Are Tanning Beds Hot? How Hot Do They Get?

Beautiful woman wearing protective goggles and swimsuit while lying down on an horizontal bed for indoor tanning in a modern beauty salon
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Tanning beds are the only way to get a real UV tan without sunlight. While they have many significant well-known risks, beds remain incredibly popular. 

Tanning beds have evolved since their introduction in the 1950s, with new bronzing beds, hybrid tanning beds, and various levels of tanning beds.

But are tanning beds hot to the touch? How hot do tanning beds get?

Yes, tanning beds will get hot, those lights are powerful!

Unfortunately, it’s really hard to say with certainty, since there’s no standard answer, and huge variation based on the specific circumstances.

We’ll discuss it below.


How Hot Do Tanning Beds Get?

We all know that too much sun makes you hot and sweaty. Is this true for tanning beds as well? A tanning bed’s temperature is determined by a number of factors, including: 

Most tanning bed manufacturers don’t specifically give a range of temperatures for the bed, and there is just a huge variation, so it’s hard to say exactly how hot a tanning bed will get.

Most tanning bed manufacturers don’t specifically give a range of temperatures for the bed, and there is just a huge variation, so it’s hard to say exactly how hot a tanning bed will get.

Modern tanning beds warm up to somewhere in the range of 90 degrees, which is a comfortable tanning temperature — but there’s tons of variation, as we said.

It is critical to be aware of these factors in order to properly prepare for your tanning session. Here are some things you should know before using tanning beds.

Age of the Tanning Bed

Newer tanning beds heat up much more slowly than older ones. Modern tanning beds are less hot and still provide enough UV rays for your skin.

Your Skin Type

Before you go tanning, consider your skin type, as different skin types require different tanning beds and tanning periods. Different skin types absorb heat in different ways, and those with fair skin will burn faster than those with darker skin. 

If this is your first time UV tanning, stick to short times and build up your base tan.

If you have fair skin, consider using a combination red light therapy/tanning bed!

The Condition of the Fluorescent Bulbs

Before jumping on tanning, it is important to check if the tanning bulbs are in good condition. Faulty bulbs are likely to cause skin burns, uneven tanning, or dark spots.

If you’re at a salon, the bulbs should be regularly tested, and should be changed when they’re at less than 50% of their useful life.

Change your Positions Frequently

You cannot achieve the perfect tan by just laying back and relaxing in a tanning bed. It is important to put some effort into getting the most out of your tanning by repositioning your body. The frequency of changing positions in a tanning bed depends on the length of your tanning session. 

This is where tanning booths become a bit more user-friendly than tanning beds.

To cover all areas, you should change your position every 5 minutes through the tanning session. Most tanning salons have timers attached to remind you when to change positions. Some salons also have assistants who will remind you when it’s time to turn over. The following are the benefits of changing your positions in a tanning bed.

It gives you an even skin tone and prevents overexposure to a particular area of the skin. All areas of your body will get exposed to the UV lights, building up a tan even in those hidden areas. Changing positions gives you a perfect bronze skin complexion.

Take Care of Your Eyes

Reduces damage to your skin and your eyes. You will be changing positions in the tanning bed, reducing overexposure of your eyes to the UV lights (but note: you need to wear goggles in a bed, no joke!)

Moving around and stretching your skin while on a tanning bed will prevent tan lines. Tan lines occur when you lay down in one position in a tanning bed. 

Performance of The Fans

Tanning beds contain fans that help circulate air, creating a fresh and cool atmosphere in the tanning bed. You should ensure that your tanning room has proper ventilation for safety and comfort during tanning. 

Before tanning, check if the tanning bed fans are functioning properly to avoid skin irritation, burns, stinkiness, and dehydration. If the internal fans are faulty, inform the salon assistant.

Related Questions

Here are some additional questions and answers on the subject

Why Is My Tanning Bed Cold?

Even when the weather is cold, UV light from the sun still reaches your skin. Tanning lamps work in the same way. If you notice a temperature increase during your tanning session, it could be because of the temperature of the surrounding area. The lamps may not have been used much that day, and there hasn’t been any heat build-up.

This could also include the temperature of the glass that separates you from the bulbs.

Tanning beds do not generate heat, just the bulbs.

Can I Still Tan in a Cold Tanning bed?

Yes. The temperature of the tanning bed does not affect your tanning outcome.

The heat does not tan your skin, but the UV rays from the tanning lamps. However, for comfort, you might need to warm up your tanning bed before use if it is in an extremely cold place!

Why Do I Smell Burnt After Tanning?

Tanning beds can cause sunburn, but the “after tan odor” is not a sign of burned skin. A tanning bed should not be heated to the point of burning your skin. If you feel a burning sensation while tanning, get out of the tanning bed immediately and contact the tanning technician for assistance. 

Final Thoughts

Do tanning beds get hot? Yes, they do. But it’s very hard to give a precise temperature because there is a lot of variation based on circumstances.

Generally, a tanning bed will reach somewhere around 90′. It should be warm, but not scalding hot, and not super cold!

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).