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Tanning Bed Time Chart for All Skin Types [Quick Guide]

Written by Lexi Carlson
Medically Reviewed by Denise Christine Bries, MD
Tanning Bed Time Chart for All Skin Types

The amount of time you need to get a desired tan depends on your skin type.

Those with lighter skin types need to spend less time tanning, while those with darker skin types can spend more time tanning.

Knowing your skin type and the appropriate tanning times and sessions is VITAL to get the best and healthiest tan possible!

This article will help you learn about how long you should use a tanning bed for different skin types. I’ll also give additional tips for each skin type and address tanning bed FAQs!

Tanning Bed Time Chart

Skin TypeFirst SessionWeek 1Week 2Week 3Week 4
Type 11 minute1 minute1 minute3 minutes5 minutes
Type 22 minutes3 minutes5 minutes8 minutes10 minutes
Type 33 minutes4 minutes8 minutes13 minutes15 minutes
Type 43 minutes5 minutes9 minutes16 minutes20 minutes
Type 53 minutes6 minutes10 minutes16 minutes20 minutes

How Long Should You Be in the Tanning Bed?

How long you should be tanning will depend on your specific skin type. You can find this out by looking at this chart. 

This tanning bed time chart will help you achieve the PERFECT tan.

Tanning Bed Time Chart for All Skin Types

This tanning bed time chart shows the tanning session times that work great for your skin type – it’s to bring about MAXIMUM effectiveness and protection!

The times on the chart may SEEM like less time than you would want, but any more time spent in the tanning bed can lead to peeling, sunburnt skin, which will risk your tanning progress.

The first tanning session and the first week or two are meant to help you build a base tan. This sets the right tone for your tan going forward.

After that, a deeper tan will develop in the next few sessions. 

The sessions in weeks one to three are the MOST IMPORTANT in tanning. 

So while the time of your session seems short, your patience will pay off in the long run, with BEAUTIFUL, TANNED SKIN and a healthy glow!

If you want to maintain your color, then you can spend time in the tanning bed once or twice weekly at the time you stopped darkening your skin.

Skin Types

To understand the tanning bed chart better, it’s important to determine and understand your skin type.

You need to especially take note of:

  • How likely you are to experience sunburn
  • How easy tanning is for your skin type with a tanning bed.

There are 5 main skin types to consider when it comes to using a tanning bed.

But generally, the LIGHTER your skin type, the LESS TIME you would want to spend per tanning session.

Type 1: Ivory Skin Type

Skin Type 1

This skin type is very pale and DOES NOT tan easily.

Since you have very fair skin, you will have to practice caution when trying to tan this skin type, too, because it’s easy to experience sunburn when you use a tanning bed.

People with this skin color usually have blue or green eyes and blonde or red hair. Sometimes people with red hair even have freckles.

Tanning this skin type can be a challenge. Harsh tanning light might irritate your pale skin.

I would highly recommend that you try doing an airbrush or spray tan if this is your type.

Type 2: Beige Skin Type

Skin Type 2

This skin type is still pretty light, but not porcelain white. Sort of like a light beige.

Burning this skin type with a tanning bed is still easy to do, so tanning should still be done carefully. 

However, it does tan a LITTLE easier than the previous skin type.

People with this skin type usually have blue or green eyes, as well as light brown hair. Some have freckles as well, as this is still a very fair skin type.

Type 3: Medium Skin Type

Skin Type 3

This is light brown skin. This skin type can burn, but usually tans pretty easily.

People with this skin color and skin type tend to have brown eyes. 

It’s a type that tans easily since it’s in between color types.

Type 4: Olive Skin Type

Skin Type 4

This is a light brown or olive skin type. 

This skin type can burn but tans QUICKER than the previously mentioned types.

People with a light brown skin type or olive skin type usually have brown eyes and dark brown hair.

Type 5: Honey Skin Type

Skin Type 5

This is a brown or dark skin type. This type of skin doesn’t burn easily.

To add to this, a darker skin type also tans easily.

People with a dark skin type usually have dark brown eyes and dark brown hair.

Tips for Each Skin Type

Generally, no matter what your skin type, make sure your face is CLEAR of makeup when you have your sessions.

For an even tan, you can lay your head back to allow exposure to all parts of your body. 


You don’t want to spend your time and money on an uneven tan, right?

Also, make sure to remove any contact lenses before going to bed. 

While UV rays are blocked from the eyes when you protect them properly, the heat can cause the eye to dry, making your contacts very uncomfortable.

Make sure you take care of your skin type too! This is so you will be able to maintain your golden glow.

However, we’re not finished! There are other tips you will want to take note of that are particular to your skin type. 

Ivory and Beige Skin Types

If this is your skin type, you should practice caution when in a tanning bed. 

After all, the number one priority should be to protect your skin.

For ivory skin types:

  • For the first 3 sessions, you essentially only want to stay in the tanning bed for 1 minute.
  • After that, you can build up the tanning bed time, but only do so in 1 or 2-minute increments. This is because you’re a pale skin type.

For beige skin types:

  • You can start with 2 minutes, but you will still want to be very careful and build your base in small increments.
  • As soon as your skin becomes warm or uncomfortable, STOP. This is to prevent peeling.
  • If your skin peels, you will have to restart the process all over again! So make sure you have short tanning bed sessions.

