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9 Things I’ve Learned From Working at a Tanning Salon


A couple months ago I applied for a job at a tanning salon. Now I won’t lie to you, a huge reason for applying was simply because of free employee tanning but since getting the job I have found myself enjoying a lot more than just that! First of all, I get to work with some really awesome people, while also working on my people skills! I get to know a lot of regulars and form a lot of new relationships which I think is pretty cool! But there’s alot more to tanning than most people may think. Aside from memorizing every tanning bed and lotion in the book, I’ve witnessed some pretty crazy things and have been asked some really random questions which is clearly what keeps the job interesting to say the least… so here’s a few things I’ve learned in my few months as a tanning consultant:


1. UVA rays = TAN

You’re probably asking yourself this: “there are two different kinds of rays in tanning beds?” The answer is YES! UVA rays tan the skin underneath the top layer, causing more of a “tan.” In UVA beds, there is a 1% chance that you burn because those “burning” rays are found in UVB beds. 


2. Vitamin D comes from UVB rays

UVB rays are the reddening rays, also known as the rays that are most similar to the sun. If you are going on a vacation and want a base tan beforehand, we recommend using a bed that contains both UVA and UVB so that you are exposing yourself to those rays that you’ll be receiving on vacation, not just the tanning rays! Hard to keep the two straight, I know. 


3. Skin cancer is a myth!!!

It takes years for those cancerous mutations to surface and skin cancer itself generally comes from not using SPF as a child! A few burns from a tanning bed does not cause cancer!


4. You will NOT end up like Ross Gellar if you get a spray tan!

I swear every new client that comes in asking about our spray tan booths thinks they are going to turn orange like Ross. Well if you have any common sense at all & listen to what we are telling you to do, that wont be an issue! Exfoliators and primers are your best friend if you are a frequent spray tanner. The two help to balance your pH levels so that orangey hues and spots wont happen! Plus our booths even talk you through the process while you’re in there so you won’t have to worry about counting Mississippilessly ;) 


5. A Double Dip is a WIN, WIN!

Let me tell ya, when I first started working as a tanning consultant I had never heard of a double dip before. It’s this really cool thing where you tan in a UV bed first, then directly after hop into the spray tan booth! Because of the heat from the rays in UV bed, your pores are opening, which allows the spray tan to soak in bette! Therefore it will last longer then if you were to just do it normally!  


6. Tanning lotions (especially from WalMart) are not meant for your face!

OK people, I get that tanning lotions aren’t the cheapest things in the world but that doesn’t mean go buy that gross $10 bottle from WalMart or Target! Tanning lotions really do help the process, believe it or not we arent scamming you! But by bringing in an off brand oily-based lotion, you are not only hurting yourself but you’re causing those weird cracks in the acrylic of the bed! Also, DO NOT put those on your face! The skin on your face is much more thin and sensitive than the rest of your body and these lotions are not designed for that! If you want lotion on your face—which you should—purchase a tanning lotion specifically for your face! I didn’t think I needed one at all, but trust me it does wonders! 

7. They make tan extending body washes & lotions!

Who knew? Not me! A lot of everyday body washes and lotions contain ingredients that actually help to strip your tan rather than maintain it. Eventhough you may think you are mosturizing, you could actually be drying out your skin, causing your tan to fade quicker! HEMP Nation actually makes a seperate lotion specifically for post-tanning to help keep you bronze! 


8. Some women are TOO comfortable

More often then not, you’ll get the women who forget to grab their eyewear, need to use the restrooms, don’t want to dress again just to switch rooms for a double dip or who knows what running through the salon either naked or partially naked trying to cover themselves. It’s a public place!! At least throw on a sweatshirt or something ladies!


9. People tan simply to make themselves feel better 

Most people tend to feel horrible about themselves when they spend a lot of money on something, but more often than not I find people coming in to tan and dropping a good $100 just to be happy. Most clients will say looking tanner makes them feel better about themselves which is completely understandable, but then there are those people who especially in the winter months just need to see some source of sun even if that means spending $70 a month to lay in a bed for 15 minutes a day. People really appreciate that time they get to themselves!

Cailynn is currently an undergraduate student studying Journalism, Advertising and Media Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her adventuring began at an early age in Madison, WI and hasn't slowed down since. Outside of HerCampus, she also writes for the The Daily Cardinal, The UWM Post and Media Milwaukee. When she doesn't have a computer in front of her you can find her with a chai in one hand, her phone in the other, spending time with the greatest humans on the planet and laughing at her own jokes.
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