Bronzing Bed vs Tanning Bed: The Path To Your Perfect Tan

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Imagine this: you’ve been dreaming of a sun-kissed tan, but the beach is miles away, the sky is cloudy, and there’s a blanket of snow on the ground.

What do you do?

Luckily, there’s no need to fret because you have more than one option to achieve that golden glow. Spray tanning is one, and then there are the popular tanning beds and bronzing beds.

When you stroll into a tanning salon, you might notice both tanning and bronzing beds. But, what’s the difference between a tanning bed and a bronzing bed?

In a nutshell, the difference lies in the type of light emitted by the tanning bed bulbs. Tanning beds use bulbs that generate a balanced mix of UVA and UVB light, while bronzing beds lean more towards UVA light.

So, which is right for you? Often, tanning enthusiasts start their journey with a tanning bed to establish a base tan and then switch to a bronzing bed to deepen and extend their tan.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of bronzing beds vs. tanning beds, exploring the pros and cons of each and guiding you in making the right choice for your tanning goals.

Let’s get started!


How Do Tanning Beds Tan Your Skin?

Ever wondered how tanning beds work their magic to give you that golden, sun-kissed glow? The secret lies in the ultraviolet (UV) rays they emit. Both tanning beds and bronzing beds utilize UV radiation to tan your skin, similar to how the sun’s rays would naturally do.

Let’s dive a bit deeper to understand this process.

Understanding UV Rays

The sun gives off different types of light, but when it comes to tanning, two types of UV rays are most relevant: UVA and UVB rays. These rays play different roles in the tanning process and impact various layers of your skin.

UVA rays have a longer wavelength than UVB rays. They penetrate deeper, affecting the inner layers of your skin. UVA rays are responsible for a quick tanning result, but it’s important to remember that they can also cause sunburn.

Skin Diagram
Skin Diagram Source: Wikipedia

On the flip side, UVB rays primarily affect the topmost layers of your skin. They contribute to a more delayed tanning process and, just like UVA rays, they too can cause sunburn and blistering.

The Role of Melanin in Tanning

Both UVA and UVB rays interact with the melanin in your skin to produce a tan, but they do it differently.

UVA rays act directly on melanin by oxidizing it. Oxidation causes melanin to darken, leading to a tanned look. Interestingly, UVA also encourages your body to release nitric oxide (one of the major benefits of tanning).

UVB rays, on the other hand, influence the amount of melanin in your skin. With exposure to UVB, your skin produces more melanin. UVB rays can also affect the cells that store melanin, making more melanin available on the skin. This results in a more tanned skin color and stimulates vitamin D production.

So there you have it, a sneak peek into the science behind the sun-kissed glow you get from tanning beds. In the next sections, we’ll delve into the differences between tanning beds and bronzing beds, helping you understand which option might be best for you.

What is a Bronzing Bed and How Does It Work?

Have you ever wished for a sun-kissed tan that’s deep, golden, and lasts as if you’ve spent a full week basking on a tropical beach? That’s precisely the allure of a bronzing bed!

A bronzing bed is a type of tanning bed designed to give your skin a darker, richer tan that lasts longer. It’s like the superstar cousin of the regular tanning bed, with some unique features that make it stand out.

But what makes a bronzing bed different, and how does it work?

Bronzing Bed – The Special Bulbs Make the Difference

The key difference between a bronzing bed and a regular tanning bed is the type of bulbs used. Bronzing beds are fitted with special bronzing bulbs that emit a different balance of UVA and UVB rays.

Remember how we talked about UVA rays penetrating deeper into your skin? Well, bronzing bulbs emit more of these UVA rays than regular tanning bulbs. This means they can penetrate further into your skin, leading to a deeper and more long-lasting tan.

The Bronzing Process – Going Deep for a Richer Tan

When you lie down in a bronzing bed, the UV light from the bronzing bulbs penetrates deep into your skin. This stimulates your skin cells to produce more melanin, the pigment that gives your skin its color.

Because UVA rays reach deeper into your skin, the tan you get from a bronzing bed also extends deeper. This results in a richer, darker color that stays with you longer.

It’s important to note, though, that the process of developing this deep tan can take a bit longer than with regular tanning beds. But for many people, the wait is well worth it for that beautiful, bronzed glow!

In the next section, we’ll talk about the different benefits of using a bronzing bed versus a tanning bed, and help you decide which one might be the right choice for you.

Tanning Bed vs Bronzing Bed: Spotting the Difference

Ever wondered about the key distinctions between tanning beds and bronzing beds? While both can give you a golden glow, they do so in different ways, and the results they produce can vary significantly.

At first glance, tanning beds and bronzing beds might seem quite similar. Both use UVA and UVB rays to give your skin that coveted bronzed look. However, the secret lies in the distinct balance of these rays and the unique bulbs they utilize.

