Tanning Beds With info on the tanning process

This page explains the basics of how tanning works, the differences in each level bed, skin type, and tan length times; as well as a description of the high quality beds we offer. UV free options, here.

The Tanning Process

TL;DR: UVA gives a quick bronzing tan, UVB gives a deeper, longer tan , but can burn you. Higher levels have less percentage UVB to UVA but more overall power. Skip to tanning beds

Tanning is caused by melanin, a natural pigment in the skin produced by cells called melanocytes in a process called melanogenesis. In the skin, melanogenesis occurs after exposure to UV radiation, causing the skin to visibly tan. There are two different mechanisms involved in production of a tan by UV exposure: Ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation with a wavelength range of 320 to 400 nm; and Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation with a wavelength range of 280 to 320 nm.

UV Types

UVA radiation oxidizes existing melanin and leads to rapid darkening of the melanin, or bronzing. UVA creates a bronzing tan that appears quickly but can also be lost quickly. It is the safest and quickest way to tan, but requires at least some level of base tan for good results. People that already have a base tan will see the effects much more.

In the second process, triggered primarily by UVB, there is an increase in production of melanin (melanogenesis), this usually is not apparent for 2 to 3 days but lasts a relatively long time. UVB radiation is also responsible for vitamin D production.UVB therefore causes a delayed but much longer lasting and deeper tan tan UVA, but because of its higher energy level is also the cause of sunburns, and contributes to increased risk for melanoma and other complications so UVA and UVB exposure needs to be balanced accordingly.

Skin Types:

Type 1

Usually bright white or pale skin, blue or green eyes, red hair and many freckles. This skin type always burns outdoors, never tans. A person who is a true Skin Type I should avoid tanning except in very short durations indoors and outdoors. It is recommended they take advantage of the Versa Spa Pro or a spray tan instead.

Type 2

Light Beige skin, blue or green eyes; blonde or light brown hair and maybe freckles. This skin type has a strong tendency to sunburn outdoors, but sometimes tans. Can achieve a decent tan with time and lotions, but must use caution to avoid burning. For time recommendations ask one of our friendly staff members when you visit.

Type 3

Light brown skin, brown eyes and hair. This skin type sometimes burns outdoors but always tans. For time recommendations ask one of our friendly staff members when you visit.

Type 4

Light brown or olive skin, dark brown eyes and hair. This skin type sometimes burns outdoors and tans readily. For time recommendations ask one of our friendly staff members when you visit.

Type 5

Brown skin, dark brown hair and eyes. This skin type rarely burns outdoors and tans easily. For time recommendations ask one of our friendly staff members when you visit.

Type 6

Black skin, black-brown eyes and hair. This skin type rarely sunburns outdoors. For time recommendations ask one of our friendly staff members when you visit.

Levels and Times

Maximum times allowed in each bed is depending on level. The bar graph illustrates each allowed maximum time per level. The higher the level, the shorter the time because the UV output, thus tanning power, increases substantially as you go up, level 1 being the lowest and level 5 being the highest power. Also, as a rule of thumb the higher level beds produce less UVB and more UVA radiation. Keep in mind these are percentages, or a ratio if you will, of UVA to UVB; not total output which increases with each level considerably. If your just beginning, your skin type (explained later) and current tan level also affects the best lengths to start with. Just because u can do the max, doesn't necessarily mean you should. Tanning to aggressive in the beginning may burn you, which can make you peel, be damaging to skin, and in the long run, will take longer to achieve your desired color.

Maximum Session Lengths

  • Level 5 Matrix 12 min

  • Stand-up 12 min

  • Level 4 12 min

  • Level 3 12 min

  • Level 2 15 min

  • Level 1 20 min

Tanning Lamps

The lamps used in tanning beds basically fall into two categories: low pressure and high pressure. The term "medium pressure" is also used frequently in the tanning industry; however, from an technical standpoint, it is a fancy way of saying low pressure with greater output. Low pressure bulbs or lamps are your long fluorescent tubes you commonly see in light fixtures. Tanning lamps, however, are made with different gases, materials, and coatings to maximize the desirable wavelengths of light for tanning. They are also much higher output than standard lighting fluorescent tubes. Then there is high pressure. These are similar to high pressure sodium bulbs in concept, but use different gases to, again, achieve the desired wavelength. High pressure bulbs often are designed to almost completely eliminate UVB radiation, but have a high power UVA output. They are expensive and are usually found in facial tanners and in high level beds. For instance, The Matrix uses only high pressure bulbs.


Level 1 is our most economic option. It is comparable to most tanning beds you see at gyms, in homes, and small salons. These have the longest visit times and are perfect for someone that likes to relax and unwind while they tan. Those seeking a base tan for a sunny vacation, or people with lower number skin types will also find L1 attractive. 100W bulbs, 55% UVB.

Our level 2 beds are similar to Level 1 beds in both design and pricing, but they offer high pressure facial lamps to tan your face. The face is usually harder to tan and the facial bulbs make up for that creating a more even tan across your body. Level 2 beds have more lamps than L1 and are higher output with less UVB. 120W bulbs, 45% UVB.

Level 3 is a popular choice and for good reason. Less expensive than L4 and L5, but offers the high performance of high level beds. You get the best of both: reasonable pricing, and lots of tanning power. Includes high pressure facial tanning lamps. Level 3 has 160 watt bulbs with a 3.5 reflector; 30% UVB.

Level 4 is the most powerful tanning option still utilizing low pressure bulbs for the body. This is actually desired for establishing a long lasting base tan, as explained in The Tanning Process. It offers more bulbs per side (compared to L3), as well as special shoulder and neck tanning lamps, and high pressure facial tanners. It is our only bed with a fully functional air conditioner built in. 160W bulbs, 30% UVB. Be sure to check out our new Level 4 bed by UWE!

Our stand up bed is about equal to level 4 in terms of power. Bulbs surround you in 360 degrees. This bed provides arguably the most even, complete tan available; doing an excellent job at tanning the sides and pressure points missed by traditional beds. It is suggested everyone try this bed at some point, you wont be disappointed. 30% UVB

The Matrix is our top of the line option for those who are serious about tanning, people that don't have time to visit often, or simply want a awesome tanning experience. This bed features an array of high output, high pressure mercury/argon vapor lamps that create an unprecedented tanning experience. Special quartz lenses filter out 99% UVB and 100% UVC radiation (HP bulbs like these also emit UVC radiation). This means you get an ultra powerful UVA only tanning visit that will leave you noticeably darker and more bronze after only a single visit. To top all that off, it includes a larger room to change and your own iPhone/Android/mp3 player ready stereo system. 1% UVB