How To Tan Faster In A Tanning Bed: 7 Sunbed Tanning Tips for Bronze Skin!

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Looking to achieve and maintain that beautifully bronzed skin and the sun-kissed glow? This can be hard, especially when the sun is hiding in the winter! There are only a few options available for getting a perfect tan at any time of year, and tanning beds are one.

As many are aware, there are health risks involved in using a tanning bed (more on this below). However, it is also clear that there are many who feel a deep need for UV light on the skin.

If you’re going to use a tanning bed, you should try to maximize your efficiency in tanning, and minimize your exposure to artificial light. This article will show you how to tan faster in a tanning bed. Make your tanning bed use as effective as possible!


A Note About the Risks of Tanning in a Tanning Bed

Tanning beds mimic a natural suntan by using ultraviolet radiation, typically in the UVA spectrum. However, the light can be up to sixty times as powerful as the mid-day sun, and is harmful to the eyes, skin, etc. I want to make it clear that tanning bed use is not safe, and elevates your risk of cancer later in life. The American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD) strongly discourages their use.

While I prefer spray tanning to tanning beds, I recognize that many people love and feel much better with real UV exposure. Every day we do risky things like drive cars, cross the street, and eat food. Risk is part of life, and a life with no risk is no life at all.

I will not judge.

But if you’re going to use a tanning bed, you should know your risks, and try to get as much out each session as possible.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Tan In A Tanning Bed?

Unlike what many believe, tanning beds don’t instantly give you a tan after your first short session. It takes a few sessions for the melanin in the skin to oxidize and produce a deeper color.

This is known as a base tan, and it provides a small amount of UV protection, on the order of an SPF-2 or SPF-3. Just keep in mind that a base tan developed from a tanning bed isn’t as protective as one developed outside.

Most people start to see fairly significant changes in their skin tone after 3-5 sessions of regular tanning. Of course, there are many factors that could affect how the skin tans, including the type of tanning bed bulbs in the bed.

Regardless, it is possible to boost tanning sessions to achieve results faster.

Here’s a tanning time chart showing how long you need to tan in a tanning bed compared to in the sun.

How To Tan Faster In A Tanning Bed: Sunbed Tanning Tips!

How to Tan Faster in a Tanning Bed

The key to tanning faster on a tanning bed is to properly prepare your skin for each session and follow up with good care after your tanning bed time. These steps take you through the process:

The key to tanning faster on a tanning bed is to properly prepare your skin for each session and follow up with good care after your tanning bed time.

1. Exfoliate to remove dead skin cells

The topmost layer of the skin is what’s most affected in the process of tanning. It is also the layer where most dead skin cells are present. These dead skin cells will naturally be shed over time.

The process of exfoliation removes the dead skin cells in the topmost layer so the new layer is exposed. If the dead skin cells aren’t removed, they’ll be the ones affected by the tanning session.

In a week, they’ll naturally fall off the body and so will your golden bronze color. (I should note, however, that dead skin cells are actually what turn color using a sunless tanner like Tan Physics Sunless Tanner, which is why these products are safer).

Exfoliate Skin

If the skin is exfoliated, the tan will last longer and will be more robust. The night before the tanning session, take a bath or a shower and exfoliate.

You can use shower bath brushes, loofas, exfoliating gloves, body scrubs, or exfoliating gels to remove dead skin cells. Make sure not to overdo it or the skin will be dry and patchy. Gentle exfoliation is the best.

2. Choose appropriate clothing

Some people love their tan lines while others don’t. A two-piece bikini is what is mostly worn during the tanning session because it exposes most of the body while giving a little bit of privacy and protection.

Some people start with a bikini before they go fully naked while tanning. Going naked makes tanning faster because all areas are exposed. However, if you choose to go naked in a tanning bed, you’ll need to take additional care of your extra-sensitive private parts!

A small towel can be used to initially cover your private parts.

There are different kinds of tanning lotions out there. Some are specifically formulated for outdoor tanning use while others are designed more for indoor use. There is a great deal of overlap with these lotions, and most will work in both environments (with caveats).

