How to Start a Base Tan for Very Fair Skin

by Elyse James ; Updated September 28, 2017

People with very pale skin burn much easier than those with a darker skin tone. If you’re someone who has light skin and know that you will be exposed to the sun on a vacation or outdoor event, prevent yourself from getting burned by developing a base tan. A base tan is a very light tan that people strive to get before long-term sun exposure. The idea behind a base tan is that if you expose your skin to the sun little by little, it builds up a gradual tan so your skin won’t burn from overexposure.

Outside

Check the UV index to select a tanning day that doesn’t have a high UV index. This helps prevent you from burning. A UV index over 5 is considered high and is not safe to tan in. Look for a UV index that is between 2 and 5 for safe tanning. Apply a high SPF sunscreen on all parts of your body that are not covered by your clothes.

Go outside and tan for 15 minutes on each side. Then, go inside, and wait a few days before tanning again.

Repeat the process, tanning every couple of days to build up a base tan. As you get darker, decrease the level of SPF, and increase the duration of your tanning sessions.

Tanning Bed

Visit your local tanning salon, and purchase a lotion that has L-tyrosine and beta carotene to help moisturize your skin and prevent it from burning.

Tan in the bed for a very short period of time. On your first session, don't tan more than five minutes on a low-level bed.

Repeat the process, tanning every two to three days.

About the Author

Elyse James began writing professionally in 2006 after deciding to pursue a career in journalism. She has written for "The Algonquin Times" as a general assignment reporter and published blogs and articles on Webcitybeat. James holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Ottawa.