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What's the consensus on tanning beds? How does it compare to the real thing?

PointOutside

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2021
Messages
74
Location
United States
Living in the north and looking out my window today at 3 PM and it being nearly pitch black outside really made me think: how is this sustainable? Vitamin D supplements just raise the number on my labs but do absolutely nothing to me compared to sunlight. Obviously Vitamin D isn't the only thing sunlight provides, but still. I know some people recommend tanning beds here but I'm somewhat more interested in the comparison to sunlight. How does tanning in a bed compare to real sunlight? It's probably nothing like the real thing but maybe it can be quantified. There's a tanning bed in my complex but I don't know what sort of frequencies it emits, I'd have to do some research on it.

Little side question: I am naturally extremely pale, but I don't burn easily at all. I spend my whole summer in intense sunlight (I travel a lot in the summer) and get very dark very quickly without burning, however I can lose my entire tan in less than ten days if I'm not in direct intense sunlight. Should I consider anything in relation to this? Copper? It's very drastic the change in skin tone. 3 months of heavy sun and being dark all to be lost in two weeks after returning home.
 
Last edited:

JenLN

Member
Joined
May 18, 2018
Messages
34
I live in Denmark and I take Vitamin D and use a tanning bed 2-3x month in winter because I get a much better result with a tanning bed. The key is moderation and never burning. A lot of tanning beds also have red lights
 

Makrosky

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2014
Messages
3,125
I live in Denmark and I take Vitamin D and use a tanning bed 2-3x month in winter because I get a much better result with a tanning bed. The key is moderation and never burning. A lot of tanning beds also have red lights
Do you feel something remotely comparable to sunlight with those tanning beds? Or is it just to help raise Vitamin D?
 

PointOutside

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Thread starter
Joined
Aug 4, 2021
Messages
74
Location
United States
Do you feel something remotely comparable to sunlight with those tanning beds? Or is it just to help raise Vitamin D?
I'll chime in but personally tanning beds give an effect similar but much weaker than real sunlight, at least the one I have access to. Of course nowhere near a day in the sun. Today I did 9 minutes, barely even tanned which means the bulbs are pretty weak, but I do feel a subtle similarity to sunlight.
 

3SoRaptor

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Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
4
My subjective and completely anecdotal experience is that they cure my SAD, whereas nothing else does much. 15 minutes every other day and my winters are as good as summers, feelings wise.
 

Makrosky

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2014
Messages
3,125
I'll chime in but personally tanning beds give an effect similar but much weaker than real sunlight, at least the one I have access to. Of course nowhere near a day in the sun. Today I did 9 minutes, barely even tanned which means the bulbs are pretty weak, but I do feel a subtle similarity to sunlight.

My subjective and completely anecdotal experience is that they cure my SAD, whereas nothing else does much. 15 minutes every other day and my winters are as good as summers, feelings wise.

Well, that sounds pretty decent. Worth trying it! Thanks guys!

@3SoRaptor what type of bed you are using? If you could tell me the brand/model I would try to find a place that has those or equivalent where I live. I would really appreciate it.
 

Blossom

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Joined
Nov 23, 2013
Messages
8,968
There’s just no replacement for real sunshine in my opinion but since I live in a long vitamin D winter location I’ve been tanning 1-2 times per week from October-March for years and find it very helpful. This is a pretty good article about using tanning beds for vitamin D.

“First, let's get rid of any doubts about if you can get vitamin D from tanning beds. Because you definitely can. I have proved it on myself and there are several reports available from larger studies showing that a tanning bed can be an excellent source of vitamin D.

I am saying “can be” because not all tanning beds are the same when it comes to their ability produce the special ultraviolet rays that triggers the vitamin D production in your skin.

The optimal “special ultraviolet rays” that are needed for producing vitamin D are of the wavelength 295-310 nm in the UVB range. The problem with that is that they come very close to the burning area (erythema) of UV-light.

Since indoor tanning is regulated by authorities in most countries to cater for so called cosmetic tanning, tanning beds in professional tanning salons are emitting mainly UVA (just like real sunshine, by the way).

UVA has longer waves than UVB and oxidize the pigment (melanin) you already have in your skin to a darker color. UVA-rays do, however, neither make vitamin D nor do they help your skin to create more melanin.