Using a tanning lotion right before you go into the tanning bed helps improve the results of the tanning session.

Indoor tanning lotions typically have extra moisturizers so the skin can take the tan well. These lotions also prevent patchy dry areas and encourage an even, balanced glow.

Most lotions also contain self-tanning chemicals and bronzers. These chemicals, typically involving DHA, react with your skin to darken it, regardless of light exposure. They will quickly give you tanned skin while you work your way through your sessions, and are a significant booster to your tanning efficiency.

To maximize your tanning, you definitely want to use bronzing lotion.

4. Choose an appropriate tanning bed

Tanning beds have been around for decades and with the advancement in technology, some tanning beds are designed to tan faster. For example, stand-up tanning beds often will tan faster than lay-down beds. And stand-up beds tend to give a more even tan.

If you can, choose a tanning bed that provides the full spectrum of both UVA and UVB radiation, you may want to choose that one. It will most similarly mimic the light of the sun, more so than typical tanning beds.

You may get some of the benefits of tanning outdoors through one of these full-spectrum tanning beds.

Make sure the tanning bed bulbs are in good condition. They will keep shining even after they stop tanning you, so you may need to test your tanning bulbs to confirm they’re still in good shape.

You’re taking a risk by tanning in any tanning bed. But you might as well try to mimic nature as closely as possible.

You’re taking a risk by tanning in any tanning bed. But you might as well try to mimic nature as closely as possible.

5. Rotate your body

Even if you use the fastest tanning beds available, rotating your body will still improve each tanning session. This will ensure that every area in the body will be basked in the UV light.

It is also best to tie your hair to prevent it from covering areas of your body that you want to tan.

6. Don’t shower immediately

The steps taken after each tanning session are just as important as the steps taken before the session. Assuming you are using an indoor tanning lotion and bronzer, it is best not to immediately take a shower for about 2-4 hours.

Consult the bottle of the lotion or bronzer you’ve chosen and follow those instructions. But generally, you’re looking at 2-4 hours for maximum tanning uptake.

Shower Tan

It is also advisable to bring clothes that you don’t mind ruining with the tanning lotion. Use them while waiting those hours before taking a bath or a shower. These clothes may stain a bit, but typically the stains come out in the wash.

7. Apply Moisturizer and After-Tan Extender

Moisturizing the skin after tanning helps your tan last longer. You’ll be able to further build on the base color during your later tanning sessions.

Ideally, you should choose a moisturizer that includes an after-tan extender. These are a great choice for those tanning in a tanning bed.

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Indoor Tanning Bed Lotion Recommendations

Here are a few short recommendations for use in an indoor tanning bed.

Australian Gold, CHEEKY BROWN Tanning Bed Lotion

Australian Gold, CHEEKY BROWN Tanning Bed Lotion

Australian Gold’s Cheeky Brown is a concoction of skin-hydrating native Australian oils and vitamins. It’s not sticky and is comfortable on the skin.

It’s a unique product that helps you tan faster in a tanning bed or under the sun. The bronzer also works great in providing an instant tan right after the tanning session. Furthermore, it also has a lovely Cocoadreams scent.

Millennium Tanning Products: Dark Tanning Lotion

Millennium Tanning Products: Dark Tanning Lotion

This tanning lotion boasts a 100x silicone bronzer, which helps achieve a noticeable tan quicker. Due to the bronzer, it is best to wash your hands after application to prevent the hands from being lined with too much product.

It also acts as a skin moisturizer with an orchid blush scent. It works best with medium to darker skin tones but those with fair can also work up to it. With proper application, the Millennium produces in an even tan.

Final Thoughts

If spray tans and sunless tans just don’t do it for you, and getting a tan outside isn’t an option, then a tanning bed is your best bet. Try to maximize your time in the tanning bed to get as much as you can by following the steps outlined above.

Wait 36-48 hours between sessions, and go regularly.

When you can, skip the tanning bed and choose to get your UV light exposure outside!

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).