A Complete Tanning Bed Guide: How Do You Tan in a Tanning Bed?

The summer season has slowly faded away, so how is your sun-kissed tan holding up? If you are starting to consider artificial sunrays as a way to preserve your skin glow, then you should hit the tanning salon, but only if it’s an informed decision.

What is the tanning session plan suitable for your skin type?

Which sunbed is best to use?

How Do You Tan in a Tanning Bed

How do you maximize your tanning during sessions?

Is it even safe to tan?

These are all of the questions you need to know the answer to if you want to take good care of your skin. So, let’s take a look at the indoor tanning essentials before booking a session.

Benefits of Tanning Beds

What Are The Benefits of Tanning Beds

According to TIME Health, almost 10 million Americans use tanning beds, but what are the benefits indoor tanning enthusiast gain from it? Apart from a convenient tan, tanning enhances people’s mood and increases vitamin D production.

Exposure to sunlight has always been connected with improved energy, and this is where the vitamin D plays a vital role. During the winter, however, the lack of sun exposure leads to vitamin D deficiency. This known as a seasonal deficiency and it weakens our immune system.

With lower vitamin D levels, the risk of developing several types of cancer, heart disease, and bone disease increases. In addition, vitamin D deficiency may lead to developing an autoimmune disease.   

Therefore, sunbed tanning has its perks and they don’t end here. Tanning in a tanning bed also serves as an excellent treatment for eczema and psoriasis.

Tanning Bed Risks

is it risky to use tanning beds

While UV radiation can help with your vitamin D supplies, several studies have linked tanning beds to skin cancer and confirm that they definitely increase the risk of it developing. In fact, chances of developing skin cancer are 75% and 59% for melanoma (the deadliest skin cancer). Additional risks include:

  • Damaged immunity
  • Wrinkles
  • Premature aging
  • Eye damage

What Type of Bed should You Use?

how many tanning bed types are there

There is more than one tanning bed available in tanning salons. From the traditional low-pressure beds to the vertical tanning bed, here are your three tanning options.

Low-Pressure Sunbed

This type of bed has the highest risk of sunburn. It’s recommended that you avoid low-pressure beds, especially if you are a first-time tanner because your skin can burn easily.

High-Pressure Bed  

High-pressure tanning beds produce a high percentage of UVA rays that penetrate deeply through the skin layers to stimulate tanning. They are perfect for getting a long-lasting tan, but it’s important to build it gradually. Those with fairer skin can truly take advantage of high-pressure beds and protect their delicate skin prone to burns.  

Stand-Up Beds

This is the bed where you stand, instead of laying down. The good thing is that you get to move and chose a more comfortable position. Plus, you won’t have to feel claustrophobic while you build your tan, even on the secluded or tricky areas such as between your thighs.    

How Long Should the Tanning Last?

How Long Should the Tanning Last

The duration of the session depends on your skin type. That being said, skin types like combined, normal, oily, or dry do not apply in this situation; it’s actually the tone of your skin that counts.  

For example, people with pale or light beige skin have a tendency to burn. Hence, their tanning sessions should be no longer than one minute for the first three times. From there on, they can slowly build up the tan by increasing the time to 3 and 4 minutes.

On the other hand, the best way to know for sure is by consulting with the salon employee. They should be able to help you with this decision and some salons offer paperwork to help you determine your skin type.

But if at any time your skin begins to feel tingly, stop the tanning as soon as possible, because your skin might be overexposed and susceptible to burns.

What to Wear?

To wear or not to wear, that is the question. While some prefer to wear underwear in the tanning bed, others would rather avoid tanning lines. Then again, it’s best to protect your sensitive areas, since they are more prone to burning.

Remember, you can always wear a bikini or your lingerie if you feel uncomfortable going au naturel. Still, no matter what you decide, the salon should offer a private room and a cleaning spray so that you can clean the bed before entering.

What are the Safety Measures?