In addition to being commercially focused on cosmetic tanning, tanning-regulations, at least in the USA, prevents salon operators to give any advice about the potential health effects from indoor tanning.

As a “Vitamin D-tanner” who wants to seek out a tanning salon for your twice-weekly vitamin D dose, you might therefore have some difficulties to get enough information when you shop around for a place to get vitamin D.

healthy-tanning-for-vitamin-d_no-high-pressure-face-tanning-lamps
High-pressure face-tanning lamps can be switched off during healthy tanning for vitamin D
Here are some concrete advice for how you can find out if a tanning salon has equipment that can fulfill your needs and also some practical tips for how to use indoor tanning for vitamin D:

  • If you are in the USA, don’t even bother to ask a tanning salon operator if they offer “healthy tanning for vitamin D”. You risk to be taken for an “under-cover agent” either from the media or from the authorities and the answer will probably not be very useful.
  • Instead, ask the concrete question “how much UVB, (in % of UVA), does your tanning bed with highest amount of UVB have?”
  • If the answer is above 5% UVB (in North-America) or 2.3% (in Europe), you are good. You might find that many salon-operators do not know how much UVB there is in their tanning beds, but that, I believe, is about to change in the future.
  • When you come to the salon you selected, you will find that the tanning beds with enough UVB, always are equipped with low-pressure lamps (those are the lamps that looks like long ordinary fluorescent lighting fixtures) for the body. They might also have extra high-pressure (round lamps with dark, square filters) UVA lamps for the face. The high-pressure face-tanners are there to give an extra cosmetic color boost to the face. They are not needed, and not even desirable, for vitamin D tanning and should therefore be switched off during your session.
  • If you want to further protect your face-skin during your tanning session for vitamin D, you can cover your face with a towel. If you tan in a vertical tanning bed, you can even use a broad-spectrum sun-protection lotion, for your face. See more about tanning cosmetics below.
  • You should of course also follow all other precautions for indoor tanning, like protecting your eyes with special eyeshields.

Now, for the most important advice about on how long sessions you should have for indoor tanning for vitamin D.​

You will find that in a good professional tanning salon there are tanning-protocols that combine your skin-type with the output power for each tanning bed in the salon. Those protocols are however made solely for cosmetic tanning goals and are not good for vitamin D tanning. (Actually, as a vitamin D tanner, you should try to avoid to get a dark tan because a dark tan will increase your natural UV-protection and thus prolong the time needed to make vitamin D)

Here is how you still can use them in order to get a tanning session with zero-risk of burning while getting a full dose of vitamin D.

After having identified the best tanning bed for you according to the UVB selection described above, you ask for the normal session-time for cosmetic tanning in that bed according to your skin-type. Then you cut that time in half.

Following the advice above, you will get enough UVB for creating 10,000 to 15,000 IU vitamin D from one session and you will have absolutely ZERO risk of burning.

You will need at least 2 sessions per week in order to escape vitamin D deficiency.

I have described the process for healthy tanning much more in detail on this page: the secrets of how to use UV-light for healthy tanning. Click here and get the secrets. Having just re-read Michael Holicks book “The Vitamin D Solution“, I see that the advice above corresponds very well to the advice on indoor tanning for vitamin D which Dr. Holick gives in his book.”
 

TobyBjorn

Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
20
I’m pale with blue eyes and swedish ancestors and I hit the tanning bed 3-4 times a week during the coldest months of the year. (I also have a couple reptile UVB bulbs at home that I bask under from time to time..) Where I live there is just enough sun all year to get some vitamin D, but of course if its cold outside I am unlikely to show a lot of skin to the sun.
I use the ‘starter beds’ in a Palm Beach Tan, which have low pressure UVB bulbs, and I radiate myself for 9-12 minutes, sometimes up to 20 minutes. I never get burned and I always feel awesome, there is a noticable mood boost immediately. The brain glow lasts a good day or two.
However I do prefer to supplement the tanning beds with red light, ideally the full intensity red light beds that are becoming more common in tanning facilities. I have a handful of different red light sources at home too. The red light has a more pronounced effect on my circadian rythm compared to UVB only.
 

Rafe

Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2016
Messages
381
I go to a tanning place 2x per week January to April. I should start earlier but I tend to wait until deeper winter.

My place replaced the old low-pressure lay-down beds with stand-up cabinets. I don’t know whether they are low pressure or not. And the staff here know nothing about them, only the sales packages & lotions.

