Why Can't You Use Suntan Lotion in a Tanning Bed?

By Heidi Maines

There is a wide variety of tanning, bronzing and suntan lotions. It is important to know when it is appropriate to use each kind. Indoor tanning lotions are formulated specifically for tanning equipment. Suntan lotions or sunscreens are only made for the ocean or poolside.

Woman applying lotion to leg
credit: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images
Why Can't You Use Suntan Lotion in a Tanning Bed?

Effects

LED lamps E27 with a new led-chip  technology
credit: ludinko/iStock/Getty Images
The acrylic hoods are porous and expand when the tanning bed light bulbs heat up which means that any lotion not meant for indoor tanning can damage the acrylic

The effects of suntan lotion on tanning beds are harmful. The acrylic hoods are porous and expand when the bulbs heat up. This means that any lotion not meant for indoor tanning can damage the acrylic by breaking it down.

Prevention/Solution

Sunscreen
credit: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
Make sure to use lotion made specifically for tanning beds

Preventing permanent damage to tanning beds is simple -- use lotion made for them. Australian Gold and Swedish Beauty are popular brands that are sold right at many tanning salons. Many of these contain moisturizers that prolong your tan and keep your skin supple.

Warning

high angle view of a woman lying in a tanning machine
credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Remember that indoor lotions are formulated to respond to the UV light and sunscreen blocks it

It is also important to understand that indoor lotions are formulated to respond to the UV light, and sunscreen blocks it. Therefore, your skin may become irritated because the melanin will try to respond to the bulbs, but the sunscreen won't allow your pores to open up.

Function

Couple lying on beach, overhead view, eyes closed
credit: Getty Images/Photodisc/Getty Images
The function of suntan lotion or sunscreen is to prevent the skin from exposure to UV rays, so using suntan lotion in tanning beds defeats the purpose of paying for an indoor tanning session

The function of suntan lotion or sunscreen is to prevent the skin from exposure to UV rays. Therefore, using suntan lotion in a tanning bed defeats the purpose of paying for an indoor tanning session.

Fun Fact

Girl (7-9) having sun cream applied to nose
credit: Marc Debnam/Digital Vision/Getty Images
All sunscreens have an SPF factor that can range from 5 to over 50

SPF stands for sun protection factor and can be found in many outdoor suntan lotions. There are outdoor tanning lotions that do not contain SPF, but this doesn't mean that they are made for indoor tanning.