Using a Tanning Bed with Sunscreen

Experts agree that we should wear sunscreen outdoors to protect the skin from damage and cancer. Does the same recommendation hold true for tanning beds?

It might seem counterintuitive to wear sunscreen while tanning, as you’d be trying to both soak up and protect from the UV rays. However, sunscreens can protect skin while also allowing it to darken.

This post will discuss why tanners might use sunscreen in a tanning bed by exploring:

● Sunscreen and SPF
● SPF and tanning
● Why wear sunscreen in a tanning bed?

Sunscreen and SPF

Sunscreens contain an SPF (sun protection factor), which protects skin from UVB rays – the kind that causes sunburn. SPF is measured by a number as low as four and as high as 100.

The number indicates how long the sunscreen will work. For example, SPF 30 should protect skin 30 times longer than no sunscreen at all. Of course, factors such as moisture, natural skin tone and genetic predisposition can all impact how long SPF actually works.

Because SPF only protects from UVB rays, the recommendation is to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which also protects from UVA rays.

SPF and Tanning

No sunscreen, no matter how high the SPF, will protect skin from all UV rays. A low SPF applied once will ultimately let a significant level of light into your skin. Even a high SPF will only work up to a point, and re-application is necessary for lasting protection.

For those who wish to spend a lot of time in UV rays (from the sun or in a tanning bed), SPF can offer a level of protection while also leaving room for deepening skin tone.

Why Wear Sunscreen in a Tanning Bed?

Generally, sunscreen isn’t necessary during tanning bed use. The exposure to UV rays is limited by time and the regulated levels of UVA and UVB light. Further, the SPF could hinder your tanning goals, requiring more sessions in the bed.

However, certain tanners may benefit from using sunscreen in a lie-down or stand-up tanning bed. One example is those who use tanning beds primarily for relaxation and a mood-boost, especially during the colder, darker months of the year.

Another example is someone with very fair skin who wants to add a little color, but extremely slowly and carefully. These tanners may opt for short, frequent sessions over several months and use sunscreen as additional protection.

For the best advice on how to use sunscreen in tanning beds, speak with a dermatologist and the consultants at your salon, who are familiar with a range of skin types and tanning practices.