How Long Should I Tan For The First Time In A Tanning Bed?

Tanning Bed In Use
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Achieving the perfect tanned glow-up is something many of us love, but if you’re now wrapped up in sweaters on top of other layers and baby, it’s cold outside, actually being kissed by the sun can feel like a distant memory. 

So you’ve done your research, and have now decided to take the plunge and book a tanning bed session. So you just may be asking yourself, how long should I tan for the first time in a tanning bed?


How Long Should I Tan For The First Time In A Tanning Bed?

Achieving the perfect tan isn’t a sprint. Tanning is a marathon, so you shouldn’t expect instant results, no matter what the staff at the tanning salon tells you. This is particularly true if you have fairer skin. 

It can take up to five tanning bed sessions for you to notice any results and to build up a good base tan from which you can then maintain or build up as you see fit… without overdoing it and causing damage to your skin, would override the benefits of having a tan in the first place.

The UV light from a tanning bed is much more powerful than sunlight. Just five minutes in a tanning bed is the equivalent of an hour out in the sun! Check out the tanning time chart below:

tanning time chart tanning bed vs tanning in the sun

Pale Skin

For your very first session, if you have fair skin, you should spend no longer than five minutes in your session, no matter what the people working at the salon tell you.

Olive Skin and Dark Skin

If you tan easily in the summer and rarely (if ever) burn, then you should be spending no longer than 10 minutes for your first session.

It is also advised that you leave at least 48 hours between your next session. If you can wait 72 hours then that’s even better.

If your skin is feeling good, and especially moisturized, after your first session, then you can gradually up your time in your future sessions by a minute or two (no more) until you achieve the glow you want.

Don’t Feel The Burn

So again, for your first time, you should plan on your session being no longer than five minutes. If during those five minutes you can feel your skin start to tingle or feel prickly, then you need to stop the session immediately. That’s because your skin is more than likely burning.

There’s always an emergency button available in the tanning bed or booth that you can press to stop the session and get out. If you do end up having a slight burn, then you will have to wait until the burn is completely healed before your next session. 

Trying to tan in a tanning bed on top of burned skin will only increase the damage even further.

Just don’t do it!

What Else Do I Need?

OK, so now you know how long you want to be in a tanning bed, but there are also a few other things to consider before you attend your very first session.

The Eyes Have It

Make sure you wear goggles while you’re in the tanning bed. Not doing so will mean the strong UV lights can cause extreme damage to your eyes, including blindness. Most tanning salons provide goggles or disposable protective eye covers for you to use.

Yes, you’ll have to deal with raccoon eyes. But that’s a minor issue compared to blindness.

Lotion Potion

Do your research on the types of tanning lotions, which range from bronzers and accelerator oils to maximizers and tingle lotions. If you don’t have time to research beforehand, then your tanning salon will have an array of lotions on offer. 

Ask help from the staff if you need guidance in deciding what’s best for you, although it is advised that first-timers don’t use products that increase blood flow or tingle.

Note that you don’t have to use tanning lotion, but it’s most likely going to help you.

Tattoo You

If you have tattoos, then you may want to cover them, especially if they’re pretty new. You can do it either with a small towel,  bandaid, or by using sunscreen.

Moisture Time

Dry skin doesn’t tan, so you must make sure that your skin is subtle and hydrated before your first session. It’s also a good idea to moisturize your skin afterward as well because it’ll make your tan last longer. 

And you may even want to consider using an SPF lip balm for your lips. You don’t want to use a sunscreen on your lips, because of the chemicals in them, but an SPF lip balm will also keep your lips moisturized during your session.

And Finally…

Just one more very simple thing… Relax and enjoy your first time in a tanning bed.

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).