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Stand Up vs. Lay Down Tanning Bed: Which One is Better?

Written by Lexi Carlson
Medically Reviewed by Denise Christine Bries, MD
Stand Up vs. Lay Down Tanning Bed Which One is Better_

In the months leading up to summer, everyone who wants to achieve a sunkissed glow goes tanning.

But the dilemma continues, “Which should I pick between stand up vs. lay down tanning?” There are different pros and cons to both indoor tanning options.

To save you time and effort, we have discussed both options in this article, including some commonly asked questions and choosing the best technique for you. Let’s go!

Stand Up Tanning Beds


Stand-up tanning beds are known for a HIGHER level of intensity.

On average, the bulbs of a stand-up tanning bed measure 160 watts. The higher the intensity, the faster you get your tan.

You can thank the unique reflectors and stronger bulbs of stand-up tanning beds. Another advantage of stand-up tanning beds is the lack of pressure points.

This gives you more coverage so your skin can receive the UVA and UVB rays.

Not only that but since you are standing, you can easily maneuver the parts that are hard to access.

Have we mentioned that you will only need around 10 minutes inside a stand-up tanning booth to get that bronze, sunkissed skin?

In terms of hygiene, stand-up tanning beds are better than lay-down tanning beds. Unlike in the latter, you will not come into contact with the machine itself.


Due to its higher intensity, there is more risk of developing skin damage if you schedule your tanning session too often, or even when you have used stand-up beds for too long in one go.

There is also less comfort in stand-up tanning compared to a lay-down tanning bed.

You will have to stand the whole time and ensure that all your body parts are getting tanned.

Lay Down Tanning Beds


One thing we love about a lay-down tanning bed is the very relaxed position. There is no need to exert much effort as tanning can be another relaxing activity.

If tanning sessions are a form of R&D for you, you would benefit immensely from lay-down tanning beds.

Just remember that you have to change position to ensure an even tan!

One advantage of a lay-down tanning bed over stand-up tanning is the lower risk of burning. Because of the lower intensity of the bulbs, you will tan gradually rather than abruptly.

This will benefit those who have sensitive skins that burn easily under harsh UV rays. It is recommended that a gradual tan is better than a quick tan for these skin types.


When it comes to intensity, a lay-down tanning bed offers less at around 100-120 watts, which means that you will tan slower than in a stand-up tanning bed.

If you really want a tan that gives immediate results, you can try using a tanning accelerator. These products help the skin speed up the tanning process by stimulating melanin production.

Because of this, you will also need a long tanning session. On average, 20 minutes in lay-down tanning beds will get you your desired results.

Another con would be the limited movement and maneuver. Since you are lying down, you might have difficulty making sure that all areas are evenly tanned.

A lay-down tanning bed may also cause hygiene issues, as your skin will come into contact with the machine.

Some people report having tanning rashes, too!

Before getting into the tanning booths, make sure that it is properly cleaned and sanitized.

What to Look For in Tanning Beds

When it comes to choosing the right tanning bed, you will need to consider several factors. For this, you can use the acronym CRITCH.

Let’s discuss all of this one by one.


One big advantage lay-down tanning beds have over a stand-up tanning bed is the level of comfort.

When you lay down during your tan, it could be another relaxing activity for you. This may mean slower tanning, but there is less effort needed on your part.

Just let the tanning bed do its thing and change positions to avoid an uneven tan.

For those who do not want to be in enclosed spaces, a stand-up bed might not be for you. A lay-down bed may feel more natural as you can think you’re just receiving a massage.


Whether you use a stand-up tanning bed or a lay-down tanning bed, both will carry with them a risk of burning.

The bulbs in lay-down tanning beds are of a lower intensity than those of stand-up tanning beds, which means that there is less risk of burning.

If you have certain skin sensitivity or that your skin type reacts quickly to tanning, spending less time in lay-down tanning beds will give you a healthy tan!

Keep this in mind the next time that you decide to use a stand-up booth. These standing beds produce more UV radiation, which can carry adverse effects if not used properly.


In terms of the level with which the tanning booths emit UVA and UVB, the bulbs of the standing tanning booth have more intensity.

This might be a big deal to people whose skin types make it hard for them to tan. Just make sure to change position so you can get an even tan on your skin.

A higher intensity would also mean less time spent inside the tanning salon. This is one of the key differences between lay-down tanning beds and stand-up beds.


The bulbs of a stand-up tanning bed are more intense vs. lay-down tanning, which is why it would take you lesser time in a stand-up bed.

On average, you will only need around 10 minutes for the UV light of a stand-up tanning booth to do its magic. You can even do it during your lunch break.

