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Getting the most out of tanning is sometimes confusing. Here we will share with you some of the different tanning tricks, what the pros do, what you shouldn't do, and some photography tips.
More physical athletes are using sunless tanning lotions. The media is full of studies showing tanning beds and actual sunlight causing too much damage to the skin. One thing is for sure, that a smooth even color gives us a healthy look.

Tanning Basics

Getting that look is getting easier and might even help prevent cancer in the future. Scientist are currently working on adding ingredients such as "Green Tea" to tanning solutions to aid in antioxidation and removal of free radicals.

Getting the most out of tanning is sometimes confusing with some of the claims that companies place on their products. The active ingredient in most sunless tanning solutions is DHA (Dihydroxyacetone). This is an extract from sugar cane or other vegetable extracts, which reacts with the amino acids in the surface layers of your skin to result in the dark skin appearance.

Dihydroxyacetone is a triose carbohydrate with the chemical formula C3H6O3. It is the simplest of all ketoses and, having no chiral centre, is the only one that has no optical activity. This means that when light interacts with DHA it will not change the direction of polarized light.

Differences between tanning lotions are associated with how well that DHA is processed and of course how strong the concentration is. Several brands have a bronzer which is only added to offer initial cosmetic value, but is removed in less than two washings.

When you use a tanning bed or lie in the sun, photons of light energy force cells called melanocyte to produce melanin (a pigment that causes the tan look). Your ability to tan with sunlight is determined on the genetic concentration of melanocytes in your skin. This process is completely different from "sunless tanning."

Steps To Getting A Better Color

  • Start with a base tan with natural sunlight or tanning bed. Drink Coffee or Green Tea (not decaf) to help fight the effects of the UV radiation. Use sunscreens or tanning beds with filtration tubes to prevent excessive UVA absorption.

  • Reduce all skin conditions with proper medications and cleaning.

  • Shave or wax or use hair remover; two days prior to DHA application.

  • Prep the skin with vinegar (leave on 20 minutes), which reduces the pHof the skin and makes it more acidic. This also has been shown to help reduce acne. Major skin pH changes occur with the use of various diuretics and tend to give a greenish color to the skin. The vinegar wash avoids this type of chemical reaction.

    A range of numbers expressing the relative acidity or alkalinity of a solution. In general, pH values range from 0 to 14. The pH of a neutral solution, i.e., one which is neither acidic nor alkaline, is 7. Acidic solutions have pH values below 7; alkaline, or basic, solutions have pH values above 7

  • Eat more protein to enhance the reaction of DHA, dehydration removes the effects of tanning.

  • Clean the skin, emulsifying cream or cleanser. (Remove all dead skin)

  • Apply (pre-treatment, Abdoline {AB-Do-Lean} - available at most drug stores) or a moisturizer to areas that have cracks, such as hands, elbows, knees, feet and ears.

  • Use a spray application of DHA and leave on for several hours to days. Try not to sit for a few hours to permit uninterrupted skin contact.

  • Reapply DHA solutions to maintain the skins moisture and allow for continued chemical reaction.

  • Use baby soaps that are gentle to the skin and don't scrub again or you will likely flake the skin, giving you that "mottled" appearance.

  • Use several coats to produce the darkest most even coverage.

  • Using any product, like baby oil with a petroleum based product, will result in breaking down the DHA bases and streak or run your product.

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What Makes Spray Systems Better?
Spray vs. Hand application

  • Hand application doesn't offer an even coverage.
  • Using an Air Brush system takes minutes instead of hours.
  • Air Brush systems require less drying time.
  • Spray systems are what the pros use.

Do You Prefer Spray Or Hand Applications For Tanning?

Neither, I Prefer Sunlight or Tanning Beds.

After Competitions

    After the competition the athlete showers and the majority of the color washes off, the rest fades evenly. This is very important if you have another competition or photo shoot.

    Using the hand application system leaves you looking like you have Leprosy for up to a month later. Scrubbing and oil baths do not remove the color. Only the actual shedding of the skin will work, which takes several weeks.

Stage Lighting

    Jan was discussing with me about a recent show that used green gels with the stage lighting. "We just couldn't get the color right on stage." Various color gels make a stage look nice, but can wash out various colors and pigments used in several tanning applications.

    Click To Enlarge.
    Jan Tana, Tanning & Skin Care Consultant.

    Lisa Miles of Styles by Miles, a contest suit designer, also notes that colored gels can accent or washout a suit.

      View Top Selling Tanning Products By Jan Tana Here.

    Having the perfect color is great, but always ask a contest promoter about the standards of lighting to be used.

There are several standards that should be formatted into any stage competition setting according to Jan Tana and Ryan. Hopefully the NPC and the IFBB are listening.

  1. Light meters should be used to set the lighting of the show. Meters should indicate that a setting of F-8 be available on the stages "hot spot" where your tan, and other areas of the stage all lighted to a minimum of F-6.

    F Stops
    The F stop is a standard for photography; it indicates how much reflective light there is available. Let's face it - reflective light is what the judges see, so it is an important measurement.

  2. Gels and colored lights should not be used on the stage lighting. Only white light offers an even playing field on the stage.

  3. Lights should be tested every 8 hours, due to "burn out." It is all too common on stage to find a major light to be lost prior to a show. When you see a line up and you are the competitor standing in the dark spot, it isn't fun to be lost in the shadows.

    View Top Selling Tanning Products By Jan Tana Here.