You can use a tan accelerator to help your tan develop faster. This will also help protect your skin from drying out. 

If your tan accelerator is bronzer-free, you can even apply it to your face to get an even tan.

Medium Skin Types

Your skin type has to be cautious when using a tanning bed, but you can have slightly longer sessions than ivory and beige skin.

You will notice results fairly quickly, but don’t push this. Overexposure can still lead to skin burns.

Again, a tan accelerator would be very helpful in getting quicker results while protecting your skin type from UV rays.

Olive Skin Types

You will be able to spend a longer time in the tanning bed, but since results happen QUICKLY, you may not want to spend too much time in a tanning bed.

A tanning accelerator will do WONDERS, and you won’t have to spend too long in the tanning bed!

Honey Skin Types

Sessions for darker skin types are short. This is for 2 reasons.

The first reason is still for safety. Being less likely to burn doesn’t mean you’re immune from UV damage and UV rays.

The second reason is that you will see results really quickly, so you won’t have to tan much at all to get the results you want!

In fact, you don’t really have to develop a base at all since you already have a good one, naturally. This would make it easier to maintain a golden tan!

A tanning lotion will help you develop a beautiful dark tan without having too many sessions. 

Not to mention, tanning lotion will help you maintain a beautiful glow!

After-Tan Skin Care

No matter what skin type you have, after-care is CRUCIAL. This will help protect your skin from peeling and sensitivity.

Once you leave the tanning bed, your skin will still continue to tan and produce melanin for at least 12 hours. 

And when you produce melanin, you get more color.

A tan accelerator keeps your skin hydrated both while you’re in the tanning bed and an hour or two after.

If you have fairer skin, use aloe vera gel to cool your skin and prevent peeling.

Also, remember to drink LOTS of water! Being in a tanning bed can be very dehydrating, so make sure you stay hydrated!

Keeping your skin type healthy is the key to maintaining your beautiful glow!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Good Tanning Schedule?

What is recommended by most tanning professionals would be that the first 3 sessions be done within a week until a base tan is developed.

  • After the first week,  2 tanning bed sessions a week can be done to darken your color.
  • Just make sure you don’t have more than one tanning bed session in 24 hours. Your skin needs time to fully process the tanning session.
  • To maintain your color, you would want to book one or two weekly tanning bed sessions.

If you’re going to do outside tanning, make sure you pick the best time for your skin.

Should You Apply a Tanning Accelerator to Your Face?

This really depends. If you want evenly distributed color on your body, including your face, then yes, you should. 

But be careful with the tan accelerator you choose. 

Some contain bronzers, so you will probably want to avoid applying that to your face.

Is a Standing Tanning Bed Better?

standing tanning bed takes a shorter time to develop a base tan than lay-down tanning beds.

You may also want to choose them for hygiene purposes, especially if you’ll be doing nude tanning

This is because lay-down tanning beds aren’t always cleaned properly, and you will have to be in contact with it.

What Is the Equivalent of 10 Minutes in a Tanning Bed?

10 minutes in a tanning bed is equivalent to 4 hours in the sun!

So be sure to limit your exposure in tanning beds to a few minutes per session and at MOST three times a week. 

This is especially important for fair-skinned folks who sunburn easily!

But what’s great about tanning is you won’t have to spend too much time outdoors, especially if you live in a cold place or your job requires you to stay indoors.

How Many Times Do You Have to Tan to See Results?

Most of the time, you will begin to notice results after a few tanning bed sessions in the first week, but it may take SEVERAL WEEKS of regular sessions(two to three times a week) to get a good tan.

Take note of these tanning guidelines if it’s your first time tanning.

If you are developing a base tan before going on a winter vacation, start going to the tanning bed two to three weeks before you are scheduled to leave.

Just make sure you don’t get a peeling sunburn because that can ruin all your progress.

Results from a spray tan will also differ from that of a tanning bed.

Is Indoor Tanning Possible for Those Who Can’t Tan Outdoors?

If your skin type is prone to burning, and you can’t seem to get a tan AT ALL outside, then indoor tanning may be a challenge.

But burning is a challenge we can overcome!

While challenging, it is still possible to achieve your dream skin color indoors with indoor tanning lotions.

By following the chart above, starting with short sessions, and gradually increasing the time spent tanning, you should be able to achieve that golden tan. Regardless of what skin type you have!

When Shouldn’t I Be Using a Tanning Bed?

If you are taking photosensitizing medication, you shouldn’t tan.

To be sure, check the labels on your medication and consult your doctor or pharmacist. 

These medications would make you more prone to overexposure to UV rays.

Also, avoid being in a tanning bed if you’re pregnant. The heat from indoor tanning can hurt the mother and the unborn child.

Final Words

Now that you know all you need to get a good and SAFE tan, it’s time to get that tanned glow!

Remember that even though you’re indoors, you can still get sunburn. So darken with caution.

Make sure you stay in the tanning bed for only the amount of time you need and leave immediately if your skin type feels discomforting.

What are you waiting for? If it only takes 1 week to see results, grab that tanned glow today!

Just make sure you don’t forget to apply your sunscreen!