Summer Glow: A Guide To The Best Tanning Lotion

best tanning lotion
best tanning lotion

No matter what time of year it is, it's always nice to have healthy looking, summer skin.

Many get that sun-kissed look from the sun itself, depending on its rays to get a glow, but the sun’s rays can be very harsh.

Even with sun lotion applied, it can be damaging. That’s why people turn to sunbeds for a controlled tanning process, so they can keep track of their time exposed to the sun's rays.  

You should be aware that tanning beds can still do you damage, but if you use them responsibly, they can help you get the glow you're after in a safe way. 

Although you can use a tanning bed without the use of tanning lotion, it certainly helps the process.

They’re designed specifically with the indoor tanning bed in mind.

Ingredients become active with the artificial light and work to amplify your tan in the short amount of time you would spend on the bed.

Top 10 Best Tanning Lotions

As previously mentioned, it’s possible to use a tanning bed without any lotions but in doing so you risk burning more easily and dry skin.

There are already some risks involved in this process, so make sure you make it as safe as possible. 

Dry skin actually reflects the UV rays, so you won’t get a great tan, while a tanning lotion moisturizes deep into the skin layers and conditions the skin, making it absolutely perfect to get a deeper, longer lasting tan.

If you’re wanting to see what a tanning lotion can do for you, where do you start?

There are hundreds on the market. You want to make sure you got the best one for your skin that gives you that tanning boost you're after. 

Our guide will go through the best tanning lotion for a wide range of skin types, helping you find one that’s suitable for your tanning needs.

Overview of the Top 5 Tanning Lotions

Millennium Tanning Solid Black

Millenium Tanning New Solid Black Bronzer Tanning Bed Lotion

Millennium Tanning is a popular brand of tanning lotions.

It has several that are highly rated, the best one being Solid Black.

This tanning lotion is “luxury meets technology” with its amazing formula with 100x ultra advanced silicone bronzers.

Needless to say, this is a very advanced, dark tanning lotion!

It also comes with a lovely orchid scent. This is a great lotion for an experience tanner who has maybe hit a plateau.

The 100x bronzers will help you get over that. Users have noticed a difference after only a couple of uses.

It’s even a good choice for lighter skin and will build a golden tan without any orange tint.

Although this is a good tanning lotion for indoor use, many have also used it outdoors and have noticed a difference, however not as big of one as in a tanning bed.

Just beware!

Although it won’t leave any streaks on your body, you ‘ll need to wipe off your hands and bottom of your feet to avoid that orange look there, but this is just due to the strength of the bronzers.

For the price and end result, this is certainly a vote for the best indoor tanning lotion.

Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses

Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses

Ed Hardy may be known as an iconic fashion brand, but they’re also into making your skin fashionable, thanks to their line of tanning lotions.

Coconut Kisses is one of the top rated amongst them, made with coconut milk and coconut oil, which we already know to be great for your skin for moisturizing.

 Needless to say, this tanning lotion smells amazing!

It doesn’t have any bronzing agents like some others on the market, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get an accelerated tan.

Coconut Kisses delivers an even tan while hydrating your skin. It does this with a quad tyrosine blend and melanobronze which stimulates the melanin formation in the skin.

It’s also formulated to fight cellulite and improve the overall appearance of your skin.

This is the best tanning lotion for tattoos too as it acts as a tattoo and color fade protector, prolonging the life of your ink even on tanning beds.

Tanning lotion reviews are full of people raving about this product, particularly about the scent, hydrated skin, and the way it gives a nice tan.

Millennium Tanning Paint It Black

Millennium Tanning Paint It Black

Millennium Tanning have made another highly regarded tanning lotion, and at a fabulous price too.

This formula has 50x bronzers, accelerating that tan.

It has an extreme silicone emulsion blend that leaves your skin feeling very smooth to touch and moisturizers that leave it hydrated all day.

This is something users have specified as what they love bout the product, stating that it makes skin feel “baby smooth.”

There are also skin firming qualities in the lotion. The scent is of fresh clean cotton!

