How Often Should You Use A Tanning Bed?

LuxeLuminous is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Tanning at the beach is awesome and brings benefits. But that option is not always available. Sure, there are high-quality spray tans and sunless tanning solutions. But they don’t provide any UV light, something some of us simply crave.

A UV tanning bed is an alternative. But how often should you use a tanning bed? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t straightforward. Dermatologists would say you should never use a tanning bed. Tanning bed companies would say you should use a tanning bed no more than once per day, and preferably once every two days or so.

We’ll go over the details below.


Tanning Bed Safety

If you’re thinking of maximizing the use of the tanning bed that comes with your membership at a fitness center like Planet Fitness, at a Tanning Salon, or with a home tanning bed, you should hear this out.

Tanning beds can help you achieve glowing tan skin. But it can also cause sunburn. Sunburn, and time in a tanning bed, will definitely damage your skin and increase your risk of skin cancer

The American Academy of Dermatology says there’s no such thing as a safe tanning bed.

No joke, tanning beds carry risks, and you should be informed. But the world is full of risks, and adults should be able to choose which risks they take.

Sermon over.

No joke, tanning beds carry risks, and you should be informed. But the world is full of risks, and adults should be able to choose which risks they take.

How Often Should You Use A Tanning Bed?

Many of us want a tan now. We don’t want to wait, we want immediate results!

However, tanning beds aren’t made to produce an instant tan.

Although it is possible to see color changes, the process can’t be sped up that much.

Instant Tanning

If you really want to have an instant tan, you should try using self-tanners with bronzers . They can help with the raccoon eye phenomenon, as well, as the bronzers will naturally give some color to the unexposed skin around the eyes.

To make it as fast as possible, see our article on how to tan faster in a tanning bed.

Tanning takes time. It will take a few sessions to really see the bronze color. Right after using the tanning bed, your skin might not change at all. It will take time for the tan to develop.

However, you don’t want to wait too long to do another tanning session if you want to build up the color. 

How many sessions do you need to get a tan?

Usually, you can get your desired tan with as few as 5 sessions in a tanning bed. This will vary based on your natural skin color, the type of tanning bed bulbs, whether they are bronzing bulbs or regular, what type of tanning lotion you use, etc.

When building a tan, it is advised to have another tanning session after 36-48 hours. By that time, the effects of the previous session have developed. 

However, as time passes, your tan will eventually fade. In order to build that perfect base tan, you need to get repeatedly exposed to UV light in small amounts. That means that you’d be spending about 2-3 sessions a week at a tanning bed. 

The length of time and number of sessions you have to go through to get to the tan that you want will vary.

It will depend on how deep you want the tan to be and how light your natural skin color is. The key to achieving the tan you want is consistency.

Plus, you shouldn’t rush it.

Gradually build up to the right level of tan, then maintain it. 

How Long Should You Spend in a Tanning Bed?

Tanning beds and tanning booths usually have a built-in timer. You’d have to choose the proper setting for your skin type.

Don’t prolong your tanning session especially if it is your first time. You have to start slow and build up your tan.

As you go through your sessions, you can increase the time you spent per session. 

Also, don’t worry if your skin doesn’t immediately tan as dark as you want to after your session. You should not exceed the limits. They are there for your safety.

You can build up to the color that you want over several tanning sessions. You can’t just get a UV tan in a day.

How Often Should You Use A Tanning Bed To Maintain A Tan?

Once you’ve already reached the tan that you want, the next challenge is to maintain it. As we’ve said, your tan can fade. The speed at which it will fade depends on a few things.

To keep your tan skin, you should regularly go back to the tanning bed. You can do this once a week or as you think fit.

If you observe that your skin’s tan is fading, you can go back for another session as long as 36-48 hours have passed. 

Remember that you shouldn’t go for a tanning session more than once a day. That will just cause sunburn.

Remember that you shouldn’t go for a tanning session more than once a day. That will just cause sunburn.

Even if you have already built your base tan, you should still make sure to keep tanning on an interval. 

How To Prolong Your Tan

The most common reason why people make the mistake of tanning too often is due to the fact that they want to prevent their tan from fading. However, tanning at a tanning bed often isn’t the only solution to this problem. There are other ways you can make your tan last longer.

We’ve put together an article on how to keep a tan from fading, but here is the short version:

Proper Skin Preparation

Before you use the tanning bed, make sure that your skin is properly prepared. It is best to exfoliate the skin to remove dead skin cells. This will help light easily penetrate your skin.

Also, make sure that your skin is hydrated and healthy. Healthy skin will tan faster when it is moisturized as compared to dry skin. 

Additionally, you should make sure that your skin is free from makeup. That will just block the pores and block the light. And some cosmetics may react negatively to the intense UV light of a tanning bed (12x as powerful as sunlight). 

When it comes to facial tanning care, see what to put on your face for indoor tanning.

Post-tanning Aftercare

Aside from preparing your skin, the things you do after you get your tan are also important in prolonging the results. Your tan will naturally fade because the skin is actively shedding the outer layers.

Exfoliating the skin before tanning sessions will positively affect the tan. However, doing this after the tanning session will just increase the chances of fading your tan.

You could consider using tanning with red light therapy in order to soften the impact of UV tanning on your skin.

Final Thoughts

Tanning beds are a UV-powered alternative to sun tanning. They bring all the benefits of sunlight, but also similar risks to tanning in the sun — namely sunburn, and the increased risk of skin cancer. In order to build a proper base tan, and to go darker than that, you need short, repeated exposure to sunlight.

You should be going only for a few minutes each session, as suggested by tanning bed guidelines. Using the tanning bed too often isn’t a good idea either.

How often should you use a tanning bed?

Give your body about 36-48 hours before tanning again. Don’t ever tan twice in a day or two. That will just increase your risks.

Slow and steady wins the race. After somewhere around 5 sessions, you’ll have a decent base tan, which you can then build on from there.

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).