Why do people use a reflector when tanning? It’s because any part of you that’s in shadow won’t tan the same as the parts exposed to full sunlight. That’s the reason why you have to turn over if you want to tan your back. Unless, of course, you use a reflective blanket for tanning. And that’s just one of the new tanning secrets we have for you.
Before we begin, we feel obligated to tell you that sun reflector tanning can be dangerous. Have you ever been sunburned at the pool or when swimming in the ocean? It gets pretty intense when you’re out under the sun and the UV rays bounce off the water and reflect onto your skin, multiplying their effect. If you intend to try using an outdoor tanning reflector, please start with brief sessions of 15 minutes or less until you see how your skin reacts. Remember that you won’t see the redness of a sunburn until it’s too late.
How to tan with a reflective blanket
Before you go outdoors, slather on tanning lotion or moisturizer to help keep your skin hydrated. Moisturized skin tends more easily and retains its color longer.
It’s best to do reflective tanning before noon and after 4 PM to avoid frying your skin like bacon.
It’s also a good idea to use sunscreen instead of tanning lotion, especially if you have pale skin. Yes, you can tan through sunscreen – more on that in a moment.
Take the reflective blanket and spread it where you’re going to lay out, whether on a tanning chair or the grass. Then stretch out and relax, it’s that simple.
Still, any part of you that’s in shadow won’t tan as well, so you’ll probably have to roll over halfway through. Keep an eye on the clock and don’t go past 15 minutes your first time out. Then wait two days for the tan to settle in. It takes a while for melanin production to ramp up and give you that sun-kissed glow.
If you plan to make this a regular habit, we recommend a durable tanning blanket like this one below. Surprisingly, it doesn’t get toasty hot to the touch and it’s also a handy addition to a survival kit, so the purchase isn’t a complete waste even if you decide that reflective tanning isn’t for you.
SE Survivor Series Thermal Reflective Emergency Blanket
This heavy-duty survival blanket is high visibility orange on one side and aluminized polyethylene on the other. It’s this second reflective side that’s designed to keep you warm in case you’re stranded in the snow. However, it can also serve as a reflective blanket for tanning.
Unlike the cheap mylar blankets found in many survival kits, it’s made to be reused. The material is waterproof and has ripstop seams. There are even reinforced grommets so that you can stake it to the ground and it won’t blow away.
It measures 60 inches wide by 82 inches long, making it big enough for pretty much everyone to enjoy. Still, it weighs less than a pound and a half
Besides using it for tanning, people have found it helpful as a ground cover at music festivals and outdoor events. The bright color of the non-reflective side makes it really easy to see at twilight.
But there is a cheaper option.
EVERLIT Emergency Mylar Thermal Blanket
You might already have something like this at home if you have a go bag for emergencies. It’s a thin, lightweight sheet of shiny silver mylar that weighs about 2 ounces. It folds up small enough to put in a pocket and opens up to 52 inches wide by 82 inches long.
The blanket is made to reflect up to 90% of your body heat back to you. It also reflects UV rays so it can serve as a tanning blanket.
The material is waterproof but not very durable. It’s also so lightweight it may blow away in a light breeze. But you can always cut it up into strips and hang them in the garden to keep birds off the plants.
If it doesn’t work for you, it’s covered by a 1-your satisfaction warranty.
How to tan with sunscreen
There are very good reasons why people lecture about tanning outdoors. Sunburn is painful and annoying, but it’s a sign that your skin is injured. Then it peels, and that’s aggravating, too.
However, there is a long-term problem with tanning whether you do it indoors or outside. Repeated UV exposure breaks down collagen and that causes premature aging, or photo-aging. People who spend a lot of time outdoors are more prone to wrinkles, age spots, and crepey skin.
The worst consequence of tanning is cancer. Most of us know someone who’s had to have a biopsy or chunks of skin removed. Maybe you even know someone who died from melanoma.
If you’re going to spend time outdoors catching rays, please wear sunscreen. At a minimum, it cuts your risk of sunburn, photo-aging, and cancer. Also, tan when the UV level isn’t so high. It may take longer to bronze yourself at UV 5 instead of UV 9, but you’re less likely to suffer for it.
Rub in some of this delicious-smelling dry oil before you lay out.
Hawaiian Tropic Dry Oil Tanning Spray, SPF 6
Hawaiian Tropic sells straight tanning oil with no sunscreen, plus it offers products with a variety of protection levels. One of the lowest is SPF 6, which is what this dry oil provides.
Let’s take a detour for a moment and explain SPF. Ever wonder how scientists decide on this number? It has to do with butts. Seriously, volunteers expose their never-before-tanned skin to UV light and the results are rated depending on how long it takes for the skin to redden, then burn. Ouch! (1)
SPF 6 means you should have approximately 6 times longer to enjoy the sun without burning than you would without sunscreen. If you usually burn after 20 minutes, then theoretically you should have 2 hours of protection. But don’t get too excited yet – remember that you have to put on enough sunscreen. That’s like a full shot glass for an adult person’s body. And if you sweat, swim, or towel off, you need to reapply. (But in the water, the sunscreen should last up to 80 minutes. Plus, it’s reef-friendly so it doesn’t poison corals or wildlife).
