While some people are blessed with a great tan and glowing skin, not all of us are lucky to have perfect and even skin tones. If you’re tired of sallow and pale skin, it’s easy enough to get yourself a tan. There are two popular methods for tanning, and it involves the sun or some tanning beds.
Thanks to advancements, tanning can now be done indoors. There are many tanning salons now which makes tanning beds and machines more accessible.
Tanning beds are programmable based on your tanning experience and kind of tan you want. Your tanning bed technician will make sure that your skin receives the glow and tan of your preference. Even sensitive skin can get indoor tanning!
With guidance, you simply have to be mindful while on the tanning bed. Position yourself properly to get an even tan for your skin. Dedicate more of your time prior to the indoor tanning session and choose the best lotion for tanning to get your desired result.
We’ve gathered 10 of the best indoor tanning lotions that have stood out among the rest. Let’s see how their formulas can improve your indoor tanning experience. Here’s a selection for giving your skin that healthy glow:
10 Best Tanning Lotions
This raved and reviewed Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion by Ed Hardy features coconut oil and coconut milk.
You get a formula that deeply moisturizes and firms your skin. Inspired by the beach, this product even leaves you with a tropical coconut scent after your indoor tanning session.
Infused with Quad Tyrosine Blend + MelanoBronze™, this tanning lotion works as a maximizer and can deepen fading tans over time. This product doesn’t use bronzing agents so you avoid streaking and staining hands during application.
This lotion works great for people who have tattoos. It’s formulated with Tattoo & Color Fade Protector to protect your skin and provide you with a more natural tan.
- Good for people with tattoos
- Deeply moisturizing
- Doesn’t streak or stain
- Scent might be too overpowering for some people
Best for Dry Skin
Named after a popular reality TV star, this product aims to leave you with the same glowing tan as its namesake. This maximizer from Australian Gold has bronzer in its formula that can give a deep and dark tan immediately after the first try.
A main ingredient is hemp seed oil that nourishes your skin. This indoor tanning lotion will have you leave the tanning bed with supple and glowing skin with every use.
This might be too intense for first-time users of tan lotion. Tanning with this is recommended for those who already have a base tan but want to have a deeper color.
- Non-greasy feeling
- Light scent and doesn’t leave a burning smell post-tan
- Not recommended for building a base tan
Best for Tattooed Skin
SunGodz features this versatile tanner that is great for starting your base tan.
Ingredients include argan and coconut oil to deeply nourish and moisturize your skin. Since it considers itself a maximizer, this lotion can quickly darken your base tan with visible results after first use.
Even with its potency, this indoor tanning lotion is great for people with tattoos. It’s also shower-safe – you can rinse without worrying about streaking on your skin or bronzer dripping down the drain.
Enjoy fade-proof results with this lotion! Your glowing skin is kept supple, with a very light scent that isn’t overpowering for the rest of the day.
It’s a good lotion for different skin types, and this product receives favorable reviews from its users.
- Light scent
- Good for people with tattoos
- Some users prefer to switch lotions for a darker tan
For an intense dark tan, this tanning lotion by Brown Sugar features 200x levels of bronzer to get you your desired shade.
This product acts as an accelerator to increase your skin’s natural melanin production. It’s formulated with dark chocolate extracts with butter and silicone blends.
It’s guaranteed to provide your skin with enough hydration to last ’til your next tanning bed appointment.
Since it’s a strong bronzer, be more mindful and make sure you wipe off excess lotion from your palms and soles of your feet. You also have to apply the lotion in even strokes so your skin absorbs the product well.
- Not tested on animals
- Scent stays on your skin
- Color can be too dark for first-time users
- Bottle design makes it prone to staining
This tropical-inspired bottle from Tan Asz U contains Black Charcoal Glow Serum for a rich indoor tanning experience.
Fruit extracts in the ingredients list provide a sweet scent that stays even after you leave the tanning bed. You’re sure to get a fresh looking and smelling tan.
This product has a consistency that makes it easy to apply, and helps ensure a smooth tan even for first-time users.
