5 Tanning Bed Tips for First-Timers (+ Benefits and Disadvantages)

If you’re wondering if there are any special tanning bed tips or tricks you need to know before your first time, stick around!

Below, I’m going to help you by telling you everything I wish I knew before my first time in one of these beds.

We’ll start with the benefits and drawbacks of tanning this way, so you know exactly what to expect.

Then, we’ll talk what to wear, how to prep and more for the perfect tanning bed session!

Don’t forget to check our review on the best tanning lamps too!

7 Benefits of Tanning Beds 

One little note: This post is strictly for information purposes. We do not condone tanning in a bed or in the sun.

Sunless tanning (sprays & lotions) is the ONLY safe way to tan, period.

tanning bed

That said, there are some benefits of using a bed or booth responsibly. Let’s check them out.

1. It May Help Ease Symptoms of SAD

 SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is a type of depression that recurs in different seasons. 

The symptoms start in the fall and become progressive during winter, sapping your energy and making you very moody. 

Most of SAD’s symptoms are associated with insufficient vitamin D, which is a mood modulator. 

And when they’re natural foods such as fish, mushrooms, or poultry eggs, getting into a tanning bed is the fastest way of getting vitamin D. 

2. Helps Treat Psoriasis and Eczema 

Having acne is a deal-breaker, but having complex skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis is frustrating. There is the physiological struggle and then the swelling, scaling, and itching. 

If you’ve been trying several medications without success, it may be time to ask your dermatologist about light therapy. 

Using a tanning bed alongside your medication can help alleviate your symptoms fast. 

3. It’s Helps in Reducing Stress 

A study showed that people who use sunbeds are happier, balanced, relaxed, and generally less anxious. 

The UV radiation boosts the production of endorphins, commonly known as happy hormones elevating your mood. 

So, the next time you feel low and bored, tanning may be all you need. 

4. It Improves Your Sex Life 

I really wanted to have this one on top of the list, but I talked myself out of it. 

But there is no shame in wanting to improve your sex life. The vitamin D acquired from tanning beds plays a significant role in boosting men’s erections. 

Low sex drive in women has also been linked to lack of vitamin D due to low estrogen. 

So, a tanning session with your partner might be all you need for a freaky night. 

4. Minimizes Scars and Stretchmarks 

Tanning in bed can help reduce the visibility of scars and stretch marks. Try adding sunscreen on scars so that once you tan, your scars color will be closer to your skin color. 

5. Convenient Tanning Anytime  

With the pandemic, traveling to the beach is a major challenge for many. And even before the pandemic, our busy work schedules, kids, and pets leave us no time for sunbathing. 

Tanning beds allow you to get a golden tan any time of the day you get a chance, within a short time. 

CHECK: Tanning Bed Lotion for Fair Skin

6. May Help Darken Jaundiced Skin 

First, if you’re experiencing jaundice, see your doctor immediately (as in right this second) because 99.999% of the time, it’s related to a problem with your liver.

Once diagnosed, treatment takes time. There’s no quick fix, period.

However, tanning bed sessions may help hide the yellow patches that come with jaundice, and at least make you feel more confident while you’re undergoing treatment.

Just make sure you talk to your doctor first. We can’t stress the importance of that enough.

Also check our Indoor Tanning Lotions Review

5 Disadvantages of Tanning Beds

I promised you to be fair, so I’ll share the possible risk factors of using tanning beds in this section. 

1. Increased Risk of Skin Cancer

There’s a major misconception that tanning in a bed is safer than tanning outside in the sun. That’s absolutely not true.

In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, “Just one indoor tanning session can increase the risk of developing skin cancer (melanoma by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 67%, and basal cell carcinoma by 29%).”

Check out the video below for more on the truth about tanning beds.

2. Premature Skin Aging

Excessive use of tanning beds can lead to wrinkles or stained skin as well as reduced elasticity. This is as a result of the UV rays penetrating deep into the skin, messing up with the dermis’ connective tissue and collagen. 

3. Skin Irritation and Burns

From mild tanning bed rashes to serious inflammation and burns, the UV rays from these beds can wreak havoc on your skin if you’re not very careful. Don’t forget to read my guide on how to get rid of tanning bed rash.

4. Eye Damage

Artificial UV rays have been linked with cornea inflammations. This triggers keratitis, conjunctivitis, cataract, and ocular cancer. 

5. It May Affect the Immune System

Frequent exposure to UV radiation may affect your immune system’s efficiency, increasing the chances of acquiring infectious diseases. 

