Skin Deco

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tanning 101: Outdoor + Indoor + Sunless

Oh yes. This post is like two months late. In fact, I was about to give up on it altogether because well, tanning is really a Summer thing. Even I've been feeling out of it. However, the weather these days being brain-boiling hot, made me realize that we have "Summer" practically all year long in Malaysia so 'ere goes!

I will be covering activities and products that I use to achieve a tanned complexion including outdoor tanning, indoor tanning and sunless tanning.

I'm not gonna bore you with the same introductions as I've explained in some previous tanning-related posts that I prefer being tanned over fair. Though I naturally have a medium skin tone, I wanted to be more tanned and have an even skin tone that looks less sallow.

These are some of the products that I use for outdoor tanning, indoor tanning and sunless tanning.

All the methods that I mention in this post are based on my own personal experience and may not be completely accurate. Also, please note that both outdoor and indoor tanning expose your skin to harmful UV rays. Tanning will cause photo-damage (pigmentation, wrinkles, dryness, etc.) even though you do it in a controlled environment and within a restricted amount of time. Of course, the damages will be more intense if you tan excessively and also if you do not practice proper tanning skin care.

Outdoor Tanning


Even if you don't have any intentions to tan, you will still tan. Unless you're wrapped-up like a mummy, sitting under a huge umbrella with a huge hat and huge shades.
My tip is to first apply a tanning lotion which will help to moisturize your skin as it tans while promoting a more even color. After that, slather on a waterproof sunblock and reapply every 2-3 hours.

If you're looking to actually tan lying down on a mat, do it in the morning (before 12pm) when the sun rays are less intense. Also, keep your sessions to a maximum of 15 minutes a day. Applying a tanning lotion first will again, help to moisturize and give you a more even color. On more delicate areas such as your face or areas that you don't want to have tanned, apply sunblock. Make sure to wear tanning goggles or at least sunglasses because direct sunlight to your eyes can be very harmful and the rays can even penetrate your eyelids so closing your eyes as you tan doesn't really work.

After tanning, liberally apply body lotion or body cream to moisturize your skin.


If you're not bothered by your neighbors staring at you thinking you're a crazy person, you can tan at the balcony! Depending on your level of comfort, you can choose to tan in your bikini or in my case, a long tube top with shorts. The best time to tan is before noon so make sure your balcony has direct sunlight. Allow yourself to tan for only 20 minutes a day. Your tan will gradually deepen as you do this everyday. As mentioned before, apply tanning lotion prior to tanning, sunblock on sensitive areas and moisturize after tanning.

Indoor Tanning

This is basically tanning with a tanning bed. Tanning salons are rare in Malaysia and the only one that I know of is Fabulous Tan in Mid Valley. After a consultation, I signed up for a 7-session level one student package for RM180. I'm not sure of the regular prices though. There are several types (or should I say levels) of tanning beds. If you're new to tanning, you'd need to go for the level one bed to build up your base tan.

The first few times you tan is to develop your base tan, most likely you will not see much difference in your skin tone but once your base tan is developed, your skin will tan more easily. Generally, people with naturally fair skin may take a while to develop their base tan and thus, may need to tan more often to achieve a deep color. However, keep in mind that this also means that the risk of skin damage will be higher.

Indoor tanning can be considered as tanning in a more controlled environment because the light bulbs used and machine build is focused to help you achieve darker skin but with less sun damage compared to the unfiltered sun. The same as outdoor tanning, a tanning lotion should be applied liberally prior to tanning. Don't forget to apply a lip balm with SPF and also wear the tanning goggles provided. If you have sensitive eyes, you may wanna consider buying your own goggles to avoid infection from sharing. Because I tan in the nude, I also apply sunscreen to my nipples.

I visit the tanning salon every 2 weeks or so and each session is for 20 minutes. I'm personally not comfortable with tanning too often and if you follow my frequency, you're gonna tan rather slowly. After a session, it would take about 5 hours for the color to develop and I was advised to allow 4 hours before showering. Keeping your skin moisturized and, from what I was told, drinking carrot juice will help your tan last longer.