UVA and UVB Percentage – A Crucial Difference

The central difference between tanning and bronzing beds lies in the proportion of UVA and UVB rays they emit. Tanning beds lean towards a higher UVB content, which can lead to quicker coloration but also poses a greater risk of sunburn.

In contrast, bronzing beds prioritize UVA rays, offering a safer tanning experience but one that requires more patience.

While UVB rays do promote vitamin D production, they also carry a higher risk of sunburns and skin cancer. This makes it essential to be mindful of your exposure and take necessary precautions.

The Role of Bulbs in Your Tanning Experience

Both types of beds are equipped with UV-emitting bulbs located on the bed surface and the cover. This configuration ensures a more uniform tan without the need to flip over. While the number of bulbs in a tanning bed can range from 10 to 50, bronzing beds—particularly stand-up booths—often feature more bulbs.

Tanning Speed and Darkness Level – A Matter of Preference

If you’re seeking a deep, long-lasting tan, bronzing beds are your go-to option. They utilize more UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into your skin and increase melanin levels, resulting in a tan that persists for a longer duration.

However, this process isn’t instant. The tan subtly develops over time.

In contrast, tanning beds yield quicker but more fleeting results due to their higher UVB content. UVB rays act swiftly on existing skin melanin, leading to immediate but temporary tanning.

The Concept of a Base Tan

Repeated exposure to sunlight results in what’s known as a ‘base tan’, which offers minimal natural sun protection, equivalent to about SPF-3. While this isn’t a substitute for sunscreen, it does provide a degree of protection without the need for potentially harmful chemical sunscreens.

However, a base tan’s protective effect relies on UVB radiation, which is less prevalent in bronzing bulbs. A bulb that simulates natural sunlight can offer a broader spectrum base tan, providing more balanced protection.

It’s essential to know your bed’s light spectrum to tailor your tanning approach accordingly.

Pros and Cons: Tanning Beds and Bronzing Beds

Choosing between a tanning bed and a bronzing bed can be a bit tricky. To help you make an informed decision, let’s delve into the advantages and disadvantages of both options.

Tanning Beds: The Good and The Not-So-Good

Standard tanning beds can give you a quick, even tan that’s especially helpful when you’re short on time or when the weather doesn’t cooperate. They’re great for a quick pick-me-up before an event or a vacation, offering an immediate glow that can boost your confidence.

However, tanning beds have their downsides. They use more UVB rays which can lead to a higher risk of sunburn, especially if you have fair or sensitive skin. Repeated use can also contribute to premature skin aging and an increased risk of skin cancer.

So, while tanning beds offer quick results, they require careful and limited use to minimize potential risks.

Bronzing Beds: The Upside and The Downside

Bronzing beds, on the other hand, are designed to give you a deeper, longer-lasting tan. This is ideal for maintaining that sun-kissed glow throughout the year. The higher UVA content can also help avoid the immediate risk of sunburn that comes with UVB-heavy tanning beds.

However, bronzing beds have their own set of challenges. They take longer to produce visible results, so they require patience and multiple sessions.

While they are generally considered safer due to their lower UVB output, they can still contribute to skin aging and carry a risk of skin cancer with excessive use. So, as with tanning beds, moderation is key.

Remember, everyone’s skin reacts differently to UV exposure. Some people might tan easily and evenly, while others might burn or freckle.

Always pay attention to how your skin responds and adjust your tanning routine accordingly to ensure a safe and healthy glow.

Safety Considerations: Risks of Tanning and Bronzing Beds

When it comes to UV tanning, we can’t overlook the safety concerns that come with it. Whether you’re opting for a tanning bed or a bronzing bed, it’s important to understand the risks involved and take steps to protect your skin.

Both tanning and bronzing beds emit UV radiation, which has been linked to skin cancer, eye damage, and premature skin aging, such as wrinkles and sunspots. While some people prefer UV tanning for its natural look and feel, it’s essential to be aware of these risks and to use these devices responsibly.

Tanning Beds

Tanning beds often use a higher proportion of UVB rays. While these rays can give you a quicker tan, they also increase the risk of sunburn and skin damage, which can lead to skin cancer over time.

Moreover, UVB rays can cause eye damage, particularly if you don’t wear appropriate protective eyewear during your sessions.

Bronzing Beds

Bronzing beds, on the other hand, primarily use UVA rays. While these rays are less likely to cause sunburn, they penetrate the skin more deeply and can still contribute to skin aging and cancer.

Like with tanning beds, it’s crucial to wear protective eyewear when using bronzing beds to protect your eyes from potential damage.

