Having sun-kissed, bronzed skin is something that we all love to see, especially as the summer approaches. Whether you want to look flawless on those first vacation days or you have a special event coming, indoor UV beds or booths are a great option to achieve the results you want. In order to speed up this tanning process and get an even better skin tone, we’ve built a selection of our 5 best indoor tanning lotion choices as well as answered many related questions.
We hope that our research can help you choose the lotion that works best for your personal skin type and preferences.
5 Best Indoor Tanning Lotions
Indoor Tanning Lotions
How does indoor tanning lotions work?
Nowadays, the number of tanning lotions, self-tanners, and sunblock creams on the market is enormous, so it’s not a surprise to be confused when it comes to the purpose they all serve.
Sunblock creams or lotions are used outdoors, as a protection from the sun’s UV rays, while self-tanners are practically used to only color your skin. This color that is artificially achieved with the help of self-tanners usually goes away after a day or two.
If you wish to achieve a more permanent and realistic color, indoor tanning lotions might be the best option. These lotions are meant to help speed up the indoor tanning process with ingredients that accelerate and intensify your skin’s reaction to UV rays. As an additional plus, some indoor tanning lotions still contain bronzer (a feature present in all self-tanners). Indoor tanning lotions with bronzer properties can contain the chemical DHA which is a type of sugar that helps the amino acids and dead skin cells darken faster or they can contain other natural bronzing agents.
Other common ingredients that make indoor tanning lotions work so well are the ones that increase blood flow to the skin and produce the so called "tingling" sensation. By increasing the blood flow, these ingredients aid the melanin production, thus making your skin darker.
What are the benefits of indoor tanning lotions?
Many people still have reservations when it comes to indoor tanning lotions, with the explanation that they’re unnecessary since indoor tanning beds work anyways. However, you might want to try one of these lotions in order to feel the difference. One of the most pronounced benefits you’ll feel when you start using an indoor tanning lotion are:
- No peeling of the color
- Faster tanning
- More intense color
- Longer-lasting color
- Continuing to tan ever after the session
- Prevention of dryness and wrinkles
- Less after-tanning smell
Is indoor tanning safe?
Many of us have asked the same question – “Is indoor tanning worse than direct sun rays?”
Well, honestly, it’s about the same. The key to staying safe while still tanned is moderation, whether it’s outside or in! We all know how absolutely amazing being tan looks – it makes you look exotic, worldly, and yes, even thinner! Although to us seeing a tanned person looks healthy and fresh, a tan is basically a sign that your skin is injured by UV lights. Many of us think that once we have the so-called “base tan” we already are protected from the UV rays.
However, research has shown that this base tan only offers 3 SPF – not nearly enough to be protected. If you wish to learn more about the dangers of tanning (both indoors and out) you can check out Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before deciding on tanning, you should be aware of its connection to skin cancer. Apart from this, you should also know that tanning does cause premature skin aging, so protecting your skin is crucial for this.
Regardless of all these warnings of tanning, we can all admit it’s hard to stay away from tanning. So, to minimize the dangers, here are a couple of things you can do:
- Restrict tanning only when necessary
- When possible, use self-tanners instead of exposing to UV lights
- Never forget to use SPF before exposing to direct sunlight
- Do not use indoor tanning lotions without SPF outside for a long period
- Avoid tanning before the age of 18
- Always moisturize your skin properly
- Regularly check your skin all over for irregularities (using the ABCDE method)
- Be especially careful if you're fair-skinned, have freckles, with a tendency to burn easily
- Be careful if you have a lot of moles on your skin, especially large ones
- Always wear a SPF 15 cream, even when it's not sunny outisde
- Take care of your skin with indoor tanning lotions before tanning and rich moisturizers after tanning
- Don't forget to protect your eyes in the tanning bed with goggles
- Always wear good-quality sunglasses with UV protection outsite
- Stay away from tanning if someone in your family has suffered from skin cancer, because genetics can also play a huge part in this
Choosing an indoor tanning lotion that fits your needs!
Indoor tanning lotions can contain various different ingredients which serve different purposes. Knowing how to recognize the ingredients in indoor tanning lotions will help you choose the one that best fits your needs.
Tanning lotions that also serve as bronzers usually contain DHA or dihydroxyacetone. Many people are wondering if DHA poses a danger for our health. However, research suggests that DHA is fairly safe when applied topically and you should only avoid inhaling or ingesting this chemical. Even though DHA can produce great results, you might want to skip this ingredient if you’re looking for an all-natural solution. As a natural bronzer substitute, you can look for lotions that contain riboflavin, caramel, walnut oil, etc.
This type of indoor tanning lotions is meant for beginners who wish to achieve a starting base tan. When you’re choosing an accelerator, make sure that it contains a lot of moisturizing agents, since hydration is a really important factor when starting to get tanned.
After you’ve managed to get a good base tan, you might want to consider using a maximizer. This type of indoor tanning lotions should be used for deepening and darkening your already existent tan.
