Stand Up Tanning Bed Vs Lay Down Tanning Bed: What’s the Difference?

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When you’re headed to the salon for a tan, you’ll likely find a variety of tanning options. 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 confused about stand up tanning bed vs lay down tanning bed.

What’s the difference?

Ultimately, it boils down to personal preference. Your results won’t vary much regardless of whether you choose a stand up booth or lay down bed, But there are also a few key differences to keep in mind.

We’ve put together this guide to explain the difference between stand up tanning booths and lay-down tanning beds.


Stand Up Tanning Bed vs Lay Down Tanning Bed

Even though they perform similarly, stand-up tanning beds and lay-down tanning beds have a few key differences.

Lay down tanning beds are one of the oldest tanning products on the market (except for the sun!). As the name suggests, you will lay down on the bed for a short duration of time, and the bulbs in the device will blast your skin with UV rays. 

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

Stand up booths usually tan you in less time 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 as there are fewer skin creases to worry about. Lastly, you’re much less prone to tanning bed rash, as you’re not in contact with the bed itself.

Using a Lay-Down Tanning Bed

  • Lay down tanning beds are what most people have in mind when thinking of going to a tanning salon. Aah, relaxation. You can rest and let your mind wander while tanning. Tanning sessions like that are a spa-like experience, a treat!
  • Lay-down tanning beds are especially good for those who get tired or dizzy in warm temperatures. Tanning beds get hot! 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 creasing and unevenness. 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 shoulder and knee tanning it can still be an issue.
  • Lay-down tanning sessions typically last longer. The lamps are not as intense. Some people prefer lay-down beds because they like resting while they’re tanning. It feels more like being at the beach.
  • You’re less likely to get a sunburn in a lay-down bed. Since UV rays are less intense, it is easier to know when your skin has had too much UV light.

Using a Stand-Up Tanning Bed

  • If you’ve been standing all day, perhaps standing up in the tanning bed 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 15 minutes or so!
  • Many 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 entire body in an even way, and you don’t need to change position. There are no creases and pressure points to worry about. You raise your arms and hold the straps to get a nice all-over tan.
  • 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.
  • 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.

FAQ about Tanning Beds.

Are stand-up tanning beds safer than lay down? 

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 a tanning bed? 

You shouldn’t UV tan more than once every 24 hours, and ideally every 36-48 hours. Dermatologists would say you shouldn’t tan in a tanning bed at all.

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

Sessions usually last around 5-10 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 tanning beds stop automatically?

Yes. Both varieties of tanning beds have timers controlled by the computer. You can always exit the bed early if you want to.

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

Yes! You might think you will have a ”raccoon eyes” look, but goggles are mandatory in both types of tanning beds. It is for your protection.

Final Thoughts

Both lay down tanning beds and stand-up booths will get you to a solid tan in a few sessions. Booths are a bit more sanitary, and there’s less to worry about. But the process feels more like going through airport security than going to a spa!

Lay down beds are simply more relaxing and comfortable — like going to the beach.

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).