Tanning beds have multiple bulbs (also called lights or lamps), some almost as many as 50, and if even one of them burns out it can impact your overall tanning experience.
How do you replace the lights in your lie-down or stand-up tanning bed? From types of lights to how often they should be replaced, this is your guide to keeping the lights bright in your tanning bed.
Tanning Bulb Basics
The light bulbs in a tanning bed are not the same as regular light bulbs. They emit ultraviolet rays which make the skin produce melanin faster than the sun’s rays can. Tanning bulbs can also encourage the production of vitamin D.
Tanning bed light bulbs come in various wattages, and it’s best to use the ones recommended by the manufacturer of your specific bed. Be aware that the higher the bulb wattage, the more often the bulbs will need to be replaced.
Types of Tanning Bed Bulbs
A few differentiating factors will influence the type of tanning bulbs you choose:
Regular or Bronzing Bulbs
All tanning bed bulbs will deepen the color of your skin with UVA and UVB rays. Yet, regular and bronzing bulbs emit the waves differently.
Note: UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, promoting the production of bronze melanin. UVB rays affect the top layer of skin and promote a pink/red color (burn).
Regular tanning bulbs:
● Use 95 percent UVA rays.
● Use 5 percent UVB rays.
● Are more likely to result in a slight burn.
● Help build a base tan.
● Are recommended for less experienced tanners or those with lighter skin.
Bronzing tanning bulbs:
● Use 98 percent (or greater) UVA rays.
● Use 2 percent (or less) UVB rays.
● Quickly tan by bronzing melanin.
● Deepen a base tan.
● Are recommended for experienced tanners only.
Face, Body or Combination Bulbs
Not all areas of the body tan at the same rate, typically. The face and arms tend to get more sun exposure, and so may not color as quickly as the abdomen and legs.
Some tanning beds include bulbs designed to tan the face and arms more quickly than the rest of the body. Face/arm tanning bulbs promote an even tan from head to toe by using stronger UV rays.
Depending on the bed you have and how many bulbs it fits, you can opt for “face” bulbs in the middle, “arm” bulbs on the sides or both in the same tanning bed.
When to Replace Tanning Bed Bulbs
The impulse might be to replace a tanning bed bulb when it burns out. However, if you wait that long, it will degrade the tanning experience and possibly result in uneven coloring for users.
In general, tanning bed lights can last around 1,000 hours or longer. While they may continue to light up for that long, they will not retain the effectiveness they had at, say, 50 hours of use. Over time, it will take longer and longer to get the same tan.
By 500 to 800 hours of use, most tanning bulbs have lost enough potency that they should be replaced. It’s important to replace all of the bulbs at one time to avoid uneven light, and thus uneven tans.
How to Replace Tanning Bed Bulbs
Before anything else, unplug the tanning bed to avoid injury. You may also choose to wear gloves if the bulbs are hot or you are concerned about breakage. Be aware that tanning bulbs contain mercury and other potentially harmful materials.
Removing the old bulbs should be as simple as gently popping them out of place, being careful not to put too much pressure on the glass. Then pop the new bulb into place, ensuring it’s locked in before replacing the next bulb.
As mentioned, the best practice is to replace all of the bulbs at once, even if only one has gone out. If all bulbs are the same age, they’re far more likely to emit even light waves and create even tans.
Get the Most Use from Tanning Bed Bulbs
Proper care can ensure you get the most from your bulbs during their lifespan. Observe the following to make it easy for the UV light waves to reach every inch of your skin:
● Use proper cleaners and fabric materials on the acrylic surface to prevent scratches, fog and buildup, which can block light waves.
● Occasionally clean the bulbs themselves with a soft cloth to remove any debris, which will allow the light to come out freely.
● Clean the reflectors behind the tanning lights, especially when you change the bulbs.
Tanning bed lights and their replacement bulbs are relatively easy to care for. Follow the tips above and enjoy long-lasting, even rays.