Okay, back to the sunscreen. Why this instead of something else? First, it’s made with coconut oil for tanning and moisturizing the skin. Second, the gel-like consistency isn’t as greasy as you’d expect from something with the name “oil”. Third, other ingredients like papaya and passionfruit provide antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals that contribute to sun damage.
Lastly, if you’ll be doing activities outdoors for an extended time, remember that the American Cancer Society recommends at least SPF30 to protect fair skin. SPF 6 is more suitable for persons with dark skin.
What’s a good lotion for reflective tanning?
In the past, people used mineral oil or coconut oil when tanning outdoors. But this is kind of like using oil to fry beef. It concentrates the UV rays so much that it’s easy to burn the skin.
Modern tanning lotion like the one below stimulates melanin production while protecting the skin from dehydration and premature aging.
This is not a sunscreen. It will not keep you safe from sunburn. It could even up your risk of skin cancer down the road. But if you’d really like to try tanning lotion to see if it gets you darker faster, this one’s very popular.
Australian Gold Rapid Tanning Intensifier Lotion
Did you know that indoor tanning lotion can’t have mineral oil or other greasy, heavy oils in it? It’s because oil damages the acrylic of the tanning bed. Tanning accelerators like this lotion are typically oil-free so they can be used for indoor tanning. Nevertheless, you can also enjoy it for tanning outside.
It’s formulated to maintain hydration and it leaves the skin extra smooth and soft. What’s more, the vegan formula is infused with kakadu plum, aloe, and banana to protect against free radicals that cause wrinkles and age spots.
There’s even the Biosine Complex with tyrosine and melanin to stimulate pigment production and accelerate tanning. Happily, it’s paraben-free and cruelty-free.
What is the safest way to tan?
Instead of risking sunburn, skin cancer, and wrinkles, there’s an easier and safer way to tan. It’s not the same as laying out, but it’s pleasant in its own way. Even better, it doesn’t take long to develop a beautiful bronze. Within hours, you can look like you went on vacation. It’s a lot faster than sunbathing.
St. Tropez Self Tan Express Starter Kit
We highly recommend self-tanning. The best sunless tanning products don’t streak or turn orange. St. Tropez is favored by Kim Kardashian and other celebrities. (Even if you don’t love her, you’ve got to admire her flawless appearance).
Unlike spray tanning in a salon, you can do self-tanning at home. It only takes a few minutes to apply. And this express tanning mousse only takes one hour to develop a light golden color. However, if you leave it on for longer, you get a deeper tan.
The starter kit is perfect for people who’ve never tried sunless tanning or who want to take it with them when they travel. The package comes with the mousse and an applicator mitt.
You don’t have to use the mitt to apply the product, but try it because it keeps your hands from getting stained and it makes for rapid, even application. You can wash the mitt and reuse it, too.
How do you self tan? On the day before or on the morning of the day you intend to tan, exfoliate and shave. You need to leave several hours so that the pores will close or they will absorb the product and turn into dark speckles. The exfoliation is to make sure that there are no dry patches to soak up extra product because those will turn dark as well. (If you’re worried about elbows, knuckles, ankles, or kneecaps feeling extra dry, rub a little moisturizer and let it absorb before you use the mousse).
Apply the mousse in sections. It has a little tint to use as guide color see you can see where you’ve put it. Use the mitt to swipe the backs of your hands last and wash your palms and fingertips if you’ve gotten any product on them.
The sweet-smelling mousse dries within minutes so that you can dress. Don’t worry, the color won’t rub off on clothing.
We like self-tanning at night before bed because we wake up bronzed and don’t have to worry about sweating or showering for several hours.
That’s crucial: after you’ve gotten a spray tan or self-tanned, you can’t get wet for a few hours because the product needs to stay on the skin. The active ingredient is DHA (dihydroxyacetone), a type of sugar, and it browns the skin by interacting with the protein. (As a result of this chemical process, you might notice a slight odor that fades gradually over the next few hours. It reminds us of tanning and we actually kind of like it).
In conclusion, the sunless tanning mousse is paraben-free, vegan, and made with clean ingredients. The color should last for at least 4 and up to 10 days.
Here’s a quick summary of the tanning products we reviewed above:
|SE Survivor Series Extra Heavy-Duty Thermal Reflective Emergency Blanket||
|EVERLIT Emergency Mylar Thermal Blanket||
|Hawaiian Tropic Dry Oil Tanning Spray||
|Australian Gold Rapid Tanning Intensifier Lotion||
|St. Tropez Self Tan Express Starter Kit||
Thank you for joining us today while we discussed outdoor tanning with a reflective blanket and other ways to get bronzed quickly. We hope you found the answers you wanted.
If you have other questions about tanning, feel free to leave us a comment below.
1. https://www.science.org.au/curious/people-medicine/what-does-spf-rating-really-mean What does the SPF rating really mean?