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Tanning Bed Time Chart: All Skin Types Explained

tanning bed chart

Helping you understand your skin type with this tanning bed time chart will help you get your perfect bronzed body during your next tanning session! Heading to your local salon to get your body tanned is a great way to spend a relaxing weekend.

However, before you get into one of those nippy tanning beds, there are things you have to consider.

For instance, there has always been a lot of discussion between the risks and benefits of a tanning bed. However, as long as you know your skin type, we’ll help you figure out your perfect tanning session and duration for each one. 

It may sound complicated and confusing at first, but I can assure you that it is a lot more simple than it seems. It’s crucial for us to know the complexion that you will be dealing with so that we can avoid accidentally getting burned in a tanning bed.

What To Expect

From here, we will help you know more about your skin and how you can get the perfect tan in the safest and most convenient way possible. We will also talk about the benefits of UV ray exposure and how it is different from sunlight exposure.

Tanning may seem like a simple and straightforward process, and for the most part, it definitely is. However, it does come with a few health risks if you don’t know how to handle or book your sessions at the right timing.

Don’t worry about falling victim to those incidents. We will make sure to tackle and explain everything you need to know in the simplest way possible to avoid confusion. First things first, let’s talk about the general rules of tanning.

General Rules

If it is your first time considering getting a tan from a tanning bed, you need to know that the first three sessions are crucial to developing a base tan. Afterward, you can schedule a supplemental appointment once or twice every week to maintain your color.

It is crucial to give your skin some type to rest and recover to develop a deeper tan in the next few sessions. It is possible to not get your desired results after the first two to three weeks, so don’t get too impatient.

The first few sessions will help you develop a base tan, so you should be able to see some significant changes in your body’s complexion. However, only repeated and regular tanning bed sessions will help you acquire your desired color after some time. 

You can wear any regular bathing suit or go naked in any or all of the tanning bed sessions. Don’t forget to bring your eyewear and develop a healthy skincare routine after each appointment to protect it from peeling, damage, and UV ray sensitivity.

Now that we have that general information out of the way let’s get to the more specific details. Remember how we mentioned earlier that knowing your skin type is very important in safely getting a tan? Well, now you’re about to understand why.

tanning bed time chart

Skin Types

Just like all skin products such as lotions or moisturizers, tanning beds can enhance your skin’s appearance. However, you have to understand that blindly jumping into a random tanning bed will not get you the results you want or deserve.

Aside from ending up with color too light or too dark than you would initially want, you may also end up getting sunburnt. I cannot stress enough how important it is to know your skin type before signing up for a tanning session at any local salon.

Don’t know what type of complexion you have? That’s okay because here are the six basic categories that you can look into based on the NTTI for tanning training and certification

Type 1: Ivory Skin

If you are a blonde or redhead with blue or green eyes, have pale skin and freckles, then there’s a huge possibility that you may fall under type one of the six skin categories. Ivory-skinned people are very pale and do not tan quickly. 

However, that doesn’t exactly make you 100% safe from experiencing sunburn. In fact, you really need to be cautious, even with pale or ivory skin. Even if you can only tan a little from UV light exposure, your skin can still easily burn.

For the perfect tan, schedule your first three sessions in the first week. Make sure that you give your body at least 24 hours to recover from the last appointment. However, in these first three sessions, you may want to stay in the tanning bed for no more than a minute.

The idea may seem absurd at first, especially if you are a first-timer, considering the amount that you will pay. Interestingly enough, you should know that tanning salons actually offer rates per minute for all types of tanning beds.

Once you develop a base tan in the first week of tanning, you can maintain the duration spent or add an additional minute. Just make sure not to go overboard because your ashen complexion can easily sunburn if left for more than five minutes at most.

Try to keep an average of one to three minutes during your regular sessions. Be patient when it comes to tanning your skin because paler complexions are often challenging to tan. 

Type 2: Beige Skin

Beige skin types are still relatively light compared to the other ones on the list. Just like its name, it is similar to a light beige color and not completely pale or pasty white. People with blue or green eyes and some freckles can also fall under this category.

Lucky for you guys, tanning should be a bit more manageable compared to the previous skin type that we discussed. If you belong to this group, you still have to be cautious because of possible sunburn. However, you can expect a quicker and relatively easier way to tan.

With beige skin, you can start off your first three sessions and build a base tan for two minutes at most. You want to be very careful when it comes to incrementing the number because this complexion can still easily burn.

When going above the 1-minute rule for beige skin types, be careful when it feels too warm or uncomfortable. Stop the session immediately to prevent peeling. If this happens, it probably means that you are still not ready to go beyond 1-minute tanning sessions.

