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Tanning lotion vs SPF - what should I be using?

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To tan or not to tan: that is the question, and the answer is obvious. (To tan, duh.)

Whether basking in the summer rays or taking a 12 minute holiday, there is no question that a golden glow will always be the most coveted shade of birthday suit. 

However where for many a sun kissed glow is the goal, come winter or summer, the general understanding of how best to attain the perfect bronze is unclear. 

"Should I wear an SPF if I tan indoors?"

"I know it says this is for indoor tanning, but can I use this instead of an SPF in the summer? I want to tan quickly."

SPFs and indoor tanning lotions have completely different properties. It's time that this is made clear!



 SPFs are very self explanatory and their predominant use is common knowledge. As Sun Protection Factors, they (surprisingly,) protect your skin from UV irradiation. They do this by performing as a barrier between the sun's rays and your skin, ensuring that your UV exposure is limited, and protecting you from burning. 


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However, even though this is common knowledge during the summer, as soon as the sun goes in, the SPF comes off and many people leave their skin unprotected from the elements. SPFs really are the perfect outdoor skin protection all year round to prevent damage from not only the sun, but the wind, rain and snow too.


There is only one place where SPFs have a negative impact. It is sometimes believed that applying SPF before using an indoor tanning bed will protect skin from burning. However the time spent on a bed is limited, meaning that the UV exposure is controlled, unlike during outdoor sun exposure. Therefore burning is a lot less likely when using a sunbed. Plus, now that 0.3 regulations have been put in place, sunbeds are unable to emit more powerful UV irradiation than the midday Mediterranean sun. So bearing in mind the limited time spent on a bed, applying SPF lotions will do nothing but block the rays that you have gone onto a sunbed to absorb. They can also be detrimental to the actual tanning bed and harm the acrylics, as SPFs are not designed for indoor tanning.


Overall, when spending time outdoors, no matter the time of year SPFs are brilliant skin protection. However their domaine is outdoor tanning. 


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Indoor tanning lotions


Indoor tanning lotions are just as self-explanatory as SPFs, and just like SPFs, create a fantastic tan when used correctly. 


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By using an indoor tanning lotion, you stimulate the production of melanin in the skin, allowing for a deeper, more developed tan. Lotions also keep skin nourished and moisturised whilst under the lamps, ensuring skin stays healthy - Healthy, hydrated skin is the quickest way to a golden tan. Indoor lotions typically contain a lovely blend of vitamins, natural oils, minerals, anti-oxidants, natural botanical extracts, and aloe vera. All of this will give your skin the extra moisture needed to achieve a deeper tan that will last longer than a tan founded on dry, dull skin. Plus, dry skin reflects UV light, wasting up to 50% of your tanning session by not allowing the radiation to work with your melanin.


However unlike SPFs, indoor lotions can also be used outdoor, as long as they are used WITH an SPF. The lotion will work in the same way as it would on a tanning bed, by stimulating the melanin and also keeping skin rejuvenated, however the SPF will protect against the longer, less controlled exposure to sunlight.


If thinking of using a tanning lotion alongside your SPF, we recommend applying an accelerator such as our classic bestseller, Dark Tanning Accelerator


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