Tanning Basics

While the act of lying down in a tanning bed appears relatively simple, major activity is happening with your skin as it works to produce a tan. We want to help you understand how a tan is physically created, how we can help you to identify your skin type and how the tanning process works at Fabutan.

How your skin tans

Tanning occurs when the pigment in your skin's top layer, the epidermis, reacts to UV light. About 5% of your epidermis is made up of special cells called melanocytes. When the melanocytes are exposed to Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays they begin to produce melanin – the pigment that is ultimately responsible for tanning your skin.

The pinkish melanin is absorbed by skin cells and travels up through the epidermis. Once high enough, the melanocytes are exposed to Ultraviolet A (UVA) light, causing the melanin to oxidize or darken. This darkening is not only what we call a tan, but also the way your skin was biologically designed to protect itself from too much UV light.

We all have approximately 5 million melanocytes in our body, but genetics dictate how much melanin our body's melanocytes will naturally produce. A general guideline is that the darker your skin type is naturally, the more pigment your melanocytes produce. Skin types range from 1 to 6 – 1 being bright white skin and 6 black skin. Read below to learn more about the six skin types.

Understanding your skin type

Knowing how sensitive your skin is to UV light is one of the first steps in indoor tanning. The more sensitive your skin is, the less sunlight or UV light you should expose it to. Taking precautions to tan at a proper rate and following the tanning schedule created for you by a Fabutan CEO will minimize your risk of overexposure. To create this tanning schedule, a Fabutan CEO will perform a skin analysis to determine your skin type.

There are six basic skin types, each with its own unique characteristics.

0 - 7 Skin Type I Always burn, never tans. Very sensitive to sunlight.
8 - 21 Skin Type II Usually burn, tan below average (with difficulty). Sensitive to sunlight.
22 - 42 Skin Type III Sometimes mild burn, tan about average. Normal sensitivity to sunlight.
43 - 68 Skin Type IV Seldom sunburn and tan easily. Skin is tolerant of sunlight.
69 - 84 Skin Type V Rarely sunburn and tan above average (ease). Skin is brown. Very tolerant.
85 + Skin Type VI Never sunburn. Skin is black. Extreme tolerance.

Take our online Skin Type Quiz to determine your skin type, and find a Fabutan location near you to create a tanning schedule.

How long is a tanning session?

Depending on your skin type, your first time in a tanning bed can be anywhere from six to 15 minutes. With your help in answering questions about your skin and history of sun exposure, a Fabutan CEO will asses your skin type and recommend a beginning exposure time with a schedule on how to progress with your tan.

How often is a person allowed to tan?

You should allow 48 hours to pass between tanning sessions. Changes in pigmentation or overexposure may not become fully visible for 12 to 24 hours after your original session. Two tanning sessions within this 24-hour period could result in an unintentional burn and will not be permitted. Your Fabutan CEO can help you manage your schedule to avoid overexposure.

When will results be visible?

Most people start seeing results by the third visit. It is important to remember that a tan does not happen overnight – you need to build a base tan first. Tanning smart and burn free takes time.