I just stay in for 3-4 min & cover my face. It gives me a serious lift when I do it. I don’t think it does my skin any favors but the general effect is worth it.

I live at 42* latitude, around what Chicago. The cloud ceiling is low & no sun for 5.5 months. The winters are all white & gray. Winter sickness is just part of the culture here.

There are a lot of depressed-looking middle aged people who come into the place I go to.

I also have uvb bulbs I got in the reptile aisle in a lamp at my office & at home.
 

Madlash

Member
Joined
Nov 12, 2021
Messages
7
Location
Canada
I tanned to help me through the last winter, and I will again this winter. Post-tanning session I would get a euphoric feeling for a couple of hours, which suggested to me that something good was happening. Make sure the bed and bulbs you're using provide significant UVB, as the article above describes. And be VERY careful not to burn. The bed I used came was up to 10 minutes per session, and I would use 3.
 

Makrosky

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2014
Messages
3,125
There’s just no replacement for real sunshine in my opinion but since I live in a long vitamin D winter location I’ve been tanning 1-2 times per week from October-March for years and find it very helpful. This is a pretty good article about using tanning beds for vitamin D.

“First, let's get rid of any doubts about if you can get vitamin D from tanning beds. Because you definitely can. I have proved it on myself and there are several reports available from larger studies showing that a tanning bed can be an excellent source of vitamin D.

I am saying “can be” because not all tanning beds are the same when it comes to their ability produce the special ultraviolet rays that triggers the vitamin D production in your skin.

The optimal “special ultraviolet rays” that are needed for producing vitamin D are of the wavelength 295-310 nm in the UVB range. The problem with that is that they come very close to the burning area (erythema) of UV-light.

Since indoor tanning is regulated by authorities in most countries to cater for so called cosmetic tanning, tanning beds in professional tanning salons are emitting mainly UVA (just like real sunshine, by the way).

UVA has longer waves than UVB and oxidize the pigment (melanin) you already have in your skin to a darker color. UVA-rays do, however, neither make vitamin D nor do they help your skin to create more melanin.

In addition to being commercially focused on cosmetic tanning, tanning-regulations, at least in the USA, prevents salon operators to give any advice about the potential health effects from indoor tanning.

As a “Vitamin D-tanner” who wants to seek out a tanning salon for your twice-weekly vitamin D dose, you might therefore have some difficulties to get enough information when you shop around for a place to get vitamin D.

healthy-tanning-for-vitamin-d_no-high-pressure-face-tanning-lamps
High-pressure face-tanning lamps can be switched off during healthy tanning for vitamin D
Here are some concrete advice for how you can find out if a tanning salon has equipment that can fulfill your needs and also some practical tips for how to use indoor tanning for vitamin D:

  • If you are in the USA, don’t even bother to ask a tanning salon operator if they offer “healthy tanning for vitamin D”. You risk to be taken for an “under-cover agent” either from the media or from the authorities and the answer will probably not be very useful.
  • Instead, ask the concrete question “how much UVB, (in % of UVA), does your tanning bed with highest amount of UVB have?”
  • If the answer is above 5% UVB (in North-America) or 2.3% (in Europe), you are good. You might find that many salon-operators do not know how much UVB there is in their tanning beds, but that, I believe, is about to change in the future.
  • When you come to the salon you selected, you will find that the tanning beds with enough UVB, always are equipped with low-pressure lamps (those are the lamps that looks like long ordinary fluorescent lighting fixtures) for the body. They might also have extra high-pressure (round lamps with dark, square filters) UVA lamps for the face. The high-pressure face-tanners are there to give an extra cosmetic color boost to the face. They are not needed, and not even desirable, for vitamin D tanning and should therefore be switched off during your session.
  • If you want to further protect your face-skin during your tanning session for vitamin D, you can cover your face with a towel. If you tan in a vertical tanning bed, you can even use a broad-spectrum sun-protection lotion, for your face. See more about tanning cosmetics below.
  • You should of course also follow all other precautions for indoor tanning, like protecting your eyes with special eyeshields.

