I am very fair skinned, blonde, and blue eyed. Like you it takes me all summer to build up a light tan. However, this is my second year tanning. I use the lay down bed - they say the stand up beds are stronger. I start at 5 minutes for 2-3 times. Then I build by one minute as I can tolerate it. I started 2 months before our upcoming trip. I have been tanning this year for about 2-3 times a week for 3 weeks and I am just now up to 9 minutes. But I am starting to see a tan. I have not burned even one time. Just watch yourself, do not push it, and take it slow.
My wife and I take a 30 day unlimited package bfore we leave (were just there 1/31 to 2/7)we start the first week every other day about 7 minutes than the second week we move to 12 minutes the final 2 weeks we do 15 minutes every other day, we do the regular beds nothing fancy, but remember you still have to use a good sun lotion while in Jamaica, we use a SPF15 for our first 3 days than an SPF8 for our bodies and SPF15 always on the face, we are Italian and tan easily and our fourth day there last week the sun was very intense clear sky so we applied our lotion an extra time and still got a little red so be very careful in Jamaica with the sun. We have used a product Heliotherapy California Tan SPF 8 and 15 and apply mainly once a day the stuff is great and really lasts, we have used it all over the Carribean, France and Spain for the last 10 years with never a burn super stuff. ( not a sales pitch just a recommendation)
Our first trip to Jamaica many years ago my wife fried to a crisp severe sun poison we were young and reckless than!!!!!
I start 2 months before we go... I don't tan easily so it takes me a little while. My suggestion would be to find a reputable tanning salon. They will cost a little more, but they know how best to handle skin types, exposure levels, etc.
Have u considered doing spray tan? It also takes me awhile to get a decent tan base. Before we go to jamaica (we were married there 4 years ago and were back this last december) I go to a reputable spa and get spray tanned. It gives me much better color, looks natural, and has always kept me from burning. I have started tanning again n a mega (12 min.) bed and if u really want to lay n a bed, start slow (6 or 7 minutes) and work up from there. I would plan on tanning for at least 4 to 6 weeks before leaving. Honestly though, I would try the spray tan now, see if u like it and maybe go with that instead.
There is absolutely no protection in a spray on tan. At least if you go carefully on a tanning bed or booth you will stimulate your melanocites which is what gives you your sun tan and have a bit of a head start for when you get there.
I tan fairly easy but may get a little red the first few times out in the sun. So to avoid the red, my pattern is very similar to "Columbo's" response. I use the lay-down beds, only go 3x per week for four weeks. I also start at 7 - 8 mins. the first week, graduate to 12 mins. the second week, 15 mins. the third week and 20 mins. the fourth week. I will still use at least 15 SPF the first few days and then reduce that to SPF8, but no less.
My BF, on the other hand, is very fair. He purchased unlimited tanning for one month and typically goes 4 - 5 times per week. He started very low, 5 mins. for the first week, 7 mins. second week and will increase slowly. ONLY 16 more sleeps until we feel the real SUN on our bodies...
We just started tanning last night. Our spa has a new High Pressure tannig bed that does a quick tan low to no burn. I was in it 13 minutes per side (26 total) last night and had no problem. My pale wife did the same and is fine this morning. We are leaving in 8 days for New Zealand and with just four visits, we should have a base tan. I'm not talking brown mid summer tan but a good base. I'll let you all know how the tanning when next Thursday before we leave....
I tan fairly easily, but I start a month before we go to CSA and tan every other day - starting at 7 minutes, then up to 8 or 9 for a couple, then 10 (the max at my place). By the time we go I have very good color and a great base to get more color at CSA! Have a great time!
I tan about 3 weeks before I go....every other day in a stand-up bed for 10 minutes. This is just to give me some color for the first time at the beach. I learned a lot of years ago that when you use a high sunscreen, it filters out the red and browns you up beautifully. We were at CSA Jan. 31-Feb 7. We were very fortunate to have full sun, temps in the high 80's, no rain "every single day". I brought 2 things of Banana Boat Sport Lotion, 50 SPF, and one spray of the 50 for the tops of our feet (can never get all the sand off to rub in lotion; so just spray them). We applied all day long, especially after the ocean. We even ran out on Friday and bought a new one to finish out Saturday. Neither one of us burned, or peeled, and we have beautiful brown tans. Also, I wear a cap all day......remember your scalp! Several people had very sore scalps. Be consistant and you won't have a problem....but for us, anything under a SPF of 50 won't do. Oh, and remember the lips! It's only that I have burned these areas before, so I learned. Have a great time and don't let a sunburn ruin your time.
Spray tanning absolutely DOES offer protection for me. I have traveled all over central, south america, and the carribean. If I do not spray tan before I go it does not matter what spf of sunscreen I use, I will burn. If I spray tan before I go I never use any sunscreen and have not burnt once. I love the beach and the sun and spend my days in full sun while on vacation and it definitely helps.
I'm a brunette and medium skin toned - I start six weeks before leaving and have a really good tan by the end. I start out 8 minutes in a level two bed and gradually increase until I'm tanning 13 minutes in a level 2 bed. Sounds like this is too strong for you but just giving you something for comparison. The workers there should be able to look at your skin tones and tell you what you should start with. The laydown beds are the best because you can just get in, lay down and relax. However, something to know is that there are areas on your body that you won't be able to tan in a lay down bed very easily and they can leave odd little white patches. Some of those areas are where your underarms meet your chest, right on the top of your rear end, and the insides of your upper thighs. I usually do a stand up booth a few times just to get those white patches tanned. The stand up booths are circular so it gets all parts of you. You can lift your arms over your head to get the areas under your arms tanned. But be careful because you are much closer to the bulbs and will burn much easier. You can't spend the same amount of time in a stand up booth that you can in a bed. Ask one of the workers what they reccomend for you.
I'm pretty fair, blonde hair and blue eyed. Like you, I can get a great tan over the course of the summer.
I'd start 2-3 months out. Start really slow, 5 minutes is plenty every 2 or three days. Build up slowly, so that by the last month you can stay in for 15 minutes or so.
If you're laying down, remember to wiggle around a bit so you don't get lines from the bulbs. Also wiggle yourself so you can get the sides of your body. You could always go in a stand up machine too (but I really like laying down and relaxing.)
Even with a good base tan, you'll need lots of sunscreen while in Jamaica. I start with a 24 or so.
I don't like the spray on tanning machines. I feel orange'ish.
You use no sunscreen while on the beach in full sun? WOW!!! I would not suggest that you give that advice to others. The Jamaican sun will literally KILL some people even with SPF 50.... You must have some special skin... or some special spray tan juice.