It’s suitable for either indoor or outdoor tanning. This is another product that’s good for those with fair skin just trying out tanning for the first time.

It gives a good, even tan in no time at all. Many have said they even saw results after a single tanning session and without even needing to go the maximum time on the tanning bed.

Within a month, you can get quite dark making it an excellent discount tanning lotion that truly works.

This is a good tanning lotion for those with sensitive skin as well.

Designer Skin Luminary Bronzer

Designer Skin Luminary Bronzer

Designer Skin are popular amongst serious tanners.

The Luminary Bronzer is a specialized formula that'll help you get to your highest tanning point.

This is a 25x bronzer, black label private reserve formula that comes in a gorgeous blue glitter bottle.

They boast an LED complex (Light Engaged Defiance) which Designer Skin claims harnesses the power of the rays to restore the skin.

It'll protect the skin from free radicals and improve the tone and elasticity of the skin.

There's also a “magical solar silicone emulsion” blend which Designer Skin say will prolong your tan and keep skin hydrated.

There are a few reviews by those who claim to not usually tan well, but this product has helped them get there.

Plus, it makes your skin shimmer, great for those sunny day outings, when you can literally sparkle in the sun!

Australian Gold Cheeky Brown Dark Tanning Accelerator

Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator

Australian Gold is a very well-known name in tanning.

The brand is widely available and is probably best known for outdoor tanning lotion products, but this is one that can be used indoors as well.

It even has bronzers in it. It still has all the great Australian Gold qualities, though, like natural oils and vitamins A and E that gives the skin what it needs to stay healthy and glowing.

The scent is “cocoadreams”, which has been described as a tropical fruit scent. Although it has a lot of natural oils in it, it’s not a greasy formula and won’t come off on your clothes.

Instead, it keeps the skin moisturized while building a beautiful golden brown tan quite rapidly.

As mentioned before, many don’t realize how great Australian Gold can be for indoor tanning.

This product is packed full of good things as well as a bronzer. You’d be pleasantly surprised about how well it works.

The Next 5 Tanning Lotions

Supre Smoke Black Bronzer

Supre Smoke Black Bronzer

Supre Smoke Black Bronzer has an oxygen regenerating system that has antioxidant trace minerals to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

When it comes to the actual tanning, you’ll see results in just a couple of sessions.

It’s recommended for those who already have a base tan.

Just be sure to wash your hands after applying as it can make your hands orange.

SunGodz Artemis/Apollo Bronzer

SunGodz ArtemisApollo Bronzer

SunGodz Artemis/Apollo ultimate tanning lotion is a shower-proof formula with bronzer.

It’ll allow your tan to keep developing even through water and sweat.

It also has anti-fade properties for tattoos that will also keep your tan for longer.

Keep your skin ultra-moisturized and silky smooth.

It’s good for indoor and outdoor use with a neutral scent for both men and women to enjoy.

Swedish Beauty Shea You Love Me

Swedish Beauty Shea You Love Me

Swedish Beauty have a wonderful tanning lotion with Shea You Love Me.

It has vitamins A and E and of course, shea butter.

It also has colloidal oatmeal making this a great choice for not only dry skin but those suffering with eczema.

This is a very gentle formula that lets pale skin go to darker and radiant.

It doesn't have bronzers, but instead develops a nice gradual natural looking tan that lasts.

Designer Skin Juicy Gossip

Designer Skin Juicy Gossip

Designer Skin have made our tanning lotion reviews guide again, but this time with Juicy Gossip, due to its vitaplus blend that promotes more youthful skin.

It’s full of peptide and tyrosine intensifiers to bring out the very best tan you can.

This formula is passion fruit juice-based (yes, really!) and will leave you looking and smelling amazing.

Australian Gold Jwoww Black Bronzer

Australian Gold Jwoww Black Bronzer

This tanning lotion was made by Australian Gold for Jwoww from Jersey Shore’s brand. This blend is unique.

Hemp seed and blackcurrant oils prepare the skin for exquisitely dark tanning.

Carmel and walnut shell extract give the skin its dark tones.

