Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs About Indoor Tanning

Q: Why should I use a tanning lotion in a tanning bed?
A: Exposure to UV-light, whether indoors in a tanning bed or outside in the sun, is a stress factor for the skin and can have a drying effect. To maintain a healthy-looking skin and develop a beautiful tan, it is important to use a lotion that provides essential moisturization, plus nutrients and anti-oxidants that help counteract the environmental stress caused by UV-light. Lotions also help to smooth the surface layers of the skin to allow greater UV penetration for improved tanning results. Specially formulated indoor tanning lotions, like those made by California Tan, also provide advanced tanning technologies to aid the skin in developing a faster, darker tan.

Q: How do I find the tanning lotion that's right for me?
A: There are many lotions to choose from and it is best to take a moment and answer our brief questionnaire under My Tan - Indoor to get your personal product profile. This unique system of questions is designed to find the best product(s) for you based on your tanning history, personal tanning needs, and product preferences.

Q: Why are California Tan lotions sold in a step system?
A: The Indoor 3-Step System provides advanced tanning products featuring unique ingredients that are specially formulated to provide fast, dark tan development. Each step addresses the skin's special needs during various stages of the tanning process from building color to extending the life of your tan. Refer to Indoor Tanning Basics to learn more about the Indoor 3-Step System.

Q: How does the indoor step system work?
A: Our Indoor 3-Step System is based on years of scientific research and identifies specific tanning and skincare needs throughout all stages of the tanning process to ensure a fast, dark, healthy-looking tan. California Tan Step 1 Base Tan Builders help jumpstart the tanning process by delivering the advanced tanning technology of Vitatan® 2000, which supplies essential vitamins and nutrients to help the skin build color quickly. Once a base tan is established, most tanners reach a tanning plateau, a point where they feel they can not get any darker. California Tan Step 2 Dark Tan Boosters provide advanced ingredients to help deepen and darken an existing tan beyond the tanning plateau. TRF2000® and CuO2® work with the skin to help improve tanning results, provide greater energy and oxygen intake, as well as provide essential moisturization - all critical to developing a deeper, darker tan. California Tan Step 3 Dark Tan Extenders help care for the skin after tanning to aid in the further development of color. Step 3 products also contain Vitatan and Copper to help darken tanning results. Refer to Indoor Tanning Basics to learn more about the Indoor 3-Step System.

Q: Even if I don't have a base tan, will I get darker results by using a Step 2 product?
A: You will not optimize your tanning results by starting with a Step 2 product. If you are a beginning tanner, it is important to use Step 1 Base Tan Builders first as they contain exclusive tanning technologies that help jumpstart the tanning process. Step 2 Dark Tan Boosters contain unique ingredients that have been scientifically designed for use once a base tan is established to help deepen and darken an existing tan. Following the Step System will help you get the most out of your tanning sessions by developing the fastest, darkest tan possible.

Q: Why is keeping skin moisturized essential to great tanning results?
A: Simply stated: Skin that is moisturized better absorbs UV light and therefore will tan faster. Moisturization is also key in aiding the skin to perform at its optimal efficiency and thus will allow the development of faster, darker color. Skin that is dry and dehydrated will look dull and ashy and will not be able to perform at its best.

In more scientific detail: Skin loses water to the atmosphere by diffusion through the epidermis and the sweat glands. Constant cell renewal, the intercellular lipids and the NMF (natural moisturizing factor) keep moisture loss in balance. Moisture loss from the skin is referred to as TEWL or Tran epidermal water loss. It is necessary for the skin to maintain between 10 and 20% water in the stratum corneum to avoid dry skin conditions. Dry skin is rough, feels abnormally tight and may show signs of fine lines and wrinkles. Because the skin is rough, it will not be able to reflect light from its surface uniformly giving the skin a dull appearance. This also affects UV-absorption because the dry, rough skin may refract UV-light. The task of moisturizing cosmetic products is to improve the degree of hydration of the skin. Active moisturizing ingredients help counter the drying-out of the stratum corneum of the epidermis, and thus contribute to the skin's smoothness and elasticity, while helping deliver greater tanning results.

Q: What are bronzers?
A: California Tan Bronzer products use self tanning ingredients to supplement tanning results with an additional boost of color while your natural tan develops. The key ingredient is DHA (Dihydroxyacetone), which causes the skin surface to turn brown after 2-4 hours, mimicking a natural tan. California Tan bronzing products are available in Double, Triple, and Quatro bronzing levels, which refers to the level of DHA in the product. A Quatro Bronzer will last four times longer than a standard bronzer.

Keep in mind that some manufacturers use the term "bronzer" to describe a product that contains a temporary cosmetic bronze tint that can be washed off with soap and water, while others refer to bronzers as products that do both - provide a boost of color in 2- 4 hours AND deliver an immediate bronzed tint.

