Tanning beds have become a popular method for achieving a bronzed glow without the need for natural sunlight. However, as with any form of tanning, it’s essential to understand the risks and benefits associated with tanning bed use. One of the most common questions among tanning enthusiasts is, “How often should you use a tanning bed?”

This article explores the factors to consider when determining tanning bed frequency, the risks associated with excessive use, and safe tanning practices to achieve a healthy tan.

Understanding Tanning Beds

Tanning beds, also known as sunbeds, are devices that emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation to produce a tan.

They come in two main types: traditional UV tanning beds and spray tanning booths. Traditional UV tanning beds use bulbs that emit UVA and UVB rays, while spray tanning booths use a mist of tanning solution to darken the skin. Both types of tanning beds are used for cosmetic purposes to achieve a tan without sun exposure.

Benefits and Risks of Tanning Bed Use


  • Provides a tan without sun exposure, which can be convenient for individuals with busy schedules or limited access to sunlight.
  • Allows for control over the tanning process, as exposure time and intensity can be adjusted to achieve the desired tan.
  • Can be used year-round, making it possible to maintain a tan even during the winter months or in areas with long periods of cloudy weather.


  • Skin Cancer: Excessive UV exposure from tanning beds increases the risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
  • Premature Skin Aging: UV radiation can cause premature aging of the skin, including wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots.
  • Eye Damage: UV exposure from tanning beds can damage the eyes, leading to conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Skin Damage: Frequent use of tanning beds can lead to dryness, irritation, and other skin problems, such as rashes or burns.
  • Weakened Immune System: Prolonged UV exposure can weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections and illnesses.

How Often Should You Tan?

Determining how often to tan depends on various factors, including your skin type, tanning goals, and the method of tanning you’re using. Generally, it’s recommended to tan no more than once every 1-2 weeks to reduce the risk of skin damage and other health concerns.

However, some people may be able to tan more frequently, while others should avoid tanning altogether. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider or dermatologist before starting a tanning regimen to determine the safest approach for your skin and overall health.

Factors To Consider Before Tanning

Factors To Consider Before Tanning

Before tanning, consider the following factors:

  1. Skin Type: Your skin type plays a significant role in how often you should tan. Fair-skinned individuals are more prone to sunburn and skin damage and should tan less frequently than those with darker skin tones.
  2. Tanning Goals: Consider why you want to tan and how dark you want your tan to be. If you’re looking for a subtle tan, you may not need to tan as often as someone aiming for a deeper tan.
  3. Health Considerations: Certain medical conditions and medications can make your skin more sensitive to UV radiation. Consult with your healthcare provider before tanning if you have any health concerns.
  4. Tanning Method: The method of tanning you choose can also impact how often you should tan. For example, spray tanning typically lasts longer than tanning beds and may require fewer sessions to maintain your tan.
  5. Sun Exposure: If you spend a lot of time outdoors or in the sun, you may need to tan less frequently to avoid overexposure to UV radiation.
  6. Skin Sensitivity: If you have sensitive skin, you may need to tan less frequently to avoid irritation and other skin problems.
  7. Tanning Products: Using tanning products, such as lotions or oils, can help enhance your tan and may allow you to tan less frequently.

Consider these factors carefully before deciding how often to tan to ensure you achieve a safe and desirable tan.

Tanning Bed Safety Tips

  1. Limit Exposure Time: Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the maximum recommended tanning time. Start with short sessions and gradually increase exposure time to avoid burning.
  2. Use Protective Eyewear: Wear goggles specifically designed for indoor tanning to protect your eyes from UV radiation.
  3. Protect Your Skin: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to areas not covered by clothing. This helps protect your skin from UV damage.
  4. Moisturize Your Skin: Use a moisturizer before and after tanning to keep your skin hydrated and reduce the risk of dryness and irritation.
  5. Avoid Overexposure: Do not tan more frequently than recommended, and avoid tanning on consecutive days to reduce the risk of skin damage.
  6. Check for Skin Changes: Regularly check your skin for any changes, such as new moles or changes in existing moles, and consult a dermatologist if you notice anything unusual.
  7. Know Your Skin Type: Understand your skin type and its sensitivity to UV radiation to determine the safest tanning regimen for you.

Alternatives To Tanning Beds

  1. Self-Tanning Products: Consider using self-tanning lotions, sprays, or mousses to achieve a tan without UV exposure. These products are generally safe and can provide a natural-looking tan.
  2. Bronzing Makeup: Use bronzing powders, creams, or sprays to add color to your skin without the need for tanning beds.
  3. Professional Spray Tans: Visit a salon for a professional spray tan, which can provide an even, natural-looking tan without UV exposure.
  4. Gradual Tanning Lotions: Use gradual tanning lotions or moisturizers to gradually build up a tan over time.
  5. Clothing and Accessories: Wear clothing, hats, and sunglasses to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays when outdoors.

Consider these alternatives to tanning beds to achieve a tan safely and reduce the risk of skin damage.


In conclusion, determining how often you should use a tanning bed is a multifaceted decision influenced by factors such as your skin type, tanning objectives, and overall well-being. While some individuals may tolerate more frequent sessions, it’s generally advised to limit tanning bed use to once a week to mitigate the potential risks to skin health and overall wellness.

Nonetheless, seeking guidance from a healthcare provider or dermatologist before embarking on a tanning regimen is essential to tailor the approach to your unique circumstances.

By adopting a responsible approach to tanning and adhering to safety protocols, you can strike a balance between achieving a desired tan and safeguarding against the potential hazards associated with excessive UV exposure.