There’s nothing better than a golden glow, but let’s face it, the sun doesn’t shine everyday of the year. So, many of us choose indoor tanning as a way to keep our skin bronzed year-round. Tanning beds are popular methods of tanning and combined with quality tanning lotion, you’ll be able to achieve a golden glow.
With that said, there are many lotions for tanning out there and it can be difficult to decide which one to buy. From moisturizing properties to tan-boosting ingredients, each comes with their own pros. Are you wondering exactly what the top tanning lotions of 2021 are? We’ve reviewed the best products out there to help you make the right decision for your own needs.
- What to Consider When Choosing an Indoor Tanning Lotion
- Top 9 Best Indoor Tanning Lotions 2023
- 1. Best Overall Indoor Tanning Lotion: Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses
- 2. Best Moisturizing Indoor Tanning Lotion: Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator
- 3. Best Bronzing Indoor Tanning Lotion: Millennium Solid Black Tanning Lotion
- 4. Best Premium Indoor Tanning Lotion: Millennium Paint It Black
- 5. Best Gentle Indoor Tanning Lotion: Australian Gold Sinfully Black
- 6. Best Intense Indoor Tanning Lotion: Snooki Ultra Dark 70X Black Bronzer
- 7. Best Smelling Indoor Tanning Lotion: Brown Sugar Black Chocolate Coconut Cream
- 8. Best Tingling Indoor Tanning Lotion: Ed Hardy Obnoxious
- 9. Most Powerful DHA-Free Indoor Tanning Lotion: Luau Island Black Bronzer
- Complete Guide to Indoor Tanning Lotion
- Wrapping Up
What to Consider When Choosing an Indoor Tanning Lotion
There are a number of considerations to keep in mind when selecting a quality tanning lotion that’s right for you. Here are some of the most important to keep in mind!
Types of Tanning Lotion
Many indoor tanning lotions contain Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which helps to give a golden tan. Products that contain DHA bronzer will activate tanning, working for up to hours after a tanning bed session. There are both pros and cons to using a bronzing indoor tanning lotion, one advantage is that skin is left nourished and moisturized. However, it can add extra fuss to the activity, as users will need to be diligent with washing their hands to avoid staining from occurring if they don’t use a tanning mitt.
Again, experimentation with different options here is key! Accelerating products without this active ingredient will do most of their work while you’re in the tanning bed, leading to a gentler but less powerful tanning experience.
A number of these products contain ingredients that produce a tingling sensation on the skin. This effect helps to accelerate tanning due to encouraging blood flow. When starting out with indoor tanning it’s always a great idea to test various products with tingle effects, so you can get comfortable with the sensation. Some people really enjoy tingling lotions while others don’t. Be sure that you get a good grasp on what your tolerance is and choose the right lotion for you.
Indoor tanning lotions will vary when it comes to ingredients. For those with skin allergies or sensitive skin, it’s a good idea to review the ingredients carefully prior to buying. While many indoor tanning lotions will naturally incorporate soothing ingredients such as aloe vera, it’s always best to be safe rather than sorry. We’ve included information in our guide below as to which are best for those with irritation-prone skin.
This consideration largely comes down to preference but is important nonetheless. Some individuals are sensitive to strong smelling products and indoor tanning lotions can be quite scentful. Be mindful of the different options available to you and get an idea of scent before purchasing where possible. As a generalization, products containing DHA are likely to have a stronger scent than the natural options.
Top 9 Best Indoor Tanning Lotions 2023
1. Best Overall Indoor Tanning Lotion: Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses
- Type: Accelerator
- Ideal Skin Type: All
- Size: 13.5 oz
Ranking as our number 1 indoor tanning lotion, Coconut Kisses by Ed Hardy ticks many boxes. Beautifully scented, the product is enriched with both coconut milk and coconut oil to help to replenish skin’s moisture during tanning. Unlike other products, Coconut Kisses is free from bronzing agents and instead works independently to give a deep golden tan.
This lotion uses a quad tyrosine blend and ‘melanobronze’ to stimulate melanin formation when tanning for a longer-lasting glow. The active ingredients are designed to continue working after a tanning bed session and the formula is infused with ‘Body Fit’ to help firm skin. Coconut Kisses absorbs well into the skin—though its thickness means it takes a while to do so.