Now, for the most important advice about on how long sessions you should have for indoor tanning for vitamin D.​

You will find that in a good professional tanning salon there are tanning-protocols that combine your skin-type with the output power for each tanning bed in the salon. Those protocols are however made solely for cosmetic tanning goals and are not good for vitamin D tanning. (Actually, as a vitamin D tanner, you should try to avoid to get a dark tan because a dark tan will increase your natural UV-protection and thus prolong the time needed to make vitamin D)

Here is how you still can use them in order to get a tanning session with zero-risk of burning while getting a full dose of vitamin D.

After having identified the best tanning bed for you according to the UVB selection described above, you ask for the normal session-time for cosmetic tanning in that bed according to your skin-type. Then you cut that time in half.

Following the advice above, you will get enough UVB for creating 10,000 to 15,000 IU vitamin D from one session and you will have absolutely ZERO risk of burning.

You will need at least 2 sessions per week in order to escape vitamin D deficiency.

I have described the process for healthy tanning much more in detail on this page: the secrets of how to use UV-light for healthy tanning. Click here and get the secrets. Having just re-read Michael Holicks book “The Vitamin D Solution“, I see that the advice above corresponds very well to the advice on indoor tanning for vitamin D which Dr. Holick gives in his book.”
Blossom... 🙂🙂🙂🙂
 

Jon2547

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2021
Messages
629
I do 20 minutes 3 times a week. It gets me thru the winters. I live in the New England region <blech>
 

TobyBjorn

Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2019
Messages
20
Its cool to see how many people have basically the same experience. Not surprising, but refreshing.
 
Joined
May 2, 2021
Messages
45
Just recently began using these, hoping to get there regularly maybe 9 minutes a week. Certainly lifts my mood when I come out of the bed, I live in the UK and the nights are drawing in.
 

James b

Member
Joined
May 10, 2018
Messages
1,620
Just recently began using these, hoping to get there regularly maybe 9 minutes a week. Certainly lifts my mood when I come out of the bed, I live in the UK and the nights are drawing in.
Also live in the UK. Have you found a chain/franchise that also have red lights as well as UV beds ? Thanks!
 

Makrosky

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2014
Messages
3,125
Guys, what do you think about this? I found a saloon that has these 5 mins from home.

Utilizing Ergoline’s superior UV competence, the Ultra Performance Reflector System creates a deeper tan in the facial area. This high-pressure technology provides specially coated filter glass that performs with 35% more UV output and a reflector geometry that balances UV-A and UV-B wavelengths. The result is more intense UV power than most other high-pressure models on the market, which just waste power and add heat.​


As I am TOTALLY newbie to these things, I would appreciate if someone can confirm these are safe (and useful). Care to comment @Blossom ? :)

And what about these protective glasses? They are made in Germany so it is not chinese made crap (no offense).

Amazon productView: https://www.amazon.de/-/en/dp/B07GYH9ZJ3
 

AlaskaJono

Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2020
Messages
87
Years ago I used tanning beds a few winters in Alaska for D and in order not to get sunburned if I was going to head South for 10 days. I do think those beds were UVA mainly, and little B rays.... . I did not check Vit D levels, but felt better after 2 or 3 goes. So the advice above is excellent regarding the UVB bulbs required. I also put a towel over my face 95% of the time. I did ski a few times a week so I received plenty reflective light when the sun did pop out.

I preferred to go in multiple times a week on under 10 minutes, but they would count each time as one 20 minute visit, and payment accordingly. Not the best value for my purpose so do ask. (yes, they must clean the glass everytime ...).
 

Blossom

Moderator
Joined
Nov 23, 2013
Messages
8,968
Guys, what do you think about this? I found a saloon that has these 5 mins from home.



As I am TOTALLY newbie to these things, I would appreciate if someone can confirm these are safe (and useful). Care to comment @Blossom ? :)

And what about these protective glasses? They are made in Germany so it is not chinese made crap (no offense).

Amazon productView: https://www.amazon.de/-/en/dp/B07GYH9ZJ3
I’ve used that bed before and really like it. The worker at the tanning salon told me that the basic entry level 20 minute bed is all you really need for increasing vitamin D and helping SAD even though it doesn’t tan you as much. The ergoline prestige 1100 bed was more expensive so I just used it for special occasions when I wanted a little more color. I never used it exclusively or did a comparison between it and the cheapest bed on how my vitamin D levels were impacted. I definitely always felt good after a session in it. The salon attendant also said the ergoline was closer to the sun you’d get from a day at the beach. I don’t have any science on any of this though just my personal experience.
 
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