We all know that tanning is probably not the best thing for your skin or your overall health; however, when you compete in physique sports, the skin tone that tanning provides is certainly unique. There are comparable spray tan options, or at least they're marketed as such, but many competitors will use the spray tan option in addition to tanning -- not in lieu of it. And tanning isn't really an issue just for light skinned people, because even darker skinned people need to tan just as much. Quite frankly, it's one of those catch-all steps in most competitors' contest prep.
But a very significant question is - how much tanning do you really need? Do you need to get what's called a "base tan" (usually by going 3-4 days a week for two weeks) and then maintaining it by at least one weekly visit thereafter? Or can you get by with tanning for a short period of time and trying to get dark that way. Are their pro's and cons to the two approaches? As usual, I went to the champions to give me their insight, but I highly encourage others to leave comments here and/or on our various pages on Facebook and Twitter.
"I never get a "real" tan. I have a family history of skin cancer and it is not worth the risk. On top of that, who wants wrinkles? I found that it's best to get airbrushed at the competition. After two applications, my skin is the perfect tone. Please know that this is possible for everyone because I naturally have very fair skin. I tried tanning myself with various sublease tanning products in my first couple of competitions, but I was never able to get dark enough. Airbrushing by the pros is definitely the way to go. Best thing is, at the end of the night, most of it washes right off and I'm back to looking like normal!
A very good friend of mine was just diagnosed with skin cancer at the age of 35 and her doctors told her it was because of her use of tanning beds. She recently had surgery to have the cancer removed...it was on her eyelid and required some work from a plastic surgeon to recreate an eyelid. She now has no bottom eyelashes. Thankfully, they were able to cut all of it off but she is still recovering and is extremely concerned about the changes in her appearance. I know that not everyone will have that terrible luck, but in my opinion, being tan is not worth the risks. I always recommend wearing sunscreen and taking care of your skin. Looking tan now isn't worth the health risk later."
NPC Bikini Star
NPC Texas State Naturals
Class B - 1st Place
"Christian; Good question! I used to tan frequently, almost obsessively, and haven't for the better part of a year and a half now. If I am required to be tanned for a photo shoot I do a cosmetic tan (Mystic etc), but aside from that I take the utmost care with my skin. I'm Irish, so I'm fair skinned by nature and tend to burn easily. After a pre-cancerous skin mass was located on my lower back two years ago I made the deicison to step away from tanning beds.
I use JanTana at every show and have been more then thrilled with their product and their staff. I find their product to be the easiest and most versatile to work with whether applying myself or have someone apply it/spray it on me."
NPC Figure Star
2011 NPC North American Championships
Class E - 1st Place
"I only get out in the sun on vacation only (once/year) and with sun screen. Like Janessa, I have very fair skin and have had medical issues regarding skin cancer - see big scar on my right tricep:( It's just not worth jeopardizing your life! Mystic tans for photo shoots, Jana Tana at National shows and Liquid Sun Rayz for local shows."
NPC Bikini Champion
(1st & Overall – 2009 Bluegrass Muscle Classic)
I'd also like to reiterate that if you still haven't "liked" FigureBikini.com on Facebook, you can do so right here by scrolling to the top of the page. Following us on Twitter will also go a long way into spreading the word. Finally, I'd like to share a great video I shot last night at Powerhouse - East Lansing, featuring Middleweight bodybuilder Jeff Vasque and Women's Physique competitor Elizabeth Crenshaw. They are both preparing for the Lansing Grand Prix, to be held on March 31, 2012 in East Lansing, MI. Thank you to all for reading, especially to the great champions that lend their help and offer such awesome input!