Frequently Asked Questions
This area is set up to answer frequently asked questions and give you tips and advice on tanning, spray tanning, and infared heat wrapping. Of course if your question isn't answered here, please call the salon and talk to one of our Master Smart Tan certified team members.
Q: Why should I use a tanning lotion in a tanning bed?
Exposure to UV-rays, whether indoors in a tanning bed or outside in the sun, is a stress factor for the skin and can have a drying effect. To maintain health-looking skin and develop a beautiful tan, it is important to use a lotion that provides essential moisturized, plus nutrients and antioxidants that help counteract the environmental stress caused by UV-rays. Lotions also help to smooth the surface layers or the skin to allow greater UV penetration for improved tanning results. Specially formulated indoor tanning lotions, like those made by California Tan, also provide advanced tanning technologies to aid the skin in developing a faster, darker tan.

Q:What is “high-pressure” tanning, and how does it differ from low-pressure?
The essential difference between standard and high pressure tanning systems is the type of bulbs the can use. Instead of the fluorescent tubular bulbs used in standard units, high pressure equipment uses quartz bulbs to vary their UV output. The technology is called high-pressure because the lamps are manufactured under extreme high pressure compared t0 conventional low-pressure tanning tubes.
UV light is divided into A, B, and C rays based on their frequencies. UVC rays range from 200-290 nanometers (NM), UVB rays range from 290-320 NM, and UVA rays range from 320-400 NM. The division between UVB and UVC at 290 NM was made because wavelengths shorter than 290 NM from the sun do not reach the earth’s surface. UVC rays are so dangerous that if they were to reach the earth’s surface much of the plant life would be unable to survive, thus affecting our oxygen levels. This penetration of UVC rays is responsible for the scare associated with the depletion of our ozone layer. The division between UVB and UVA at 320 NM marks the upper wavelength which is most strongly erythemogenic (sunburning). UVB light is often referred to as the sunburn spectrum, as it is most responsible for burning. With high-pressure tanning, a series of filters in the lamps removes the undesirable and most dangerous radiation (UVB light), so that only UVA waves longer than 340 NM reach the body. These wavelengths are considered among the best for indoor tanning because they are the least likely wavelengths to cause sunburning and pre-mature aging. The risk of burning is 350% less likely on a high-pressure sunbed than on a conventional low-pressure bed.
Ultrasonic lamps generate over 20 times the UVA output of low-pressure tanning tubes, making them very effective in producing a rich golden tan in just a few minutes. High pressure lamps can range from 1000 to 2000 watts allowing people to establish a base tan through UVA exposure in as few as 3 sessions. Comparatively, wattage of standard lamps range from 100 to 162 watts. In addition, the ultrasonic lamps contain no UVB light so the risk of burning has been eliminated.

Q: How do we TAN?
The degree to which you are able to tan is determined by your body’s ability to produce melanin. Melanin is a pigment that is found in the skin – except for the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and lips. Melanin is produced through cells called melanocytes. Differences in skin color and degrees of tanning are attributed to the amount of melanin the cells can produce. The actual tanning process, whether using indoor tanning equipment or tanning outdoor in the sun, begins when the melanocytes are stimulated by ultraviolet (UV) light. Exposure to UVB stimulates the melanocytes and leads to the formation of pigment granules. Exposure to UVA oxidizes the pigment causing the skin to tan. Tanning occurs in two phases. The first phase is IPD or Immediate Pigment Darkening. This is most noticeable in darker skinned individuals who have a higher degree of melanin already present in their skin. IPD may fade quickly after the first tanning sessions. As exposure times increase, the IPD will last longer. (Not all skin types experience IPD.) The actual biosynthesis of melanin in the skin requires 3 to 8 days to develop. Accordingly, phase two of the tanning process is known as Delayed Tanning. As your tanning sessions continue in accordance with the schedule for your skin type, a steady migration to the skin’s surface of newly formed, darkened pigment begins. This allows you to maintain your tan with just one or two sessions per week. The calculated combination of UVA and UVB administered in accordance with exposure schedule for your skin type allows the tanning process to occur within the controlled environment of the tanning system.

Q: Why does a tan fade?
Cells in the epidermis are constantly reproducing and pushing older cells upward toward the surface of your skin, where they are sloughed off in about one month. As your skin replaces its cells, the cells laden with melanin are removed. So the tanning process must continue with the new cells.