If you’re new to the world of indoor tanning, it’s likely that you’re being overwhelmed by information on the best techniques and products. Stand up or lay down sun bed? Do I use sun cream? Doesn’t this defeat the object of using a sun-bed? How many minutes should I tan for? These are the questions all newbie tanners will ask, and if you find yourself in this group, keep reading for a comprehensive list of sun-bedding do’s and don’ts, and to learn how to indoor tan.

Safety First

First and foremost, it’s important to understand how dangerous sun-beds can be for your skin if abused or used incorrectly. There is a lot of research which shows that getting sun burned (Either by a sun-bed or out on the beach) will greatly increase your risk of skin cancers and premature skin ageing. For this reason, it’s extremely important that you understand the safety precautions you need to take to ensure you’re not exposing yourself to unnecessary risks.

1. Sun Cream

Yes- you must use sun cream in a tanning bed! This may seem counter-productive if you’re trying to go brown as quickly as possible, but I promise you your skin will thank you for it. Burning yourself in a sun-bed is not only extremely dangerous but also counter-productive, it means you can’t expose your skin to a tanning bed again for a few days and you could lose all your hard work. For this reason it’s important to build up your tan slowly and gradually and to always use SPF! Even if it’s only an SPF 15, this is what I personally use for 6 minutes in the tanning bed, and I am extremely pale and do not burn with this SPF level.

2. Eye Protection


Another extremely important safety aspect of using indoor tanning beds is protecting your eyes. Every tanning shop that you visit (In the UK at least) should provide you with eye protection, whether it’s goggles or stick-on eye covers, if they forget to provide you with these make sure you ask for them. It’s extremely dangerous to expose your eyes to excessive UV rays, so this is a step you really can’t afford to miss out. If you’re worried about “Panda Eyes” and want to invest in your own eye-wear, see my article: How to Avoid Panda Eyes.

Tanning Beds

Which brand, type, and style of tanning bed you use is a complete personal preference. If you ask your local tanning shop they will be able to give you a recommendation of beds depending on what you’re after. I personally use a stand up bed because I find it gives me a really even tan, but saying this, I have friends who prefer a lay-down bed and achieves excellent results. It really is your personal preference.

It’s worth noting that you can often pay more per minute for higher end tanning beds that offer additional benefits, for example some beds contain blue light rays which are excellent for boosting the collagen in your skin, and some beds stop out the UVB rays, so they are much safer to use. Make sure you ask your local tanning shop about all the beds they offer, and pick one which is right for you.

Purchasing your own tanning lamps to use at home is also an option, for more information, see my post on: The Best at Home Tanning Lamps.

Indoor Tanning Products

Indoor tanning products cannot be overlooked if you’re trying to build up a deep tan quickly. They can make a huge amount of difference in the colour that you see and how quickly that colour develops. It’s important to note that tanning accelerators do not contain SPF, so you must still use this. I would personally recommend using your SPF and then letting it soak in for a few minutes before applying your tanning accelerator.

When selecting a tanning accelerator/tanning lotion, you really have 2 options, with bronzers or without. Tanning accelerators that contain bronzers are going to give you a much faster colour, as they already contain a level of colour which is activated by the rays in the tanning bed. The downside to these is that you can sometimes develop faster in some areas than others if you don’t apply your tanning accelerator evenly. However, I have personally never found this to be an issue, I just know of friends who have reported this!

Tanning accelerators without bronzers will still make your tanning experience much more efficient, and all the colour will be your own! For my recommendations for best tanning accelerators on the market, head here. You can also buy very strong tanning accelerators such as tingle creams, but I would definitely not advise this for beginners.

Frequency and Duration

This can be a difficult topic for beginners. It’s important to understand what your goals are and what point you’re starting from, so that you can develop a safe but effective tanning routine. Are you trying to tan for a holiday that you’ve got coming up? A wedding or occasion? What is your skin tone currently? These are the questions you should be asking yourself. It’s worth referring to the widely recognised Fitzpatrick Skin Chart below and determine which skin type you are. Your local tanning shop will ask you questions about your skin and advise you as to how many minutes they think you should start with.

It’s important that you always leave 48 hours in between indoor tanning sessions. Plan for this in advance, so that you can get an adequate amount of tanning sessions in before your holiday or event. I personally start indoor tanning 2 weeks before a holiday and tan every other day for 6 minutes throughout this period. This gives me 7 tanning sessions which I know is enough to give me the perfect base tan for a holiday. Your number of sessions may be different, if you have extremely pale skin I would advise beginning 3 weeks before your holiday and doing fewer minutes (4 or 5) so that you can build up your colour really nice and slowly and safely. Everyone’s skin is so different, it could take you 3 tanning sessions to achieve your goal colour, or it could take you 20.


In conclusion, there is a lot of research that needs to be done before you start to use indoor tanning beds for the first time. Safety is your priority, ensure you are using an appropriate SPF and eye wear, and ensure you are only doing as many minutes at a time as your skin type can handle. It’s really important to get professional advice from your local tanning shop about which kinds of beds they have available and which kinds of lotion they would recommend for you.