It works well across various skin types and doesn’t cause any irritation for those with sensitive skin, which is reassuring. Even used during shorter tanning bed sessions (less than 10 minutes) it effectively boosts tanning thanks to the tyrosine ingredient and you’re going to notice the visible differences quickly. When compared to other lotions of this category, Coconut Kisses works on average around twice as fast giving great results.
For those seeking an accelerating, rich, top-quality indoor tanning lotion free of bronzer, choose Coconut Kisses. The coconut-scented lotion is sure to be a winner!
- Free from bronzing which prevents staining from occurring
- Features accelerating ingredients proven to work on all skin types
- Deeply moisturizing while being lightweight
- Has a lovely natural coconut scent that isn’t overpowering
- The lotion is rather thick in texture, so it takes a little longer than average to absorb into the skin
2. Best Moisturizing Indoor Tanning Lotion: Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator
- Type: Accelerator
- Ideal Skin Type: Dry
- Size: 8 oz
For those seeking a consistently highly-rated indoor tanning lotion to boost results, Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator is rated as one of the best. Packed with natural ingredients including tea tree oil and Vitamin A and E, this formula works to moisturize your skin while giving a natural darker tan.
Free from artificial bronzer, this product is amongst the best for its natural results, scent and texture. Tried and tested across all skin types, this indoor tanning lotion is suitable for those with fair skin as it won’t cause dreaded streaks. A great ‘base tan’ builder, it gives a deep enough color to work with when applied regularly. Ingredients used in this lotion make it an effective moisturizer for the skin, helping to prevent breakouts from occurring and the long-lasting scent is a delightful addition. It is runny, though—while this doesn’t affect its performance, it can be a bit messy to apply.
This lotion is effective in achieving a tan that lasts even after just one use. You’ll find that only a small amount of lotion each time is required, this product being a perfect example of a little going a long way. We loved the ‘Creamsicle’ scent which combines vanilla, orange and coconut. Unlike other lotions, because this one is free from a bronzer, it doesn’t smell artificial at all.
Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator provides long-lasting results in between tanning sessions. It’s a great option for those that want an accelerating product that is packed with natural ingredients.
- Accelerates tanning even for those with fair skin
- Features natural antioxidant ingredients
- Moisturizes without being sticky
- Lovely scent
- Some may not like the runny texture
3. Best Bronzing Indoor Tanning Lotion: Millennium Solid Black Tanning Lotion
- Type: Bronzer
- Ideal Skin Type: Fair
- Size: 13.5 oz
Millennium Solid Black is a winner in our eyes and receives raving reviews for its performance. Using ‘auto-tan technology’, the lotion works to enhance tanning during every session for a deep color over time. This product utilizes a built-in bronzer that works instantly.
The formula is very absorbent, but it’s extremely important to rub the bronzing lotion in properly until no residue is on skin to avoid streaking. The product works quickly and it features a lovely floral fragrance called ‘Orchid Blush.’ Be sure to pick up a tanning mitt when purchasing this product, as application will be much messier without one.
This is a highly effective indoor tanning lotion that delivers results quickly, even after just a few sessions on a tanning bed. Those that choose this product can expect to see results even after the first use, thanks to the addition of a bronzer that doesn’t leave an awful typical orange tone. For those with fair skin, this tan lotion comes out on top for its natural color. Unlike other similar products, Millennium Solid Black uses an instant bronzer which provides quick results. If you need to build a solid base tan, this product could be a suitable option.
For those that want an indoor tanning lotion that works fast, this product is recommended. While Millennium Solid Black doesn’t boast natural ingredients it does give even those with fair skin a great tan as early as the first application and tanning bed session.
- The bronzing agents accelerate tanning from the very first use giving quick results
- This product won’t leave those with fair skin a streaky, orange look
- Features a pleasant floral scent and leaves skin feeling soft
- A great option for those that want to maintain a regular tan thanks to its color booster
- Doesn’t use natural ingredients
- Requires the use of a tanning mitt for application
- Type: Bronzer
- Ideal Skin Type: All
- Size: 13.5 oz
This product uses a silicone blend of moisturizers which leave skin feeling extra smooth and moisturized after every tanning session. For those that want to achieve a dark tan quickly, this product’s 50X auto-darkening technology is designed to do just that.