The Risks of Living in the World

While UV tanning can help you achieve a golden glow, it’s not without its risks. If you choose to use tanning or bronzing beds, do so in moderation, protect your eyes, and monitor your skin for any changes.

Spray tanning can be a safer alternative, offering similar results without the associated UV risks.

There’s no such thing as a risk-free world, though, and adults should be able to make informed choices about the risks they take. If you choose UV tanning, being aware of these concerns and taking steps to mitigate them can help you enjoy a sun-kissed look while prioritizing your skin’s health.

Choosing the Right Bed For You

Deciding between a tanning bed and a bronzing bed comes down to your individual needs and tanning goals.

If you’re looking for quick results with fewer sessions, a tanning bed might be the right choice for you. They deliver immediate results, which can be appealing if you’re preparing for an event or just want a faster tan.

However, if you’re after a deeper, longer-lasting tan, a bronzing bed could be a better fit. These beds take a bit longer to show results, but the tan they produce tends to last longer and appear richer.

If you’re new to tanning, many recommend starting with a tanning bed to see results faster. This can help you get comfortable with the process and understand how your skin reacts to UV exposure.

For those looking to maximize their tanning results, you can also consider combining both types of beds. First, build a base tan using a tanning bed. Then, deepen and extend your tan with a bronzing bed.

Some tanning beds even come with red light therapy options, providing potential skincare benefits alongside your tanning session!

Remember, it’s not about which bed is better, but rather which bed suits your preferences and goals. Both tanning and bronzing beds expose your skin to UV radiation, which can lead to skin problems over time. So, it’s vital to use them responsibly.

If you want the deepest, darkest, longest-lasting tan, consider starting with a tanning bed, then moving onto a bronzing bed. But whatever your choice, always prioritize your skin’s health and safety.


Are bronzing beds safer than tanning beds?

Both bronzing beds and tanning beds expose the skin to UV radiation, which can lead to skin damage over time, including premature aging and skin cancer. However, bronzing beds emit more UVA rays and fewer UVB rays, which may slightly lower the risk of immediate skin burning but doesn’t eliminate the risks associated with UV radiation.

How often can I use a bronzing bed or tanning bed?

How often you should use a tanning bed or bronzing bed varies depending on your skin type, the specific bed, and your tanning goals. However, a common recommendation is to start with two to three sessions per week, allowing at least 48 hours between sessions for skin recovery.

How long does a tan from a bronzing bed last?

A tan from a bronzing bed typically lasts longer than a tan from a tanning bed due to the higher proportion of UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into the skin. However, the exact duration can vary depending on your skin type, the bronzing bed used, and your post-tanning care routine. It’s common for a bronzing bed tan to last a couple of weeks.

Can I use a bronzing bed if I have fair skin?

People with fair skin can use bronzing beds, but they should do so with caution. Fair skin is more susceptible to UV damage, so it’s important to start with shorter sessions and gradually increase exposure time. It’s also a good idea to achieve a base tan in a regular tanning bed before transitioning to a bronzing bed.

Can I get a tan from a bronzing bed or tanning bed without burning my skin?

While it’s possible to get a tan without burning your skin, any UV exposure carries a risk of skin damage. The key is to use the beds responsibly and follow recommended exposure times. Overexposure can lead to burning, so it’s essential to monitor your skin’s reaction and adjust your tanning sessions accordingly.

Are there any precautions I should take before using a bronzing bed or tanning bed?

Before using a bronzing bed or tanning bed, ensure your skin is clean and free of makeup, perfume, or other products that could react with UV light. Always wear protective eyewear during your session, and consider applying a lip balm with SPF to protect your lips. After your session, apply a good quality moisturizer to help replenish your skin’s moisture.

How should I care for my skin after using a bronzing bed or tanning bed?

After using a bronzing bed or tanning bed, it’s crucial to rehydrate your skin. Apply a high-quality, hydrating moisturizer, and consider using products designed specifically for post-tanning care. Drinking plenty of water also helps keep your skin hydrated from the inside out.
To maintain your tan, avoid exfoliating your skin too soon after your session, as this can remove the tanned outer layer of skin.

Wrapping Up

Choosing between a tanning bed and a bronzing bed ultimately boils down to your personal tanning goals and preferences. Both methods have their unique strengths: tanning beds provide quicker results, while bronzing beds deliver a deeper, longer-lasting tan.

If you’re eager to see an immediate change, starting with a tanning bed can be a great option. Once you’ve established a solid base tan, you can then transition to a bronzing bed to deepen and extend the life of your tan.

Remember, while both types of beds can help you achieve that sun-kissed glow, it’s crucial to use them responsibly to minimize potential skin damage.

Always follow recommended exposure times, care for your skin before and after sessions, and never hesitate to seek advice from tanning professionals.

Happy tanning!

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).