6 Tanning Bed Tips for Beginners

woman in tanning bed

Whether you want to maintain a golden glow over the winter months or are looking to build a base tan before a vacation, you might be considering taking a trip to the tanning salon to use a sunbed. It can, however, be seriously daunting!

From knowing how to use a tanning bed safely, to knowing how do you get the best results from tanning beds, this article will give you my top tanning bed tips for a great experience and amazing results. Here are my top 6 pieces of advice for you.

#1 Choose the Right Salon

If you live in a city or a town, there will be lots of tanning salons for you to choose from. Not everywhere, though, is equipped with knowledgeable staff and high-quality beds.

Especially if it is your first experience with tanning beds, you will want to be able to speak to someone who can recommend the right products, the right bed, and the right amount of time to use the bed for. Even if you have lots of experience with tanning beds, you still want to be able to ask questions and trust the people who work at the salon.

Visit a few salons and speak to the staff and see what kind of advice they give you. If they are telling first-time tanners that any amount of time spent on the beds will be fine, you know you need to avoid the salon. Also make sure that the staff have had appropriate safety training.

The quality of the beds in the salon is another thing to consider. How old are the beds? Would you prefer to lie down or stand up, and can they accommodate your preference? Are the tanning bed bulbs exposed? These are all questions you should ask the staff before using the salon.

Another thing to consider when choosing your salon, particularly taking into consideration the current situation, is how clean it is. Remember that if you use salon sunbeds, you will not be the only person doing so, and so their hygiene regime is extremely important.

I once visited a salon that just left some kitchen towels and disinfectant spray in the room, entrusting the cleaning to the clients. Safe to say I did not go back there.

Looking online is a great way to find a salon with a good reputation. You will be sure to find information about the staff, the cleanliness, and the quality of the beds through reading online reviews of the salon.

#2 Prepare Your Skin

Exfoliating your skin with a body scrub and a mitt (or a mitt alternative) will remove all the dead skin cells, and any excess oil, from your skin. The smooth surface will help you get an even tan.

If you usually shave any areas of your body, it is a good idea to do it before using a tanning bed (after exfoliating).

Use a light moisturizer after your shower or bath to keep skin soft and smooth.

#3 Choose the Right Bed and Time

Salons should offer a choice of around six types of beds. Tanning beds come in low, medium and high pressure. Low-pressure beds emit more UVB rays, and high-pressure beds emit more UVA rays.

If you’re wondering, ‘What tanning bed should I start with?’, you need to know your skin type, which is divided into six categories, 1-6. Type 1 is the lightest, and type 6 is the darkest.

Low-pressure beds are best suited to first-time users, or people with a darker skin type who don’t need such a deep level of tanning. For beginners, it is a good idea to opt for a low-pressure bed for a short time, as the rays are more similar to being in natural sunlight.

High-pressure beds will lead to a deeper and longer-lasting tan, so are more popular with fair-skinned people who are looking for a darker tan. Keep in mind if you have fair or pale skin you should be more careful when starting out, for more on this check our article – tanning tips for pale skin.

How long to stay in the tanning bed is another important thing to decide. If it is your first visit, five minutes is a good place to start. What is 5 minutes on a tanning bed equivalent to? Averagely, 5 minutes is going to be like spending one hour in the sun. This will of course vary, however, depending on your skin type.

When you get used to visiting sunbeds and figure out how your skin reacts, you can start to build the time by a minute longer each visit. Look out for any redness or signs of burning that will suggest you’ve spent too long on the bed.

#4 Wear the Right Stuff

You’ve found the perfect salon, the perfect bed, you’re scrubbed, shaved, and polished, standing in front of the bed. Now you have some essential gear to put on, and some decisions to make.

UV protection for your eyes is vital, and closing your eyes will not suffice. In tanning beds, the UV light is highly concentrated and hitting you at short-range, and your eyelids can’t protect your eyes from this.

Going into a sunbed with your eyes unprotected can have immediate and permanent effects on your eyes. Wear tanning goggles to keep your eyes safe. They look a bit silly, but no one will see you!

You also need to decide if you want tan lines or not. Some people love the look of them, other people want a completely even tan without any white patches. It’s totally up to you. If you end up with tan lines and want to remove them check our article – 10 simple ways to remove tan lines.

If you do decide to go in naked for all-over coverage, make sure to protect your nipples and private parts by covering them. The skin in these areas is much more sensitive and therefore more likely to get burned. You want to avoid any uncomfortable tingling whilst using the bed, and even more, sun damage.

Last but not least, you will need to choose a tanning lotion or even a tan accelerator for tanning beds. Speak to someone working at the salon to ask for their recommendations, but also have a look online to explore all your options.

The primary function of tanning lotion is to keep your skin hydrated while you are using the tanning bed and your skin is exposed to the concentrated UV light.

They can also enhance the body’s absorption of the light, meaning you tan faster, and need to spend less time on the sunbed. Tanning lotions can also help to extend the effects from the tanning bed, for a longer-lasting tan.

You know your skin better than anyone, and it might take a while to find the perfect lotion for you. Some salons offer small sachets of lotion, so you can experiment with a few different ones before investing in a whole bottle.

Of course, if you have allergies or sensitive skin, check the ingredients of the lotion carefully.

#5 Learn How to Use a Tanning Bed

In most salons, you won’t have to do anything to start using the bed. They are controlled by a master switch at reception, so all you need to do is get in and close the door, and it will run automatically for the time you have requested.

In some salons, you will need to set the timer and switch it on yourself. Ask the staff to demonstrate, as the process can be very different from bed to bed.

It’s a good idea to move around a bit, to ensure every part of your body has exposure to the UV rays, hence, to get an even tan. Lots of tanning beds play music whilst you’re inside, so you can have a little boogie to get you moving!

If you are wearing tanning goggles, it is safe to open your eyes inside the tanning bed.

Relax and enjoy! The warmth of the bulbs and the UV rays will make you feel amazing, so make the most of being in there.

#6 After Care

After visiting the tanning salon, it is vital to keep your skin hydrated. You can use a regular moisturizer, a lotion with aloe vera for a cooling effect, or a tan-extending lotion.

Remember that over-exposure to UV rays is dangerous, and the leading cause of skin cancer. Keep a very close eye on your skin if you are using beds regularly, and look out for burns, new moles, changes in skin texture, or rashes. If you see anything abnormal, visit your doctor to have it looked at.

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