Facts About High Pressure Tanning Beds

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If you can't get out to tan in the sun, opt for a quick, high pressure tanning bed.
If you can't get out to tan in the sun, opt for a quick, high pressure tanning bed. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

There are two main types of indoor tanning booths: low pressure and high pressure tanning beds. While low pressure beds are the most common, your tan will develop quicker if you use a high pressure tanning bed. The lamps in low pressure beds give off UVA and UVB light, while high pressure beds emit mostly UVA light. UVA light will tan your skin; UVB light will burn your skin. With a high pressure tanning bed, you’ll have a deep tan in few sessions.

History

High pressure tanning beds used to only allow for a person to tan themselves one side at a time. The person who was tanning would lay on a mattress while overhead bulbs tanned one side of the body. The tanner would then have to flip over in order to get an even tan. Today, though, you can tan your entire body at the same time.

Process

The bulbs in a high pressure tanning bed give off a small amount of UVB light, which causes the skin to produce melanin. A high amount of UVA light helps the melanin to oxidize. This oxidization is the process that causes the skin to tan. One drawback to not having a good amount of UVB light is that your body won’t produce Vitamin D, one of the benefits of tanning. Filtering systems remove the highest UVA frequencies and part of the infrared spectrum. This helps the tanner to get a golden glow without burning.

Cost and Length

High pressure tanning beds cost more than low pressure tanning beds or tanning booths that you would have installed in your home. This is because high pressure beds have specialized equipment, such as quartz lamps, filters and reflector systems. High pressure tanning beds allow your skin to tan six times faster than in a traditional tanning bed. It’s possible, depending on your skin type, that you’ll be able to tan even eight times faster than normal.

Warnings

While high pressure tanning beds emit just a small amount of skin-burning UVB light, the high amount of UVA light can still cause skin damage, including zapping the skin of its elasticity. Exposure to tanning beds can sometimes result in skin cancer.

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