Frequently Asked Tanning Questions

Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the Boston University research team, including Vitamin D guru Dr. Michael F. Holick, showed that subjects who used a tanning bed had 90% higher Vitamin D levels compared to non-tanners and significantly higher bone mineral density.

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


Why Tan?

Light is essential to all life on earth. There are various physiological and psychological reasons why exposure to light is desirable and necessary. There’s a growing body of scientific evidence showing people actually require light exposure to function effectively. Light exposure causes the brain to suppress the release of the hormone melatonin that acts as a depressant in the body and exposure to light produces various health benefits, such as the production of the very necessary Vitamin D3 in the prevention of bone diseases (such as osteoporosis) and in the improvement of symptoms of psoriasis.

People who are exposed to longer hours of bright light feel happier and are able to enjoy life. Potential health benefits include but are not limited to: production of Vitamin D, decreased risks of breast and colon cancer, and reduced risk of sunburn. The psychological benefits of tanning are also well researched. Sunlight deprivation has been linked to some mental disorders. There are numerous reasons, physical and psychological, why exposure to ultraviolet light is desirable. FDA regulations at the present time prevent the indoor tanning industry from making any medical representations or claims related to indoor tanning exposure. And of course, people know that a great tan looks good, feels good, and can add to personal confidence and attractiveness.

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What is Smart Tanning?

Indoor tanning eliminates the “guesswork” of tanning outdoors and is easy, convenient and private. Ideally, indoor tanning is supervised by a trained professional helping you achieve the desired color you want, reminding you to wear protective eyewear (goggles), encouraging and recommending lotions before and after tanning and helping you avoid over-exposure. And most tanners tan in the nude to avoid tan lines!

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Is indoor tanning the same as tanning outside in the sun?

Your skin produces a tan the same way in an indoor tanning salon as it does when you lay out in the sun: through ultraviolet (UV) light. However, out in the sun, you cannot control the amount of UV light exposure and trying to achieve an all-over even-body tan is very difficult. Indoor tanning allows you to control the amount of UV light, for all all-over even tan. With indoor tanning you can gradually increase your exposure time eliminating any sunburn, which is harmful to the skin. Indoor tanning technology includes an exposure schedule that factors in individual skin type and appropriate time exposure.  With convenient indoor tanning you can tan at any time and aren’t limited to daylight hours or weather conditions. With private indoor tanning you can tan in the nude or partially nude to eliminate tan lines. You can help ensure that you won’t get a sunburn when following an appropriate time exposure. Outdoor sun exposure is an uncontrollable environment as no one can control the sun. Outdoor exposure varies in intensity depending on such factors as altitude, cloud cover, air pollutants, reflective surfaces, times of day, time of year, and proximity to the equator. The controlled environment and the ability to time your UV exposure to the minute makes burning less likely with a tanning bed than with outdoor sun exposure.

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How do the beds and booths work?

Tanning beds and booths act like the sun. The sun emits three kinds of UV rays that make you tan. UV-C, the shortest wavelength of the three is the most harmful. Today’s sophisticated tanning lamps filter out this type of UV light. UV-B, the middle wavelength, begins the tanning process, by stimulating the melanocyte cells that produce melanin, however overexposure can cause sunburn. Melanin will be bronzed by UV-A, the longest wavelength, by oxidizing the melanin and producing the tan. Technologically advanced tanning lamps use the best ratio of UV-B and UV-A light to provide the greatest tanning results, with a lowered risk of overexposure.

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If I never can get a tan outside because I burn, can I get a tan indoors?

It may be easier to get the desired color by tanning indoors. Begin with a short exposure time and increase it very gradually. A tanning professional can help you determine the best exposure time for your skin type. However, if you NEVER tan from the sun, you will not tan from tanning lamps, as they imitate the sun.

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How often should I tan?

To build an awesome tan, tan regularly. Allowing too much time between visits will cause your tan to fade. You can tan up to once every 24 hours, however it’s recommended that you allow 48 hours in between each session to permit your tan to fully develop in between visits. Once you are tan, you can maintain your tan with visits of two or three times a week in a base bed and once every 10 days in the best upgrade equipment. Also, to help prolong the life of your tan, make sure to keep your skin moisturized with a high quality especially formulated-for-tanning lotion.

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How long does it take to get a tan?

