo Spa advocates developing a healthy respect for light, understanding that moderation is the key to balancing the benefits and risks. We advocate moderate exposure for those who can develop a tan, and sunburn avoidance for all.

Protect yourself and your family from sunburn, and don't over-expose your skin to the sun. Have annual skin checks if you are a pale skin type or have a family history of skin cancer. It is virtually impossible to live a life without exposure to the sun, and in fact without any such exposure everything on the planet, including us, would be soon dead.    Over-exposure to UVR is a correlated risk factor for melanoma skin cancer. Everyone should be aware of the amount of sun exposure they receive and ensure their skin never burns. Those at higher risk include skin type 1 persons, those with a family history of the disease and a genetic inability to tan. Remember sun bed tanning should not be attempted by persons with skin type 1. Currently, expert opinion is divided on necessary vitamin D levels for health. If you are unsure about yours, consult your doctor.


    Vitamin D is actually a hormone which is produced by the body in response to exposure to UVB light. It is difficult to get sufficient levels of vitamin D through diet alone.
 

Until recently it was recommended people should get 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day, which is about equivalent to the units made during an average indoor tanning session. A glass of milk, on the other hand, delivers about 100 IU. The issue of daily recommended dosage of vitamin D is currently under debate; with most pro-vitamin D health professionals now upgrading the RDI to 2,000 IU per day.
 

With current food supplies and patterns of eating, it is almost impossible to obtain sufficient vitamin D from the diet alone**.
** See the video at the D-Tan Sunlight Centre facebook page
 

Vitamin D is critical for bone health as it is necessary for our bodies to use calcium effectively. You can drink all the calcium-enriched milk and eat all the cheese you like, but if you don’t have adequate vitamin D in your body, you won't be able to use that extra calcium properly. A deficiency in vitamin D caused by low levels of sun exposure increases the risk of bone diseases such as osteoporosis, osteomalacia and rickets in children. Older people are especially at risk of developing osteoporosis, which leads to an increased risk of fractures from weaker bones. It has been suggested that Vitamin D regulates blood pressure and may help reduce risk of hypertension, stroke, diabetes, heart attack and heart failure. A 2008 study found that people with the highest levels of vitamin D are 21 per cent less likely to die of any cause than people with the lowest.  Vitamin D may also improve insulin production and research has found it to be strongly linked with preventing diabetes. An increase in vitamin D levels in the bloodstream has also been suggested to help lower the risk of several diseases- particularly those caused by abnormal cell growth (e.g. breast, prostate and colon cancer).

You are most at risk of being vitamin D deficient if you are dark-skinned because you need more sun exposure to make vitamin D. Also at risk are the obese (vitamin D gets trapped in layers of fat and doesn't perform as efficiently) or those who get very little sun exposure (people who wear sunscreen at all times, the institutionalized and/or elderly and children who do not receive adequate non-sunscreen sunlight exposure time.)   Are you getting enough VITAMIN D? Regular tanners* make plenty of it, but those who stay out of the sun might be at risk of deficiency. (Interested readers should follow the links in our resources section for more detailed information)


* Vitamin D is made in the skin in response to UVB light- so only sun bed equipment emitting UVB light will produce this effect. Over-exposure to UVR is a known risk factor for basal and squamous cell skin cancers, and is a correlated risk factor for melanoma skin cancer. Everyone should be aware of the amount of UV exposure they receive and ensure their skin never burns.     If you are really interested in this topic of research, we highly recommend you read The UV Advantage, by Dr Michael Holick, professor at Boston University School of Medicine.    Planning on getting your vitamin D outside? Remember this rule-of-thumb: your shadow must be shorter than you to synthesize vitamin D effectively.   JAVA Tanning Studio notes the connections between high levels of vitamin D and low incidence of diseases- while widely reported, are not yet officially sanctioned. Our intention is not to promote the idea that tanning reduces the incidence of disease. We couch the above comments around the essential advice to all people that sensible sun exposure practices must be employed to reduce your risks of over-exposure to UV light, and this opinion piece should not be viewed as a claim that sun bed use offers health benefits.  

Why Should I Use An Indoor Tanning Lotion?

It can be easy to assume that a tanning lotion is not necessary when using a tanning bed. You might not even want to bother lathering up, but it all comes down to keeping your skin protected and to the kind of results you want to achieve!  Indoor tanning lotions protect and nourish your skin for a better and longer lasting tan. Not only will using them help you reach a darker, more radiant tan, but they will also improve your skin overall. 


Indoor tanning lotions contain a plethera of nutrients that are vital for the skin, with hydrating particles that keep your skin tight, wrinkle-free and prevent it from becoming dry and itchy.  Keep in mind that dry skin reflects UV light, so if you are not using an indoor tanning lotion, you can be wasting up to 50% of your tanning session!


