Tanning FAQs

How does skin tan? Why does it get dark?

When your skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, your body produces melanin, a natural pigment that darkens your skin. Produced by special skin cells that are sensitive to sunlight, melanin protects the body by absorbing ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

The sun produces energy, which reaches Earth in the form of radiation. About half of the Sun's solar radiation is visible light, while the other half is closer to the infrared end of the spectrum, which is not visible. A portion lies in the UV part of the spectrum.

Indoor tanning equipment — beds and booths — mimic the sun’s production of UV radiation, which stimulates the body’s production of melanin, which darkens the skin. Everyone produces a different amount of melanin, which is why some people get tan or dark very easily, while others don’t tan at all.

Is tanning OK for my health?

Absolutely, and here’s why. An abundance of scientific evidence has shown that the production of the activated form of vitamin D is one of the most effective ways the body controls abnormal cell growth. Current research has implicated vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of at least 17 varieties of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.

Moderate exposure to sunlight is the only way for the body to manufacture the vitamin D necessary for producing activated vitamin D. While studies have been less conclusive about whether indoor tanning is as effective as exposure to sunlight, indoor tanning does result in vitamin D production. Some experts believe indoor tanning may be safer than prolonged exposure to the sun, because it provides controlled exposure to UV radiation.

How long should I tan when I first start?

If you sunburn easily, you should start tanning with a short exposure time. Over the course of several sessions, as you develop a base tan, you can gradually increase your time. When you have a more substantial tan from tanning sessions and exposure to natural sunlight, you can maintain your color by tanning indoors or out for a longer period of time.

If you already have a base tan, you can tan in our beds for longer, up to the maximum. Each type of bed has its own time limit.

Our salon attendants can help you decide how long you should tan. We strongly recommend asking an attendant if you have any doubts.

How often can I tan?

We recommend waiting at least 24 hours after a tanning session before tanning again. Tanning every other day is a good routine, and adequate for most people. Most experts recommend a maximum of 3 sessions per week, to help prevent sunburn.

If I sunburn outdoors, will I sunburn in a tanning bed?

Yes, if you burn in the sun, you can burn in a tanning bed or booth. While the warning signs of sunburn do not appear as quickly from indoor tanning, any overexposure to UV radiation can cause sunburn.

It’s vitally important to avoid burning, indoors or out. While you might see sunburn as merely a temporary discomfort or “the start of a good tan,” any sunburn increases your chance of skin damage.

I don’t tan much in the sun. Will I get tan in a tanning bed?

If you never get any sort of tan from the sun, you probably won’t tan in a tanning bed either. The spectrum of UV radiation from a tanning bed is similar to that of sunlight.

If tanning doesn’t work for you, consider sunless tanning with our UV-free Mystic Tan®. The Mystic HD is an automated spray tan booth that can help you look great even if you can’t tan naturally, or for when you need a quick, darkening for a wedding, an evening out, or another special event. To learn about Mystic HD, click here.

What should I wear when I tan?

You must wear eye protection when tanning, since the eyes can be damaged due to UV exposure occurs even when shut. We sell eye protection if you don’t have your own.

Other than eye protection, you may wear anything or nothing while tanning. Each of our tanning beds is located in its own room with a door that locks. These rooms are entirely secluded, so you can dress and undress in privacy. The one exception is our Sun Capsule stand-up booth, which has its own dressing area inside the booth.

Women often choose to wear underwear or a swimsuit, so that they do not risk burning the more sensitive parts of their anatomy.

Should I use suntan lotion when I tan indoors?

Tanning lotions with SPF ratings — also called sunblock or sunscreen — are designed to allow you to stay in the sun longer, usually by absorbing and reflecting UV radiation. Since you want to get the most out of your indoor tanning experience, you should not use these products when tanning in a salon.

Instead, consider using a lotion designed specifically for indoor tanning. Quality lotions provide skin nutrition, with skincare ingredients and formulations to help you tan darker and faster. We carry two lines of lotions, which you can see if you click here.

Are tanning beds sanitary?

At any reputable salon, yes. We clean each bed with disinfectant after every tan. Our attendants are well trained and understand the importance of thoroughly cleaning a bed after it has been used. Never tan at a salon that doesn’t clean its beds after every use.