How to Use Sunbeds

Updated February 21, 2017

The tanning bed---also called the sunbed---is often used to deepen a tan or maintain a current tan. Governmental bodies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and World Health Organization (WHO), have set standards that regulate the use of sunbeds. One significant reason for the regulation is because users are exposed to ultraviolet lights, which ultimately could damage the skin and cause skin cancer.

Read the information or listen to the introductory session that the tanning salon provides before using a sunbed for the first time. This information describes how to safely use the equipment and the risks associated with using sunbeds.

Use the timer. Typically, sunbed facilities are required by law to have timers available for tanners to use. Use the timer to make sure that you are not getting too much exposure in a single session. About 20 minutes per session is sufficient.

Keep track of how many times you have used a sunbed over the course of a year. The international standard is no more than 50 times a year, although some recommend no more than 20 times a year.

Check your skin between tanning sessions. Look for changes on your skin, such as new or altered moles or freckles, after a tanning session occurs. If something doesn't seem right, stop using a sunbed immediately and visit with a dermatologist.

Use goggles when lying on a sunbed. The blackened goggles help protect your eyes from all UV light. The goggles should be worn from the moment you lay in the sunbed until you get up. Simply closing your eyes does not sufficiently shield the eyes and can result in serious damage.


Teenagers under the age of 16 require a parent's permission to use a sunbed in the U.K. In France, no one under the age of 18 is allowed to use a sunbed. In the United States, sunbed manufacturers must attach warning labels about skin types and advise users to wear goggles to protect the eyes.


Lying in a sunbed for 10 minutes is more intense to the skin than lying under the sun for the same amount of time.

Things You'll Need

  • Timer
  • Goggles


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