Even as a bronzer, it does away with DHA components that cause instant browning of the skin at the surface level. This tanning lotion promotes natural melanin production for longer-lasting color that won’t fade away.
- Leaves your skin silky and smooth
- Scent stays on your skin
- Color can be too dark for first-time users
If you want to transition to deeper shades at a slower pace, Supre’s Snooki Ultra Dark only has 70x levels of bronzer. It’s less intense but still effective tanning of the skin.
The product is infused with SoftChic™ skin moisturizers for supple and nourished skin after your session. You can leave the tanning bed still feeling fresh and ready to go.
This tanning lotion includes DHA and Henna as bronzers that instantly shows on your skin. But the formulation can be prone to fading, and you’d need to refresh your tan through continued use.
- Results can be seen instantly
- Formula firms and tones the skin
- Sweet scent protects from after-tan smell
- Consistency of the lotion is thicker than others
Here’s another tropical-inspired dark tanning lotion from DevotedCreations.
Its formula contains Advanced Matrixyl Synthe 6 that primes the skin and protects from fine lines and wrinkles. The product is also enriched with BB Cream to mattify your skin. This is a welcome benefit, especially on hot and humid days.
Another great thing about this tanning bed lotion is its FreshTek™ technology that’s designed to eliminate post-tanning odor. You’ll be left with a fresh tropical scent and firm tanned skin!
- Formula includes anti-aging protection
- Protects from after-tan smell
- Non-greasy feel
- A bit pricier than other lotions
- Color plateaus faster than other lotions since it’s DHA-free
This tanning bed lotion by The Sicilian boasts 200x levels of bronzer for an intense dark tan after use.
The product is loaded with Extreme Silicone Emulsion for added moisture. It aids in firming the skin during the tanning process. Acai Berry extract and Co-Q10 work together to leave skin firmer and younger-looking after use.
Working as a maximizer, you can further deepen your base tan with this product. This product works best if you’ve reached a plateau with your current skin tone.
Most user reviews say that this is one of if not the darkest tanning bed lotion that is currently available. There will be noticeable results on your skin from immediate use because of the bronzer.
It’s best to wipe away excess lotion to avoid staining.
- Anti-aging formulation
- Deeply moisturizing
- Enhances your tan
- Can stain your hands
- Scent can be an irritant for sensitive noses
This dainty bottle of bronzer is formulated with RevitaFit™, Body Fit™, and Ideal Lift™ technology. It firms and tightens skin for a toned finish after your tanning bed session.
One unique feature is that this product includes color correcting components. It will make sure your skin transitions to a natural-looking shade.
The product features a floral scent that leaves your skin smelling sweet and pleasant. It’s a tanning lotion best for those who are prone to getting orange tones with other brands. It effectively balances out the undertones of sallow skin for a more neutral finish.
- Color Correcting feature gives a natural finish
- Deeply moisturizing and firming for the skin
- Floral smell can be off-putting for some
Millenium Tanning Solid Black tanning lotion contains Ultra Advanced Silicone for a dark tan. This lotion contains 100x levels of bronzer for an immediate dark tan after use.
This product is deeply moisturizing and nourishing and works best for base tans to achieve a more intense skin tone.
One downside is that the formulation may be prone to streaking if not applied evenly. It’s a very slick product and will leave your skin with a sheen.
Try to avoid humid areas or taking a shower until a few hours after your indoor tanning session.
- Can give intense and dark tan
- Instantly noticeable results
- Prone to streaking if not applied properly
Kinds of Tanning Lotions
As a small prep before going to the tanning bed, it’s recommended that you apply a tanning lotion to help enhance results. This helps you improve your dark tan at the end of your session.
Most lotions moisturize and prime the skin to achieve even tanning. Effects range from a shortened tanning process, more intense shades of tan, and nourished skin.
At first glance, it seems that these lotions are all the same. Upon closer inspection, their differences lie in formulation and scent.
When you look for the best indoor tanning lotions for your skin type, variations and formulas can suddenly get overwhelming. One easy way to differentiate tanning lotions from one another would be by type. Here are some product classifications that you’ll encounter:
Tingle lotions get their name from the tingling sensation felt after application. The tingling sensation is the lotion working to increase blood flow which heightens melanin production. This effect helps accelerate the tanning process.