Thanks to an extreme silicone blend of moisturizing ingredients, this lotion leaves skin feeling nourished. It features both accelerators and bronzer to help develop a tan quickly and build a deep ‘base tan’ which can then be topped up. Paint It Black does not use ‘tinglers,’ making it a great option for those that dislike them. Customers have placed emphasis on ensuring that hands are washed after use if a tanning mitt isn’t used, with some stating that the product does stain. Overall the formula is easy to apply and smooth on the skin and it absorbs very well.
Even those with fair skin favor this indoor tanning lotion for its accelerating qualities and natural results. Effective as early as after one use, Paint It Black’s formula gives long-lasting results helping to achieve a dark tan with regular use. If you need to boost your tanning efforts, this product is worth purchasing. Even with just one or two tanning sessions per week, you’ll see a beach-worthy tan.
Paint It Black is a top product for those that want to achieve a dark yet natural tan. It works very quickly thanks to its 50X auto-darkening technology, and leaves skin feeling moisturized. This lotion delivers on quality, though its scent isn’t as natural as others.
- The product’s 50X auto-darkening technology using a combo of accelerators and bronzers to give a dark tan
- This lotion is great for those with fair skin
- The silicone-rich formula will leave skin feeling hydrated after tanning
- Provides excellent value for money due to its quick results
- The scent is a little artificial when compared to other indoor tanning lotions
- A tanning mit is recommended
5. Best Gentle Indoor Tanning Lotion: Australian Gold Sinfully Black
- Type: Bronzer and accelerator
- Ideal Skin Type: All
- Size: 8.5 oz
Are you looking for a quality indoor tanning lotion that leaves skin feeling silky smooth? Australian Gold Sinfully Black has been designed to give a natural, deep tan while ensuring that skin is left nourished and smelling great. Using a blend of powerful bronzers, the lotion’s formula heightens the effect of ultra-violet lights during tanning bed sessions.
Rated highly for its consistency and feel, we really liked Australian Gold Sinfully Black’s formula which features both bronzing and moisturizing properties. Utilizing a blend of natural ingredient extracts such as walnut shells and sunflower oil, the lotion leaves skin extremely smooth while ensuring it is kept hydrated during the tanning process. It soothes and protects skin while allowing a deep tan to be achieved effortlessly. Customers love this product for its lovely scent and report excellent tanning results even after one use only. The lotion has a thinner consistency than some, however, this helps the product to absorb into skin fairly quickly. Like with other bronzers, you’ll still want to use a mitt, but this less concentrated formula won’t cause staining as easily as stronger bronzers.
This lotion certainly works fast and won’t leave stains on the skin, unlike other similar products that feature bronzing boosters. Those that have used Australian Gold Sinfully Black say have been converted from other tanning products and turn to it as a regular product as part of their tanning routines. Because of how quickly the formula works, only a small amount of this lotion is required for each tanning session. And, its active ingredients are less concentrated than in most bronzers, making it perfect for a gentle, natural tan.
It’s no wonder to see why Australian Gold Sinfully Black ranks as one of the best indoor tanning lotions available. Offering quick results and a formula that soaks into skin quickly, the boosting bronzer leaves skin with a natural tan each time.
- Gives consistent results every time, providing a light golden tan
- Uses natural ingredients which protect and moisturize the skin during tanning
- Has a very mild scent for those adverse to stronger scented products
- Uses both bronzers and accelerators which gives customers quick results
- A tanning mitt is suggested
- Not suitable for deep, dark tans
6. Best Intense Indoor Tanning Lotion: Snooki Ultra Dark 70X Black Bronzer
- Type: Bronzer
- Ideal Skin Type: Dry, dark
- Size: 12 oz
This bronzing indoor tanning lotion by Snooki works quickly and is packaged into an attractive bottle design. For those that want a natural formula that boasts booth conditioning and firming properties, this lotion is guaranteed to satisfy. Utilizing both almond oil and coconut oil, the product’s formula is moisturizing without leaving the skin feeling greasy.
