• Daily Tips
  • Check out our events section to help plan your winter, spring, summer & fall events!

Outdoor Tanning vs. Indoor Tanning

Whether you get your sexy bronzed glow from the sunshine, by frequenting a tanning salon or a mixture of both, sun tanning is a great way to make you feel good and give you an added healthy dose of Vitamin D. There are differences in the methods; however, the way your body absorbs the UV light is the same. Which one is right for you? Here are some of the differences between indoor and outdoor tanning to help you decide what is best for your own personal regimen:


(Outdoor Tanning) Most worshippers of the sun agree that the most desirable tan is having no tan lines. Nude sunbathing can be difficult to establish into a regular schedule if you do not have some sort of private patio, perfect for sunbathing au natural, or if there isn’t a clothing-optional beach nearby. Tan lines aside, I think most people will agree that laying on the beach or by the pool, getting warm and relaxed and soaking up the sun’s nurturing rays is their favorite way to tan. There is nothing better than lying in the sun at the beach, soaking up the sun and listening to the waves crashing. What a way to really get “in tune”...with yourself and Mother Earth!

(Indoor Tanning) If you ask most indoor tanners why they specifically like sun tanning in the beds and booths, they will tell you that one of the reasons is because of the privacy it offers. The majority of indoor tanners will confess that they tan nude in the salons. Relax and go for that perfect, no tan line result! The sun beds are always sanitized after every use.

Controlled Exposure

(Outdoor Tanning) Sun tanning is the act of the skin receiving UV light exposure (in this case, from the sun) for the end result of having bronzed skin. There is no way to control the amount of UV exposure outdoors, but it is possible to ward off the sun when it gets aggressively hot. Remember to cover up and take frequent shade breaks during the peak hours. There are several other factors to be considered, as well. The time of year, cloud cover, seasonal ozone, time of day (solar elevation), position on the earth, ground reflection & altitude all play a major part in UV exposure. The intensity of UV rays increases with altitude, the UV strength is up on cloudless days and sand at the beach even increases UV exposure 10-25%. It’s said one way to check UV intensity is to check your shadow. When your shadow is shorter than your actual height, the intensity and risk of burning is much higher. Burning is NOT the objective and unless you are an optimum skin type and tan easily, outdoor tanning may not be the way you keep from sun burning.

(Indoor Tanning) Since 1986, federal guidelines have been in place for the tanning industry. Local & state regulations are also positioned for safe UV exposure procedures. Find a salon that is certified and knowledgeable in the proper way to tan carefully. Sometimes (not always) you find a more tanning knowledgeable staff at an actual tanning salon instead of a place of business (like a day spa or fitness center) that offers tanning on the side. The salons are there to help you do what the sun does anyhow, in the tanning beds. Some would say this is by far a safer manner to get your vitamin D, ward off disease (like the flu!), and still enjoy that healthy, sun kissed look. Look to your tan professionals to establish a routine of safe tanning for you. The idea is to minimize the possibility of skin damage by getting color slowly, not overexposing.


(Outdoor Tanning) Most of us have busy schedules that are not conducive to visiting the beach every few days to maintain our golden brown tan. Even if you have access to a pool or a designated sunbathing patio, it is sometimes inconvenient because of family members and distractions at home. Also, depending on where you live, this may not even be an option for people who live in cold and snowy locales or live a great distance from town and a tanning salon.

(Indoor Tanning) Some people in urban areas or large cities live and play with all life’s amenities spread out before them. A young professional in New York City or Los Angeles may think it more convenient to step out on his or her lunch hour and tan at the local salon. The remarkable thing about indoor tanning is that it is available year-round! Get a tan after the sun has set for the day? No problem! Some salons specialize in keeping later hours to accommodate local tanners. Want to work on your tan but the weather isn’t cooperating? Sun beds are there for you, rain, shine, snow…whenever!


(Outdoor Tanning) This varies, depending on many factors. The type (UVA, UVB or both) and strength (SPF) of sunscreen, how often it is re-applied, length of exposure and the list goes on. If your purpose is to tan safely to maintain a golden brown color and you use sunscreen to avoid burning, then you can definitely achieve that. Just remember that some sunscreens block the beneficial UV light that gives your body that extra dose of Vitamin D.

(Indoor Tanning) Sunscreens are not in indoor tanning lotions so getting your Vitamin D with moderate exposure is a given as the tanning beds use the same UV light as the sun to provide your golden brown suntan. If your purpose is purely cosmetic, as stated before, tanning salons are available in order to acquire and maintain your tan all year round.

It is extremely important to remember that UV light exposure has many other beneficial effects as well. Studies have shown that exposure to UV rays is known to help improve mood, especially in the winter months, when the sun’s UV rays are lower. UV treatments are often recommended and many doctors write prescriptions for UV therapies for people suffering certain types of diseases such as osteoporosis or psoriasis.

Which do you prefer? Do you enjoy only tanning in the sun or are you a faithful salon worshipper? We want to know, so write to our Suntan Crew.

-CA suntan

Want to know more about Indoor Tanning?

Suntan Global Guide 160x600 Suntan Event Calendar 160x600