Tanning beds offer a quick and effective way to build up a tan without needing to spend long periods in the sun outdoors.
As helpful as tanning beds might be for building a tan, you need to remember that your skin can still burn, and your sunburn will look very different from the tan you were hoping for.
You might be tempted to try sunbed tanning soon again to hopefully turn your burn into a tan, but this might not be the best idea.
If you burn in a tanning bed, can you tan the next day? It is not advised to tan the next day if you burn in a tanning bed, as your skin would still be damaged and sensitive from the sunburn, and exposing your skin to more UV rays will only cause more damage, and more severe sunburn.
Sunburn is a sign that your skin has been damaged, and you will only be multiplying this damage by exposing it to the one thing that caused the damage in the first place!
Keep reading to find out more about what to do when you have burnt in a tanning bed, and when you could start tanning again.
Why You Should Not Tan When You Are Sunburned
It can be very easy to develop a burn from a tanning bed, especially if your skin is fair or you have not built up a base tan yet.
The bulbs in a tanning bed give off UV rays which replicate the ultraviolet radiation sent down from the sun. This helps you develop a dark natural-looking tan without having to wait for the sun to come out, and you can usually spend less time in a tanning bed to develop a tan.
There are lots of precautions you can take to prevent your skin from burning in a sunbed, but as it will still be exposed to UV rays, and even if you develop a tan, there is still damage being done to your skin.
When your skin burns, it is due to an inflammatory reaction to UV ray damage to the outer layer of the skin, and this damage takes time to heal. There is no way that you would be able to turn this sunburn into a tan by spending more time in the sun.
The only thing that will happen when you try to tan when you are sunburned is that the sunburn will get worse, and you could end up with severe burning on your skin, blisters, and long-lasting damage.
The UV rays in the sunbed will not do anything to turn your sunburn into a tan and you will instead be left with skin that is more red, sensitive, and painful.
What Happens To Your Skin When You Tan Over A Burn?
Tanning over a burn is a sure way to just make your sunburn become worse and more painful. Developing a tan over a burn is nearly impossible, and you will only be prolonging the time until you can actually tan again.
Even if you think that your red sunburn might turn into a tan over a few days, spending more time under UV rays after sunburning will likely cause your skin to peel after a few days, and this actually ends up removing some of the tan and leaving you with lighter patches.
When your skin is exposed to too much UV radiation, it causes damage to your skin cells and mutations that could possibly lead to some serious damage and skin conditions later down the line.
So, while you need UV rays to tan, you should limit how much you expose your skin to, and definitely not try to tan when you have a sunburn already.
Tanning Bed Burn – How Long To Wait?
All skin heals differently once sunburned, and how severe the sunburn is also plays a role in how long you should wait before tanning again.
How long your skin takes to heal from sunburn should be how long you wait to tan again. Here are the different levels of sunburn, and how long they typically take to heal:
Mild sunburns appear as a light red burn on the skin, and it doesn’t necessarily cause any swelling or discomfort.
This type of sunburn will take around three days to heal, and with some proper care, it can turn into a light tan.
Moderate sunburns appear red on the skin, cause some swelling and discomfort, and are painful when touched. Your skin might also feel warm when you touch it.
A moderate sunburn will take around seven days to heal, but this is also dependent on your skin type and how you care for the sunburn.
Severe sunburns are nothing to mess around with. They cause pain, and swelling, and can cause blisters to appear on the skin too, which can be an indication of second-degree burns.
With proper care, severe sunburns will heal in around 14 days, and you should avoid the sun or tanning beds for as long as it takes for the redness to disappear, the swelling to subside, and for your skin to heal fully.
How To Heal A Tanning Bed Sunburn
When your skin is burned from a tanning bed, you need to care for it properly. Properly caring for your skin can help it heal faster, prevent peeling, and hopefully, get it back to normal sooner.
Here are some of the best ways that you can care for your skin following a sunburn:
Cool Showers Or Baths
To help relieve the pain and discomfort caused by the sunburn, you should take a cool bath or shower.
This helps to relieve the heat you might feel on your skin and soothe the irritation. Just remember that when you get out of the bath, you should gently pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it dry, as that could cause more pain.
Try to moisturize your skin after a shower or bath, to lock in as much moisture as possible.
Moisturize Your Skin
Use a moisturizer to bring hydration back to your skin, and to soothe it too. Apply the moisturizer all over your skin, focusing especially on the areas where the sunburn is the worst.
Make sure to moisturize your skin at least twice a day for intense rehydration. You could also look to use a gel or cream that contains aloe vera (we love this aloe vera gel), which does wonders to soothe the inflammation and irritation that sunburns can cause.
If you have a hydrocortisone cream (we love this one from CeraVe) you could use this as well.
Make sure to drink extra water following a sunburn, as when your skin is sunburned, fluid in your body is drawn to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of your body, so you need to keep up a good hydration intake to prevent dehydration.