Snooki Ultra Dark 70X Black Bronzer contains a blend of quality, natural ingredients which leave tan and leave skin feeling nourished after use. Black walnut and henna give the lotion an effective tanning ability, and the addition of DHA ensures that tanning continues after the session has ended. The silky formula is easy to apply and despite featuring a blend of natural coconut and almond oil, customers love this lotion as it doesn’t feel greasy. As with most products that use a bronzer, it’s advisable to use a tanning mitt during application to avoid any unwanted streaks from appearing.
Using a powerful bronzing formula, this product gives a deep tan and uses natural oils to boost moisture in the skin. After application, you won’t feel greasy after application and won’t risk nasty streaks from forming thanks to a quality formula (so long as a tanning mitt is used!). the lotion promises a dark tan and that’s exactly what you’ll get. However, be wary that if you have fair skin, the color achieved might seem a little unnatural.
- Great for those that want a deeper tan than most products provide
- Infused with natural oils for silky, smooth skin
- Has an absorbent formula which can be rubbed in easily
- Quick, powerful results
- Requires the use of a tanning mitt for application
- May leave an unnatural color for those with fair skin
7. Best Smelling Indoor Tanning Lotion: Brown Sugar Black Chocolate Coconut Cream
- Type: Bronzer
- Ideal Skin Type: Dark
- Size: 13.5 oz
Boasting a beautiful scent and a creamy texture, it’s not difficult to see why this tanning lotion is so popular. In addition to its appeal for the senses, Brown Sugar Black Chocolate Coconut Cream works great to bring about a golden glow, and it also contains quality ingredients to help keep skin feeling nourished and soft.
Thicker in texture than most other tanning lotions, Brown Sugar Black Chocolate Coconut Cream contains a bronzer but does not have an artificial scent. In fact, this lotion is amongst the best smelling on the market and uses anti-aging nutrients and oils to keep skin soft and healthy. Great for those that suffer from sensitive skin, outside of tanning, this lotion moisturizes beautifully. Easy to apply and absorbent, Brown Sugar Black Chocolate Coconut Cream works to boost tanning without a DHA.
Using a 200X bronzing booster, this lotion works quickly to help you to develop a natural, dark tan any time of the year. However, due to the darker shade of the bronzer, this lotion is not the most natural option for those with fairer skin. With that said, for those with a darker skin tone, this indoor tan lotion works wonders without leaving an orange look, which nobody wants!
- This lotion uses a combination of natural oils to help nourish skin
- A thicker texture means you don’t risk the lotion running and staining
- Free from DHA
- Great for darker skin tones and won’t leave any orange streaking
- Not great for lighter skin tones, as the lotion itself is designed for darker skin tones
8. Best Tingling Indoor Tanning Lotion: Ed Hardy Obnoxious
- Type: Tingler, bronzer
- Ideal Skin Type: all skin types
- Size: 10 oz
If you’re seeking an effective tanning lotion with plenty of tingling sensation, Ed Hardy Obnoxious could be the perfect option. The bronzing tingling formula boosts tanning for a deep tan, while vitamins help to replenish the skin and ensure that it keeps healthy.
With a medium to runny texture, Ed Hardy Obnoxious is easy to apply. Once applied, it has a tingling effect on the skin to boost the tanning process. The tinglers are more extreme than found in other lotions, so for those that don’t like the sensation, this probably isn’t the right choice for you. The formula has a nice scent thanks to ingredients such as mangosteen, which leaves skin free from the typical tanning smell.
As far as performance goes, this tanning lotion will give a fairly light tan. Because of the added bronzer in the formula, it’s best to apply the lotion using a tanning mitt to be sure no orange streaks are left behind. This indoor tanning cream is also suitable for those with fair skin as the tingling formula works to boost melanin across all skin types. This bottle of lotion delivers what it sets out to do, though you may need to wait a few sessions to see darker tanning results.