This kind of product may cause your skin to go red, but only temporarily! The redness fades over time to reveal a dark and even tan after an indoor tanning session.
Tingle tanning lotions can feel different depending on skin types or the person using them. Not everyone has the tolerance to use them regularly.
Some intense-level tingle lotions can feel painful for those with sensitive skin, so it’s best to look for mild formulations for a better indoor tanning experience. One way to know your tolerance is to conduct a small patch test on a small area on your body. Wait a few minutes to see if you’ll be able to tolerate the feeling later on.
Bronzers, on the other hand, assist in deepening tans and provides the skin with a temporary glow.
A common ingredient added for bronzing are DHAs. They work with the outer layer of your skin to darken and provide your body with an instant dark tan. They’re often applied to re-enhance current tans, and it’s formulated to darken more with time.
Since bronzers have instant darkening agents in their formula, make sure to wipe away excess lotion to avoid staining and streaking. Always keep a small towel or wet wipes handy after application.
Wipe away excess lotion from your palms and the soles of your feet. This is necessary to avoid getting orange-hued palms that can make your tan look artificial.
This kind of indoor tanning lotion doesn’t cause any sensations which can be preferable for those who have sensitive skin. It’s also best used by people who already started tanning and want to enhance their base tan.
This formulation is often paired with bronzer, and it can darken skin that has plateaued. Plateaued tans mean that your skin has reached a limit in tanning. This likely happens if you only use one kind of tanning lotion on your skin.
Without variation, tanning lotions would reach their peak depth of color due to continued use. The lotion itself is usually darker and can provide immediate tanning effects.
From the name itself, cooling lotions give your skin a cool and refreshing feeling upon application. The sensation is the opposite of tingle lotions, and can be a great option if you want to go tanning on a hot and humid day.
The cooling effect can be more tolerable or comfortable for those who end up feeling sticky and sweaty after spending some time in the tanning bed.
It’s not unusual for an indoor tanning lotion to have two or more types described on their bottle.
Some accelerators have bronzer included in their formula, and the lotion is listed as a maximizer and intensifier in one. The best way is still to find the lotion that will work with your skin type, but knowing your preferences can narrow down the one that’s perfect for you.
How to Choose the Best Tanning Lotion for You
It’s time to choose from the best indoor tanning lotions before you head to your tanning session. Now that you’ve seen the line-up, it’s time to choose the best lotion to pair for your upcoming tanning appointment. Consider the following factors:
Skin Type and Sensitivity
Take note of your current skin concerns and choose a tanning lotion that can best accommodate your skin type and your skin’s sensitivity.
Tanning is extremely drying. It can accelerate the generation of fine lines and wrinkles if you don’t take any precautions. However, some indoor tanning lotions now contain anti-aging and firming properties in their ingredients. It gives an extra layer of protection with nourishing extracts and oils added to the formula.
Lotions containing tingling ingredients might be too unbearable especially if it’s your first time to use one. Most describe the experience as a hot, prickly sensation that can be uncomfortable or painful to bear.
Get a gauge on your tolerance. Better yet, always do a patch test of lotions on a small section of your skin to know if it’s something you can handle.
While it can be subjective, you also have to be mindful of fragrance added to some formulas. Scents can be a skin irritant that might make more damage during your tanning session.
Find a lotion with your favorite scent to avoid bringing the after-tan smell anywhere you go.
Accelerator vs Maximizer
Some tanning lotions are marketed as being both. Some indoor tanning lotions are also classified either just as an accelerator or a maximizer.
If it’s your first time tanning, it might be best to go for an accelerator.
Accelerators are formulated to speed up the tanning process. It does so by boosting the natural melanin production of your skin. This way, your tan would transition naturally from your skin tone, at the same time nourishing your skin during your session.
Maximizers, on the other hand, work best for people who already have a base tan. If you want to go darker than your current tan, many indoor tanning lotions are formulated as maximizers to produce a deeper skin tone as desired. They are not always as moisturizing as accelerator lotions.
