How Often Should You Lay In A Tanning Bed?

Utilize tanning beds to have a tan known as indoor tanning. This process, as opposed to outdoor tanning, employs artificial ultraviolet A (UVA) as well as ultraviolet B (UVB) light to darken your skin. These UV radiations are responsible for the skin pigment darkening into a beautiful tan.

So, how often should you lay in a tanning bed? Can you tan in a tanning bed every day? We will answer all of your questions about this topic in this post, so let’s get started!

How Often Should You Lay In A Tanning Bed?

If you have never used a tanning bed before, you may be concerned about such questions as How many times do I have to lay in a tanning bed to get a tan”, “How many times a week should I tan in a bed?”, or “Can I tan every day in a tanning bed?” Let’s find out the truth below!

In the first week

First, you should inspect the tanning bed label once you visit your tanning salon during the first week of tan. Since sunlamps in indoor tanning do not produce the same ultraviolet light intensity, the FDA regulates that the product label mentions suggested usage frequency and exposure times. 

Thus, not to exceed the guidelines on the product label. Notably, the FDA recommends tanning 3-5 sessions for the time trial, either for the first week or later, and not tanning on consecutive days. 
These sessions may enable the skin’s melanin to oxidize, darken the cells, and develop a tan. Lighter skin may necessitate a few additional sessions. 

After the first week

After you have got a tan, either in the first week or later and no matter your skin type is, the FDA suggests limiting your tanning frequency to 2 sessions per week to darken and keep your tan, even if you can tan for the whole exposure duration specified on the label.
When your tan begins to fade before the next visit, it is normally advised to wait for 48 hours at a minimum between sessions to allow your tan to develop regularly and the cells to build properly, as well as to allow the skin to relax, rejuvenate, and heal the damaged cells.
After the first week, you can progressively extend the length of your exposure when your tan develops, but never over the prescribed limit. In all, if the label suggests less than three times a week, obey it; if it suggests more than that, follow the FDA’s instructions, 2 sessions per week are sufficient.

You should not tan every day in a tanning bed. 
You should not tan every day in a tanning bed.

SEE MORE: How long should you lay in a tanning bed?

Is It Possible To Tan In A Tanning Bed Twice In Two Days?

Even though you can plan your second tanning bed visits the day after the first, we do not recommend you tan for two days in a row because excessive tanning bed visits can harm your skin, causing burns and premature aging.
When your tan fades away before the next appointment, it is highly suggested that you should leave 36-48 hours between them to permit the tan to build steadily and the cells to grow in a safe manner. It also allows the skin to renew and restore damaged cells. 
If you want to get a base tan before taking a vacation, begin tanning three weeks ahead of time. In all, you ought to avoid needless sessions to protect the skin from burning and brown spots.

How Long Does It Take To Achieve A Tanning Bed Tan?

Contrary to popular belief, tanning beds do not quickly give you a perfect tan after the first short session. Several sessions require your skin’s melanin to oxidize and generate a richer hue.

After 3-5 sessions of frequent tanning, most people notice significant improvements in their skin color. However, there is no set time. Instead, it is influenced by a variety of factors.

Tanning bed quality

These beds are not all the same. The length of time spent tanning is affected by the tanning bed’s quality. To gain quicker tanning outcomes, consider spas that have cutting-edge sunbeds and devices.
All tanning beds come with a maximum time indicating how much time you may spend sunbathing in them. The typical maximum time for the state-of-the-art lay-down sunbeds is 10-15 minutes and 9-12 minutes for stan-up beds. Generally, the more intense the tanning bed, the less time you should stay in it.
Furthermore, many salons may offer various services and amenities to make your tanning sessions more enjoyable, such as cooling fans, aromatherapy, integrated MP3/iPod ports, etc.

Skin color

Your skin tone determines the length of your tanning session. Fair-skinned individuals should reduce the length of time lying in a tanning bed and require a few shorter sessions to prevent sunburn. 
For example, if your skin is pale, each of your first 3 tanning sessions should last 1 minute. You can move on from here, but only in 1 to 2-minute intervals. If you have light, beige skin, tanning for 2 minutes may be adequate for the first session. Then, after four weeks, progressively extend the time to 10 minutes.
Another method to prevent sunburn is to begin with short tanning sessions before progressing to complete 10- or 15-minute sessions. 
The main reason is that if you get skin burn, you may need to spend time off allowing the skin to recover, which will conflict with the process and may require you to restart the process from the beginning.
Furthermore, those with darker skin tones can begin with complete tanning sessions and just require 1-2 tanning sessions to obtain a visible tan.