People who want their tanning session to be a quick tan and those who can tolerate enclosed spaces, choose a tanning bed stand.

However, if your skin type tans or burns quickly, a lay-down bed may be better for you. Sometimes, a gradual tan can be more beneficial to your skin type than a faster tan.


Another one of the few key differences between these indoor tanning techniques is the level of coverage.

Lay-down tanning beds have less coverage than a standing booth, as people inside vertical booths can maneuver and move around to ensure that all parts are getting rays.

In a stand-up bed, you will not only achieve a quicker tan, but also UV rays will reach hard-to-access areas such as elbows, knees, or joints.


As we have mentioned earlier, tanning beds are used by a lot of people. Some may just go straight to the tanning bed without proper sanitation.

A lay-down bed carries more risk than a stand-up bed. That’s because people who use the lay-down bed come into contact with the machine itself.

If you plan to try out lay-down tanning sessions, make sure the lay-down bed is properly sanitized before you use it.

Tanning Beds vs. Suntanning

The truth is, whether you get it from stand-up and lay-down tanning beds or from the natural light of the sun, there are still UV rays present.

UVA, which is responsible for tanning, penetrates our skin deeply. According to Harvard Health Publishing, 95% of the UV light that reaches the earth is UVA.

Since the late 1980s, UVA increase the risk of melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

In comparison to both stand-up and lay-down beds, the UVA radiation from both the indoor tanning techniques is THRICE more compared that of natural UV light.

Not only that, but both the indoor tanning techniques have a UVB intensity approaching the amount that the sun produces. This type of UV can cause sunburn and aging.

This explains why both lay-down beds and stand-up beds require lesser minutes to give you a base tan than when you are lounging under the sun.

If you are not in a rush to achieve your tanning goals, then you might as well lounge under the sun and let your mind wander and your body rest.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we answer the most commonly asked questions about tanning beds. We hope that we clarify your doubts here.

How Long Should You Tan in a Sunbed Tanning Bed?

Whether going to a tanning salon or lounging under the sun, we recommend limiting your tanning to VERY SHORT sessions.

On average, you will only need around 10-20 minutes for the tanning to take effect, especially if you are using tanning products.

What Do You Wear in a Stand-up Tanning Bed?

In general, the lesser the cloth, the better.

The more your skin is exposed to the bulbs or the sun lamps, the better.

One of the go-to outfits for a stand-up tanning bed is a bikini. This ensures that all of the arms are exposed to the bulbs, while also protecting your sensitive private parts.

If you do prefer to go nude, make sure that your sensitive parts – areas that are not typically exposed to sunlight – are covered by a piece of cloth.

Which Type of Tanning Bed is Safest?

Before anything else, please remember that there is no such thing as a safe tanning bed.

All beds in any tanning salon carry with them some form of risk.

If it is your first time and you have no idea yet how your skin will react, a lay-down tanning bed is more advisable as its bulbs have less intensity.

What Do I Use for Facial Tanning?

Facial tanning units are famous for helping one achieve a beautiful facial tan.

With this, you can control the amount of UV exposure over a minimal amount of tan.

This is also beneficial as the skin on your face is thinner than the rest of your body. Health-wise, they are also safe to use and you can control the amount of UV you get, too!

If you want to achieve a sunkissed and rosy glow on your face, facial tanning is surely the way to go.

We recommend that you get a self-tanner that is specifically designed for your face. In this way, you can achieve all the benefits of going to a salon without the risks.

When choosing, choose a shade of self-tanner that will complement your shade. You can also dilute it with a non-oil-based moisturizer to lighten the shade. Adjust as you go.

So, Which Tanning Bed is Better?

The dilemma of stand-up vs. lay-down beds must come to a close, of course.

At the end of the day, both stand-up and lay-down tanning beds help you achieve the sunkissed glow.

The few key differences they have will ultimately depend on your personal preference. To help you decide, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my tanning appointment the only time I can tan?
  • Am I using tanning products?
  • Do I prefer standing or lying down on a bed?
  • Is my session also a time of rest?

Of course, it is not only dependent upon your personal preference. We advise you to also consider the skin type that you have.

There are lamps in tanning booths that are high intensity, which can cause burns on your body, especially on areas where the skin is thin, such as your face and arms.

Whether your tan is quick or slow, we advise you to consider consulting your doctor if you will need to consider anything else before tanning.


We hope you learned a thing or two from this article!

Remember, tanning is a fun activity that will help give your skin that coveted sunkissed glow. We want you to be aware of the risks so you can tan safely and properly.

We wish you a great summer. Enjoy!