How Long After Using A Tanning Bed Does It Show?

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Tanning beds can be used as an alternative to sunbathing. The machines use UV bulbs to trigger a reaction that darkens your skin.

The UV light used in them is more concentrated than sunlight (up to 26X as concentrated!) that’s why you only a few minutes of exposure to initiate the increase in production of melanin.

But how long after using a tanning bed does it show on your skin? When do you get that glow? Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear answer to that! The length of time will vary based on various factors.

If you are wondering when you’ll see your results, the information we have for you below will help you figure out a close estimate.


How Long After Using A Tanning Bed Does It Show?

Did you ever think that after a single use of a tanning bed for about 15 minutes, you’ll have that bronze goddess glow, even if you’re as pale as a ghost, to begin with?

Well, I used to think that way too! But through experience and through what I’ve read, that rarely happens.

If you do get a tan after a single session, it may not be that dark — especially if you’re really pale.

On average, most people will really begin to see the results after about 3 tanning sessions. In order to deepen that tan and get a more defined one, you may have to lay on a tanning bed multiple times per week.

Those who are building a base tan because they are going on a holiday could start using the tanning bed about three weeks before their trip. That gives them ample time to have a base tan.

Those that are simply maintaining their tan could simply go for one session each week.

The key is multiple short exposures over a period of time. Too much and you just get a sunburn. Too little and you remain pale. Regular, repeat exposures will produce that luxe tan.

Things To Know Before Tanning In A Tanning Bed

Tanning Bed In Use

Before you go and tan yourself on a tanning bed, you must first be well-informed about a variety of things. First of all, you have to remember that tanning beds absolutely put you at risk of developing skin cancer.

Secondly, you should know when to expect to see the results. Most often than not, one session won’t show you results.

You might be tempted to go for another session consecutively because you think the first one didn’t do much.

That’s a bad idea.

It won’t really speed up the process and you’re more likely to get sunburned.

Pro Tip: Tanning in a sunbed is the worst way to get a tan. Tanning in the sunlight has benefits, but dangers too. Tanning using a sunless tanner or spray tan is much safer. Tanning beds are the worst choice, but we all have to choose our own risks. Choose wisely.

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Factors That Affect How Long Your Tan Shows

The results you want to see will not magically appear right after the tanning session. It takes time and time will depend on a variety of factors. Such factors are as follows:

  • Your skin tone and type
  • The tanning bed quality
  • Use of tanning lotions or sprays

Skin Tone And Type

Your skin tone and type can affect how long your tanning bed results show up. People with fairer skin tones tend to get a tan more easily, while those with darker skin tones may take multiple sessions to see any results.

To start with, figure out where your skin lands on the Fitzpatrick scale. That will give you a sense of your base level.

Most of those who have skin in scale levels I and II will burn quite quickly. If you have naturally pale skin, you should be doing short exposures until you’ve built up some color.

It is best to work your way up to the full 15-minute session gradually. If you’re impatient and you start with the full 15 minutes, you may get sunburned.

That could further delay your tanning schedule because you first have to let your skin heal before you expose it again to the UV light of a tanning bed.

Those with darker skin tones can better protect the skin against the UV rays because they have more melanin in the skin from the start. That’s why they can better handle a full 15-minute session. Conversely, your hair will lighten due to the same effect.

If you are unsure, some tanning salon staff can assist you and suggest the most efficient time to use for each session.

You can consult a tanning time chart to figure it out for yourself.

Remember that the depth of your tan will still depend on your skin tone. Each skin tone has limits as to how much melanin it could have.

You’re never going to get super-duper dark if you are very pale, to begin with.

Tanning Bed Quality

Tanning beds come in all shapes and sizes, with a variety of features. When it comes to quality, not all beds are created equal. Some have better features that will speed up the tanning process.

If you’re looking for a quick tan, it’s best to find a bed with advanced technology. However, not all beds have these features, so you may have to settle for a bed that takes a bit longer to show results.

This will depend on the availability of the tanning bed in the tanning salon where you are getting a tan.

It’s important to read the reviews before becoming a member of tanning salons so you’ll know whether you’ll meet your tanning goals when you go there.

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Tanning Lotions And Sprays

There are a number of different tanning lotions and sprays on the market that are designed to help speed up the tanning process. Some of these products contain ingredients like vitamins and other botanicals to help with skin moisturization and increase blood flow.

With an increase in blood flow, there will be more oxygenation of melanin, thus boosting production, and therefore your tan.

The moisturizing components help prevent damage to the cells even if it is exposed to UV radiation.

UV radiation can dry the skin due to the heat. You want your skin to have more melanin and not dry up and become flaky after using the tanning bed.

Can You Tan Every Day In A Tanning Bed?

You might be disappointed to know that there are lots of factors that could affect when the result appears.

If you’re in a hurry to get tan, you might think that tanning every day is a great solution.

However, it isn’t a great idea.

You need to allow your skin time to get to the tan you want.

Don’t rush your tanning sessions and never do more than one session a day. The 15-minute mark is the usual limit because going beyond that just causes sunburn.

Sunburn doesn’t really make you beautifully tanned, and it typically doesn’t turn into a tan.

It looks reddish and may be uncomfortable or painful. And it’s the main thing dermatologists tell you to avoid at all costs!

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).