Most tanners prefer indoor tanning because it’s reliable and gives visible results after each session. If you have to tan outdoors, you’re totally dependent on the weather and sunshine. As well, you won’t be able to control the shade of your tan, and it will take longer to achieve the desired results.
The best option is indoor tanning because you have much more control over the process. You get to choose how long to sit in the bed and how often you go.
Those of you accustomed to indoor tanning know that to make the most of your tanning bed sessions, it’s important to use the best tanning lotion. If you don’t, you can end up with streaky tans that are downright annoying!
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best tanning lotions to use indoors. It will help you choose a product that maximizes and accelerates your tan for darker results.
What is indoor tanning, and how does it work?
A tanning bed is a device that mimics the sun’s rays and their effect on human skin. Basically, the tanning bed is made of many small bulbs that emit ultraviolet radiation. The impact of this type of radiation is that it activates your skin’s melanin production. The melanin pigment makes skin darker, so get a non-natural tan, also called a ‘fake-tan.’
The reason why tanning beds are so popular is that they allow people to achieve a bronzed look regardless of the season. In the past, people were limited to tanning during the summer months. But with the advent of the tanning bed in the 1920s, it became possible to keep your tan year-round.
These days, tanning lotions have a role in helping you tan faster and maintain an even tan for longer. If you plan on tanning indoors, it’s essential to use a great lotion to boost the effects and keep skin moisturized.
What is indoor tanning lotion?
This is a type of lotion that you apply to the skin before you start the tanning process. Massage it into the skin well, all over the body. The two main effects of tanning lotion are that it:
- Accelerates the tanning process, which gives you a darker tan faster.
- Infuses the skin with moisture because tanning causes dry and flaky skin.
The main ingredient in tanning lotions is called DHA (color additive dihydroxyacetone). This ingredient creates a reaction with dead skin cells that are located on the top layer of your skin, and it causes them to darker temporarily, hence, why skin turns dark and looks tanned.
DHA comes in the chemical form or from natural sources. The type of product you choose depends on your personal preference.
Top 8 Best Indoor Tanning Lotions
Best for Newbies: Supre Cherry Bomb Red Hot Dark Accelerator Tanning Lotion
The Cherry Bomb is a light tingle tanning lotion. It is gentle enough that beginner tanners can use it because it offers tingle, but the sensation is light. Therefore, it’s great to use if you want to build up your base tan and want to get accustomed to tingle lotions.
You can use this one confidently because it doesn’t burn on your skin, but it is very effective at speeding up the tanning process. Since it’s an accelerator, you know that you’ll start to see results immediately.
It has a pleasant cherry and vanilla scent, which doesn’t irritate you. But best of all, it creates redness that lasts for approximately one hour, which is enough to get a good tan.
- If you’re not ready to experiment with tingle lotion just yet, you can mix this formula with non-tingle lotions for great tan results.
- This formula offers a streak and patch-free tan every time, so you don’t need to worry about any untanned spots.
- The cherry extract in this lotion has a firming effect on the skin, which helps your skin look more toned and tight.
- It contains vitamins A, C, and E, and it is a paraben-free product.
- This product is not for people with sensitive skin because some customers claim that it burned their sensitive skin very intensely.
We started the list off with this great lotion for beginners so that they can enjoy tanning too!
Best for Tattoos: Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion
A tattoo is a precious part of your body. Therefore you must protect the artwork while you tan. You don’t want to use tanning lotions that aren’t going to protect your tattoos against UV ray damage. That’s where the Ed Hardy lotion comes in handy. It is specially formulated to nourish the skin and protect the tattoo ink.
This tanning lotion has a pleasant scent, unlike many others that have that typical chemical scent. It’s surprising, but this lotion doesn’t contain any bronzers, yet it’s one of the best tanning lotions on the market. It will make your skin super dark, and it offers that rich, deep brown shade everyone wants.
The lotion does more than just darken; it also contains ingredients that help the skin fight the signs of aging. It firms the skin and stops the formation of cellulite by keeping skin hydrated.
- Tattoo protect formula helps keep your tattoos radiant and prolongs their life by preventing damage.
- This formula stimulates the skin’s melanin production, which makes your skin look much darker.
- You’ll find a lot of good-for-you ingredients in this product, including nourishing coconut oil and cocoa butter for smooth skin.
- This lotion will accelerate the tanning process without turning your skin orange.
- This lotion is not vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
- It may stain your hands and white clothing.
This product made the cut because we know many of you have tattoos!
Best Silicone Texture: Millenium Tanning Insanely Black Ultra Dark Tanning Lotion
This is an innovative tingle tan lotion for avid tanners. If you prefer a silicone textured lotion over a creamy formula, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. It has a strong 60x tingle, which makes the skin red and it burns, but it offers very intensely dark results. It is ideal for people looking for an ultra dark tanner.