- Boosted with a tingling formula
- Has a really great, natural scent
- Great for all skin types and will give effective results early on
- The lotion has a good texture and absorbs well into the skin
- Tingling formula is quite extreme, and some might dislike it
9. Most Powerful DHA-Free Indoor Tanning Lotion: Luau Island Black Bronzer
- Type: Accelerator
- Ideal Skin Type: Dry, fair
- Size: 13.5 oz
The paradise themed bottle of this tanning lotion certainly matches the product’s fragrance and results. For a golden beach tan that can be achieved quickly from a paraben and DHA-free formula, Luau is this way to go.
You’ll get an instant hit of this lotion’s floral fragrance as soon as you open the bottle. Unlike other flowery scents, Luau Island Black Bronzer doesn’t smell too artificial. The lotion itself has a medium consistency, which means it absorbs well into the skin. While a little oily, it provides great coverage. Free of DHAs, this tanning lotion gives a natural color using ingredients sourced from nature. And, the welcomed addition of marula oil keeps skin soft and replenished.
For those with skin on the paler side, you may want to steer clear of going in hard with this product. However, with that said, for those looking for a deep tan this product is sure to impress! The lotion is great for those seeking an enhanced tan skin tone that gives lasting results. If you’re not a fan of artificial bronzer either, you’ll also love this choice, as it’s the most powerful DHA-free indoor tanning lotion that we recommend.
- Infused with natural oils that replenish the skin
- Is free from DHA, which helps to prevent streaking while still bronzing
- Works quickly to give a deep golden glow
- Has a lovely floral fragrance that doesn’t smell artificial
- Not as effective on fair skin
Complete Guide to Indoor Tanning Lotion
Buying an indoor tanning lotion can raise many questions. For starters, those that are new to this type of product may not even know the basics. From understanding how to apply the lotion for maximum effectiveness to the ingredients used and how they alter a product. There are many things to cover.
What Is an Indoor Tanning Lotion?
Used to speed up tanning, indoor tanning lotions are created to maximize the absorption of UV rays for accelerated results.
Due to a number of active ingredients, they work to increase melanin in the skin. For those who don’t know, melanin is produced after exposure to UV rays and it’s responsible for giving skin a tan.
Tanning lotions increase melanin and ensure it is brought to the top layer of your skin. It does so by encouraging more blood flow.
Getting the Perfect Indoor Tan
Dreaming of a golden tan all year round? Well, you don’t need a beach to achieve one. Infact, indoor tanning is incredibly. Getting the perfect indoor tan without the presence of the sun isn’t impossible. However, there are a few things you should know before getting started.
Start off by knowing your skin type: this will help you to determine exactly how many sessions of tanning a week will be suitable for you. You will also get a good idea of whether you should be using tanning beds at all. For those with fairer skin are more prone to burning. If you’re unsure about how to find out what skin type you have, there are online tests that you can take or, alternatively, you can speak to a salon owner who will be able to assist.
Knowing Your Skin Type
When using any tanning lotion, it’s important to know your skin type. Skin types vary and include: fair, medium, light, dark, olive and deep skin.
Before beginning the tanning process, you should be clear about what you want to achieve. Some people aspire to be as tan as possible (and should use something like the Snooki Ultra Dark 70X Black Bronzer) to do so), while others simply want a starter base (best achieved with a gentle product like the Australian Gold Sinfully Black).
Once you’ve identified this, you can move onto selecting the best product for you. Those with light skin tones might prefer the Millennium Solid Black Tanning Lotion, while people with darker complexions should look for a product designed for their skin like the Brown Sugar Black Chocolate Coconut Cream.
For Skin That Doesn’t Tan Easily
For those that have light skin, achieving a tan can be extremely difficult. Fair skin takes far longer to tan and is more prone to burning and from freckles developing. If you’re having trouble tanning, we recommend the highly potent yet gentle Luau Island Black Bronzer, worn in combination with a skin-safe sunscreen.
How to Apply Tanning Lotion Effectively
Applying indoor tanning lotion doesn’t require a tactic, however, there are a few things you should know. First of all, many indoor tanning lotions use a bronzer as part of their formula. There are two types of bronzers used, natural ones and a DHA.