Another common feature in some indoor tanning lotions is the “tingler”. This tingling sensation can be pleasant for some people while uncomfortable for others, so it all depends on the product itself and the skin type of the person using it. When using a tingling lotion, you might feel some burning or heat which will decrease with time. Furthermore, your skin might turn slightly red, but the redness will disappear in some hours. The use of tingling lotions is usually recommended for more advanced tanners.
One of the most important features when it comes to indoor tanning lotions is their ability to moisturize the skin. These lotions should contain an abundance of hydrating ingredients which will prevent dry and damaged skin (a common side effect of regular indoor tanning). Some of the best moisturizers are natural oils such as hemp seed, coconut, walnut, etc.
Apart from the above-mentioned features and ingredients, some indoor tanning lotions will contain extra ingredients for benefits such as skin firming, cellulite reduction, tattoo color protection, etc.
How to properly use your indoor tanning lotion?
If you are a beginner in indoor tanning, first you might want to learn the proper and safest way to do this. Here, we’ll guide you through all steps of the way:
Step 1: Exfoliation!
It is recommended that you exfoliate your skin before each indoor tanning session, especially before the first one. This will allow you to spread the tanning lotion more evenly and prevent irregularities and color streaks.
Step 2: Starting slowly!
If you are just starting to tan, you may want to limit your sessions to just a few minutes, every other day. As you’re beginning to get some color, you can gradually start increasing the timing of your tanning sessions.
Step 3: Test your lotion!
No matter which indoor tanning lotion you choose, it’s always a good idea to first test it on a small area of your skin. Each skin type is different, so what worked for your friend might not give the same results on your skin.
Step 4: Even application!
One of the most important things to remember if you wish to have a good tan is to apply the lotion evenly. Since some of these indoor tanning lotions contain bronzer/self-tanner, you might want to wash your hands afterwards to avoid orange palms. Another way to ensure an even application is by using a tanning mitt or glove and rubbing the tanner in circular motion. Doing this will prevent any color streaks.
Step 5: Postpone the shower!
After your session ends, avoid taking a shower in the first few hours. Most indoor tanning lotions continue working and darkening your skin even after the session has ended, so you might want to wait a few hours before showering. Finally, make sure to moisturize after the shower to keep your skin smooth, hydrated and prevent peeling.
So, What are the 5 best indoor tanning lotions you can use this season?
Australian Gold has now added Bronzer to its Cheeky Brown Accelerator! If you’re also one of us who are “blessed” with pale skin, you might want to give this product a try, especially for establishing a beginner base tan. It contains mostly natural ingredients which can be great for people with sensitive skin: sunflower oil, water, aloe vera gel, vitamins A and E, olive fruit oil, henna extract, wheat sprout extract, tea tree leaf oil, panthenol, glycerin, caramel, and only tiny amounts of alcohol and fragrance.
The Australian Gold Cheeky Brown Accelerator + Bronzer has a pleasant fragrance of Cocoa which most of us will enjoy since it’s not too strong. This lotion is labeled for indoor and outdoor use, although it doesn’t offer any SPF, so you should be careful when exposed to direct sun rays.
All in all, this product can be a great way for people with milky-white skin to achieve good and fast results. If you’re on a budget or you don’t like to spend too much on a tanning lotion, you might want to try this product since its quality seems much greater than its price.
- Natural ingredients and bronzers
- Natural oils that provide enough moisturizing
- Light and not overwhelming smell
- Absorbs in the skin quickly
- Fast results in establishing a base tan
- Affordable price
- A slight change in its smell after tanning
- Might leave color on hands if you don't wash them immediately after application
2. Millenium Tanning New Solid Black 100X Ultra Advanced Silicone Bronzer + Auto-Darkening Tan Technology
The new Solid Black by Millenium Tanning is a powerful silicone bronzer that could serve as a good self-tanner even without the tanning bed/booth. If you don’t mind DHA and parabens, this product has a long list of ingredients that enhance tanning, especially tyrosine.
Some of its other ingredients include: Walnut Seed Oil, Pecan Seed Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Hemp Seed Oil, Carrot Seed Oil, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Melanin, Riboflavin, Caffeine, and many more.
From its ingredients, you can tell that this product contains a large number of natural oils which are perfect if you wish to indulge your skin with deep hydration. Solid Black has a pleasant orchid blush fragrance which most users adore.
However, you should remember that this product is meant to be used for indoor tanning only, since it doesn’t contain any SPF and its countless bronzing agents can attract even more sun rays, thus burning your skin more easily. Because of the intense bronzing features of this lotion, you might want to be careful when applying and wash your hands immediately after.
- Contains an abundance of moisturizing oils
- Pleasant mild smell of orchid blush
- Intense bronzing properties
- Can be used as a self-tanner, without tanning bed/booth
- Cheap and affordable
- May leave color streaks if not applied well
- Small number of users experienced a slight orange hue
- Not suitable for outdoor tanning
Coconut Kisses might be a perfect product for all of you who are looking for a natural indoor tanning lotion without bronzing agents. Although it doesn’t contain DHA, it does have some parabens.