This product is both a bronzer and an accelerator because it contains some very dark bronzers, but it’s also packed with accelerators. The silicone formula feels luxurious and doesn’t make the skin feel sticky or dry. In fact, the silicone helps make the skin softer and tighter.
We recommend this high tingle lotion for the pros because it packs a punch, and it’s best for experienced tanners with a good base tan. This Millenium tanning lotion intensifies the results of your tanning bed session instantly, and you’ll notice a big difference when using it.
- The tan you get from this product is very bronzey and glowy, so it’s great if you want healthy-looking skin.
- It has a fresh citrus berry scent, which both men and women love.
- This product is excellent for when you need to tan very fast or you have a deadline because it offers a very dark tan at once without gradual tanning.
- The Millenium tanning lotion is one of the most trusted and beloved tanning lotions on the market and has excellent reviews.
- When you don’t apply this lotion carefully and evenly all over, it can give a streaky bronze.
- The tingle is almost unbearable for some people.
We included this lotion because it doesn’t have that familiar thick lotion texture, and the silicone feels much more pleasant on the skin.
Best Celebrity Favorite: Supre Tan Snooki Bronze Shores Super Dark Lotion
No list is complete without one of Snooki Polizzi’s indoor tanning lotions. The reality TV star is known for her ultra dark tan. So, it’s no wonder she has her own line of tanning lotions. This Bronze Shores formula is great because it always gives that “just came from the beach” look, and it looks like a natural tan.
The reason why this lotion is so popular is that it never leaves an orange tint, and it applies streak-free. As well, the formula is packed with antioxidants to protect skin from tanning damage. The lotion also contains a combination of natural bronzers and Erythrulose, which enhance the darkness of the tan.
For the pro tanner, this lotion is very easy to use, and you’re sure to get that super dark tan you’ve always wanted. But best of all, this tanning lotion is affordable and won’t break the bank.
- This formula is nourishing and conditioning on the skin because it contains antioxidants, matcha green tea, and aloe vera.
- The lotion applies evenly and doesn’t leave any streaks or discoloration, so you’re guaranteed a deep tan.
- Since it’s a bronzer, it gives a tan instantly even before you tan.
- It dries very fast, and once you rub it into the skin, you only need 30 minutes for a dark tan.
- This formula can wash off in the shower. Avoid showering for a while after you use it.
This product made our list because it doesn’t leave your skin with an orange tint.
Best Tingle Lotion: Designer Skin BombShell, 100XXBronzer
For those accustomed to intense tingle tanning lotions, the Bombshell bronzer is a really good option. This product is only intended for experienced tanners who already have a dark base tan but want even darker skin. The reason why this product is not suitable for beginners is that it has the most tingle out of all the lotions on this list.
So, if you’re chasing incredible results, this lotion is the best bet. If you’re noticing that your tan is at the plateau stage and it is just not getting any darker, this lotion helps resolve that problem. It really boosts melanin production and causes lots of redness, which in turn helps the skin get darker.
Also, you don’t need to worry about dryness because this formula is jam-packed with nourishing and moisturizing ingredients such as white tea extract, soy, and Co-Q10. Therefore, it will make your skin soft and smooth, without any irritation. If you like sweet scents, you’ll appreciate the kiwi and watermelon fragrance of this lotion.
- This formula contains a blend of bronzers that automatically darken your skin when you apply the lotion.
- The product claims that it offers “unsurpassed” tanning results and a very dark tan.
- It also contains amino acids and other nourishing ingredients to keep your skin healthy-looking after tanning.
- This product is ideal for experienced tanners looking for the maximum tingle.
- Bombshell tanning lotion is more expensive than other similar products and costs around $40.
- It can burn and irritate you, so it is not suitable for anyone with sensitive skin.
This lotion gives the darkest tan, so it’s perfect for the experts, hence why it’s on our list.
Best Lightweight Formula: Australian Gold Cheeky Brown Accelerator Plus Bronzer
Some people prefer a lightweight formula that doesn’t feel cakey and greasy. If that’s your preference, then this is the tanning lotion for you. This product is a 2 in 1, which contains a bronzing agent and an accelerator. Therefore, you can count on it to darken the skin and speed up the tanning process.
When you lather on this lotion, it doesn’t make a mess and applies evenly to the skin due to its light liquidy formula. It is formulated with the best Australian ingredients, especially oils and a good dose of vitamins A & E, which helps moisturize and hydrate the skin.
The reason why this product is such a favorite among tanners is that it works for beginners and pros as well. You can use it to build up your base tan or use it to darken an existing tan. It has henna extract and caramel, which is going to give you a gorgeous bronze glow.
- This lotion is very moisturizing because it contains vitamins A & E, as well as aloe vera, tea tree oil, sunflower oil, and fruit oils, which make the skin feel soft and prevent dryness.
