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How to Lay in a Tanning Bed

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Whether you’re looking to amp up your summer tan or get some winter color, a tanning bed is always there for you. Going to the tanning salon is the best way to get the base color before your next beach day or vacation. 

If it’s your first time in a tanning bed, this can be overwhelming. There are many different types of tanning beds out there so let’s talk about how to lay in a tanning bed.


How to Lay in a Tanning Bed

A lay-down tanning bed is the most popular type of tanning bed that there is. These beds can be configured in a variety of ways, including with standard bulbs and bronzing bulbs. A lay-down tanning bed has a door that will raise up vertically and close down once you are in the bed.

When laying in a flat tanning bed simply lay down on the base of the bed in the center of the curvature. Be sure to align your body in the bed so your feet and head are included in the UV exposure.

These beds are pretty comfortable, as you’re just laying there, similar to tanning outside. But you can end up getting creases in your skin if you don’t move around enough, so you need to be aware of that.

You also can get tanning bed rash if you haven’t properly cleaned the bed, or if the cleanser disagrees with your skin.


How to Tan in a Stand-Up Bed

Another popular type of tanning bed is the standup tanning booth. You aren’t necessarily touching the glass in this style bed, but you have to stand for the entire session, which is a bit unusual for many who are used to laying down.

This is a vertical bed, designed with a door that will close behind you. Inside, you will be surrounded by the tanning lights and there will be handles above your head to hold onto.

It is important when holding onto the handles to get a 90° angle on the arms in order to prevent any creases in the skin for an underhand area. See this article for more stand-up tanning bed tips.

Some tanning booths of this style incorporate red light therapy bulbs into the tanning system.


How to Prepare for Your Tan

Before laying the tanning bed, there are a few things to do to prepare for your tan. 

The first thing to do is apply a tanning lotion like Paint it Black 50x or Maui Babe all over the body (note you may want to use a different lotion for your face). Using a tanning lotion can improve the results of your tan, and protect your skin from burning.

You may choose to lay in the bed in the nude, or some may choose to keep an undergarment on.

The bed should be sanitized for you before your use, so don’t be afraid to remove your clothing (if it’s not, find a different salon!).

Before any tan, it is important to apply your eyewear. Eye protection is required in most tanning salons. The exposure of UV rays to your eyes can be harmful and leave long-lasting damage if not protected. 

There are many types of eyewear to choose from. 

There are tanning goggles, foil cups, and patches. You may find the patches or foil cups to produce less of a raccoon eye effect.

Be sure to get the appropriate eyewear that is certified for tanning beds.


How Long Should I Lay In a Tanning Bed?

If it is your first time in a tanning bed, the tanning technician may suggest the length of your tan based on your skin tone and coloring. 

For your first time, we recommend starting at under 10 minutes. Most people will increase the length of their tan by a few minutes each visit to improve their color and build a base tan.

Once you’re in the tanning bed it is important to determine if your body is getting too hot or if it’s time to get out of the bed.

It is common to have mild perspiration in the tanning bed, but if you feel faint or have excessive sweating, it may be time to get out of the bed.

Most tanning beds have the option to turn on a fan. We recommend using the fan to keep your body temperature cool. 


Tanning Bed Mishaps

We have all seen those with the obvious signs of over tanning, raccoon-eyes, or orange skin, weird tan lines and folds, etc.

Try these tips to avoid tanning mishaps.

When laying in the bed, remember to keep your chin up and neck elongated to avoid tanned creases on your neckline. Another area that may result in a crease is the bum or tailbone. Be sure to separate the skin in these areas to ensure all areas of the skin get an even tan.

You’re alone in there, after all!

Some people may choose to rotate their position throughout the duration of the tan. You can lay on the left and right sides with your arm above your head, and you can lay flat on your stomach. 

When laying on your stomach, be sure to turn your head to the left and right sides for equal time. 


Laying in a tanning bed can be a calm and enjoyable experience. Some people choose to listen to music or an audiobook while they lay in the tanning bed. This warm boost of vitamin D is great for the body and mind.

Keep in mind the risks of excessive exposure to UV rays in a tanning bed for a safe and enjoyable experience.

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