Your sunburn will also heal faster if you give it enough water and hydration.
Protect Your Skin
The last thing your sunburned skin needs is to be exposed to more UV rays, and potential burning. To protect it, stay out of the sun for as long as it takes for your skin to heal.
If you cannot stay out of the sun completely, then wear clothing that covers up the area of your sunburn, and make sure that it is clothing that does not allow light to come through. A sunhat will do great to protect your face and try to wear something around your neck to prevent burning there too.
As always, you should also apply a strong SPF to your skin, such as an SPF 50, for added protection when outdoors. we have another article all about the best sunscreens to use for tanning if you’re looking for one.
How To Prevent Burning In A Tanning Bed
You can definitely burn in a tanning bed, but with a few simple tricks and with proper preparation of your skin, you can avoid sunburn and instead develop a bronzed tan.
Here are the things you can do to prevent burning in a sunbed, and how you can develop a golden tan instead of red skin!
Start Off Slowly
Knowing your skin type is essential to know how long you can tan for. Fair, paler skin types should tan for shorter amounts of time than those with naturally darker skin.
Whatever your skin type, you should start off slowly in a sunbed. Speak to the tan technician to come up with a schedule for your skin, and to work out how long you will need in the tanning bed with each session.
For fair skin, you should start off with only 5 minutes in a tanning bed, and once you start to build up a base tan, then you can start slowly increasing the time you spend in the tanning bed.
It is advised to increase the time by a minute each time until you build your tan up to the shade that you want.
You might think that it is counterproductive to use sunscreen when tanning in a tanning bed, but it is absolutely essential. Your skin needs protection from the UV rays damaging your skin, as you want to build a tan instead of turning red.
An SPF 15 or SPF 20 are great to use in a sunbed, as they will protect your skin from sunburn, but they will also still allow you to develop a tan.
No matter how tanned you might be already, you should always use sunscreen when spending time in a tanning bed.
Use Tanning Lotions
Tanning lotions might not contain any SPF, but they can help to protect your skin while in a tanning bed and work to prevent sunburn.
Tanning lotions, in all their different forms, deeply hydrate and nourish the skin when tanning, so your skin is less likely to dry drastically when in the tanning bed.
These tanning lotions will also help to maximize melanin production, darkening your skin quicker, so you do not have to spend as much time in the tanning bed, therefore reducing the risk of sunburn.
Your skin will also benefit from extended hydration after your tanning bed session when using lotions designed specifically for tanning beds.
Make sure to change positions often in the tanning bed (even if you are only in there for 5 minutes) to ensure that all areas of your body are given the chance to tan equally, and so that one area is not exposed too much to UV rays.
This is an ideal way to develop an even tan all over and to not burn more in one area, while other patches are left lighter and not tanned.
Do Not Tan Sunburned
Once again, do not use a tanning bed if your skin is already sunburned. You need to wait until your sunburn is fully healed before attempting to tan again, or you will just be causing more damage to your skin and creating a more severe sunburn.
If you have used a tanning bed and have landed up with a sunburn, try to spend less time in the tanning bed during your next session, even just a minute less, and maybe use a stronger sunscreen to give your skin added protection.
Will My Sunburn Turn Into A Tan?
If your session in the tanning bed has left you with a red sunburn, and you are going to wait for this to heal before your next session, you might be hopeful that the sunburn turns into a tan.
Whether or not a sunburn turns into a golden tan depends on your skin type and various other factors.
Both sunburn and tans are signs that your skin has gone through damage from UV rays, and even the golden tone you develop when you tan is the response your skin has to the injury caused by burning.
When your skin is sunburned, blood flow is increased to the affected areas, which is why sunburns are red. The blood flow is also to help the skin heal.
Your skin will then respond by increasing melanin production. Melanin is a pigment that darkens your skin tone, and if your skin is a skin type that tans easily, then this could land up darkening your skin in around 48 hours, giving you a tan.
However, if your skin type does not produce much melanin naturally, then the sunburn will likely not turn into a tan, and the redness will fade over a few days.
You should avoid tanning the next day if you burn in a tanning bed, as your skin will not be capable of tanning, and you will instead just cause more sunburn on your skin.
If your skin has burned following a tanning bed session, you need to wait enough time for your skin to heal before trying to tan again. Depending on your skin type and how severe your sunburn is, this could take between 7-14 days.
Healthy skin is much more important than risking more damage with a tan, so make sure to give your skin the proper care and time it needs to heal and try to avoid sunburn in the first place!
How long will the symptoms of a tanning bed burn last?
The symptoms of a tanning bed burn can last for between 3-5 days, but it will take longer for your skin to actually heal.
Why do I burn and not develop a tan?
If you do everything you are supposed to when tanning and still burn, then it could just be that your skin type is incapable of tanning well, and self-tanner or spray tans might be the better option for you.