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What is tanning?

The tanning process is really quite simple, and works the same way whether you tan indoors or outdoors. Ultraviolet light is the catalyst, and a pigment produced by your skin called melanin does the rest.

Here’s a basic explanation of the tanning process:

  • Tanning occurs in the skin’s outermost layer, the epidermis. About five percent of the cells in your epidermis are special cells, called melanocytes. Everyone has the same number of melanocytes in their body – about five million. Your heredity dictates your skin type, and how much melanin your body will produce.
  • When exposed to ultraviolet B light (short-wave UV), the melanocytes produce melanin – the pigment that is ultimately responsible for your tan. The pinkish melanin travels up through the epidermis and is absorbed by other skin cells. When exposed to ultraviolet A light (longer-wave UV), the melanin oxidizes or darkens. This darkening of your skin – your tan – is its natural way of protecting itself against UV overexposure.
  • A sunburn, or erythema, is the result of UV-overexposure – when too much UV light reaches the skin and disrupts the tiny blood vessels near the surface, causing it to redden. The reddening is the result of increased blood circulation, naturally triggered by the skin trying to repair damaged cells.
  • In order to most effectively avoid UV-overexposure, a tan should be acquired gradually, according to the guidelines recommended by a tanning salon professional.

Skin Types


In the war against sunburn, tanning salons are part of the solution! Tropi Tan staff is trained to help you tan moderately and minimize your risk of getting burned.

  • Before sunbathing OR sun-bedding, it’s vital to determine your skin type.
  • There are six distinct skin types; each reacts differently to sun exposure.
  • Does your skin burn after playing volleyball for only an hour in the afternoon sun? 
  • Do your friends consider you "lucky" because you can lounge on the beach for hours at a time with no fear of getting sunburned?

By knowing your Skin Type, we can determine the best tanning schedule for you. Be sure to seriously consider your history when indicating your Skin Type on our Client Profile Form.


How Long does it take to get tan?


While everyone is different, most people will notice results after just a few tanning sessions, but it may take a few weeks of regular tanning (at least three times a week) to get the color you are looking for. If you want to develop a base tan before going on a sunny vacation, you will want to start tanning about three or four weeks before you go.


If I always get sunburn outdoors, can I get tan indoors?


It may actually be easier for you to get the color you want (brown, not red!) by tanning indoors. To keep you from burning, Tropi Tan’s tanning consultants will start your sessions with a short exposure time, and increase it very gradually. However, if you NEVER tan outdoors, you will not get a tan from tanning lamps, since the UV light they emit is the same as the sun.


Do I really need eye protection?


Your eyelids are not thick enough to protect your eyes from UV damage! Simply keeping your eyes closed while tanning will NOT prevent serious damage. The very thin skin and underlying membrane of the eyelid do not keep UV rays from penetrating the eye, potentially burning the cornea and doing more severe damage to the lens and retina. In addition to night vision loss, excessive unprotected exposure to UV light – indoors or outdoors – will also damage color vision and can even result in cancer on the eyelids.

Covering your face with a towel or T-shirt will not block enough of the UV rays to prevent damage, either. We make it easy to protect your eyes! Several styles of FDA compliant eye protection are available at all Tropi Tan Tanning Salons, and you are required to wear it during every tanning session. Don’t worry about getting “raccoon eyes” – this can be easily avoided by slightly repositioning your eye protection once or twice during your session.

*Proper eye protection is required at all salons.


Tanning Tips

  • Moisture is the key to a healthy-looking tan! Tanning lotions prepare your skin for UV exposure and reduce the drying effects of the tanning process. They also contain ingredients that promote the production of melanin in your skin, and special vitamins that keep your skin healthy. Tropi Tan Tanning Salons offer a variety of lotions and moisturizers specifically designed for indoor tanners at every level.
  • If you plan to tan in the nude, you should expose sensitive areas of your body gradually during your tanning sessions to avoid sunburn.
  • Your lips produce very little melanin and are prone to UV-overexposure, so you should always protect them with a sunscreen. SPF lip balms are available at all Tropi Tan Tanning Salons.
  • Many products we all use every day – such as make-up and perfumes – contain ingredients that can make your skin more susceptible to sunburn (photosensitive). Common prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications can also cause photosensitizing reactions. Our Tanning Consultants have a list of such substances for your review.

Sunless Tanning

Sunless tanning is the process of applying a solution to the body either by airbrush, aerosol canister or a sunless spray booth. Tropi Tan offers the latter two methods. The main active ingredient in all sunless tanning preparations and airbrush/spray-booth solution is DHA (Dihydroxyacetone) an FDA-approved, all-natural, sugar-based substance. First recognized as a skin coloring agent by German scientists in the 1920s, DHA is commonly used in many cosmetics and in food preparation. When applied to the body for sunless tanning purposes, DHA reacts with amino acids in the top skin layer to produce a golden-brown color.

Your skin begins to darken two to three hours after application and reaches its peak color within 24 hours. The color will gradually fade through natural exfoliation, just like a tan from the sun.

Tanning Consultants

We don't simply hire warm bodies. Our staff of Tanning Consultants are trained to help you achieve a tan that looks good, and that you’ll feel good about. By following our exposure schedules, you can develop a great tan without burning. If you have any questions or concerns about your progress, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Tanning Myths Debunked

Tanning Myth #1

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"There is no such thing as a safe tan."


Actually, you could say that it isn’t safe to totally avoid the sun. The benefits of regular sun exposure far outweigh the risks of overexposure, which easily can be minimized by merely avoiding sunburn. Research shows that regular, moderate sun exposure might actually decrease your risk of getting breast, colon, prostate and ovarian cancers as well as osteoporosis or even Alzheimer’s disease. If you’re a woman, you are 69 times more likely to die of breast cancer than skin cancer.

Tanning Myth #2

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"Indoor tanning is more harmful than outdoor because sunbed UV light is more intense."


Today, all sunbeds and tanning booths used in salons are regulated by the FDA as Class II Medical Devices. This means you are only exposed to a standardized amount of UV, with a mixture of both UVB and UVA rays, designed to minimize burning. When used according to the FDA’s exposure guidelines (posted on each tanning system), sunbeds and booths are designed to maximize tanning and minimize burning. Conversely, tanning outdoors is an unregulated, uncontrolled activity. There are many factors to consider when you tan outdoors: geography, time of day, weather conditions, the seasons, and the ozone layer. Remember the best way to safeguard your skin from sun damage is to wear appropriate levels of SPF sunscreens outdoors – even if you already have a tan.

Tanning Myth #3

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"In order to get a suntan you have to burn first"


A sunburn does NOT ”turn into” a tan. Sunburn indicates UV-overexposure and actually damages the skin, leaving it inflamed (as indicated by the skin’s red coloring and sensitivity), dry, chapped and visibly unappealing. In fact, sunburn can lead to premature aging and potentially skin cancer. Always practice moderation when tanning by using the proper sunscreen when tanning outdoors and following guidelines for session times recommended for your skin type when tanning indoors.


Also, TropiTanGR offers spray tanning, a safe alternative to UV tanning, as well the highest quality tanning lotions.