How to Tan in a Tanning Booth

by Contributor ; Updated September 28, 2017

A tanning booth is not to be confused with a tanning bed or spray tan booth. Although they are used for the same purpose, to darken your skin tone, a spray tan is basically "painting" your skin, a tanning bed is horizontal and you lay inside while a tanning booth is vertical and you stand. A booth is better for all-over tanning so you have no tan lines from creases in your skin that you get from a tanning bed.

Find a place that offers tanning booths and not just beds. Many health clubs and gyms now offer tanning booths and they cost much less to use than a tanning salon if you are a member.

Ask an employee to show you how the tanning booth operates, as each booth can be different. There are two sections to a tanning booth - the changing area and the tanning area. Also, some places will give you a few minutes to undress and then the booth starts automatically, while some have a switch to turn it on when you are ready, so make sure you know how to properly operate the machine.

Make sure to ask how new the bulbs are in the booth - this is very important so you know how long to stay in. If the bulbs are fairly new you will want to stay in for a short amount of time and if they are old you may have to stay in longer to achieve the color you want.

The amount of time you stay in the booth is very important. Stay in too long and your skin will burn and not tan. Usually an employee can suggest how long for you to stay in or a lot of times the information is posted inside the changing area of the booth.

Before getting in the booth, make sure you apply tanning lotion everywhere. Also, put UV protection lip balm/chapstick on to protect your lips from damage.

You can wear whatever you want inside the booth, but you should tan naked if you do not want tan lines. Make sure that if you have long hair it is off of your skin. Also wear goggles to protect your eyes.

Next, step in the booth and close the door that separates the tanning area from the changing area. In the booth there are usually handles of some sort above your head for you to hold. This allows you to get an all-over tan, otherwise you may get tan lines by your sides and on your back if you have love handles! Also keep your legs spread so your inner thighs get tan.

When your time is up the lights will turn off, you can step back into the changing area and get dressed. You can tan as many days as you want, but it is suggested that you only tan every other day and increase your time in the booth based on how often you go and the current tone of your skin.


  • Your first time tanning should be 3 minutes to see how your skin reacts to the light. If you have a darker skin tone already, you can probably stay in longer. Increase your time after you start to see a change to your skin color. There are different types of indoor tanning lotions, some are just for your legs, some are to make you darker faster, etc. Use your judgment in picking a lotion or ask a professional at a tanning salon. For example, if you have fair skin you do not want to use a lotion that promotes fast tanning as you can damage your skin.

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