What Are Tanning Bed Acrylics?

Rachael Cullins

Tanning bed acrylics are the smooth, transparent surfaces upon which tanners lie, and that separate the body from the actual tanning bed lamps. These acrylics are specially formulated to protect the tanning bed user from heat burns while still allowing effective transmission of ultraviolet rays in order to achieve a tan. They require special cleaning, care, and maintenance.

A tanning bed.
A tanning bed.

Plexiglas® is another type of common acrylic material, but it is formulated in a different way than tanning bed acrylics. Regular Plexiglas® is not transparent to ultraviolet rays and, thus, would not allow effective tanning. The type of acrylic used in tanning beds is most often formulated from a special type of polymethyl methacrylate, a compound that allows the passage of ultraviolet rays. Like Plexiglas®, the type of acrylic used in tanning beds is shatter-proof. Plexiglas® can be used in place of glass and is often found in aquariums or automobile headlights.

Tanning bed acrylics help users avoid heat burns, while exposing them to enough UV rays to develop a tan.
Tanning bed acrylics help users avoid heat burns, while exposing them to enough UV rays to develop a tan.

Owners of tanning beds should not attempt to substitute regular acrylics for tanning bed acrylics even though acrylics are often sold for low prices at home improvement stores. Doing so could compromise the quality of the tanning bed and would almost certainly lead to inhibition of tanning. Due to the special handling and formulating processes necessary for manufacturing these acrylics, they can be relatively expensive. Numerous tanning bed supply companies sell acrylics in various shapes, contours, and sizes to suit all different types of tanning beds.

Special cleaning and care is required to maintain the effectiveness of tanning bed acrylics. Using a standard glass cleaner or any other cleaner containing alcohol is not recommended. These products will cause small cracks to form in the acrylic that will hinder the material’s ability to transmit ultraviolet rays. Using outdoor tanning lotions in an indoor tanning bed can also damage acrylics. Tanners should only use lotion specifically formulated for indoor tanning use.

Tanning bed acrylics need periodic cleaning, at least every month or two, with a special kind of scrubbing cleaner to remove buildup and allow for the best tanning. They should also ideally be replaced at least every two years to maintain the effectiveness of the tanning bed. Removing acrylics can be a challenge, and many professional tanning salons ask a professional to replace acrylics. Investing in a thicker acrylic rather than a thinner kind that may be susceptible to cracks can increase the life of an acrylic.

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