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Best Way to Build a "Base" Tan

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I have been googling this topic and am drawing a blank so far.

The last couple of trips have been kind of frustrating for me because I am fair skinned and burn easily. I've tried to limit my exposure to the sun and build up exposure gradually, but this hasn't worked very well.

So, my question is: how do I build a "base" tan before heading to the Caribbean?

I've read that tanning salons can present their own risks, but is that uniform for all tanning salons? -- or are there some that have safer techniques/equipment?

I would appreciate any guidance on this topic.

Finally, please note, that I do intend to get some kind of tan before I head south this winter, so, while I appreciate the concern, I would really appreciate not seeing posts telling me "YOU'LL GET CANCER! DON'T DO IT!!!" :-)

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