With the use of a DHA in tanning lotions, the likeliness of orange streaking is higher. This is because the ingredient helps to create an artificial tan. After application the dihydroxyacetone works against dead skin cells to temporarily darken the skin. If a bronzer meets your needs, something like the Millennium Solid Black Tanning Lotion would be perfect.
When applying an indoor tanning lotion you should work the formula into the skin as you would with any other type. Make sure to pay attention to ankles, elbows and other areas prone to streaking. If you’re using a tingling lotion such Ed Hardy Obnoxious, start off with a smaller amount to ensure that your skin reacts positively. For many, tingling lotions are preferable, however some people don’t like the sensation at all.
Some Tips That You Should Keep in Mind When Tanning to Achieve Best Results:
- Use a tanning lotion: all of the tanning lotions listed in our buyers guide are quality options. By using a tanning lotion you’ll build a tanner quicker and easier. Tanning lotions also help to hydrate the skin and keep it moisturized after using a tanning bed.
- Stick to a tanning schedule: this will help you to gradually build up your tan without risking burning by using a tanning bed more than you should be.
- Don’t wear jewelry: remember to take off all of your jewelry before using a tanning booth. If you keep it on, you risk creating uneven tanning lines and skin blemishes.
- Remove glasses and contact lenses: you’ll need to remove your glass and contact lenses before using a tanning bed. If you leave them on you risk developing odd tan lines or damaging your eyes.
- Wear protective eyewear on the tanning bed: most tanning salons will provide free of charge protective eyewear for you to use on the tanning bed.
- Take off makeup and avoid perfumes: such products can cause the skin to be more sensitive to light. This can increase your likeliness of burning, developing rashes or uneven tan lines.
- Exfoliate your skin before tanning: exfoliate thoroughly before tanning to remove all the dead skin cells on the upper layer of your skin. This will allow UV rays to penetrate and darken the skin cells underneath.
Is Indoor Tanning Dangerous?
Too much exposure to UV light can be dangerous for the skin, especially if you don’t wear sunscreen. When it comes to indoor tanning, you should carry out certain precautions to ensure that you are tanning safely.
As with many things, tanning should be done in moderation. Never exceed the recommended sessions per week that you’ve been advised as per your skin type. And, if any adverse results are found such as burning, consider ending indoor tanning altogether.
Will Indoor Tanning Cause Cancer?
It’s important to know that tanning beds are not safer to use than traditional tanning in the sun. In fact, any type of tanning can increase your risk of developing cancer. With this said, there are many ways to ensure that you tan in moderation and carry out the necessary precautions. If you have fair skin, be sure to wear an SPF when tanning.
How Many Sessions Does It Take to Get a Tan?
The amount of tanning sessions needed to develop a tan will vary for each person. This largely comes down to your skin type. Indoor tanning lotions are designed to speed up the tanning process. However, with this said, it is recommended that you wait 48 hours in between sessions. Most people find that they can build up a tan with 3-4 sessions on the tanning bed a week.
How Old Do I Have to Be to Tan?
You need to be aged 18 or over in the USA to use a tanning bed. The Tanning bed Regulation Act set out in 2010 has made it an offense for anyone under the legal age to use a tanning bed.
What Should I Wear on a Tanning Bed?
Most people choose to wear what they would to the beach, however, this will bring about tanning lines once a tan develops. If you don’t like tan lines, it’s best to wear nothing to prevent them from occurring.
How Do I Keep My Tan?
The key to keeping a glowing tan is to moisturize! Healthy skin is likely to tan quicker and the tan is going to stay longer. That’s why using indoor tanning lotion is highly beneficial. You can nourish your skin to help it tan faster while ensuring your skin is healthy all around.
Should I Shower Right After Tanning?
After a tanning bed session, your tan can take up to 24 hours to properly develop. If you need to shower this won’t affect your tan at all. You don’t need to shower, however, you’re free to do so if you wish.
No matter your skin type and your specific needs and preferences, we’re sure that there’s an indoor tanning lotion on this list that will suit you perfectly. Whether you need a powerful tinging bronzer or a gentle moisturizing lotion, we hope that you’re now equipped to choose the perfect product to give you that healthy sun-kissed glow.