How to Get the Best Tan From a Tanning Bed

Updated on July 10, 2016
Rosie writes profile image

Rosie was an elementary school teacher for 13 years, teaching grades 3-5. She is now a Library Media Specialist in an elementary school.


Reasons People Tan

Many people go to tanning salons today for different reasons. Some of them are going on vacation and want to get a base tan so that they will not burn as easily while in the sun. Others want to attain a tan so that they look more attractive in their swimsuits throughout the summer. Many customers tell me that their doctors have recommended that they tan because of depression or vitamin D deficiency. According to eHow, "UV light produces and releases beta-endorphin. Beta-endorphin is an opium-like chemical best known for providing the sense of well-being, or "runners high," that accompanies vigorous exercise."

Many people prefer tanning at a salon as opposed to laying out in the sun, as it is more comfortable and doesn't take as long. They find that they can control the amount of time they spend in the tanning bed more easily and not have to experience the unexpected burn from being in the sun too long.


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5.0 out of 5 stars By razzystar678 "I LOVE this tanning lotion! It hydrates my skin better than regular lotion..."

Tanning Salon Expectations

Most tanning salons today offer several levels of tanning, beds with timers, radios, cd players, and fans, and several varieties of tanning lotions. The first thing a good salon will do with a new tanner to their salon, is give them a skin type survey. After their skin type is determined, a well-trained employee will suggest a lotion that will help them to tan faster and a lotion that will extend their tan. Using lotions is optional, however, they are highly recommended as they contain ingredients that keep your skin soft and healthy looking (moisture is replaced by the lotion on your skin as it is lost during the tanning session), and lotions can increase your tanning results by as much as 40 to 70%. Lastly, the customer will be required to purchase goggles to prevent serious eye damage, and will be shown how to use the tanning bed.

Skin Type Survey

This survey will ask basic questions that will help to determine the customers skin type, which will in turn help to design a plan for achieving the desired tan. Skin types range from 1 to 6, 1 being the lightest and 6 being the darkest and least likely to burn. Most people fall in the skin type 3 range, which means they would begin by tanning 6-8 minutes per session in a level 1 or 2 bed. (Higher level beds could be used after several sessions or initially by a person with a skin type 4 or 5.) They could bump their time up 1 to 2 minutes each visit, as long as their skin is tan and not burned. For this skin type, a nice-looking tan can be achieved in as little as 3 visits. And it can be maintained by tanning only 2 times a week.

Lotion Options

There are numerous tanning lotions available, however, some of the more popular brands are Designer Skin, Australian Gold, and Swedish Beauty. Designer Skin brands are more expensive but they are in my opinion, the best. These lotions range in price from $25 to $120 per bottle. Even though this seems pricey, one bottle will last for several months or even longer, and you will tan less. One of my favorites is Black Ultimate 20X Bronzing Body Silk Mega Magical Silicone Emulsion Tanning Lotion, made by Designer Skin. It has an incredibly wonderful smell, a dark bronzer, and is extremely moisturizing. The manufacturer description is as follows: "This wondrous Silicone Emulsion leaves you feeling so lusciously smooth and soft that it practically melts into your skin. Bronze color so deep, dark, and rich... others will pale in your wake. Experience the Royal Flush of tanning and skincare."

A good salon allows their employees to try out the lotion so that they can give sound advice regarding which lotions are most effective. Never use lotions that are not designed specifically for indoor tanning use, as they may contain ingredients that can destroy the acrylics in the tanning beds. Some of the best tanning lotions are available through Amazon at bargain prices.


5.0 out of 5 stars By Robert L Robinsonon "great quality and value."

General Tanning Tips

  1. Take a shower and exfoliate using an abrasive soap or scrubbing sponge. You want your skin to be clean and free of dead skin cells. This will enable your tan to last longer. According to The Boston Globe, about 30,000-40,000 skin cells fall off you per minute, and on average 8.8 pounds of dead skin cells fall off your body per year.
  2. Use a high quality tanning lotion. Lotions designed for tanning beds can increase your tan from 40 to 70 percent. They can be expensive but they are worth it. Your tanning results will be better, and your skin will be softer, smoother, and most of all tanner.
  3. Do not burn. Whatever you do, do not stay in the bed longer than you should. Initially, your first tanning session should only last from 6 to 8 minutes. You may need to stay at this time for several sessions before bumping it up. If ever your skin is burned, wait till the burn is completely gone before tanning again, and bump your time down. Burning is bad for your skin and does not produce a good tan.
  4. Wear goggles while in the tanning bed. Protect your eyes and always wear goggles. Your eyes can be permanently damaged without them, take this seriously and wear them always.
  5. Wait at least 48 hours in between tanning sessions. Once you have reached your tanning goal, your tan can be maintained with 1 or 2 visits per week to the tanning salon.
  6. Use a tan extender after tanning. Tan Extenders are lotions that keep your tan lasting longer. They often have bronzers in them that give you a little extra color and they have ingredients that keep your skin looking smooth and tan.
  7. Tan in moderation and be responsible about tanning. "Since some exposure to sunlight is beneficial to your health, it is reasonable that if you wish to be exposed to sunlight, that you can do so with relative safety if you make sure that you do not receive a sunburn."- Dr. Michael F. Holick, Research dermatologist and photobiologist, Boston University School of Medicine.

This hub is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

Questions & Answers


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      • Rosie writes profile image

        Rosie writes 3 weeks ago from Virginia

        You could always use a lotion to boost your color. I love the L'oreal brand. Tanning may not be a good option for you if you are very pale and burn easily.

      • profile image

        Lacey 3 weeks ago

        I am super pale and im sick of it.. But i sunburn pretty easy. I thinking about trying the booth at my gym.. What do you suggest? Its kinda scary.

      • profile image

        Paula Caldani 3 weeks ago

        You’ve probably plateaued when it comes to getting darker. There’s a lotion that’s a hot lotion, and it’s only good for experienced tanners where it brings the levels to the surface. It has a wicked tingling sensation, which can feel like it’s burning from the active heat, but it does make a difference for people who have peaked.

      • profile image

        lotions 2 months ago

        is it better to use more lotion or less tanning

      • profile image

        Amelia 8 months ago

        I been going to the tanning bed for awhile now and I use really good lotion when I tan but I'm not getting tan as I would like does anyone know of a way to get darker while tanning??

      • Rosie writes profile image

        Rosie writes 20 months ago from Virginia

        Thanks Sarah! Regular lotion is great to use on a daily basis but not just before tanning in a tanning bed. They may contain ingredients that can damage the acrylics on the tanning beds. Congratulations on your wedding coming up!

      • profile image

        Sarah Smith 20 months ago

        I'm getting married in a few months and want to start tanning. Thanks for the advice about the skin type survey and using it to plan your tanning schedule. Another good idea would be to make sure that you use regular lotion in combo with tanning lotion to help hydrate your skin.

      • Rosie writes profile image

        Rosie writes 5 years ago from Virginia

        Thanks ESPeck. I appreciate your comment. The link to the skin type test is impressive - very quick and informative.

      • ESPeck1919 profile image

        ESPeck1919 5 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

        Lots of wonderful info! I especially liked the scientific facts you included and the link to the skin type test.

      • eHealer profile image

        Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

        Excellent info on tanning beds. I live in Las Vegas and am tan all year around. I never purposely go out to tan, I just go out...and tan. Great hub with important info for those who use them. Thanks and voted up!

      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

        Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

        Awesome hub with great information and tips.