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Planning a trip to the Caribbean? Get a base tan first!

Good News! You’re planning a trip to the Caribbean! Now, first things first. Let us start your trip list: shorts, sandals, tan through bathing suit, sundress, sunglasses, sunscreen … oh, yeah you’ve got to do something so you don’t burn in the sun on the first outing at the tropical beach! What are your options? One, you can start by doing a little pre-tanning. Hmm … let me call Carla, my sister, she went to St. Thomas last year without burning, let me see what she did.

Hey, girl. It’s yo pale face sun-seeking sista. I need to quiz you on what you did to get a base tan and not burn when you went to the beach last year.

Good tips from my sista, plus my research should help you get ready for that awesome Caribbean trip! Read on to see what she said …

Why Get a Base Tan?

tropical beach base tanYou may be asking, “Why do I need to concern myself with a base tan at all“? Besides looking like a beet and feeling like you are on fire, if you go to a tropical beach with no base tan and your skin burns, the burn is much more damaging to your skin than in northern climes.

Did you know the sun’s rays are stronger at higher altitudes and lower latitudes (closer to the tropics)? Also, the reflection off the water or sand can also intensify the sun’s burning rays, as they bounce up off the surface onto your skin.

You will want to minimize your risk of overexposure to the suns’ UV rays down in tropical paradise, so start by finding a sanitary tanning salon in your local area. Begin with tanning 2 days a week. Start off at 4 or 5 minutes (if fair skinned) or 6 or 7 minutes (if medium tone/olive skin) and add a minute or two each session. NOTE: Only add the extra minute(s) if you didn’t burn the time before.

After 2 weeks of initial tanning, you can increase to tanning to 3 times a week but only if you are limiting your minutes to tanning to no more than 8 or 9 minutes per session.

Why Can’t I Tan Daily?

It takes 24 to 48 hours between sessions to give your skins’ melanin adequate time to come to the surface. (melanin is the substance that gives your skin and hair it’s color) It will most likely take about 6 to 8 sessions to get your base tan.

Keep your skin healthy while building your tan by using a really good tanning lotion and a really good after- tanning moisturizer. Choose a tanning lotion approved for indoor tanning use. Some people feel they tan faster and the tan last longer with an indoor tanning lotion. Also check the bottle, some tanning lotions do have vitamins and minerals helpful for healthy skin. To add more color to your skin, some products include natural bronzers (natural ones will quickly wash off, so you don’t have to worry about them staining your hands).

I’ve listed some popular bronzers, tanning lotions, and after skin moisturizers below.


Indoor Tanning Lotions:


Now once you have established your base tan and you are hot on running out to your tropical haven do not I repeat DO NOT leave your sunscreen in the resort room!

HIGHLY IMPORTANT: just because you have a base tan does NOT mean you can go without sunscreen on the beach. You always need to use a sunscreen in the sun. Reapply your sunscreen each time you get out of the water and every 2 hours is advised.

Help! I’m going to the Caribbean and I don’t have time to tan before I go!

If you have had no exposure to sun recently, use a sunscreen with at least SPF 45. This will block UVB Rays (ultra-violet rays that cause sunburn) and UVA Rays. Keep in mind you need more sun protection during the middle of the day than you do at sunrise or sunset because the intensity of the sun’s rays are more intense those times of the day. Between 10 am and 4 pm are when the sun’s rays are most intense.

Using the SPF 45 sunscreen, start with 20 minutes to an hour in the sun and then see how your skin reacts a few hours later. You can then build up from there depending on your level of skin sensitivity. Re-apply your sunscreen every 45 minutes while your skin is still acclimating to the sun. Once you begin to establish some tanning of your skin, you can re-apply every 2 hours instead every 45 minutes.(this is usually after you have spent a day or more in the sun with the higher SPF) If you splash in the water, swim or start sweating you should re-apply your sunscreen more often.

If you find you are getting too pink on your nose, neck or ears, consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat for protection of your face and neck in addition to applying sunscreen in those places.

Remember, whether you are at home, getting your “base-tan on” in the tanning bed or at your tropical destination, slather on a good moisturizer every morning and before bed to maintain healthy replenished skin.

Now that you are set for a base tan or acclimating your skin while on the beach. Sit back, listen to the calm of the waves, and let your cares float off into the deep! One last thing, try not sit under a coconut tree – I don’t want to have to post an article on “getting brain trauma” in paradise! Bon voyage!

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