Why Am I Not Getting Darker in a Tanning Bed?

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You love it when your skin has a deep golden glow after lounging around in the sun during the day.

But you hate it when your skin doesn’t get the same luscious dark effect if you used a tanning bed instead. Sometimes tanning beds just don’t produce the results!

Many ask the question: “Why am I not getting darker in a tanning bed?

Exposing your skin to UV rays in a tanning bed is different from when you do it in the sun. And there are a few factors that prevent your skin from gaining the same benefit from a tanning bed session.

In this article, we’ll look at a few reasons you’re not darkening up in a tanning bed the way you expect.


Why Am I Not Getting Darker in a Tanning Bed?

The first thing that you’ll need to consider could be as simple as the efficacy of the UV tanning bed bulbs being used. This is a great question to ask the staff when you next visit the tanning salon.

Pro Tip:

Ask when was the last time the bulbs on the tanning beds were changed?

This is because the useful life of most tanning bed bulbs ranges anywhere from 3000 to about 10000 hours. So, figuring out if the bulbs on the tanning bed you’re using are working properly — or not — is not so easy to determine.

And it’s not just that.

Tanning bulbs can start to lose their efficiency halfway through their expected life.

Yet, this is something that the staff at your tanning salon should know. They should be regularly testing their tanning bulbs and changing them when necessary.

The safety of their customers should be a top priority, after all. So don’t be afraid to ask this question on your next visit to the tanning salon.

Your Regime

If you find out that the tanning bed bulbs aren’t the issue, then the reason could be down to your skincare routine.

For example, do you use heavy lotions or oils to keep your skin moisturized? If so, then your skin oil or lotion could be the culprit. This is because skin care products with a thick consistency that don’t absorb easily tend to block your pores.

Pore Story

Or maybe you’ve shaved your legs less than 48 hours before your tanning session.

Doing this can also block pores. Especially if you’ve used a blunt razor. Never use a blunt razor!

It will pull on the hair, but not remove the hair follicle completely. Your hair follicles will then combine with the skin’s natural oils and dead skin cells, and get clogged up.

Epilation can do the same thing, leading to ingrown hairs.

If clogged pores are your problem, then exfoliation is your answer. This is the reason you’re not getting darker in a tanning bed.

By adding exfoliation to your skincare regime, you’ll help to brush away dead skin cells from your pores. This  allows the UV rays to penetrate your skin more deeply and evenly. If you want ultimate healthy skin, then it’s a good idea to exfoliate it each day.

You can easily incorporate a daily exfoliation routine. Use a sisal brush  before your morning shower.

Sisal is a stiff-bristled brush made from the fibers of the sisal agave plant. Dry body brushing with a sisal brush will help to eliminate dead skin cells, and so much more.

Using a sisal brush every day will help to stimulate your lymphatic flow.  This will improve your circulation and eliminate toxins. This means that it also helps to reduce the appearance of cellulite — what a bonus!

Before you get into the shower, start brushing your feet in small circular motions. Move up and over your entire body with light pressure. It might be uncomfortable to dry brush at first. In time, you can gradually increase the pressure, which will eventually feel invigorating.

A sisal brush is the perfect beauty tool to prepare your skin for a long-lasting tan after a tanning bed session.

If you then need to wax or shave, do so after you’ve used your sisal brush. (and note that waxing is also an exfoliation process)

Your next step is to make sure that you leave at least 48 hours before using a tanning bed. And then wait at least another 48 hours before having another session.

This will give your skin enough time to develop color, as well as recover from UV exposure.

How To Get Darker in a Tanning Bed

There are a few other things that you can do to make your next tanning bed session a more successful one this time.

But to start, make sure that your skin has been exfoliated at least 24-48 hours before your session. As mentioned above, dry brush your body with a sisal brush to remove any dead skin cells. That would also flake off and take away any color.

Your skin should also be well moisturized.

Healthy and moisturized skin is not only better for you, but it will give faster results when tanning. It can also prolong the effect of your tanned skin.

And, remember that truly hydrated skin starts from the inside. So, you need to make sure that you drink water both before and after your tanning bed session.

Acceleration Station

Another way to get a darker tan in a tanning bed is to apply a tanning accelerator before your session.

Pro Tan’s Hypoallergenic Dark Tanning Accelerator  is a mineral oil-free formulation that absorbs fast into your skin.

This tanning accelerator is a non-greasy and paraben-free hydrating blend. It will calm your skin.  It contains moisturizing oatmeal, mango seed butter, and aloe vera. These will help soothe and smooth the skin after UV exposure.

It is even good for sensitive skins. If you’re after the perfect golden sheen then this tanning accelerator  will prepare your skin to receive a radiant glow.

There are several other popular tanning accelerator lotions on the market. We’ve reviewed a few.


You now have some ideas on  why you haven’t been getting darker from your tanning bed sessions.

Which means, your next UV boost can last for much longer.

And you’ll feel confident with your glowing 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).