Type 3: Medium Skin

Now that we are near the middle ground in discussing the different skin types, you should have an idea of how medium skin types respond to tanning beds. Just to be clear, light or brown skin can still burn but can tan a lot easier than types one and two.

Suppose you have light or brown skin with dark eyes and brown hair like an average white Caucasian. In that case, you probably fall under this category. You still have to be extra careful when it comes to your tanning sessions. Still, you should get significant results pretty quickly.

Start off with a 3-minute tanning session in your first week, and increment the number with an additional minute or two in the proceeding appointments. You can stay for as long as fifteen minutes in your fourth or fifth week of regular tanning sessions. 

For light brown skin, you should get some promising results quicker than some, but don’t go overboard when it comes to increasing your duration in a tanning bed. Try to maintain an average of five to ten minutes within the first few weeks.

Going beyond fifteen minutes during your regular tanning sessions can lead to overexposure and sunburn. Based on an article from the FDA, you can also develop certain health risks such as skin cancer, premature aging, and more. 

Type 4: Olive Skin

If you have light or medium brown skin with dark brown hair similar to the Orientals, Hispanics, and Meditteranean, then congratulations! You are about to get some pretty impressive results quicker than the rest of the other skin types. 

You may have to spend more extended periods on a tanning bed to get results. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to push your limits. Every type of skin in this list can still burn due to overexposure, so be careful. 

Try to spend the first few sessions with three minutes at most to build your base tan. Afterward, you can try to reach five minutes in the next few weeks, increasing until you get an average of fifteen to twenty minutes during your regular appointments.

If you don’t want to spend too much time on a tanning bed, try getting tanning accelerators made especially for your skin type. 

Type 5: Honey Skin

One fantastic fact about honey skin types is that compared to the other ones we have discussed so far, this is the complexion that will not quickly burn. Unfortunately, that also means staying in the tanning bed for a more extended period to get the right tan. 

After the first few sessions, you can get some pretty promising results if your natural skin is a shade of light to medium brown. With skin similar to the East Indians and Hispanics, you don’t have to be too anxious when it comes to accidentally getting sunburnt.

Just like type four skin complexions, try to stay in a tanning bed for a minimum of three to four minutes during your first few sessions to get used to the treatment. You can increase this to ten to fifteen minutes, eventually reaching around twenty minutes at most.

Try not to add ridiculously large increments every week. It’s good to stay just three or four more minutes longer than your previous tanning bed session. It’s also good to note that we didn’t mention building a base tan because honey skin types already have a natural glow.

Instead, you can develop and maintain a golden tan with ease with the help of regular tanning bed sessions. Using a tanning lotion can also help you reach your goal and lessen the number of sessions per week. 

tanning bed time chart

Things To Remember

Regardless of your skin type, it is important to build and maintain a proper tanning schedule so that you can get your results in a safe and non-harmful way. Tanning salons have different levels of tanning beds which gives you a different amount of UV rays.

For some of you who are wondering, a good fifteen-minute tan in a standard sunbed can be equivalent to a little more than four hours in the sun. A regular sunbed helps you achieve your desired tan by creating artificial UV rays. 

Since it works faster than how a natural sunbathing session usually would, you don’t have to spend too much time in one of these enclosed UV-radiating beds. You can also reduce the number of sessions with a tanning accelerator. 

Another thing we want to discuss is how you should lie down in all your tanning sessions. First of all, do not rest your chin on your chest. Do not lie in a still and closed position with your legs together and arms touching your torso. 

Whether you are in a standing or horizontal tanning bed, maintain a relaxed posture and make sure that you aren’t covering particular areas of your skin. Flip over, halfway into the session, and keep a relatively open position to avoid uneven tanning.

Indoor tanning is the best option for people who don’t have four to five hours to spare just to get the perfect bronzed body. However, according to one study, it is also an excellent way for people with sensitive skin types to enjoy a nice tan in a safe and controlled environment.


In summary, skin types one and two should have shorter tanning bed appointments with more sessions throughout the week. Skin types three, four, and five can be more generous with the schedule, starting at two to three minutes during the first few sessions.

Just make sure to keep a 24-hour waiting period between each tanning bed session. Avoid overexposing yourself to UV rays by paying close attention to how your skin reacts to the treatment. If it feels too warm and uncomfortable, stop immediately.

Whether you’re new to tanning beds or have been doing it for quite some time, I hope you have learned a thing or two on how to build and maintain perfectly tanned skin. By now, you should know which skin category you belong to and the safety precautions that come with it.

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