You’ll notice results after your very first session. To build a base tan most people need 3-5 sessions to get the color desired. If you need an instant tan, you should consider Spray-on Tanning or for the fastest tan a combination of regular tanning equipment and spray-on. Going on a vacation? Tan before you go and allow a few weeks of tanning prior to your trip. We recommend using a specially formulated lotion to increase your tanning potential and keep your skin feeling healthy and soft.

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How long can my tanning bed session be the first time?

Your first session length will depend upon your skin tone and type, and your tanning professional will ask you to fill out a skin analysis to help determine your skin type. Also taken into consideration is how long it has been since you last tanned. The most common skin type is Type 3, who typically tan for 10-12 minutes the first time in a machine that has a 20 minute maximum.

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What should I wear?

You can tan in your bathing suit, underwear, or if you prefer a more “natural” approach, you can tan semi-nude or nude. Being in a private room while tanning – unlike at the beach or pool, you can wear whatever you like. Please be aware of exposing sensitive body parts that are not normally exposed to light. It is highly recommended that sensitive body parts be gradually exposed to prevent overexposure. It is also recommended to cover up a previously unexposed part of the body for part of your tanning time, so it can catch up safely with the rest of your tan. The only required attire is eye protection because your eyelids, even when they are closed, aren’t enough protection and light can cause temporary and permanent damage to them.

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Do I have to wear eye protection while tanning?

Eyewear protection is required by law. Your eyelids aren’t thick enough to provide protection and do not effectively block light while tanning. Approved eye protection is required to ensure you won’t have any ill effects such as reduced color vision or night blindness.

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Should I use a “specially designed” tanning lotion?

Yes! Science has embraced beauty to create Indoor Tanning Lotions. Specially formulated tanning lotions are jam-packed and enriched with nutrients, vitamins, minerals and other beneficial ingredients to help get you tan FAST, replenish the skin, is essential for proper skin care and to help achieve a healthier-looking, longer-lasting tan. They also help you get more value for each tanning session. Healthy skin tans faster, darker, and retains a tan longer.

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Should I use an “upgrade” machine?

Upgrade beds are ‘super’ tanners, tripling or more the power of regular tanning equipment with more intense lamps and changes of the percentages of different types of rays. High performance upgrade equipment can tan you faster, deeper, and tans last longer. In addition, there are many other features: upgraded cooling systems, specialized facial lamps, gentler tanning rays, and more.

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I’m really in a hurry… can I tan more than once on the same day?

To get an “instant” tan you should consider using our sunless Spray Booth. In just seconds you can have the natural-looking color you want. If you prefer traditional tanning please remember that color takes up to 24 hours to develop as your skin produces your tan. Accordingly the FDA prohibits tanning more frequently than once per 24 hours because you could unintentionally sun burn yourself. There is no such limitation for spray booth tans AND spray booth tanning IS allowed on the same day as a traditional tanning session.

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I’m tanning, but my legs aren’t getting as dark as the rest of me?

The skin on your legs is thicker than other parts of your body and when you shave your legs you are mechanically exfoliating the uppermost skin cells and part of your tan. Jump in our Classic Legs™ Leg Tanner for fast, dark, sexy legs!  It tans around the entire leg and will get your legs dark fast!  You can even double-dip in the leg tanner after your regular tanning session.  You never have to worry about tan legs again!

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What can I do to help my tan last longer?

MOISTURIZE! MOISTURIZE! MOISTURIZE! Using a high quality specially formulated tanning moisturizer will help replenish vitamins and nutrients, keeping your skin smooth and younger looking while helping you maintain that deep dark tan you love. Remember properly moisturized skin TANS FASTER, TANS DARKER, and STAYS TANNED LONGER!!!

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Can anybody tan?

Skin type 1 cannot tan, but anybody can get a gorgeous golden-tan look with our UV-Free Spray-on Tanning process. Our tanning professionals can help you determine the type of tanning best suited to your skin type.

The six basic skin types are:

    • Skin type 1: Always burns, never tans
    • Skin type 2: Burns easily, tans slightly
    • Skin type 3: Sometimes burns, tans gradually
    • Skin type 4: Burns minimally, always tans well
    • Skin type 5: Burns rarely, tans deeply
    • Skin type 6: Almost never burns, deeply pigmented

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What causes white spots?

