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A Guide to Indoor Tanning Beds

Tanning beds often get a bad rap, but with new evidence of the benefits of vitamin D, some doctors are re-thinking our sunlight phobia. People with fair skin who get too much sun exposure are at risk for developing skin cancer – absolutely. Many in the medical field, however, think we might not be getting enough vitamin D, which the body makes naturally from exposure to ultraviolet light.

Many of us enjoy getting a nice golden tan. Let’s face it – that sun-kissed look will never go out of style. Of course, lying in the sun for hours is one way to tan, but there’s no way to control the natural sunlight. It’s easy to overdo it, especially before you get a good base tan. And if you fall asleep in the warm sunshine, you could wake up with a nasty sunburn, which could be very dangerous and damaging to your skin.

Also, many people don’t have the time to devote hours and hours to outdoor tanning. The solution? Indoor tanning beds. With an indoor tanning bed, you can easily control the amount of time you spend tanning and build your tan gradually without burning.

There are several types of indoor tanning beds:

The standard indoor tanning bed

The typical indoor tanning bed is a curved bed with a “lid” that opens for entry. Before you get in, you tell the tanning salon employee how long you wish to tan. For most beds, the maximum is 20 minutes. If you don’t have any tan at all, it’s best to start at 10 minutes. If you have very fair skin, you might want to start with 8 minutes of tanning.

Usually, when you arrive in the cubicle, you’ll notice the timer is set for 3-5 minutes. This gives you time to undress and apply lotion or spray. Once you’re in the bed and ready to tan, you can press “start” if there’s still time remaining on the prep timer. This will turn on the tanning lights and begin the tanning process.

Be sure to wear the goggles provided to protect your eyes from the UV light.

Many modern indoor tanning beds have special facial tanners over your face. These can be turned on or off. Personally, I don’t usually tan my face because I worry about wrinkles.

Indoor tanning beds have lights below you and in the lid above you. Once you’re in the bed, pull down the lid. You won’t have to turn over to get tanned on both sides.

I’ve always been very claustrophobic, and I didn’t think I’d be able to endure the confines of a tanning bed. I was surprised to find that indoor tanning beds didn’t bother me at all! It might be because the ends are open and because fans are constantly providing a breeze.

Most tanning salons pipe in music to the tanning beds, so you’ll have something to listen to. When your session is up, the tanning bed lights will automatically shut off.

Stand up tanning

Another type of commercial tanning beds is the tanning booth, which provides stand up tanning. Instead of lying in a tanning bed, you stand up and are surrounded by tanning lights. These booths are usually round in shape.

Many people prefer stand up tanning because they can move around in the booth instead of lying still. In fact, I know girls who dance while stand up tanning to get a workout, thereby killing two proverbial birds with one stone.

Also, stand up tanning is the best way to tan the underarms and the sides.

The mega indoor tanning bed

Yet another type of commercial tanning beds is the mega bed. These are larger versions of the typical tanning bed, with more space and more lights for extra tanning. Some of these beds also have an aromatherapy option to enjoy while you tan.

It’s best not to get in a mega bed until you have a base tan. The maximum time allowed in a mega bed is usually 12-18 minutes.

The leg tanner

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Among all the commercial tanning beds, the leg tanner is my favorite! It’s a slightly slanted horizontal tube with a partial divider down the center. All the inside surface is equipped with tanning lights. To use the leg tanner, you sit in a chair on wheels, place your legs in the tube, and pull yourself up close to the machine. While you’re tanning, you can read a book or flip through a magazine.

I’ve found that the leg tanner is the best way to tan your feet – an area that always been hard to tan for me.

Most tanning salons will allow you to use the leg tanner and another type of tanning bed during the same visit.

The bronzer tanning bed

The commercial tanning beds known as “bronzers” are amazing! I’ve interviewed many people who have used the bronzer, and only one reported a sunburn, and she was extremely fair skinned. The bronzer is supposed to tan you without burning.

I don’t pretend to know how these things work, but I do know they use pressurized air. A session in the bronzer is expensive, so I’ve only tried it a few times. I must admit, however, that when I did, it looked like I had spent the day at the beach!

Home tanning

Some people are fortunate enough to have home tanning beds. Most of these are the traditional type of tanning bed. The problem with home tanning is that you have no one to regulate and monitor the time you spend in the bed or the number of times you use the bed in a single day.  If you have a home tanning bed, use it wisely!

Preparing to tan

Before you visit an indoor tanning bed, prepare your skin first. Take a shower and exfoliate any skin that you want tanned.  To remove dead skin, use an exfoliating scrub in a circular motion. Pay special attention to knees, heels, and elbows.

Many people also like to wrap their hair before entering a tanning bed to avoid damage by the UV light. This can be accomplished with the use of a terry turban or with a towel.

Also, before entering the indoor tanning bed, apply a tanning lotion. Some tanning salons won’t allow oil-based lotions or sprays, so keep this in mind when purchasing tanning supplies.

The indoor tanning accelerator

I like using a lotion or spray with an indoor tanning accelerator. A tanning accelerator contains amino acids like tyrosine and/or psolaren. These amino acids stimulate the production of melanin in your skin to help you tan faster.

Most lotions and sprays that contain tanning accelerators clearly state it on the label. If you really want to tan quickly, use a good indoor tanning accelerator and apply it generously and evenly. If the tanning accelerator is applied spottily, your tan won’t be even.

How to maintain your tan

Once you’ve reached your desired shade of tan, you won’t need to visit the tanning salon every day. With most people, one visit per week will maintain your tan, especially if you’ve used the indoor tanning accelerator.