Kukui and sunflower oils condition and moisturize, leaving super soft golden skin!

Buyer's Guide

best indoor tanning lotion

There are three main types of tanning lotions to consider when picking out what’s right for you, your skin, and your tanning goals.

Make sure you don’t jump into anything too soon thinking you'll get a tan faster by going to something more advanced right away. It can lead to damaged and aging skin.

Use our buying guide to find what’s best for you.


This is the most common type found in most salons. They basically enhance the tanning and prolong it.

These are best for beginners especially as most don’t contain bronzers or anything extra.

They’re meant to moisturize and take care of the skin while you build a tan. From there, if you choose to, you can move onto other products.


Tinglers will obviously make your skin “tingle,” but that is due to the ingredients that become active with heat.

They increase blood flow and increase oxygen circulation to the skin cells. This isn’t something everybody likes and it isn’t recommended for beginners.

When you go to use one, always test it out first on a small patch of skin to make sure you don’t have any bad reactions or discomfort.


Bronzers give a wonderfully deep looking tan thanks to add color agents.

They're made with the same main ingredient as a self-tanner (DHA) and do have added color, but aren't designed for self-tanning use.

Still, don’t forget to wash your hands after applying!

You’ll get results even after one tanning session but it also continues to develop afterwards.


Coolant is something that provides a nice, soothing sensation to your skin. Instead of the slightly fizzing feel of tinglers , this ingredient will soothe and refresh your skin.

If you’ve just topped up your tan, apply this type of lotion. It won’t improve the condition of your tan, per se, but it will feel lovely and calming to your skin.


This type of lotion does what it says on the tin – it helps you make the most of each session, and will speed up the tanning process.

Expect to see results more quickly with this type of product! Maximizers tend to be aimed at people who want a dark tan, so don’t opt for these if you’re after a subtle glow.


Tanning lotions designed to prevent the appearance of ageing will normally contain various vitamins to refresh and replenish skin.

This type of lotion isn’t limited to people who already have wrinkles! It’s worth using if you’re still smooth-skinned in order to preserve your youthful appearance.

Body Blush

The idea here is to encourage a darker tone in your skin without causing irritation. By increasing the levels of oxygen to your skin, the color will shift in a more ‘natural-looking’ way.

There will likely be vitamins in this type of lotion, too. These will cause a natural flush or rosy glow to the skin, making your tan look better.


This is the chemical found in red/ orange fruit and veg, such as carrots! It encourages a brown glow in your skin, and is also pretty healthy compared to other products.

This is a naturally-occurring tan-booster.


This chemical has a long old name – Dihydroxyacetone, have fun! – and is found in natural sugars, such as cane sugar. It changes the appearance of skin, by turning it a brown color.

It’s believed to tint only the initial layer of skin (which is often ‘dead’ skin), and doesn’t permeate much deeper.

Exfoliate to get rid of these dead skin cells so that the first layer being tanned is healthy and won’t shed after just one day!

A Guide Tanning for Beginners

Tips for new users

If you’re new to the world of self-tanning, don’t panic! It’s way easier than it sounds, there just a bit of science to it that you need to pay attention to.

Exfoliate before you start. There’s no point having lovely tanned skin that’s already dead and will shed soon. Sounds gross, I know, but it makes sense, right?

Pay extra attention to your knees, ankles and elbows, as this is where skin can get particularly dry. Opt for something oil-free, as this will help you get an even tan.

You can use an oil-free moisturizer on these areas before tanning, just give it time to dry. Oil essentially stops the lotion from properly adhering to your skin, so avoid it at all costs or you’ll be super streaky!

Exfoliate your hands after applying the lotion, too. Even if you wear a mitt, your hands are likely to get some excess lotion on them. Orange hands are never a good look.

Pay attention to your fingertips and nails, and use a makeup wipe (alcohol-free) to clean out any leftover lotion that’s settled there.

Test a Patch for Sensitivity

If you’re anything like me, you’ll totally ignore the patch test suggestions of tanning lotions, home-color kits and anything else that goes on your skin.