Q: How do bronzers work?
A: The principle tanning agent used in all bronzers, or self-tanning formulas, is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). This ingredient does not produce a "real tan" by increasing the skin's melanin levels; rather it creates a tanned appearance by developing a brown color on the surface of the skin. The action of DHA is limited to the upper layer of the skin and involves a reaction between DHA and skin proteins that produces brown compounds. The development of color takes anywhere from 2 to 4 hours and the intensity of color is dependent upon the DHA concentration in the product as well as each tanner's individual skin characteristics. The color developed by the DHA usually lasts 5 to 7 days and begins to fade as the top layer of the skin naturally exfoliates.

Q: Why use a product with bronzer?
A: A natural tan takes about 24-48 hours to develop. Therefore, a product that contains a bronzer is an excellent way to get a boost of color while a natural tan develops. Customers with a fair complexion or who want to see results immediately will enjoy the instant gratification of seeing bronzed results 2-4 hours after application. Bronzing products are also beneficial for evening out both skin tone and tanning results and can help maintain a healthy-looking, bronzed glow in between tanning sessions.

Q: How long should I wait after using a bronzer product before I shower?
A: It is best to wait about six hours after using a bronzer product before you bathe or shower to give the DHA time to fully react with skin proteins to develop the beautiful appearance of a tan.

Q: Can I work out after I used a product with bronzer?
A: It is best to wait about six hours after using a product with bronzer before partaking in any strenuous activities that may cause perspiration. This will give the DHA time to fully react with skin proteins as well as prevent streaking that could result from excessive perspiration.

Q: What is Hot Action and what does it do to my skin?
A: Hot Action, also known as Tropical Heat, Skin Stimulation and Tingle, is usually a combination of Benzyl Nicotinate, Methyl Nicotinate and Hexyl Nicotinate. These ingredients are vaso-dilators, meaning they increase microcirculation by causing the blood vessels in the skin to open, which increases blood flow. The reddening appearance and warming effect on the skin is a result of the increase in blood flow, similar to the flush you feel when you begin exercising.

This increased blood flow also increases the oxygenation of the skin and aids in the delivery of required nutrients throughout the skin. This speeds up the skin's natural growth and maintenance processes, and thus has a positive effect on developing darker tanning results.

Hot Action causes a temporary skin response. The duration of the effect will depend on the intensity of the Hot Action product and the sensitivity of each individual's skin. Usually the Hot Action response initiates fairly quickly once the product is applied to the skin and will last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. Hot Action is not recommended for sensitive skin. A spot test is recommended prior to use.

Q: Is Hot Action dangerous?
A: Although some people with sensitive skin may find the Hot Action effects uncomfortable, it is not inherently dangerous. In fact, Benzyl Nicotinate and Methyl Nicotinate are often found in muscle rubs that are recommended by doctors for muscle soreness and stiffness.

Q: Is there anyone who should not use Hot Action products?
A: It is recommended that people with sensitive skin do not use Hot Action products as they are likely to find the reddening and heating effects uncomfortable. It is also recommended that all tanners begin with a mild Hot Action product and work their way up in intensity based on their own level of comfort. California Tan products with Hot Action show heat level ratings that range from 7 to 15 (most hot) to help tanners choose the best reddening and heating level for their skin type and preference.

Q: Is the Hot Action effect similar to a sunburn?
A: Yes and no. The reddening you experience from a sunburn is also the result of increased blood circulation. However, with a sunburn the increased circulation is naturally triggered by the skin trying to repair damaged cells. With Hot Action products, the blood vessels are merely responding to the Hot Action ingredients, just like they would respond to a muscle rub, such as Ben-Gay. The Hot Action products do not cause any damage to skin cells and, in fact, actually help these cells function more efficiently.

Q: Why am I not getting the same feel from my Hot Action product as I used to get?
A: It does seem that some people's skin gets used to the Hot Action products and they have to find a more intense product to get the same heating effect. However, the positive effects that Hot Action ingredients have on the skin continue to occur even when the feeling is not as intense.

Q: Should I be worried if I get Hot Action products in my eyes?
A: It is a good idea to avoid getting any tanning products directly in your eyes. Just like other body lotions, there are ingredients in tanning lotions that may cause eye irritation in some people. If you do get a tanning product in your eyes, it is a good idea to flush the eyes with warm water. If irritation persists, see a physician.

Q: What is a cooling product?
A: A cooling product contains special skin cooling ingredients that counteract the heat of a tanning bed by drawing warmth away from the skin. They should be applied to the skin immediately prior to tanning. Care should be taken to wipe hands after application and to avoid touching sensitive areas.

Q: What is the Biosaccharide Complex and how does it prevent "after tan odor?"
A: The heated environment of the tanning bed causes the body to perspire. Perspiration disrupts the balance of bacteria on the skin, allowing the odor causing bacteria to increase in number. Due to the increase in bacteria forming on the skin it causes an unpleasant odor known as the "after tan odor." California Tan developed the Biosaccharide Complex to help tanners prevent the unpleasant odor that may develop on the skin while tanning. Through research it was discovered that biosaccharide gum-1 displays anti-adhesive properties (deodorant properties), allowing it to bind with bacteria instead of bacteria binding to the skin and causing odor. By adding the Biosaccharide Complex to our formulations we were able to help tanners combat the after-tan odor simply by using a California Tan product. It has been included in all California Tan product formulations since its debut in 1997.

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