Lotions and sprays for tanning

These products help shorten tanning time and protect the tanning bed’s blazing lights. 
Several tanning lotions have particular compositions that accelerate the creation of melanin pigment in your skin, whereas others balance out tanning effects. Before entering a tanning bed, apply tanning creams or lotions for 4 to 6 minutes to produce a base tan.
However, do not use regular sunscreen while using these  sprays or lotions since it may block UVA and UVB rays, impairing your tanning process. 
Alternatively, utilize special indoor tanning products that boost the impact of these rays to produce noticeable results, including sunbeds tanning lotion, sunbeds bronzers, etc.

Many factors affect the time you need to get your desired tan. 
Many factors affect the time you need to get your desired tan.

How Can You Tan Quicker in A Sunbed?

Exfoliate your skin

The light enters the exfoliated skin’s outer layer more easily and triggers melanin formation.

Unless exfoliating your skin, the dead cells darken may come off quickly. Once  these fall off, the next tanning session will include tanning cells that have never been tanned before, requiring additional time to achieve the ideal results.
Also, UV rays must enter uniformly if a healthy base tan is to be achieved. As a result, it is vital to exfoliate the skin to guarantee that it is clean and ready to tan, resulting in a more consistently pigmented and even tan layer.
To exfoliate dead skin cells, you can use body scrubs, shower bath brushes, or exfoliating gels. If you overdo it, your skin will become dry and spotty. So, try to be gentle.

Proper clothing

Several people tan in a bikini before going entirely naked to accelerate tanning since all parts are uncovered. 
If you decide to tan in the nude, you should cover the private parts because they are the parts of the body that get the least amount of sun/UV radiation. As a result, they are more vulnerable to UV rays than other body parts.
If you wear underwear, make sure it is non-sticky and elastic and that you do not even mind discarding it once it gets soiled. Avoid wearing your best clothes to tanning treatments. Above all, disposable thongs are an excellent option.

Use a bronzer-infused tanning lotion

Using this product shortly before entering the sunbed improves the tanning session’s outcomes. Tanning beds lotions generally contain additional moisturizers to ensure that the skin absorbs the tan effectively.
The majority of lotions include self-tanning agents and bronzers. These molecules, most notably DHA, interact with the skin, darkening it irrespective of exposure to light.
Tanning lotion enables the skin’s pores to open. Its  natural oil film acts as a mirror, magnifying the action of UV radiation. 
As a result, it reduces UV ray waste and allows you to obtain the most from the tanning experience. Also, it hydrates your skin and helps prevent burns, wrinkles, and rashes.
Recommended types of tanning lotion:

  • Accelerators: include more moisturizers than in other lotions and help maintain the skin moisturized since it responds to the tanning process. Furthermore, they are excellent at assisting an individual in obtaining a foundation tan that appears as natural as feasible.
  • Tingle lotions: contain potent active substances that increase the amount of oxygen inside the skin cells, helping your skin deepen in color, allowing you to experience a deeper, longer-lasting tan consistently.
  • Bronzers: help improve and deepen the tan, merge inconsistently tanned parts, and enhance the tan’s color.

Avoid using sunblock in place of sunbeds lotion since UV radiation is regulated in tanning beds.
This type of product is not required to restrict UV ray exposure. So, you may never get as dark as you want if you use sunscreen. Then, you will be squandering both time and money.

Suitable tanning bed

You should select a tanning bed with a

large number of lights or bulbs since the more lights you have, the darker your tan will be, which  means that the results will be noticeable sooner.
Also, the number of bulbs determines the strength of the light rays and your body parts’ exposure to the rays. 
Tan beds coming with many lamps can also help you get a deeper tan faster. When a salon has devices but very few lights, you had better go somewhere else.
In case you need the most UV exposure, you can use stand-up tanning beds, which  provide stronger UV ray production and consequently quicker tanning than lie-down ones due to their unique structure.
In addition, do not forget to check the tanning bed bulbs’ condition. They will continue to shine even after they have stopped tanning you, so you may need to examine your tanning bulbs to ensure they are in good condition.
By sunbathing in any sunbed, you are incurring a risk. However, you should try to imitate nature as nearly as feasible.

Turn your body around

Rotating your body can increase the quality of each tanning appointment and ensure the UV light reaches every part of the body.
Spend the last minute of the session tanning your sides. Whereas the bed has already been tanning the sides during the session, resting on each side for at least 30 seconds can guarantee that the tan is consistent across your complete body.
In addition, you should pull your hair back to keep it from covering any portions of the body where you expect to tan.

Avoid showering right away

If you apply a tanning beds bronzer and lotion, do not shower for at least 2-4 hours because the tan requires time to absorb and set into the skin. Showering immediately after tanning might diminish your tan or possibly cause splotchy lines within your tan. 
When the skin is very dry, moisturize it by using a large amount of moisturizer. Also, follow the directions on the product’s container. However, you should let 2-4 hours for optimal tanning uptake.
Besides, you should pack clothes that you do not mind getting stained with the lotion and utilize when you are waiting to shower. These garments may stain somewhat, but the spots usually wash off.