If you still want to use a tanning bed after learning about the risks, then at least take precautions to minimize the potential damage. That’s what we will discuss in this next section. 

Check: Best Microcurrent Facial Device 2021

Tanning Bed Tips for Your First Time

The first time I decided to use a tanning bed, I was freaking out; even after reading several tanning bed tips, I still didn’t feel ready. 

There was the fear of what to expect: Would I get a golden tan, or would I end up with patches?  Was it even worth my time and my $50? 

So, the point is, if this is your first time using a tanning bed, I’ve been where you are, and I understand your struggle.

woman relaxing in tanning bed

If this is your first time tanning in a bed, I got you. I’ll answer all the questions the first time tanners ask (if I don’t cover your question, simply ask in the comment section, and I’ll answer). 

READ MORE: Can You Tan in Tanning Bed After Botox?

So, let’s get started. 

1. Know what to wear for the best experience

This depends on personal preference. I personally love to go to a salon with a strict sanitization policy so that I tan naked. 

I know many people have an issue when they imagine other strangers have been lying naked in the same booth. 

If that’s how you feel, you can wear a bathing suit, but you’ve got to be ready to deal with tanning lines. 

a woman in white bikini tanning in bed

Also, remember to apply lip balm with SPF protection, and remove any makeup or jewelry before getting in the tanning bed. 

2. Bring a pair of sunglasses

Yes, you DO need sunglasses. As mentioned earlier, one con of using a tanning booth is eye damage.

Too much UV rays exposure to the eyes can affect the retina or cause blindness in extreme conditions. 

It’s important to note that simply closing your eyes isn’t enough protection. Your eyelids are thin and can only block a small percentage of UV rays. 

sunglasses on top of a lady's body

If you don’t have sunglasses, you can also use the one-time protective eyewear that the salon offers. 

While all those are good options, I highly recommend tanning goggles with wraps around the back of your head. This ensures they don’t move during tanning. 

Note that taking care of your eyes is your responsibility. No one is going to follow you to the booth to ensure you wear your eye protection equipment (harsh, but true).

3. Keep your first session short

How long should you you tan for the first time? The short answer is 5 minutes. 

However, how long you stay in a tanning bed is determined by your skin type.

Before you get in a booth, your tanning salon should help run some tests and do some paperwork to help you with this.

But I always prefer being proactive and doing the research before I use any beauty products. I suggest you do the same. 

indoor tanning

Many tanning beds have different tanning levels (from 1 to 4). I suggest starting with level one for five minutes.

If it goes well with no burns, you can increase your time to 7 minutes. Keep adding your time until you know your limit.

No one should tell you tanning in beds and coming out with no burns is impossible; it’s all about patience. 

If you notice any burns, skip giving your body time to heal before returning to the tanning bed. 

4. Use the right tan accelerators

Tan accelerators help in the stimulation of melanin production that encourages the skin to form a deeper tan. 

They also reduce the time spent in a tanning bed, which is a huge plus given the cons of extensive use of tanning beds. 

And that’s not all; some tanning accelerators help keep your skin moisturized and hydrated during tanning. 

putting tanning lotion on a woman's body

Other accelerators also have anti-aging properties and help tighten your skin as well as hide cellulite. 

For best results, apply tan accelerators before tanning, and if you want long-lasting results, apply the products after your session, too. 

If you’re crafty, you can even try making your own DIY tanning oil!

5. Shave and exfoliate at the right time beforehand

Shaving and exfoliating the skin are among the two critical pre-tanning practices. But they shouldn’t be done right before tanning; showering expands your skin’s pores and disrupts the pH.

Applying the tanning solution in this state can fill the pores with solution, affecting the DHA absorption. 

woman exfoliating her skin before tanning, one important tanning bed tips

It’s best to shower, shave and exfoliate at least eight hours before tanning. If you don’t have enough time for exfoliation, use a bath puff, loofah, or a brush during the shower. 


My first time tanning in bed was a big deal; I was scared and anxious. I didn’t know what results I’d get. 

I wished I had someone to answer the basic questions on how to tan in bed without any bias. 

I hope my blog post achieved that for all tanning newbies out there. 

Back to you. What other question do you have on tanning in beds?

a lady first time in tanning bed

Do you know any other tanning bed tips? Share with us below!

About Edith Russo

Edith is a self-made entrepreneur with a keen business sense that others admire and a total “can-do” attitude. She’s always coming up with new ideas to anticipate her readers’ needs and help solve all their toughest beauty and skincare problems. READ HER LATEST ARTICLES. FOLLOW HER on Linkedin and Twitter. Learn more about her HERE.