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What Are the Best Tanning Lamps?

One of the most common request we receive is to identify the best tanning lamp for a buyer. The answer is really best answered by understanding your own skin type and then how your skin responds to the different kind of lamps. However it is also useful to understand the difference between regular tanning lamps (bulbs) and bronzing lamps (bulbs) before deciding on your lamps. 

There is a large amount of misinformation and confusion among customer and even sellers regarding the difference between tanning lamps and "bronzing lamps". Todays tanning beds and tanning booths can have may different lamps types installed but it's probably most useful to focus on the difference between regular tanning lamps vs. bronzing lamps for your tanning bed or tanning booth. Tanning lamps and bronzing lamps are both designed to emit Ultra Violet (UV) light that is made up of UVA and UVB rays. The UVA light rays have a longer wavelength and will penetrate the skin deeper than the UVB light rays. The UVB rays only penetrate the top layer on the skin and these rays are what create the reddish colored tan some people seek or if overdone can possible cause skin burns. However, these UVB rays also produce the majority of melanin in the skin which is a necessary precursor to developing a tan. On the other hand, the UVA light rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are the rays primarily responsible for oxidizing the melanin over time to create the darker brown color in our skin.

In general, when you are starting to tan most people will need a dose of UVB to jump start the melanin production in their skin and they will also need a lamp they can stay under long enough without burning for the UVA rays to oxidize that melanin to create a golden brown tan. The more UVB rays a lamp emits the more your skin may immediately show some redness as more melanin is created. The more UVA rays your lamps emit the more it can darken and brown the melanin previously made by the UVB.

Bronzing lamps use less UVB and more UVA while regular tanning lamps use more UVB and less UVA and are great for tanners just starting out to get melanin production. Everyone's skin behaves somewhat differently to UVB and UVA ray combinations but in general regular tanning lamps are good for developing a base tan and may be good for people who are just getting into indoor tanning and using tanning beds to develop melanin. One very helpful rule to gauge how your skin behaves to UVB is to know that the natural sun at mid day in most parts of the world produces about 5% to 6% UVB. Historically, tanning bed and booth manufacturers have installed lamps that produce about 5.0% to 7.5% as the standard lamps that come with a bed in addition to a 20 minute maximum session timer. Some manufacturers of alternative lamps when they produce a tanning bed or booth and those lamps can produce up to 11.9% UVB. When using these higher UVB lamps the bed or booth will have a 9 to 15 minute maximum session timer.

In addition, many people have a harder time producing melanin in their face and arms so higher levels of UVB can be necessary in those regions to jump start the melanin production. Bronzing lamps are generally good for more experienced tanners who already have been tanning and or have a base tan and wish to maintain it. Bronzing lamps normally emit UVB levels of about 2% to 6% and UVA levels of 97% to 94%. Tanning lamps can be generally defined at lamps with 6% to 11.9% UVB and 94% to 88.1% UVA. 

If you have used a certain tanning lamp or bronzing lamp before with success that is a good indication the combination of UVA and UVB it has works well for you! That lamps combination did well producing enough melanin with the UVB rays it makes and then it allowed you to spend enough exposure time for the UVA rays to then ozidize the melanin to give you a tan. When home tanning beds are made by the tanning bed manufacturers they normally install 20 minute lamps that produce about 5% UVB that are considered "bronzing lamps" or tanning laps up to about the 6.5% UVB range because they will not normally burn most users easily and work for the broad range of potential buyers. However, some users may tan better with 15 minute lamps that produce more UVB in the 7.5% to 11.9% UVB range to tan.

Please know that your tanning bed is designed to use a certain lamp type in order to prevent excessive exposure to UVB. The manufacturer and the FDA recommend using certified lamps that match the UVB output of those originally installed by the manufacturer. However, you can always retrofit your bed with a lamp of your choice but if doing so please do not exceed the recommended daily exposure times.  

If you're looking for a 20-24 minute very high UVA and low UVB bronzing lamps in F71 100w Bi-PIn configuration we suggest the Cosmolux GSP 9K90 that produces 2.09% UVB and 97.91% UVA.

If you are looking for a F71 100W Bi-Pin bronzing lamp that offers more UVB at about the level of natural sunlight we suggest a 20 minute lamp that falls into the 4% to 5% UVB range such as the Wolff Velocity at about 3.96% UVB, Wolff Velocity Plus 4.30% UVB, Wolff Diamond Sun S 4.01% UVB, Wolff Dark Tan II 4.47% UVB, Wolff Dark Tan II Plus 4.78% UVB, and the Radiance 5000 5.0% UVB Lamps.

If you need slightly higher UVB levels for session times of 15-20 minutes in a F71 100W Bi-Pin tanning lamp we suggest considering tanning lamps such as the Radiance 7000 at 6.5% UVB or the Radiance 8000 at 7.5% UVB.

If you are looking for the highest end UVB tanning lamps that drop FDA exposure times to 10-15 minutes we suggest the Radiance 9000 at 8.5% UVB or the Wolff Inferno XP 2645 11.9% UVB lamp that's also the highest 100 watt UVB lamp currently in production.