But, there are many maximizer variants that can still give great results. Most maximizers use bronzers in their formula for immediate tanning effects.
Tanning beds still have a limit on how strong their settings can be, so you need to pair it with the right lotion to get the color you want for your skin. Not all formulas can give the same amount of depth and color.
Some lotions are formulated to contain more bronzing agents. You see this through the number that’s usually included beside the name on the bottle. The higher the number, the darker you can expect your skin to end up like. You can adjust the level of your tan depending on the intensity that you pick
One downside is that really intense indoor tanning lotions can cause streaking and staining on your skin. Always make sure that you wipe your hands before going through your tanning session.
Getting Ready for Your First Indoor Tanning Session
Your first time with indoor tanning can get overwhelming. Here’s a short list of what to expect and what to prepare for on your quest to getting your desired tan:
Find a Tanning Salon and Technician That You Can Trust
Indoor tanning can seem intimidating and scary at first, find a tanning salon and technician that you would feel comfortable with.
Check the tanning beds and see if they’re cleaned regularly. Your skin will be in close contact with the device, so cleanliness is a must. Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you can see if they understand your preferences. Ask if they can provide the right after-care service, too.
Finding your favorite tanning salon also means an easier time scheduling your next sessions so you can maintain your fresh color!
If there’s one thing you absolutely must do prior to indoor tanning, it’s to exfoliate. Exfoliating means you get to remove small buildups of dead skin cells around your body. This leaves you with a smooth and supple surface that can absorb the tanning lotion well without scrubbing off. Exfoliating also avoids having spots and streaks, for an even tan.
Don’t ever forget to moisturize! Tanning sessions can dry out your skin, so make sure that you always moisturize prior to tanning to avoid looking ashy.
The best indoor tanning lotions have deeply moisturizing ingredients like shea butter. But it wouldn’t hurt adding an additional layer of moisture on your skin prior to going to your tanning session.
Remember to apply more to your creases and joints. You should also apply a double layer of lip balm on your lips. These are spots that tend to dry out first no matter what your skin type is.
Don't Hesitate to Use Eye Protection Goggles
Right before they turn on your tanning bed, your technician will offer you protection goggles before you begin. Don’t be afraid to use it! These are designed to protect the skin around your eye area since it’s very sensitive. Wearing them is better for your overall eye health if you plan on doing indoor tanning regularly in the long run.
Now you’re ready for your first indoor tanning experience. It’s time to choose the best indoor tanning lotion from our list!
Conclusion - Our Best Indoor Tanning Picks
Our compilation of the best indoor tanning lotions offer almost the same features and formulations, but there was a clear pick from our list.
Our choice for the best indoor tanning lotion would be Ed Hardy’s Coconut Kisses Indoor Tanning Lotion! This product is great as a starter or as a maintenance lotion, and it can provide an even tan even for sensitive skin. It also accommodates tattooed skin. You wouldn’t have to worry about your tattoo fading or disappearing after the tanning process. It’s perfect for all skin types with nourishing ingredients added to its formula.
We also have a couple of runner ups for those who are looking for something more specific:
If you’re a first time user, you can look at SunGodz Apollo/Artemis Bronzing and Tanning Lotion. It’s fade-proof and tattoo protectant features are great for those who will be busy after tanning. This product adds protective features on your skin. It makes sure your tan doesn’t disappear so quickly. It smells great and is extremely hydrating. This product can also help you transition to even darker shades with continued use.
If you already have a base tan and have plateaued, go for the Sicilian 200x Black Bronzer for a more intense tan. This product has antioxidant and anti-aging properties that are best for skin that has been tanning regularly. This type of skin is prone to dryness and fine lines. Using this lotion will leave your skin with a great tan that won’t look orange and can last for longer than usual.
Always make sure your skin is protected and moisturized whenever you go tanning and enjoy your fresh glow!
Alternatively, if you’re still hesitant about tanning because you have sensitive skin, you can check out our article on the Best Self-Tanners for Sensitive Skin for options.