Are Tanning Beds Worse Than the Sun? (Tanning Bed vs Sun)

tanning bed worse than the sun

If you are considering getting a tan you might be wanting to try tanning in the sun or even try tanning beds but are tanning beds worse than the sun?

Tanning beds tend to be worse than the sun for your skin because their UV rays emitted are usually stronger and more intense than those from the sun.

Below we will break this down into more detail, so you know exactly the important differences.

Tanning Bed vs the Sun

Before we compare both options it’s important we explain them both firstly.

Tanning beds and the sun are both sources of UV rays. These rays can cause irritation, burning and more to the skin. If you overexpose yourself to these rays it increase the chances of problems arising with your skin. Both options can give you a tan as well.

Now it’s important we compare the differences between them so you can choose the best option to get a tan as safely as possible.

One of the big differences between the 2 is the intensity of the UV rays that are emitted. The UV rays that are emitted from tanning beds are stronger and more intense than the ones from the sun.

That’s why you typically only need to spend a little time in a tanning bed because the rays are so intense and powerful. While the sun rays can be quite intense depending where and when you tan outside they are usually much weaker than the ones emitted by tanning beds.

This means that tanning beds are worse because they will increase the chance of irritation or overexpose to the UV rays which while possible from the sun is less likely. The secret when using tanning beds is to keep exposure time to a minimum. For more on this check our article – Tanning Bed Time Chart – Beginners Advice.

Another notable difference between them is the types of UV rays that are emitted. UVA rays can be split up into UVA, UVB and UVC rays. Tanning beds usually emit mostly UVA radiation whereas the sun emits all 3 of them (including UVC in a small amount).

UVB radiation is the main contributor to skin damage or skin cancer. UVA radiation isn’t as strong as UVB radiation and is less likely to cause sunburn or skin irritation but can still contribute to skin issues over time.

There are additional risks with tanning beds. For example, if you overexpose yourself to UV radiation this can weaken the immune system, which in turns make it more difficult for the body to battle infections and the like.

An obvious difference worth mentioning is the cost. The cost of using tanning beds when used regularly can add up and end up being quite expensive. Whereas sun tanning is of course free but for certain locations and seasons it’s not always an option.

Overall if you are wanting to get a tan from the sun or a tanning bed it’s important to keep your time limited as to lower chances of skin issues or problems especially if done regularly. Also, it is a good idea if spending time in the midday sun when the sun is strongest, and the UV index is highest to wear sunscreen to protect your skin along with wearing clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and hats etc. For more information on this check our article – Best Time to Tan Outside.

In conclusion, while doing either of these options for tanning you will want to be aware and careful as to not overexpose your skin to the UV rays. Both options are relatively safe for the skin in moderation and while tanning beds are arguably a little worse they are still a fine choice as long as you keep your exposure time under control.

Tanning Bed Vs Sun Color

Usually, the color from both tanning options is quite similar. The only difference that you may note here is that a tan from a tanning bed tends to be more uniform.

Whereas a tan from the sun may be less uniform or patchy depending on where you where laying and if you moved around much while in the sun.

Tanning Bed Vs Sun Time

One of the main differences between a tanning bed and the sun is the time that is takes to tan. With a tanning bed your time spent tanning will be much lower because the UV bulbs in the tanning bed are much more intense than the sun’s rays. For example, 20 minutes in the tanning bed can equate for to up to 2 hours in the sun.

Related Questions and Answers

Are Tanning Beds OK in Moderation?

Yes tanning beds are considered okay in moderation. Just remember to start with a short session and to build up from there if you notice no negative effects.

Are Tanning Beds Worse for Your Skin Than the Sun?

Arguably tanning beds are worse for the skin because the UV rays they emit are much more intense than the ones from the sun.

Is Sunbathing Better than Tanning Beds?

Sunbathing tends to be a little safer and better than tanning beds but just like tanning beds you need to be careful that you don’t overexpose your skin to the sun.

Are There Any Benefits to Tanning Beds?

There is a selection of benefits to using tanning beds. For example, you get faster results, your mood and self esteem will be improved due to the increased vitamin D production caused by the UV bulbs and improved acne to name a few.

For all the benefits of indoor tanning check our article – 9 Benefits of Indoor Tanning (Tanning Beds).

Scroll to Top