And, if you’re really like me, you’ll spend the whole process wondering if you’d describe the sensation as ‘tingling or ‘burning’. It pays to do a patch test, trust me!

Whether or not you have sensitive skin, it’s important to carry out a patch test. Do it somewhere discreet, such as your inner arm or behind your ear. Do this with a cotton bud to avoid getting the lotion on your hands.

If the area gets itchy, or feels swollen and irritated, the product isn’t right for you. It can be frustrating, but it’s much better to have an inflamed ear than have your entire body  swell up!

Test a Patch for Color

This is more for aesthetic reasons than anything else, but still worth doing. Conduct a patch test 24 hours before you decide to start the proper tanning process.

This will help you choose the right amount of product to use, as well as check that the color is suitable.

Avoid Outdoor Use

Unless you have bought a specific product to be used outdoors, it’s best to use these lotions indoors only. These lotions won’t usually contain SPF, so you may actually be harming your skin while tanning it.

Equally, outdoor-aimed lotions will stop any UV rays, so aren’t suited to sun-bed use.

Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions

While we can offer general advice on using tanning lotions, always thoroughly read the instructions on the product!

Most lotions are used in the same way, but it’s worth checking the packaging of your lotion to be sure.

Wash Your Hands

As mentioned earlier, orange hands aren’t attractive, and will really distract from the golden glow of your body!

Make sure you scrub your hands before tanning, and follow the above instructions to make sure there’s no excess lotion left in your cuticles.

Considerations for Tanning Lotions

SPF Inclusion

Most indoor tanning lotions won’t contain SPF, so aren’t suitable for use outdoors. You can still go out in the sun, just take extra precautions.

Indoor tanning lotions enhance the effects of UV rays while you tan. Using a sun-bed makes a difference, and using a lotion simply speeds the process up.

Check Formulation

This is basically the ‘make-up’ of the lotion, and refers to the way the it enhances UV days. With indoor lotions, check the label – 95% UVA and 5% UVB is pretty standard and will give the best results.

Natural Ingredients

It’s worth noting that DHA will still be present in most organic/ natural tanning lotions, but that the other chemicals will be replaced.

If you’re worried about using chemicals on your skin, opt for a product that contains natural ingredients. Some lotions contain natural melanin boosters, so look into these if you want something totally organic.

Oils such as coconut and argan are great for your skin anyway, and will work to improve its condition while tanning. Aloe Vera is worth looking out for, too, and is a great organic alternative to the usual chemicals used.

Hydration Capacity

The hydration capacity of a tanning lotion is essentially its ability to keep your skin hydrated. Sounds simple, but it’s very important.

Having a bronzed glow is great, but if your skin is dry and rough, there’s not much point. Choose a lotion that will keep your skin soft and supple, and enhance the appearance of your new tan.

No After-tan Smell

Back in the good old days when I was experimenting with purple eyeshadow and double-denim (before it was cool), tanning lotions were infamous for their smell.

Imagine a strange, biscuity, chemical scent. Yep, not nice. Not only would your bedsheets look as though there’d been Cheeto explosion, you had to deal with smelling seriously dodgy.

Look for products that are branded as being scent-free. Manufacturers have caught onto the fact that nobody wants to smell like a waffle, and there are some good options out there.

The smell is normally due to the DHA in the lotions, and it isn’t easy to find one without it present.

Choose a product that boasts a pleasant smell, and you should be fine. It’s tricky to find organic versions, however, as the nicer fragrances are normally a result of chemicals.


Whether you’re just starting out on your tanning journey or already have a base tan, our guide to the best tanning lotion will have something for you.

The accelerators are perfect for beginners, giving the skin some much needed moisturizers and other things to get it ready for deep tanning.

Bronzers are perfect for those more seasoned tanners looking to reach their darker skin tone goals.

Lots of bronzers can also help those who seem to have hit a speedbump with their tanning. They’re perfect for maintaining a tan, making sure it won’t fade.

No matter what you pick, the lotions on our guide are all designed to enhance your tanning experience. Make it easier and faster for you to achieve that sunkissed glow.

Hungry for more information?

Check out this youtube video.