Tanning Bed Tips & Tricks

white solarium in bright room

fiphoto/iStock/Getty Images

Tanning beds are a convenient way to keep your skin glowing all year long. They provide a controlled dose of ultraviolet light, predictable results and complete privacy. Tanning beds, however, come with their own risks and benefits. Like any type of ultraviolet light exposure, you can get sunburned from a tanning bed. The beds should never be used with the same techniques or products used for outdoor tanning.


Kitchen Timer

Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images

To use a tanning bed, you need to make an appointment at a tanning salon. When you make the appointment, you need to know how long you plan on using the bed. This is an important decision. Always round the time down and try to underestimate what you need. Remember, you're not talking about how much tanning your arms can take before they burn. You're arms are constantly exposed to the sun and have a base tan built up. Instead, you need to think about how much time your pale skin areas, such as your buttocks, can take before they burn.


Running shower

Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

To guarantee the best tan, there are a few steps you want to take before arriving at the tanning salon. Take a shower the day before your appointment and use an exfoliating body scrub to remove dead skin. Flakes of dead skin can hinder tanning and result in splotches. Dry your body and apply lotion. It's vital that you apply deep-hydrating lotion to your entire body a few minutes after the shower. The best tans always occur on clean and moisturized skin.

If you're looking to get the most color for your money, you need to use a moisturizing, color-enhancing, indoor-tanning lotion. This is not the same thing as sun tanning lotion for outdoors. Apply the indoor-tanning lotion to your entire body, including under your chin, around your buttocks and up the sides of your torso. These products work best when they have a little time to soak into the skin, so apply the lotion three to five hours before your tanning appointment.

Preparation at Appointment

Woman looking into mirror

Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

Once you arrive at the tanning salon you'll need to go to your room and undress or change into a swimsuit. Pull your hair up and away from your face and neck. If you have long hair, secure your hair into a bun at the top of your head. If you pull the hair directly back, you're bun will become an uncomfortable bump when you lie down.

Always make sure to bring a pair of protective, indoor-tanning glasses with you, or ask the desk attendant for a pair. The ultraviolet light used in tanning can cause major damage to eyes. Never use any type of tanning bed or booth without protective glasses.


high angle view of a man lying in a tanning machine

Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

A big mistake people make when using tanning beds is that they lie still. Lying flat with your arms at your sides and your legs straight creates an uneven tan. You need to move around some to make sure the tan covers every curve. Try changing your position every 30 to 90 seconds, depending on the length of your session. Lie with your arms raised above your head and/or your knees slightly bent. Spend part of your time on the bed with your head and body shifted slightly to the left, and then slightly to the right.


Young woman rubbing creme into hands, mid section, close-up

Marili Forastieri/Photodisc/Getty Images

Once you're done tanning, you need to keep your skin moisturized to help develop the color. One short tanning session usually doesn't have noticeable results. It will take a handful of short sessions to build up your base tan and start to show a deeper color.