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Skip the salon and tan outside

Jul. 19, 2017
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Let’s face it: there are obvious advantages to getting your tan on at a salon instead of outdoors. For one thing, it feels great to be able to tan whenever you like. (And there’s no beating the soft Sci-Fi space vibe you get from being in the tanning bed.) But it’s summer--which means it’s time to take advantage of the sunny scene and get some vitamin D by making your deck or backyard into your own mini tanning salon! 

Here are some items you will need (and some you might want) to safely get some color at home:


You might feel comfortable tanning nude at home, but if you don’t, choose swimwear that facilitates your goals. For instance, I like to get as melanated as possible on as much of my body as possible, so I tan in a bikini. 

If you don’t mind tan lines--or you’re not so concerned with matching your belly or upper thighs to the rest of your body--you’ll be fine tanning in some swim shorts, a halterkini, or one-piece. 

Lounge Gear

Grab a beach or regular towel to lay down on your deck, patio, or ground. For more comfort, get a sturdy tanning chair on the cheap. You may also want to invest in a privacy screen. (I have my own outside deck, but I’ve definitely made a privacy screen tying a bedsheet to the fencing. You do you, boo.)


Depending on your skin color, safely tanning might mean being #melanated, getting a little bronze, and/or gaining some (or many) freckles! But regardless of your skin color and tanning goals, it’s essential that you use sunscreen to avoid gradual but excessive skin damage and sunburn. 

You need a sunscreen that protects against UVB (sunburn--ouch!) and UVA rays (can result in skin cancer--potential KO!), so consider that in addition to time spent outside. Sunscreen will protect you for a few hours, give or take some time depending on your propensity to burn. However, you do not need to spend hours outside to safely get more color. 

Fifteen to 30 minutes on each side is good enough for any skin color. If you’re lighter, consider keeping it closer to 15 minutes. If you’re darker, you can stay out longer than 30 minutes without burning (UVB rays) but that doesn’t mean you won’t get other skin damage (UVA rays). The results from one tanning session can take a few hours to a few days to show. 

Just for Fun

It’s nice to listen to the breeze, passersby, and other sounds outside while you tan, but if you’d rather something more stimulating, well, you’ve got options!

Pass the time by putting some of your favorite music on. You can read a book, but if you’re worried about getting weird tan lines from holding the book up, you can always listen to your book on CD or through online audio (library, Audible). Or podcast it! When I tan, I like to listen to Last Name Basis and Where I Stay

Be Patient and Replenish

Whenever you’re done getting your sun in, make sure to drink some water and apply a moisturizer directly after tanning to rehydrate and soothe your parched skin. The results from one tanning session can take a few hours to a few days to show. To maintain tan and minimize damage, have two 15-to-30-minute tanning sessions a week. Spending hours outside trying to get it all at once is no good. Use sunscreen, be patient--and have fun!