Hey Beautiful! This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site.

Getting that golden glow can be pretty hard for many people, particularly during the winter months. Many of us, whether we admit it or not, love to turn to the sunbeds to get that weekly hit of vitamin D, warmth, and of course, a sun kissed color to our skin.

When it comes to tanning, whether it is in the sun, in a bed, or even fake tanning, usually people want to see optimal results with the most natural look. However, much like sunbathing in the sun, it can be hard to determine just how dark you are going to go in a sunbed. 

Whilst the power is slightly more in your hands with self-tanning, sunbeds can really be hit or miss depending on a number of factors. It depends on the bed itself, the settings of the bed, how much the bed has been used that day, your skin tone, and one of the biggest contributions is the creams that you choose to use in the bed. 

If, like me, you have turned to sunbeds over recent months due to the lack of sunshine, you will probably be looking for some ways to make your visits more worthwhile. I have done a lot of research into the matter, and so if enhancing your tan and making the most out of every cent you spend on those beds is something that appeals to you, then look no further!

Today I am going to tell you some top tips on how to get the best tan in a tanning bed!

tan woman overlooking balcony

How can I tan faster in a tanning bed?

Why am I not getting darker in the tanning bed? If this is something you have been asking yourself, then try not to worry too much. Firstly, you may not notice the changes if they are small and gradual. 

However, climbing out with a clear tan line is a wonderful feeling. Which is why I am going to tell you some of the key steps you need to follow in order to achieve some noticeable difference in just one tanning session!


When it comes to any form of tanning – natural or self-tanning – exfoliating is the key to success.

Exfoliating beforehand helps to remove the top layer of skin that is usually dead. This creates a smooth, fresh base for the tan application, or for the UV rays to reach.

Not only does it create a clean and fresh base, but it also means that your tan will be a lot more even. Having dead skin cells means that as these fall off, the remaining tan will become patchy and uneven. It also means that each time you use the bed you will then lose some of your tan, making the overall process a lot longer.

In addition, the UV rays have a cleaner and easier surface to hit, allowing them to give you a deeper, darker tan. 

To successfully remove the dead skin before you tan, you can use exfoliating gloves, an exfoliating mitt, or an exfoliating scrub. If you begin with the gloves or a mitt, and finish off with a scrub and then a moisturizer, you will achieve the best results. 

The key is to remove as much dead skin as possible. Also to create a hydrated, smooth surface before you hit the beds.

exfoliating in the bath


Whilst at the tanning salon, we all hear people talk about how important it is to use a lotion or a cream whilst on the bed. But how many of us actually do?

Well, this really is one of the most successful tips regarding how to tan in a tanning bed. Tanning Lotions really help to speed up the process and this is for a number of reasons.

Similar to exfoliating, tanning lotions help keep your skin moisturized and hydrated. This overall helps create a deeper, more even tan. Tanning lotions open up the pores in our skin. This allows the natural oils in the lotion to help magnify the UV rays. This not only enhances the UV rays, but it also helps them to reach deeper into your skin, allowing you to achieve the best results from your tanning session.

Some tanning lotions also come with bronzer in them. The bronzer helps to create a glowing base for paler people whilst they build up their tan. Eventually you can move from a bronzing lotion to a regular lotion once you have achieved a naturally darker color. 

Keeping your skin moisturized is amazing to help prevent rashes and wrinkles. But tanning lotions also help prevent you from burning in the bed without stopping you from achieving that tan.

Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator Lotion With Bronzer, 8 Ounce, New Package Same Formula, B003GX5SSC

Finally, tanning lotions come in many different forms, each with their own purpose and tanning technique. As mentioned, you can find regular tanning lotions that will help enhance your tanning experience. Then you have those with bronzing agents in them. However, an extremely popular form of tanning lotion which is growing increasingly popular is the tingle lotion

Tingle lotions work by increasing your blood flow which then increases the melanin production in your body. Melanin is the skin pigment that darkens as you tan. Some people love these, but some people find the tingle sensation unappealing and so it really is down to preference.

It is important to never use sunscreen in a tanning bed. Tanning beds are designed to control UV exposure. So you do not need to protect yourself from this in the same way you would need to in the sunshine. 

Can you tan in a tanning bed without using lotion? Of course you can, but this will not provide a deep, nourishing tan. Tanning without a lotion will eventually dry out your skin, causing you to lose a lot of your tan. This will slow down the ovrall process.