- The lotion applies evenly on the skin and doesn’t leave any streaks or blotchiness, so you can rest assured your tan turns out even.
- It has a subtle coconut scent that feels fresh and doesn’t leave behind that chemical-type fragrance.
- This product doesn’t feel greasy, and the cream is very light.
- You can use this for both indoor and outdoor tanning.
- The color tends to fade after one day for some users.
- Some salons have banned this product.
This product made our list because some people really hate the thick creams and like the lighter formula.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Hempz Dark Tan Maximizer
Sensitive skin is hard to tan because this type of skin is prone to dryness, breakouts, and irritation. But, it’s still possible to tan if you use the right lotion. This one by Hempz is completely hypoallergenic and full of natural ingredients, so you can feel safer when using it.
It works just as well as other dark tanning lotions, but it has an advantage: it is formulated with natural ingredients that are good for the skin. This formula doesn’t irritate the skin because it has calming ingredients such as oatmeal extract and mango seed butter, which are known to soothe and soften skin.
The formula is lightweight, so it doesn’t leave a greasy film behind. As well, the natural tanners give your skin the glow you’re after without the use of harsh chemicals. You’ll notice that this lotion has no scent, meaning that it’s a fragrance-free formula, so there’s no chance it will irritate you.
- This formula applies evenly, and when you buff it into the skin, it removes dead cells and makes skin smoother.
- The lotion is vegan, gluten-free, paraben-free, THC-free, and nut-free, so it is safe for use by people with nut allergies.
- The product is formulated with pure hemp seed oil, which hydrates the skin and adds moisture to dry patches.
- Absorbs into the skin quickly.
- The tan you get is not as dark as some of the other products, so you need to keep building the tan with this product.
We chose this product because we know even people with sensitive skin love to have a nice glow.
Best Value Pick: Australian Gold Sinfully Black 15x Bronzer Tanning Lotion
Want 15 times darker skin? Well, the Sinfully Black tanning lotion will take your skin 15 shades darker. This is the best value pick on our list because it’s affordable (under $20) and it works very well compared to other more expensive products. With lots of bronzing agents, this lotion is sure to make your skin dark after the first use!
Many people like this lotion because it doesn’t stain like other tanners, and it doesn’t have an orange tint. Therefore, you can be sure you’ll get a streak-free bronze glow every time you go tanning. By the way, this lotion has a pleasant berry scent that doesn’t linger on the skin long after tanning.
This product is formulated with hemp and sunflower oil, which are healthy for the skin because they nourish and condition. Additionally, this lotion contains beneficial kukui oil and vitamins to ensure you don’t damage your skin on the tanning bed.
- It works very well as a tan enhancer, and skin is visibly many shades darker after use.
- The fragrance is not too strong and has a light berry scent which doesn’t bother most people.
- This product is suitable for all skin types and genders.
- Even beginners can use this product, and it is a great way for those with fair skin to start building a base tan.
- Some customers claim it dehydrates their skin, and they need to apply much more moisturizer than usual.
We selected this product because it has a very budget-friendly price and gives a lovely streak-free tan.
Buyer’s Guide: What to look for in an indoor tanning lotion
Every tanning lotion has a different formulation. There are five things to consider when choosing a lotion.
Accelerator: This type of product is a must-use for tanners with fair skin. Accelerators contain more moisturizing ingredients to help newbie tanners achieve that base tan. It is generally applied an hour before you start tanning to prep the skin and keep it hydrated. Hydrated skin will look healthier after a tan session.
Maximizer: These lotions should be used once you have established a good base tan. This lotion is used as the next step towards getting an ultra-dark tan. A maximizer has fewer moisturizing ingredients, so it will help the skin get darker under the UV rays.
Bronzer: Lotions that contain bronzers are the best “step 1” products. So, it would help if you used them before you start tanning indoors. In basic terms, a bronzing agent gives you a dark fake tan before you even start. The role of the bronzer is to accelerate the tanning process and make you look more tanned with the help of a tinted cream.
Tingle: A tingle lotion burns and stings the skin and increases the blood flow on the skin’s surface. The tingle causes redness, which will produce more melanin and give you a very dark tan. This type of product is only recommended for expert tanners.
Tattoo Protection: Some of the best tanning lotions have ingredients that protect your tattoo from UV damage. These lotions contain antioxidants and other agents that prevent ink from fading.
Any tanner – beginner or pro needs to use a high-quality indoor tanning lotion prior to entering the tanning bed. These lotions help shield the skin from damage caused by UV rays and dehydration. Depending on how dark you want to go, you can choose to use bronzers, tingle lotions, or accelerators.
But, whatever your choice is, make sure to choose a lotion with the tan intensity you want. If you’re starting out, stick with accelerators and light tingle lotions. But if you’re ready for the ultimate tan, you can have fun and choose one like the Bombshell for maximum results.