Tanning oil is a little bit like magic for your skin — it helps you tan faster, giving you that beautiful, bronze glow without having to spend too long under the sun.
The question is, do tanning oils work for tanning beds too? Can these mineral oils be used in tanning salons?
Before you get on that tanning bed, here’s what you need to know for a comfortable, safe, and effective tanning session.
How Does a Tanning Bed Work?
In a tanning bed, lamps emitting high-intensity UV rays surround you, mimicking the effects of sun tanning.
Much like tanning outdoors in the heat, tanning beds utilize UVA and UVB rays to kickstart melanin production in your skin.
After a few sessions on the tanning bed, your skin will turn a couple of shades darker, giving you a bronze and beautiful tan.
Using Tanning Oil During Your Tanning Session
Since you know that tanning oil accelerates your tanning, it makes sense to use this mineral oil in a tanning bed, right?
Unfortunately, mineral oils are NOT SAFE for tanning beds.
Why? Each tanning bed contains an acrylic lining that protects you and the glass material of the bed from intense heat and so much pressure.
However, this acrylic layer DEGRADES when it comes into contact with tanning oils.
This is why tanning salons will usually prohibit you from using a tanning oil in a tanning bed — this is not only very costly to maintain and repair; the damaged tanning bed could potentially be dangerous for you too!
Best Alternative: Indoor Tanning Lotion
Instead of using tanning oil, consider applying indoor tanning lotions to your skin. These tanning lotions are specifically formulated to extend your tan WITHOUT causing damage to the tanning bed.
Your tanning salon might even sell these beauty products in-store for your convenience!
About Tanning Oil
What Do Tanning Oils Do?
Frequent tanners LOVE a good tanning oil because it speeds up the tanning process, especially when they use it in tanning salons.
Because the mineral oil helps your skin attract and absorb more UV rays, your melanocytes are also encouraged to boost melanin production.
In fact, some tanning oils even CONTAIN melanin in their ingredients list. This natural pigment is responsible for giving your skin color, so you want LOTS of it for darker skin.
For a more dramatic effect, use tanning oil with bronzer. This will not only enhance your natural tan and make it appear darker, but it’ll also give your skin a youthful and dewy shine.
What are Tanning Oils Made of?
Tanning oils typically feature a blend of mineral oil and natural oils plus some add-ons like SPF, L-Tyrosine, melanin, copper, vitamins, essential nutrients, DHA, and other hydrating ingredients.
Let’s discuss these components in detail:
1. Mineral Oil
The main component, mineral oil, reflects and intensifies ultraviolet rays, which encourages your skin to absorb these UV rays faster.
L-Tyrosine, an important amino acid, converts into melanin when combined with other nutrients like copper, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6.
L-Tyrosine and these natural ingredients can speed up tanning and reduce sunburn risks.
A tanning oil with Sun Protecting Factor (SPF) will help protect your skin from the harsh rays of the sun.
However, do note that since you WANT to attract UV rays to your body, you won’t get sunscreen-level protection.
4. Other Ingredients
Coconut oil, tea tree oil, vitamin E, and glycerin help moisturize dry skin and heal delicate skin, which are common side effects of tanning.
Vitamin E is especially good for any skin type, so it’s a good component to look out for.
5. DiHydroxyacetone (DHA)
A tanning oil with dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a bronzer, in its main components will also accelerate tanning.
What You Need to Know About Tanning Beds
You should know: Tanning beds aren’t the safest for your skin. Sunbeds won’t even provide your body with enough vitamin D!
Any kind of tan indicates skin damage. At the same time, a tan puts you at risk for premature aging, hyperpigmentation, and even skin cancer!!
This is why most health professionals recommend the use of self-tanners and other similar beauty/tanning products, because these don’t harm your skin like tanning beds do.
With that said, if you still prefer to get a tan at your tanning salon, you should always follow their safety precautions and after-care instructions for the best results.
How to Get an Efficient Tan in a Tanning Bed
Getting a long-lasting, even tan doesn’t start and end at the tanning bed, though. For the best results, follow these tips before, during, and after your trip to the tanning bed!
- A few days before heading to the tanning bed, prep your skin by exfoliating, cleansing, and shaving. You want to remove older skin cells and encourage a new, healthy layer of skin to emerge so you’ll have a nicer and longer-lasting tan.
- Right before you tan, apply tanning bed lotion (DO NOT use tanning oil!). This contains moisturizing ingredients to soothe your skin and other useful substances to help you get a more even tan.
- While laying on the tanning bed, make sure you have eye protection on. UV rays are extremely harmful for your eyes, so you’ll need FDA-approved goggles to prevent any adverse effects. Try adhesives or strapless options to prevent tan lines.
- After your treatment on the tanning bed, make sure to keep your skin moisturized with a tanning extender or tanning lotion. This will keep your skin smooth, soft, and golden for much longer.
- To enhance your new tan, apply a skin-friendly cosmetic oil for that extra sheen. Trust us, everyone will notice your new look!
#1 Is Outdoor Tanning Better Than Tanning Beds?
Both methods are dangerous for your skin, as you’ll be exposed to harmful UV radiation either way.
However, if you really need to tan, know that you can’t use tanning oil in a tanning bed, so you’ll need to purchase other accelerator products if you decide to go for that option.
#2 Should I Use Tanning Oil?
If your goal is to accelerate the tanning process and get darker, then using tanning oil will definitely help.
Take note, though: NEVER use oil in a tanning bed; only use products that are specifically formulated for indoor tanning to be safe.
#3 Which Tanning Oil Gets You the Darkest?
A good tanning oil should include a mineral oil to attract UVA/UVB rays and accelerate the production of melanin in your skin cells.
Mineral oils will help speed up the tanning process.
If you’re after the darkest shade possible, the BEST oil will also incorporate bronzers in its formula.
It can be difficult to naturally turn multiple shades darker, so using tanning oil with added cosmetic ingredients will definitely help you out.
#4 What is the Best Tanning Oil for a Tanning Bed?
Oil in a tanning bed = DISASTER!
You can use tanning oil outdoors, but this will WRECK your tanning salon’s bed.
Unless your tanning oils or tanning lotions that specifically indicate they’re safe for indoor salon use, do not ever use oil in a tanning bed!
We hope this guide prepares you for your next tanning session! Don’t forget to follow all our tips, reminders, and safety precautions for the best results.
These guidelines apply for stand up tanning beds as well!
Did you enjoy this article? Feel free to share it with a friend. It might really help them out and save their day (or life!).
September 6, 2021 – Improved article formatting, reviewed and updated overall content
July 19, 2021 – Reviewed and updated article links