Use an after-tan moisturizer and extender

Because healthy skin melts more quickly than a dry one, reflecting UV rays, it may improve both the initial and future tans.
After sunbathing, moisturize your skin to help the tan linger longer and improve your skin’s health. During subsequent tanning appointments, you can build on the foundation color.
Besides using moisturizer, you should drink enough water before and after melting to leave your skin moisturized and hydrated.

Before tanning, use a tanning bed cream, or tanning accelerator

Tanning bed creams can maintain the skin moisturized during tanning and increase the production of melanin for a deeper tan. 

There are numerous tanning bed creams available, including moisturizers, bronzers, and tingling creams, all of which are specifically designed to help you tan quicker and acquire a darker color. 
You should use the one appropriate for the skin type. In case you are a newbie tanner, stay away from tingles and bronzers. Furthermore, only use items designed for tanning bed use.

Wear goggles

After applying tanning lotion, it is vital to wear goggles so as to avoid damaging your eyes and prevent the occurrence of wrinkles around your eyes.

Frequently Asked Question

How Long Does One Minute Laying In A Tanning Bed Equate To Sun Exposure?

Despite common opinion, using a tanning bed on such a hot day is not a straight substitute for outside in the sun. In fact, 1 minute on a sunbed is equivalent to around 12 minutes in direct sun. 
Then, you can start calculating how much time it takes to get a natural tan versus using a tanning bed. 
Unless you can stand in the sun for far too long, you had better not spend too much time in a tanning bed, mainly because a sunbed is more intense than simply lounging in the sunlight.
Here is the table contrasting time spent on a tanning bed with time spent in the sun!

Time in a tanning bed  Time in direct sun 
1 minute 12 minutes
2 minutes 24 minutes
3 minutes 36 minutes
4 minutes 48 minutes
5 minutes 1 hour
6 minutes 1 hour 12 minutes
7 minutes 1 hour 24 minutes
8 minutes 1 hour 36 minutes
9 minutes 1 hour 48 minutes
10 2 hours

Is Tanning In A Bed Safe?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. People who assume direct sunlight to be more dangerous than frequent tanning bed processes can be making themselves at a higher risk for skin cancer since they have been seduced into a false perception. 
It is because a tanning bed session may bring you several disadvantages as follow:

Premature aging

Indoor tanning radiates UVA radiation, entering your skin deeper, inducing genetic harm to cells and suppressing the immune system, and destroying collagen, which is the fundamental building component of the skin, as well as elasticity, which makes you appear younger. 

Also, tanning beds may cause dark patches and brittle, wrinkled skin, which can be expensive to cure later on in life.

Eye risks

Once you lay in a tanning bed, you increase your chances of developing ocular melanoma and cataracts. As stated by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, tanning beds generate 100 times higher UV levels or the predicted ultraviolet radiation intensity than the sun. 
Therefore, it can cause significant harm to the exterior and internal tissues of the eyelids and eyes. As a result, you had better take necessary care to shield your eyes from damaging UVA radiation by wearing goggles while tanning and having annual eye checkups.


Both indoors and outdoors, tanning is hazardous. 
Especially, UVB rays from tanning beds may raise your risk of acquiring melanoma, the most severe type of skin cancer. 
It is because these rays will enter the top layer of the skin, called the epidermis, and cause cell damage and produce sunburn, which is a potential risk for skin cancer, particularly melanoma.
The proof is compelling that the United States Food and Drug Administration, also known as FDA, enforces safety warnings on all tanning beds equipment. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a single indoor tanning process may increase the chance of acquiring melanoma by about 20%.

How Old Can You Use A Tanning Bed?

Although UV light exposure is pretty stable across age ranges, evidence shows that high-risk exposure occurs more frequently in teenagers. 
Moreover, severe sunburns and excessive youth exposure dramatically raise the risk of skin cancer later on in life.
That is why several states and territories have banned children from using tanning beds. In fact, each state and each country will have a specific law as to how old you can use a tanning bed. 
In general, those under 18 years old are not recommended to lay in a tanning bed. In some states, the age restriction is even 16 years old. 
Others allow minors to tan if they have a doctor’s note. Some allow you to tan like a teenager with your parent’s permission.

If you are too young, avoid using a tanning bed to minimize the risk of getting cancer. 
If you are too young, avoid using a tanning bed to minimize the risk of getting cancer.

Now you know, “how often is it safe to lay in a tanning bed?” If you are a newcomer to using tanning beds and do not know how to tan safely, watch this video:

SEE MORE: Can you use tanning oil in a tanning bed?

Final Thoughts

By now, we have clarified your concern about

“How often should you lay in a tanning bed?” Regardless of whether you tan indoors or outdoors, they are not good for your health to some extent. Therefore, you should avoid tanning as much as possible.
If you still want to get a perfect tan by using a tanning bed, remember to apply our tips to protect yourself and not get cancer!


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