With outdoor tanning, it’s just you, the sun and your suntan lotion, but this is not the case with indoor tanning. There area number of options to choose from so it’s important to know your equipment before venturing into a tanning salon for the first time.

Horizontal beds are tanning beds in which the user lays flat against the bed for the duration of the tan. They look like space age capsules that you might expect to see in a sci-fi movie. Vertical booths look more like capsule shaped phone booths where the user has to stand for the duration of the tan.

In vertical tanning booths, cooling fans are used to keep the temperature constant during the tan. These booths can be made of wood or steel and are able to accommodate a variety of body types. Horizontal beds are further subdivided by the degree of pressure the bed provides while tanning. They generally come in three types: low, medium and high pressure.

Low-Pressure Beds

Low pressure beds are the most common types of beds found in tanning salons because they are believed by experts to be safer and healthier than high pressure tanning beds. Low-pressure beds use florescent lamp that range between 100 to 220 watts; the light they produce is most like natural sunlight. Low pressure beds typically use bronzing bulbs that emit a UVA to UVB ratio of 97% to 3%.

Low-pressure beds are characterized by high levels of UVB whereas high-pressure beds have increased levels of UVA and lower levels of UVB. Higher levels of UVA allow the tan to last longer and reduce the risk of UVB burning.

Medium-Pressure Beds

Medium pressure beds feature higher intensity reflector lamps than low pressure beds; like low pressure beds, they also yield low amounts of UVB rays. Medium pressure tanning is also known as “high performance” tanning; medium pressure tanning is a step up from low pressure tanning producing a similar result in less time through the use of higher wattage bulbs.

High-Pressure Beds

High-pressure beds use only quartz lamps (300 to 2,000 watts) which yield a higher concentration of UVA rays and have a higher pressure within the bulb. High pressure beds also have low UVB output which further reduces the risks of skin burning. High pressure tans tend to last much longer than low pressure tans.

High pressure tanning beds are approximately 98% UVA to 2% UVB, sometimes this ratio is even less. High pressure beds result in the highest level tan in the shortest amount of time. Most high pressure beds on the market are 180 degree high pressure beds, which feature bulbs on the top of the bed. High pressure bed users have to turn over mid session in order to get a full body tan.

Stand-Up Booth

Standup tanning booths offer forty-eight 160-watt bulbs in a 360 degree tanning radius that completely surrounds the body giving it an even bronze look. Hard to reach places such as under the arms and sides are easily covered with standup booths.

There are a variety of brands and models of tanning beds out there, each with their own benefits. Before choosing a tanning salon, make sure you know the variety of beds they offer and ask to speak with an expert to see whether or not the beds they offer will suit your particular tanning needs.