Its tanning properties come from a formula of Quad Tyrosine Blend + MelanoBronzeTM which will stimulate melanin production. This formula, together with MelactivaTM (melanin synthesizer) and NouritanTM (tyrosine stimulator) will give you a darker and long-lasting tan. Ed Hardy’s Coconut Kisses lotion can be an amazing moisturizer thanks to the awesome properties of coconut milk, coconut oil, and cocoa butter (which also double as anti-aging ingredients).
If you’re anything like me, another huge plus is that this product offers skin firmness and reducing the appearance of cellulite (something all of us women love in a product). And finally, for all of you tattoo lovers, Coconut Kisses will give your tattoos color protection and keep them looking fresh for longer.
- Tattoo color fade protection
- BodyFit formula for reducing cellulite appearance
- Melactiva as a melanin synthesizer
- Nouritan as a tyrosine stimulator
- Anti-aging properties
- Affordable prices
- Pleasant smell - Coconut Paradise
- Not greasy - quick absorption
- Quad Tyrosine Blend + MelanoBronze for melanin production
- Deep hydration coming from coconut milk, coconut oil and cocoa butter
- A small percentage of users found it to be too subtle
- A few people didn't like the smell
- Doesn't contain a self-tanner/bronzer
Another incredible indoor tanning lotion by Australian Gold is their Jwoww Black Bronzer. It contains a deep, darker bronzer which is what you may be looking for if you wish to get a tan faster.
It has a pleasant berry fragrance which most users like. Its dark bronzer properties come from Monoi de Tahiti, Caramel, Walnut Shell extract, Black Currant oil, and other natural bronzers. At the same time, it will hydrate your skin deeply with Kukui nut oil, Hemp Seed oil, and different vitamins.
You should take into consideration that Jwoww contains powerful bronzing agents, so start by using only a small amount of the product.
All things considered, the Jwoww Black Bronzer may be the product you need if you wish to get a quick base tan.
- Fast results for beginners
- Great hydration properties
- No color streaks if applied correctly
- Not orange hue
- Fresh berry fragrance
- Affordable price
- Some users expected to get a darker tan
- A small number of people didn't like its consistency
- Might stain if you don't give it time to be completely dry
This final product would be fit for the more daring and experienced tanners out there. If you’re one of us who don’t mind a little burn, this Ruby Body Bronzer will give you fair amounts of tingle and cooling. Thanks to the ruby infusion and spicy capsaicin fruit, you’ll feel the tingle and the tan entering your skin.
Afterward, the licorice extract and emerald essence will give you the much-needed cooling effect. This hot and cold action will increase the blood flow in the skin which in turn helps with melanin production – maybe the biggest reason why this product delivers such intense results.
A warning to all of you with sensitive skin: the tingle in this product might be too much for you. The incredible tan that this lotion delivers is thanks to its 19X bronzer with MelanINKTM technology. Furthermore, its Silicone Emulsion will provide you with extraordinary hydration.
Finally, most users loved its fresh fragrance of camu camu. So, if you’re an experienced tanner and don’t mind a good tingle, Designer Skin’s Ruby may be a great product for you.
- Delivers an intense, quick and evenly distributed tan
- No orange skin
- No streaks of color
- Incredible moisturizing properties
- Fresh and pleasant smell
- Not suitable for beginners (the tingling might be too much)
- Not suitable for use on face and other sensitive areas
- Users with sensitive skin might want to avoid this product
- Middle-range price, a bit more expensive than the above lotions
- Must wash hands after application and be careful not to touch your eyes since it might burn
Hopefully, our 5 best indoor tanning lotion buyers guide have helped you find a product that fits your needs. When it comes to indoor tanning, you should remember to not overdo it, since you’re probably well aware that UV rays are not so healthy for your skin. However, if you practice moderation, the above tanning lotions can really help you get that bronzed skin you’ve always wanted.
From the detailed research we’ve conducted, I must say that the Australian Gold Cheeky Brown Accelerator plus Bronzer seems to take the winning place. Apart from a couple of complaints regarding its smell, everything else is perfect for the average tanner. It’s an accelerator which gives users a quick base tan. It contains natural bronzers which give users an evenly distributed, orange-free tan. And finally, the many natural oils can provide great hydration to your skin. So, comparing its affordable price to its many qualities, no wonder that users rave about it!
On the other hand, if you’re a more advanced user, you might want to consider Designer Skin Body Bronzer Ruby, which is a more powerful indoor tanner with bronzer and tingle. And finally, if you wish to avoid the bronzers altogether and opt for a more natural solution, try Ed Hardy’s Coconut Kisses.
Whichever indoor tanning lotion you choose, remember to always tan in moderation and be aware of your skin health.