Stand-Up Tanning Bed Vs Lay-Down

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When going in for a tan, you might a choice of a few different kinds of tanning beds. There may be beds with bronzing bulbs or beds with hybrid UV/red light therapy bulbs. But the most common ones are standing beds and lay-down beds.

If you are an indoor tanning rookie, you might be a little confused about stand-up tanning bed vs lay-down tanning beds.

Ultimately, it boils down to personal preference. Your results won’t vary dramatically due to the relative similarities between these beds, but there are also a few key differences to keep in mind.

We’ve put together this guide. This guide will make it easier to choose between stand up booth-style tanning and lay-down tanning beds.

But first, what is indoor tanning?

Are you curious how some people seem to have beautiful tanned brown skin even in the middle of winter?

While it is true that some of us have the luxury of traveling to a different hemisphere for Christmas to enjoy the sun (is it really Christmas without snow, though?), it is most likely the case that indoor tanning (or spray tanning) is the secret behind that exotic skin color.

Indoor tanning methods don’t use traditional light to tan your skin. Rather, they use UVA and UVB light to tan your skin, which is the part of sunlight that’s responsible for creating a tan in the first place. The light enters your skin and reacts with it to produce the deeper hues and colors that we associate with tanning.

Devices that emit ultraviolet radiation can be in the form of a tanning bed, a tanning booth, or even a sun lamp. While you will not usually find sunlamps and tanning booths in a tanning salon, you will usually encounter tanning beds of two sorts: stand-up and lay-down.

There’s an obvious concern about melanoma from tanning beds that can’t be ignored. But there are benefits to tanning and UV exposure that have often been downplayed.

Stand-up tanning beds vs. lay-down tanning beds.

Even though they perform relatively similarly to each other, stand tanning beds and lay-down tanning beds have a few key differences that you may want to consider.

Lay down tanning beds are one of the oldest tanning products on the market. As the name suggests, you will lay down on the bed for a short duration of time, and the bulbs in the device will start omitting UV rays. 

Being the older type of tanning bed, they have evolved a lot, and developers have added many features like facial tanning or shoulders tanning.

Stand-up tanning beds, on the other hand, are essentially vertical tanning booths. Instead of standing up and getting sprayed, fluorescent lamps turn on, and UV light is omitted, initiating melanin activation in the skin.

Tanning sessions are typically shorter than lay-down beds. This is because the bulbs are usually more intense. And it’s easier to get an even tan with a stand-up bed. Lastly, you’re much less prone to tanning bed rash, as you’re not in contact with the bed itself.

Selecting a lay-down bed

  • Lay down tanning beds is what most people have in mind when thinking of going to a tanning salon. You can rest and let your mind wander while getting that brown, good-looking skin you want. Given the busy nature of our lives, it can be the only time during the day when one gets a chance to relax and unwind. No phones, no distractions for 10 min. Tanning sessions like that are a spa-like experience, a treat to one’s self.
  • Lay-down tanning beds are especially good for those who get tired or dizzy in warm temperatures. Tanning beds get warm! And while they usually contain fans, the temperature can still get high. On rare occasions, people might pass out in a stand-up tanning bed.
  • One problem with lay-down beds is that the tan’s final look might not be as good. As you rest on the bed, there are points where tanning will be uneven because of the pressure on your skin from the bed.  UV rays cannot be evenly absorbed, and sometimes small spots in the tan might occur. Although newer models have integrated various features like special shoulders and knees tanning to offset that, it can still be an issue.
  • Lay-down tanning sessions typically last longer. The lamps are not as intense in those devices, which can be a positive or negative thing. Some people prefer lay-down beds because they like resting alongside getting their tan and enjoy those longer sessions. So the less intense lights and slower tanning are actually an added benefit for them.
  • It is also more difficult to get a sunburn in a lay-down bed in connection to the previous point. Since UV rays are less intense, it is easier to know when your skin has had too much, and it is time to get out of the bed.

Selecting a stand tanning bed

  • If you’ve been standing all day, perhaps standing up in the tanning salon for 10-15 minutes is not something to look forward to. Those who are on their feet all day may welcome some relaxing lay-down time. It’s what you do on the beach!
  • As mentioned, tanning bulbs in those beds are often more intense. So while you will be standing up, you will also be done your session faster. People with busy schedules might appreciate that. You can come in and out of the tanning salon in 10 minutes or so, leaving enough time to eat, have a coffee, and squeeze in a few phone calls during lunch break.
  • Many people feel the results are more even in a stand-up bed, and you’re less likely to run into issues like your legs not tanning. UV light can reach the body in an even way from all angles. Another thing to consider is that this kind of bed won’t press in on pressure points. That is one thing to consider for certain before making a choice.
  • Stand-up beds do not usually have facial tanning units. Our face is more exposed to the sun than the rest of our body, so the skin on the face is more resistant to UV rays. In a lay-down bed, you have the option of turning the facial tanning unit on or off. In vertical booths, this is not possible. You can avoid UV light by covering your face with a piece of fabric, but it will not be the most convenient thing.
  • In vertical beds, you do not contact the bed, so there is no fear of allergies or hygiene issues. Itchy tanning rashes are quite common when it comes to lay-down beds. So if you have sensitive skin, perhaps you should think of choosing a stand-up bed for your tan.

Choosing the best for you

You probably have reached your decision already. I will summarize the main thinking points in case you are still between the two. In the end, it depends on desired comfort and tan intensity, as long as the sensitivity of your skin. 

Lay-down beds are better for more sensitive skins and for tanning beginners whose skin has not adjusted yet. They are also more comfortable and are a more relaxing experience. They may require more sessions to achieve results.

The opposite is true for stand up beds.

If you need a tan on the go, or you are a seasoned tanning salon visitor, and you want to get that deep brown tan, then stand-up beds are for you.

FAQS about Tanning Beds.

Are stand-up tanning beds safer? 

They are both equally (un)safe. If you have a fear of enclosed spaces, perhaps you will prefer a stand-up bed. However, sessions are short in both, and you can always stop if you feel uncomfortable. The UV exposure is ultimately similar.

How often should you tan in them? 

The question is related to your tanning goals, skin health, and the device you will use. It is best to find a well-reputed tanning salon to get a sound tanning plan.

How long should you tan in a stand-up bed? 

Sessions usually last around 10 minutes.

What do you wear in a stand-up tanning bed? 

You can choose to wear a swimsuit or underwear, or choose nude tanning if you don’t like those tan lines. You will be alone in the tanning room, but there may be some privacy issues in some salons. You could also opt for a tan-through swimsuit!

Can I use tanning beds while on medication?

If you are taking medication that affects your skin sensitivity or sensitivity to sunlight, you should avoid tanning sessions. In any case, consult with your doctor before you take any risks.

Do both tanning beds stop automatically?

Yes. Both varieties of tanning beds have timers controlled by the computer. You can always exit the bed if you feel overwhelmed or that you had too much.

Do I need to wear eye protection in a lay-down bed?

You might think you will a ”raccoon eyes” look, but goggles are mandatory in both types of tanning beds. It is for your protection. The eyelids do not tan, and they do not provide enough protection from UV radiation.


Whether you have been going to the tanning salon for a long time or about to have your first visit, it is always nice to have options. It is even better to know how to choose between those options! While all salons are different, you will usually have the option of stand tanning beds vs. lay tanning beds.

Hopefully, this guide has equipped you with all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision. Regardless of what you will end up choosing, always go to a tanning salon that will work with you and respect and listen to your needs for the best results!

Written by Kayla Young

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