Instant Tanning Bed: What Is It?

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If you love the glow and effect of tan on your skin, you perhaps enjoy tanning beds and tanning booths. But do you know if tanning beds are the ideal option? And what are the differences between bronzing beds, standard beds, light therapy/combination beds, and instant tanning beds?

What is an instant tanning bed, exactly? An instant tanning bed uses all UVA rays in order to give a more powerful, longer-lasting tan. Instant sessions are also shorter than typical beds, but cost more and have other drawbacks.

We’ll dig into it all below!

Well, let’s find out what an instant tanning bed is.


What Is an Instant Tanning Bed?

A tanning bed is a device that simulates the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays to generate an artificial tan. Some call it a sunbed, and it’s the most efficient approach to getting a foundational base tan. You’ll need 2-3 short sessions on an instant tanning bed to get good color. 

The average tanning bed releases 5% of UVB and 95% UVA through its tanning bed bulbs. But instant tanning beds, also known as bronzing beds are recent versions that purely emit UVA rays.

UVB rays are commonly associated with cancer. And so producers have introduced a suite of filters that appear to block UVB radiation and make sunbeds safer. But UVB rays also produce vitamin D and nitric oxide, the

You’ll need 2-3 short sessions on an instant tanning bed to get a base tan. 

The tanning beds contain 10-15 UV lamps/bulbs that produce the UV rays. Compared to outdoor sun exposure, the sunbeds are faster and quicker in giving you the tan on your skin.

Each bulb is powered by 100 to 200 watts of electricity. Choke ballast is installed inside the bulbs to control the current flowing through the lamps. 

When the current is turned on, the lamp emits a huge portion of UV radiation, comprising UVA (and UVB in some beds). High-pressure sunbeds produce a long-lasting impact on your skin as they contain quartz-filled bulbs that emit UV radiation. It’s more hazardous than that released by regular tanning beds.

What to Expect

You’re instructed to lie down on the tanning table to use the tanning bed, and then the lamps are lit to create light. The rays begin to penetrate through the exposed parts of your body. Your body responds by increasing the production of melanin in the skin, which darkens the skin and produces the tan color.

The quantity of tanning you get is determined by the length of time you spend on the tanning. But it would be best if you were cautious and avoided prolonged exposure. It is well known that tanning beds are quite hazardous, and can lead to cancer, wrinkles, etc.

It is well known that tanning beds are quite hazardous, and can lead to cancer, wrinkles, etc.

Does an Instant Tanning Bed Produce a Base Tan?

This is where things get a bit more complicated. Beacuse these instant beds use bronzing bulbs focused on UVA light only, they give you a fast, deep tan without the (arguably) hazardous UVB rays.

Your skin will look beautiful, nicely tanned with radiant color.


But in actuality, you only have a base tan of UVA light. If you go lay out on the beach on a high UV Index day without sunscreen, you’ll feel the pain! That’s because the sun has both UVA and UVB light, while your base tan was made from only UVA light.

You’ll get a sunburn from that UVB, even if your skin already looks tan!

So you’ll still need to wear sunscreen or an outdoor tanning lotion if you want to expose your skin to light that includes UVB rays.

Steps to Better Health

Although instant tanning beds are an easy option for some people, there are better healthy steps that you can use. It’s safer and well-improved for any age group and type of skin. You can do the following:

Self-tanning Products: Various self-tanning products contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA) ingredients. These fake tanners come in lotions, sprays, foams, waters, and wipes, and more.

You will attain tanned skin in a couple of hours that lasts for a week.

Dietary Supplements and Food Sources: The sun is the best source of vitamin D, and tanning beds (but not instant tanning beds) often help with vitamin D. But there are certain food sources such as orange juice, milk, fish, and other dairy products rich in vitamin D.

Additionally, you could try supplements rich in vitamin D rather than indoor tanning. However, there is scant evidence that vitamin D supplementation really does much of anything, which is weird! It’s really best to get it from the sun. See the benefits of tanning for more details.

Health Risks of Instant Tanning Beds

Sunbeds are hazardous, and before you use these devices, it’s crucial to have all your facts right.

Whether it’s a seasonal tan, there are various health risks that you expose your body to, including:

Skin Cancers: You’re at a high risk of getting skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, and basal cell carcinoma.

Premature Aging: Long and regular tanning exposure increases your skin to premature aging. Your skin starts to sag, get wrinkles, and even sunspots.

Ocular Melanoma: Sunbeds increase the risks of eye cancer, especially if you fail to cover your eyes while in the tanning bed.

Eye Diseases: UV radiation may damage your cataract corneal and macular degeneration, affecting your vision.

Immune System Suppression: Harm-causing immune cells are ‘trapped’ in lymph nodes by UV rays, preventing them from accessing your central nervous system and spinal cord and damaging your immune system.

There are real risks to tanning in a tanning bed, and you need to know what you’re in for.

There are real risks to tanning in a tanning bed, and you need to know what you’re in for.

But what do you think the results would be if we looked at the health markers of people who, say, watch Netflix 5 hours per day and order endless Uber eats, while staying inside and avoiding the sun?

The reality is that everything has some level of risk associated with it, and we all need to carefully choose the risks we take.

What Safety Tips Can You Use?

  • Cover your eyes by using tanning glasses or goggles to prevent eye damage.
  • Consult with your doctor if undertaking any drugs, as some may negatively affect your skin.
  • Ensure you start with a low dosage and only increase depending on how your skin reacts.


Instant tanning beds give you a more rapid tan UVA in fewer sessions, with a shorter session duration. These bronzing beds also often cost more to use than regular tanning beds.

And with technological advancements, you can easily access tanning beds for your tan demands. But you should be cautious and avoid prolonged indoor tanning as it can negatively affect your skin.

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).