Experimenting with different lotions is the best way to find out what works for you and your skin type. It may be a slight process but once you find one that works, you really will notice the difference!

Choosing the Right Bed

The Number of Lamps

The tanning bed itself can make such a difference to your tanning experience. The most essential part of a tanning bed is, of course, the lamps. The tan comes from the UV rays and so the more lamps in the bed, the better the tan. 

Choosing a tanning bed with many lights will help to speed up the tanning process a lot. Or if you’re planning to purchase your own bed, look into the number of lights it has. This will make all the difference. 

If you are using beds in a salon, you can ask the staff to show you the various beds they have available. They should be able to recommend the beds that contain more lights, but you can check this for yourself as well. If all of the beds have a significantly low amount of lights, it is worth considering a different salon.

The Bulbs

Not only are the lamps important, but the bulbs used in these lamps can make a massive difference. The useful time of bulbs are about 300 to 1000 hours, in comparison to the lamps themselves which are usually around 300 to 5000 hours. This means that before the lamps are changed, the bulbs may need to be changed multiple times. 

When owning your own bed, it is easy to monitor the lamps and the bulbs. Ensure they are changed when needed to.

When it comes to using a tanning bed in a salon, you can ask the salon to provide you with a bed that has the most recently changed bulbs. These new bulbs will help you to achieve a dark tan in no time.

You can really notice the difference in exposure in beds that have new lights. So if you are going into one, then it is important to consider reducing your tanning time to protect you from burning. They can be a lot hotter and a lot brighter. Whilst this can be fantastic for boosting your tan, it can cause people with lighter or more sensitive skin to burn. 

woman in tanning booth

Stand Up and Move

Using standing sunbeds are one the best ways to achieve the most UV exposure. They have a unique design compared to lay down tanning beds which ultimately offers better emission of UV rays and therefore a quicker tanning.

Standing tanning beds have a shorter maximum time of 15 minutes, due to this exposure. However, 15 minutes on these beds will be more than enough to notice big changes in the level of your skin tone. 

How to use a tanning bed really does depend on the bed itself. But if you are asking, “how do you get the best tanning results in a tanning bed?” then one of the best things to do is move. Lying still on the tanning bed can slow down your progress.

This is another reason stand up beds can give better results. Changing positions will help the UV rays to access all parts of your body. This will bring different body parts closer to the lights at different times, maximizing the exposure. 


Like anything, the more you do it, the better it will become. If you keep up your visits to the sunbed and ensure you are moisturizing your skin in the meantime, you will continue to get darker and maintain a glorious tan.

You should go to the beds anywhere between 2 to 4 times a week depending on the results you want. If you leave it too long, the previous tan will have almost faded by the time you go again. And you will feel like you aren’t getting anywhere with it. 

During the frequent visits, you should not only remember to moisturize and use a lotion, but try not to wear any makeup or clothing. These will act as a barrier to the UV rays reaching your skin.

How to Get the Best Tan in a Tanning Bed: Final Thoughts

So, how do you get the darkest tan in a tanning bed? Well, there are a number of factors.

Make sure to exfoliate, moisturize, and keep your skin hydrated. Dry skin is one of the quickest ways to lose your tan and create patches.

Use a lotion, the market has plenty of choice so find the best for you. This will help protect and look after your skin, but will also help you get a deeper, richer tan.

Use a good bed. Go for maximum lamps, bulbs, and exposure. This will usually be in a stand up bed. But this is better as it allows you to move around and get a much more even tan.

Check out the salon, assess your options, find the perfect cream for you. And most of all, look after your skin. With these simple steps you will have a healthy, happy glow for as long as possible!

Here are some related tanning posts on the blog:


How long does it take to get a good tan in a tanning bed?

This depends on your skin type but anywhere between 8 to 15 minutes is a good amount for each session, and you will notice clear changes if you go frequently.

Will 10 minutes in a tanning bed do anything?

Yes, ten minutes in a tanning bed will make noticeable changes if you use a lotion.

How do you get the best tanning results in a tanning bed?

Exfoliate beforehand, use a lotion, moisturize regularly and choose a bed with maximum UV exposure.

What level of tanning bed gets you tan the fastest?

All tanning beds have different impacts on your skin. Alternating between different levels of tanning beds will help create the most natural and even look.