Using a salon quality tanning lotion will help you tan faster and helps your tan last longer. UV light has a drying effect on the skin so using lotions designed for indoor tanning will help put back moisture lost in the tanning process. The better condition your skin is in, the more readily it will perform as nature intended, producing melanin in response to UV exposure, resulting in a natural, healthy-looking tan.  


Using a lotion can help you see results 60% faster, and it will also help you keep a healthy skin. It is recommended always to choose a professional tanning lotion instead of a commercial, over-the-counter one, as those don’t have the same effectiveness and ingredients to maximize your tanning results and extend its life.  (Please check in-salon for a list of BANNED LOTIONS).


The active ingredients in tanning lotions are the building blocks of melanin- amino acids, L-tyrosine etc. As the lotion is absorbed by the skin, these ingredients feed the melanin-producing cells to give faster tanning results. Lotions maintain skin condition & minimize dry skin cells to avoid the tan flaking off sooner. Anyone who has used a good tanning lotion will know how important it is to use one every time you tan, for the look of your tan, and for your results. 


Tanning without lotion is like showering without soap! Now, you wouldn’t do that, would you?   


There is another vital reason that you should use tanning lotion every time you tan. The premium antioxidant ingredients in specialty accelerator lotions have the ability to stop any free radical activity in your skin cells. Free radicals will lead to premature ageing, skin wrinkling, and can contribute to the development of skin cancer. 


Antioxidants are your best friend when it comes to your health- they can be taken orally or topically and in this case they can help protect your skin from the dangers of these unwanted UV-exposure side effects. 


Tanning with lotions is quite simply a more sensible way to tan.   


Not all lotions are created equal!  Outdoor lotions have SPF to protect you from overexposure to the UV from the sun.  These lotions are NOT ALLOWED in our tanning equipment as they damage the acrylics!  (Again, please see our posted list of BANNED LOTIONS in-salon).    

Some Facts About the Skin

Your skin is your body's largest organ. Skin covers the entire body and protects you from sunlight, heat and cold, infections, toxins and injury. It weighs about six pounds, and is made up of millions of cells, divided into two layers. The outer layer is the epidermis, and the inner layer is called the dermis. 


The epidermis contains a defense mechanism designed to protect skin against over-exposure to UV light which can result in sunburn. This occurs by a biological process called 'melanogenesis'. We call it 'tanning'.    When skin is exposed to UV light, melanocytes in the epidermis produce melanin, a pigment which gives skin and hair its natural color. Melanin pigment absorbs UV radiation, turning it into heat and protecting the skin cells against sunburn. The more melanin pigment you have & produce, the darker your skin. The amount of melanin pigment you have depends on your skin type, which is determined by your genetic background and your skin's history of UV exposure.   


Psoriasis   The word 'psoriasis' is the ancient Greek word for 'itch'. Psoriasis affects 50 million people worldwide, mostly adults, and the symptoms can be extremely distressing. The symptoms of psoriasis are usually raised patches of thick, red skin covered with silvery scales. Medical research shows that UV light (sunlight) significantly improves psoriasis and other similar skin conditions like eczema.  Dermatologists often prescribe 'light treatment' to patients with these conditions; this treatment is usually administered in a concentrated dose of narrowband UVB- similar to the UVB light available in tanning equipment.  Many people have experienced fast and remarkable improvement in their psoriasis condition by following a moderate and highly supervised course of indoor tanning. In fact, many of them have been referred to tanning by their GP or dermatologist as indoor tanning at an excellent tanning salon is a much cheaper way to get results for psoriasis than expensive medical treatments.  


Worried About A Sunbed's Effect On Your Skin?   We often hear sweeping & unfounded statements such as "sun beds are 10 times worse than the sun". But what does that even mean? We know that sunlight is necessary for survival on this planet. 


Excessive exposure to UV light has been found to contribute to non-melanoma skin cancers, which are easily treated and rarely fatal. Excessive exposure is also correlated with melanoma skin cancer, so taking a vigilant approach makes sense. Protect yourself and your family from sunburn, and don't over-expose your skin to the sun. Have annual skin checks if you are a pale skin type or have a family history of skin cancer. It is virtually impossible to live a life without exposure to the sun, and in fact without any such exposure everything on the planet, including us, would be soon dead.
 

So we know that we must respect UV light and take a moderate approach to our exposure to balance the risks and benefits. Research into the UV radiation outputs of different light-emitting devices- including the sun and sun beds- show that the "new era tanning lamps" we use at JAVA Tanning  Studio  actually emit UV light in a more positive spectrum than the sun itself. Or indeed than the equipment that is used to deliver medical UV light doses and to test sunscreen efficacy. 


New era lamps like these are found in most modern pieces of tanning equipment available at excellent indoor tanning salons like ours.