Tinea Versicolor, a skin condition, caused by a microscopic fungus from the scalp, falls onto arms, shoulders, and other body parts and leaves bleached-looking areas on the skin, which can spread. It is treatable with topical aids such as leaving the active ingredient in Selsun Blue dandruff shampoo on for 10 minutes for mild cases and for more resistant conditions, your doctor may prescribe pills for treatment. Since tinea versicolor covers skin cells and acts as a sun screen with high SPF factor, the effected areas must be protected from further ultraviolet light exposure until those bleached areas have begun developing melanin again.

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Do I have to take my contact lenses out when tanning indoors?

Always wear proper sunlamp goggles. Most people have no trouble whatsoever leaving their contact lenses in while tanning indoors. Heat from the sunlamps may cause dryness and mild to moderate discomfort for some contact lens wearers. Try tanning with your contact lenses in. If you find this uncomfortable, then take them out before tanning next time.

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Can tanning cause wrinkles?

Maybe. And your skin will wrinkle if you don’t tan. Age, diet, genetics, certain behaviors (smoking cigarettes) and environmental pollution can wrinkle your skin more than moderate sun tanning. Overexposure, not moderate exposure, can cause the skin to wrinkle and therefore, it is advised to avoid overexposure.

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Can indoor tanning cure acne?

Phototherapy (use of UV light) has been used in treating the skin problems of this condition. Tanning dries the skin and this can help keep acne outbreaks to a minimum in acute cases and can help eliminate outbreaks in mild cases. There are also many drugs, including tetracycline and Retin-A, which are also used for the treatment of acne and because these drugs can render the skin photosensitive, one must avoid UV exposure or take extreme care when medicated. The use of UV light for acne treatment should only be administered by a qualified physician. The Food and Drug Administration prohibits indoor tanning equipment operators from asserting that UV light is beneficial for any purpose other than cosmetic coloring.

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Does tanning help treat depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder?

A growing body of scientific evidence exists that shows some people require more light exposure in order to function properly. Bright light exposure, such as the mid-day summer sun, causes the brain to suppress the release of the hormone melatonin which acts as a depressant in the body if generated during the daytime. Effected people, exposed to longer hours of bright light, feel happier and more able to enjoy life. Bright light sources emitting only visible light are now frequently used to successfully treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Sub-syndrome Seasonal Affective Disorder (SSAD).

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Should I use SPF on my lips?

Yes! The only need for a SPF is on your lips because your lips can’t tan.

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When shouldn’t I tan?

When you are taking photo-sensitizing medication it is not recommended to tan outdoors or indoors. If you aren’t sure, ask your doctor, or ask a tanning consultant at your tanning facility to see a list of these medications, which can greatly increase the risk of overexposure. A partial list, by no means inclusive, appears below. You should also avoid tanning if you are pregnant, due to the heat, unless your doctor approves it. The concern is that tanning while pregnant may tend to increase body temperature which may be harmful to the unborn baby. Ultraviolet radiation from tanning equipment does not affect tissues below the surface of the skin, including a developing, unborn baby. Since medical professionals do not know how pregnancy is affected by the heat generated by tanning equipment we do allow pregnant women to tan with a written permission from a doctor.

Many common medications and even ingredients in food, shampoos & soaps can cause photo sensitivity which may lead to overexposure. If you are taking prescription medications please check with your physician regarding possible photo sensitivity. Perfumes and colognes containing Furocoumarins, compound from natural products such as plants and fruits. Their natural oils can cause your skin to become highly sensitive to UV light. Food and fruits that contain photo-sensitizing agents: celery, carrots, lime, coriander, parsley, fennel, dill, buttercup, mustard and fig.

Not everyone will experience a photosensitive reaction. Also, someone who experiences a photosensitive reaction once will NOT necessarily experience it again or every time.

Medications will NOT cause the same degree of skin reaction in all individuals.

The most common photo-sensitizing things. This is not an exhaustive list of everything that could have photo-sensitizing effects. For answers to any question about a drug or product that you use, you should consult a physician.

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What medications may interfere with my tanning?














Azo Gantanol

Azo Gantrisin
































Estar Gel






Fulvicin U/F







Hispril Spansule




Intal Inhaler

Intron A


























Ornade Spansule

Orudis Capsules















Ru-Tuss II Capsules
























Trandate HCT

Triaminic TR


Vasotec Tablets



Voltaren Tablets


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