Do check out Fabulous Tan for more info.
(Self promotion alert!) Please quote my membership number (M600852) and name if you do sign up! Referral program :D

Tanning lotions that I've tried:

MySun Shocking Tan with Bronzer

I purchased this from Fabulous Tan for RM149 (I think) and it should be good for about 8 to 10 sessions.
The amber-colored fluid gel-like lotion is lightweight and absorbs readily. This color in particular is meant to promote a rosier complexion which really works to neutralize the yellow of my skin. It develops quite an even tan and I do get a reasonable amount of color after about two sessions. The coconut-y scent fades to be somewhat soothing after a few hours.

Squeeze Lime'n da Coconut

This one's more of a lotion (think body lotion) and smells incredible. It doesn't have those nauseating coconut scents probably because of the counteracting lime scent. Very refreshing! I haven't used this enough with the tanning bed to know how well it helps to develop the tan but I know it's an excellent moisturizer and I suppose if you're an outdoorsy person, you can treat this as a body lotion to help you get a tan as you're exposed to the sun.
I bought mine from EBay for USD$22.95

There are different types of tanning lotions and you can read more about them on iamTan. The forum has a great support group for anyone who's interested to know more about tanning.

Sunless Tanning

Sunless tanning is well, tanning without the sun. This is by-far the quickest and most effective method to achieve a quick tan safely, provided that you're diligent and can find the right self-tanner.
Self-tanners contain ingredients that promote skin darkening including DHA. I've mentioned in a previous post how the self-tanner that I was using kinda smelled like cow's pee (according to The Boy)? That would be the DHA smell and it's quite inescapable from most self-tanners.

"DHA is scientifically known as dihydroxyacetone and is classified as a 3-carbon sugar. When applied to skin, a chemical reaction occurs between amino acids and the dead surface cells to produce a brown color, or tan. It is important to note that DHA does not damage skin, it only affects the outermost cells of the epidermis causing no long-term ill effects (unless a skin allergy is discovered, which has been only rarely reported). DHA carries less health risks than any other tanning method, achieving a tan without sun exposure and UV rays which have been linked to multiple skin problems and diseases. DHA is considered safe enough to be approved for cosmetic application by the FDA, and is considered nontoxic and noncarcinogenic. However, while DHA does provide some minimal, short-lived protection against UV rays, it should not be a substitute for an SPF sunscreen." -- The Tanning Store

I'm currently using (actually, I haven't been for 2 months) the Banana Boat Summer Color Self-Tanning Lotion in Deep Dark Color for my body and Scott Barnes Self-Tan Mist for my face.

Banana Boat is the typical lotion type but it's tinted, which I like because I can see where I've applied the self-tanner. Out of all my self-tanners, this one smells the least of cow's pee nor does it have a very strong fragrance.

Scott Barnes is a clear, slightly golden liquid that comes in a spray bottle. It's lightweight so I usually apply it after my skin care and under makeup. DHA smell becomes detectable after 30 minutes.

Using a tip as suggested by Picturesque Makeup, I apply the Banana Boat lotion using a kabuki brush so that the coverage would be more even and I won't have to dirty/stain my hands.

I wish it was just as easy as misting and leaving it be with the Scott Barnes mist, but it isn't. The spray nozzle isn't very fine so the liquid would splash out in blotches. Therefore, I'd have to blend and massage the liquid in using surgical gloves after spritzing.

The Banana Boat lotion is easy to apply, absorbs quickly and no sticky feeling! An additional huge plus comes from the color. Not yellow at all and the color develops almost immediately. Unfortunately, it doesn't last very long! Maybe just a few days so you'd have to reapply regularly.

The Scott Barnes mist absorbs quickly and doesn't feel sticky at all however, the color becomes most noticeable only after three usages and it gives off a slightly yellowish tint. On the other hand, the lasting power is quite impressive.

Other self-tanners that I've tried:

Bain de Soleil Mega Tan

I hate the super artificial and sweet coconut scent enough to not wanna use it on my face anymore even if though it contains some SPF. It's annoying that the lotion is white and gives no immediate coloration so it's hard to tell where I've applied the lotion. Besides, it's not developing much of a tan for me

L'Oreal Sublime

There's a full review here. I like this product a lot at first but the more I used it, the stronger the smell of the DHA. Also, it left a rather strong yellow tint on my skin.

