A base tan is almost like a form of natural sunscreen. The idea behind a base tan is that it is more difficult to get a sunburn if there is already some tan coloring present. Tanning in stages allows the skin to heal fully in between sessions. Instead of getting too much sun at once and risking a burn, it is better to tan gradually so the color can build.
When the skin is exposed to sunlight or sun lamps, it produces melanin, the substance that gives skin its color. It forms a protective layer around skin cells, preventing them from being damaged by harmful ultraviolet rays. Tanning is a positive cycle that creates more melanin each time, making the skin more resistant to burning the tanner it gets. Tanning also releases keratin, which makes the skin thicker and less susceptible to physical and elemental damage.
The best way to build a base tan is in a salon over the course of several sessions. Trained spa technicians are able to customize the tanning experience so that each client is getting the exact amount of color that her skin can handle. In a tanning bed, it is possible to control light exposure and intensity in ways that cannot be managed outdoors in natural light. Some people like to start in five- or 10-minute sessions so they can see how their skin reacts to UV exposure. As their skin gets darker and their resistance to burning increases, they extend the lengths of their sessions little by little. For every five minutes that someone is able to spend tanning without burning, the skin’s SPF goes up by a factor of one. Therefore, someone who tans in 10-minute sessions essentially has SPF 2 built into her skin.
A major benefit of having a strong base tan is that it increases the effectiveness of sunscreen. When someone applies sunblock with a high SPF over base tan, the SPF is multipied by the natural SPF that the skin accumulated in earlier salon sessions. This method of combining sunblock with a base tan is a great way to keep skin healthy and protected during the summer months.
God bless and make it a great day!