What are the Safety Measures

The main safety measure is using goggles for better eye protection. Never start a tanning session without them, because excessive amounts of UV exposure to your eyes can result in severe eye damage. Just closing your eyes or covering them with clothes won’t help or prevent retinal injuries, cataract development, and even blindness.  

Luckily, you can always purchase your own pair of protective goggles. Once you have them, don’t lose the sight of them!  

Bed Tanning Accelerators

Is it ok to use tanning accelerators

If you want to keep your skin safe from the dangers of tanning beds and make the most of your tanning sessions, then you have to use a tanning lotion. Tanning accelerators are products used for enhancing the tanning process by increasing melanin production in the skin.

There are several kinds of indoor tanning lotions intended for use with a sunbed. They are sunburn protectants with special ingredients that don’t harm the tanning bed. You can find a wide range of indoor tanning products on the market, so here is a short list to guide you through the process of selection.  

Basic Tanning Lotions

Basic accelerators for indoor tanning are ideal for tanning beginners, particularly those with pale or sensitive skin. They offer a foundation for establishing the base tan. Most of these contain anti-aging properties but look for those that will deeply hydrate the skin such as aloe-based lotions or hemp seed oil moisturizers.


Bronzers are the most popular tanning lotions of them all. Due to their widespread usage, the cosmetic industry raised the bar and created an abundance of new revolutionary formulas that will bring the natural appearance of a darker skin shade. Although there are plenty of bronzers for indoor tanning on the market, there are still only two basic kinds: those with immediate tanning effects and those whose results are visible after a certain period of time.

While instant bronzers wash away quickly, natural bronzers and DHA bronzers tend to linger. The difference between the two is that natural bronzers contain ingredients that increase your melanin production, while DHA bronzers work with the amino acids in your skin and gradually increase the tan color.         

Tingling Lotions

These indoor tanning lotions are mostly used by advanced tanners because they are harsh for beginners and people with sensitive skin. As the name suggests, tingling tanning accelerators stimulate the skin by causing redness and skin irritations. Therefore, some caution is in order, because this burning sensation can last for a few hours.

Nevertheless, this skin reaction speeds up the tanning process and brings dark tanning results. Still, do a patch test before making a purchase, because a lot of people are unable to tolerate the itching and tingling.   

Facial Tanners

The skin on your face is the most sensitive part of the body and most indoor tanning lotions are not designed for the facial application. Contrary to them, facial tanners have only one purpose – to protect the face. You can buy them separately or simply apply a good SPF to protect your most prominent feature from tanning.

After Ten Moisturizers

Moisturizing the skin within 5 minutes after tanning will replenish the nutrients your skin lost during the tanning session. Also, this helps to avoid dryness and itchiness you might feel afterward. The recommended lotions for the best after tanning experience are any non-mineral oil-based products.          

After Tanning Skin Care   

Hydration, hydration, hydration! What many don’t realize is that you need to moisturize your skin before and after tanning, if you want to get the tan of your dreams. You can use aloe gel or other tan accelerators that are rich in nutrients and vitamins.

Don’t forget, even after the tanning bed is off, your skin will continue to produce melanin for the next 12 hours. So keep on moisturizing if you wish to have a natural-looking and radiant bronze tan.

Tanning Bed Tips to Remember

Here are some of the most important tips you need to keep in mind when using a tanning bed:

  • Shower and exfoliate before entering the tanning bed.
  • Don’t shower immediately after tanning to allow the tan to settle in.
  • Avoid wearing deodorant and any fragrance before tanning.
  • Cover your intimate parts to prevent burns.
  • Keep your eyes protected with goggles.
  • Consult a doctor about tanning if you are on any medication.
  • Protect your lips and face with a high SPF factor sunscreen.
  • Moisturize the skin before and after tanning.

Now you know what to expect and what tips to apply to improve indoor tanning safety. The sun might not be outside, but it’s always sunny in tanning salons, so prepare and slowly build the tan you want. After all, you have a warm winter to look forward to, so take your time and take good care of your skin.

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