What is a Hybrid Tanning Bed? Tanning and Red Light Therapy Together

Sunbathing on tanning bed. Beautiful young woman lying on tanning bed and keeping eyes closed
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You may have seen a new device at the tanning salon or the gym: the Hybrid Tanning Bed. It probably has a long line of enthusiastic people waiting to try it. Should you be one of those in line?

What is a hybrid tanning bed, and is it worth trying?

A hybrid tanning bed combines LED red light therapy for skin rejuvenation and UV light for tanning. It is designed to get you a tan while (at least somewhat) mitigating some of the damage UV light does to the skin.

How successful it is is still up for debate.

In this article, we’ll discuss whether you should combine tanning and red light therapy together.


Why Would You Want Tanning And Red Light Therapy Together?

bikini by pool

Whether you are tanning naturally under the sun or using a tanning bed, UV exposure can lead to skin damage. Sure, it can give you a luxe sunkissed glow. But that tanned skin comes with a price.

Skin damage, including melanoma and premature aging, could occur due to UV exposure. Over time and due to repeated use, you can end up with leathery skin, from a tanning bed. Or worse. 

Red light therapy, on the other hand, does the opposite. It doesn’t tan the skin, but it helps the skin look younger and rejuvenated.

Red light therapy devices work by improving blood circulation. Through this technology, the transport of nutrients to the different cells of the body, including the skin is easier. After exposure to certain wavelengths of LED light, the cells will be able to perform better.

That means it can theoretically prevent premature aging, and may even reverse some signs of aging.

These impacts can be seen through the use of large-scale devices like the Beauty Angel RVT-30 or smaller devices like the Pulsaderm which we reviewed here.

Pulsaderm in Use

Combining these procedures is a dream for people who’d want to regularly tan but still keep their skin as healthy as they could.

Hybrid tanning beds still use powerful UV light, which is linked to melanoma and other cancers. Red light therapy is not going to prevent this damage, but it could lessen other skin damage like premature aging and wrinkles.

Hybrid tanning beds still use powerful UV light, which is linked to melanoma and other cancers. Red light therapy is not going to prevent this damage, but it could lessen other skin damage like premature aging and wrinkles.


Hybrid Tanning Beds

Hybrid tanning beds that use both UV lights and red LED lights are quickly gaining popularity in the marketplace.

For example, this Ergoline hybrid tanning bed works both for light therapy and UV tanning. Many are still not aware of the benefits that such machines could bring because red light therapy for the skin is just recently gaining popularity. 

Is Red Light Therapy Just Hype?

There are many studies about red light therapy and its benefits and effects. Yet there are plenty of skeptics that say that the safety and effectiveness of the technology are still not proven.

Although there are no adverse effects observed as of today, some still question the possible side effects of prolonged use, particularly when combined with the known risks of tanning beds. 

Regardless, the newness of the technology and the cost of these hybrid machines are likely reasons they are only slowly being adopted for home use.

As red light therapy becomes more and more popular for use in tackling issues like spider veins, rosacea, hair loss, and even pain, we could expect a rise in hybrid beds in the future.

After all, many are already using them separately today. For example, Planet Fitness offers their Total Body Enhancement red light therapy machines as well as Tanning facilities as part of the Black Card Spa Membership.

However, recently Planet Fitness has started providing some Hybrid Tanning Beds in some franchise locations as well.


Combining LED Light Therapy and UV Tanning

The hybrid machines seamlessly combine light therapy and tanning together in one package, that happens at one time. It’s super convenient.

But if you don’t have a hybrid bed available, you can still combine them by using both a tanning bed and a light therapy device.

If you want to combine red light therapy with tanning, it is generally best to use the red light therapy machine before you head over to the tanning bed.

Why?

As we’ve mentioned, red light therapy will increase blood circulation. 

When UV rays hit the skin, it causes a reaction that oxidizes melanin. With increased blood circulation, the oxidation process of melanin is more efficient because the requirements for the process are readily available.

This can help improve the tan because more melanin can be oxidized easily. 


Can You Use Red Light Therapy With Fake Tan?

Beauty By Earth Self Tan

Tanning beds and suntanning are obviously very popular, but spray tanning and sunless tanning have been catching up due to their relative safety.

However, if you tan yourself using self-tanners like Tan Physics and Beauty By Earth, or a spray tan from a spray tan machine, the use of red light therapy before or after the procedure won’t improve the tan.

This is because the tanning agent in fake tanners, DHA, works on the outer dead skin cells and not the melanin found on the skin. 

Contrary to the red light therapy’s positive effect on tanning using UV light, it may have a negative effect on your tan with self-tanners. With increased circulation, the cell renewal of the skin may also increase. 

When that happens, the cells that were affected by the self-tanners are likely to be shed at a faster rate. This means that your tan could fade more quickly if you combine red light therapy with self-tanning. 

This means that your tan could fade more quickly if you combine red light therapy with self-tanning. 

Although red light therapy can have a negative effect on the tan you achieve with self-tanners, it still has a positive effect on your skin when it comes to preventing premature aging and improving skin health. 

Self-tanners may seem the better option when it comes to tanning. But they could also negatively impact the skin.

A Maillard reaction occurs when self-tanners are used on the skin and this reaction could increase the production of free radicals, according to this study. The free radicals in increased numbers speed up the aging process by degrading the collagen as well as elastin fibers on the skin. 

As you can see, constant tanning of the skin, regardless of the method could potentially lead to premature aging of the skin. The question here is is if you are willing to risk premature aging just to give your skin a sunkissed glow. 

Tanning is a personal preference, and many people enjoy soaking in the morning rays. Combine that tanning with some red light therapy sessions, and you may find that your skin is even more supple, glowing, and luxe!


Final Thoughts

Tanning and red light therapy are possible in a single machine: the hybrid tanning bed. However, they’re still relatively rare in the marketplace, and you’re still more likely to find regular tanning beds or bronzing beds.

As an alternative, you use a red light therapy device and combine that with separate UV tanning, outdoor tan, or spray tanning. 

When you use UV lights for tanning, red light therapy will actually improve the tan because the melanin will be more efficiently oxidized. However, when using self-tanners, it is possible that the tan won’t last as long.

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).