Self Tanning vs UV Tanning: What’s The Difference?

There are three major ways to tan your skin, and they are suntanning, UV tanning, and self tanning. Suntanning involves the use of direct rays from the sun to tan your skin, while UV tanning is about exposing your body to a tanning lamp, a tanning bed, or a tanning booth that emits UV radiation.

The third method, self tanning, involves the use of a tanning spray, cream, lotion, or mousse to tan your body. It is called fake tan because it does not involve any chemical reactions with the skin. It merely colors the skin temporarily.

9 Major Differences Between Self Tanning and UV Tanning:

Here Are The Differences Between Both Methods Of Tanning.

1. Procedure

Their processes are different. Self tanning involves the application of tanning spray, lotion, mousse, or cream to your skin. These products only color the skin temporarily, and they work with bronzers to make the skin glow. And the result comes out within some minutes after application.

On the other hand, UV tanning involves the use of a tanning lamp, tanning bed, or tanning booth. You will expose your body to any of the tanning equipment within a certain duration, and the radiation will react with the pigments of your skin to darken your complexion.

This is a chemical reaction that can increase the risk of skin cancer, according to WHO and other medical organizations.

2. Duration

Self tanner usually lasts for about 5 to 7 days before it begins to fade away gradually, but the effect of UV tanning will last for up to 10 days or more. In other words, UV tanning is the clear winner on this. However, there’s a little twist. You can engage in another session of self tanning immediately your tan begins to fade.

Unfortunately, for safety reasons, you can’t go for another session of UV tanning immediately your tan begins to fade. You have to wait for some time.

3. Maintenance

Self tanning requires some maintenance. In some cases, you’ll need to apply some bronzing cream to your tanned skin to make your skin glow. Also, while the tan is yet to fade, you need to moisturize your skin. Furthermore, some people mix some self tanner with their body lotion, and they apply it to their skin every day to maintain the tan or make it last a little longer.

UV tanning requires no maintenance. Once you undergo the procedure and your skin gets tanned, it will remain like that until it starts fading after about 10 to 12 days. The only thing that UV tanning requires is the application of a moisturizer to prevent your skin from drying.

Remember that regular skin moisturization is necessary with or without tanning. Since UV tanning requires little to no maintenance, it is the winner here.

4. Preparation

Before you self-tan, you have to shave the hair on your body and exfoliate your skin. In addition, you have to wash your body and let it dry before you apply a self tanner on your body. After that, you also have to wait for at least 8 hours before you take a shower. Otherwise, the tanner will be washed off.

UV tanning, on the other hand, does not require any preparation. Just schedule a session of tanning and hit the tanning bed. You can take a shower immediately after your UV tanning session. UV tanning wins here again.

5. Effect Of Soap

Even after your self-tanner has developed fully, you have to minimize the use of soap on your body while bathing. If not, your tan will fade faster than the expected duration. This is because a self tanner only colors your body temporarily. The reaction is only physical. That’s why it is called a fake tan.

With UV tanning, you can use soap for bathing as often as you like. It won’t have any effect on your tan. The tan is a result of several chemical reactions. We’ll give it to UV tanning here too.

6. Equipment Used

The tools and products used for both methods of tanning are different. For self tanning, you need a self tanning spray, lotion, cream, or mousse. These days, self tanning can be done in a spray booth.

For UV tanning, the tools required are a tanning lamp, tanning bed, or tanning booth. So, UV tanning is not what you can do on your own. You have to make an arrangement with one of the UV tanning providers (spas and salons).

Since UV tanning requires powerful equipment, we’ll make self tanning the winner here.

7. Safety

Self tanning is adjudged to be the safest tanning method. It is safer than UV tanning and suntanning. And it does not increase the risk of skin cancer and other skin diseases like UV tanning.

Unfortunately, UV tanning isn’t very safe. It subjects the body to UV radiation similar to some of the rays of the sun. Since it has been linked to melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, it is clear that self tanning is the big winner here. In fact, it is a big win that carpets all UV tanning’s win.

8. Pores Clogging

One big challenge with self tanners is that they sometimes block the pores of the skin if the pores are wide open. This gives an uneven tan, strawberry legs, or dotted skin. So, you have to ensure your pores are not wide open before you self-tan.

This is not the case with UV tanning.

9. Age Restriction

In the United States and some countries, you have to be at least 18 years before you’re eligible for UV tanning. This means teenagers cannot enjoy the service in some states in the US and in some countries. This makes them eligible for only self tanning since it has no age restriction.

Benefits of UV Tanning:

Based On The Comparisons Above, You Can Easily Deduce The Following Advantages Of UV Tanning.

1. It Lasts Longer

After undergoing UV tanning, the tanned look usually lasts for about 10 to 12 days before it starts to fade. This is longer than self-tan, which lasts for about 5 to 7 days.

2. It requires no prep and maintenance

Unlike self tanning, UV tanning does not require shaving and exfoliating your skin. And after the tanning sessions, you only need to keep moisturizing your skin.

3. No restrictions

After self tanning, you have to wait for several hours before you can take a shower, wear tight clothing, and engage in rigorous activities that will elicit sweat. UV tanning does not need such restrictions. You can do whatever you like immediately after the session.

Even when your self tanner is fully developed, you still have to minimize the use of soap to prevent it from washing off. Conversely, you can bathe with soap as many times as you want after UV tanning.

Is Self Tan Better Than Suntan?

Yes, it is better and safer. Suntanning exposes your skin to the UV rays of the sun and also increases your chances of having skin cancer. On the other hand, self tanning does not have any health risks or concerns. For two reasons, self tanning is better than sun tanning.

  • Sun tanning gives results in days but self tanning gives you the desired results in a few hours. So, self tanning works faster than sun tanning.
  • Self tanning does not have any health issues but sun tanning damages the skin gradually and it increases the risk of skin cancer.

Which Tanning Bed Gives The Best Results?

Tanning beds come in levels. They are usually from level 1 to level 5, and in some salons, level 6. The level of a tanning bed depends on the type of UV radiation it offers.  Lower tanning bed levels offer less intense radiation, and as such, the results are gradual. And the tan isn’t so deep.

Level 6 offers the most intense radiation, faster results, and the deepest or darkest skin tan. This is the best result. In other words, in salons where the highest tanning bed level is 5, level 5 gives the best results.

Also, in salons where the levels get to 6, the level 6 tanning beds will give the best results.

If levels 5 & 6 give the best results, why do people still choose lower tanning bed levels?

The simple answer is cost. All the beds do not come at the same cost. The higher the level, the higher the cost. So, customers who cannot afford the cost of tanning beds of levels 5 and 6 can opt for lower-level tanning bed sessions.

Self Tanning vs UV Tanning

Final Thoughts

Even though UV tanning has several benefits over self tanning, we believe that safety should always come first. You should not sacrifice your health for great looks. On that note, we will recommend self tanning over UV tanning because the latter increases your chances of having skin cancer.

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