Sunless Tanning -- Make Up

You can fake a one-day tan with make-up if you're just looking to be tanned for say, a special occasion.

Sporting a fake make-up tan at the Hugo Boss Bottled Night launch event. I'm like the bologna sandwiched between two gorgeous pieces of white bread...

One way is to use a bronzing liquid that temporarily tints your skin until you wash it off with soap. The one that I have is the Ben Nye Bronzing Body Tint, purchased for USD$4/2oz. from Stage Supply.

I thought it'd be a product that I'd really like but it didn't turn out as so. The liquid evaporates way too fast, making it so difficult to pick up the product, let alone blend it in. It also feels very sticky and the tint has a tendency of rubbing off (literally) leaving the skin with ugly discolored patches and streaks.

I've tried using a synthetic kabuki brush, a sponge and my bare hands but with little luck.

Which was quite pity because the tint has the ability to darken the skin by at least two tones.

I still find actual make-up to be most effective in achieving a one-day tan. Click for the tutorial!


Hayley said...

Looking tanned can be cool! I guess it pretty much depends on the person.. But if to let me choose, I'll still prefer looking fair, LOL.

Have a nice day Connie!

Miu said...

u really are the queen of tanning! no wonder so many products, maybe one day will try, i find tanned skin yummy & sexy.

Connie De Alwis said...

Hayley: I'm pretty sure 99% of Malaysian women would rather be fair than tanned!
Thanks, dear :)

Miu: Tanning products are hard to come by over here so I'm all for trying those that I can have access to

Paris B said...

If anyone looks better tanned, YOU do! And you look amazing anyways ;)

Kahani said...

White bread? *rotfl*

But you do look absolutely gorgeous tanned. =D

Askmewhats said...

You seriously look super sexy and gorgeous tanned! :)

phatgurl said...

Hi, saw you in the sun today. nice & useful blog u have here. keep it up ;-)

xin said...

i think u look good with tanned skin! after the bali trip, instead of looking tanned, i look black! damn. should have apply tanning lotion so at least i looked better

Connie De Alwis said...

ParisB: Hehe, thanks babe! I do feel more comfortable being tanned. I'm pale enough as it is what with the colorless lips. But my new hair color's making me look quite fair :(

Kahani: Just saying it as I see it :P Thanks, dearie.

Nikki: Thanks, sweetie *blushes* :)

Connie De Alwis said...

Phatgurl: Thank you! Hope to see you here more often then ;) Enjoy the posts!

Xin: Aw, thank you :) I agree that tanning lotion will help the color develop nicer. Just more even and less "charred"

yummy411 said...

Fab review per usual and you look great!

Connie De Alwis said...

Kia: Thank you! Haven't talked to you in a long time. Missed you!

❤ Ee Von said...

gosh i super love your tan! i would love to be tanned too but the damage is scaring me away... :( i dunno la. but great to know there's a salon here midvalley some more quite accessible :)

Connie De Alwis said...

Ee Von: Lol! now you know why I keep moaning that I look fairer :p Self-tanners are definitely the safest way la. if you're diligent enough, it really works but I've been so laaazzzyyy!!

Eli said...

Mum peeped over my shoulder and commented that she loves your tan.

You should follow me for field work! We get tanned after a day of work whether we like it or not.

Connie De Alwis said...

Eli: Thanks, Eli's mum! hehe. Yes, I don't get much sun at all besides walking about on campus :P Even so, I wear short sleeves and knee-length pants most of the time so I have tanned arms and shins with fair shoulders, chest and thighs

Anonymous said...

Dear Connie,

I have recently opened a spa, The London Orchid, British Beauty Therapy Spa in Damansara Heights, we do SunLabs and Naked Tan, Spray Tans and Elemis Total Glow Safe Tanning treatment.
You are more than welcome to come and try them out, just give me a call on +6 03 20956009. Thanks,
Warm Regards,
Leagha McMahon

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<3 Connie

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