Also, after each tanning session, you should use an after-tanning lotion to keep your skin moist and supple. After each bath, shower, or dip in the pool, use a moisturizer. If you apply the moisturizer while your skin is slightly damp, that moisture will be trapped and will benefit your skin.

A standard indoor tanning bed.

A standard indoor tanning bed.

A stand up tanning booth.

A stand up tanning booth.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Bunny on May 08, 2019:

How do i use a friend tanning bed i dont see a power sorce anywhere

james on November 02, 2011:

wow i only 13 and these tip helped me a lot for the frist time

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 22, 2010:

Wow, thanks, Kelly! Invite them to read it!

Kelly Varela on June 22, 2010:

Great hub and very informative. A lot of my clients buying tanning salon supplies from me should make all their sales people and technicians read the content here.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on May 15, 2010:

Thanks for reading and commenting, GeNova!

GeNova on May 14, 2010:

Great HUB page, Habee! I like that you are showing the benefits of tanning... so much lately about the negativity. Everything in moderation!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 23, 2010:

Thanks, Maria!

Maria Cole on March 22, 2010:

Habee, great post I'm glad to see someone post about the positives of tanning beds, instead of the negatives.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 15, 2010:

Hope you find one, RLS!

rls8994 from Mississippi on March 15, 2010:

I will do that. Thanks!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 13, 2010:

The leg tanner is wonderful! Call around to tanning salons in your area - maybe one has the leg tanning bed!

rls8994 from Mississippi on March 13, 2010:

Great info Habee! I love the tanning bed. I'm just about to start going again. I have never heard of the leg tanner or the mega tanning bed. I have such a hard time tanning below the knee for some reason. That would help me. Wish I could find someone that had that kind of tanning where I live!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 13, 2010:

That is correct, Fiona.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 12, 2010:

See, Sis - another way we're alike!

fiona_33 from UK on March 12, 2010:

Interesting reading but remember than sunbads are really not good for your skin or your health.

Angela Blair from Central Texas on March 11, 2010:

Great info, Habee -- I had a friend with a home tanning bed which she shared with me and I enjoyed it immensely. I think a good tan is one of the most attractive things going for women - no matter what anyone says! Best, Sis

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 11, 2010:

Thanks for visiting, Hussains!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 11, 2010:

Hi, Sheila! I actually prefer lying down and relaxing!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 11, 2010:

Hi, Veronica! Thanks for reading!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 11, 2010:

Disturbia, I used to think they were coffin-like, too, but now I love them!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 10, 2010:

Hi, Idunn. No, I'm sure tanning beds contribute to skin cancer, but my addiction is hard to break!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 10, 2010:

Thanks, Tubbs! Good to see ya!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 10, 2010:

That's correct, Screation! A lot of people overdo it.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 10, 2010:

Hi, Jen! YEah, I worry about skin cancer, too, but not enough to stop my addiction.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 10, 2010:

Thanks for reading, Entertainment!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 10, 2010:

Funny, MB! My youngest daughter is a strawberry blonde, but she can tan.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 10, 2010:

No, Pamela, if you've had that kind of problem you need to stay away from UV rays!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 10, 2010:

Thanks for reading, HH!

Hussains from Olympia, WA on March 10, 2010:

Thanks Habee for sharing this. I have never been to a tanning salon and probably never will, so reading your hub was a great opportunity to learn about them.

sheila b. on March 10, 2010:

I didn't know about the ones to stand in. They sound the best.

Veronica Allen from Georgia on March 10, 2010:

I had no idea their were so many styles of tanning beds. This was very informative.

Iðunn on March 10, 2010:

that too O.O

Disturbia on March 10, 2010:

This is an excellent hub, but I've never had a tan in my life and probably never will. Those tanning beds look like coffins to me.

Iðunn on March 10, 2010:

Very informative. Myself, I never went for the tanned look. I worked nights for twenty years for one thing, so my lifestyle was next door to a vampire lol. A tanning bed could have helped that then. I get out now of course since I garden and walk. I tend to remain almost a fish-belly white though. I'm quite possibly the palest person you're ever seen next to Irish who are often even paler.

But what do you think of the studies about cancer regarding tanning beds? Is that pseudo-science?

Great hub, thumbs up!

Korsita Korchenko from Louisiana on March 10, 2010:

Thanks Habee...lots of good info here!!

screation on March 10, 2010:

Indoor tanning beds do not provide a tan as deep as the one provided by the sun. Tanners are recommended not to tan indoors and outdoors on the same day.

JenDobson27 on March 10, 2010:

Nice hub Habee. I actually have never used a tanning bed mainly because of the fear of skin cancer, but I have used some of the rub on tans. They don't last very long, but I think they are a bit safer.

entertianmentplus from United States on March 10, 2010:

Good hub Thanks for the great info.

MaryBeth Walz from Maine on March 10, 2010:

Great info, although I tend to feel more like Pamela. I take a supplement because my vit. D levels were seriously low.

I'm also a redhead, so am used to being very careful. I've found that because of this, I tend to look younger than most women my age.

Of course, by September when everyone around me has at least some tan and I still have a glare to my skin, I think about coming back as olive skinned on my next trip around this great world!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 10, 2010:

Habee, An interesting hub. I am a little afraid of tanning beds as I have already had 2 pre-cancerous spots on my face removed. I think we need to take a Vitamin D supplement for sure because with all the new studies they have found so many people have low vitamin D. I was amazed at how many kinds of tanning beds there are and for most people I think they would be okay. Good hub.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on March 10, 2010:

Thank you, habee, for your impressive and informative hub.

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