Best Tanning Lotion: We Review 2023’s Top Indoor Sunless Tanners & Outdoor Self Tan Products

The Best Tanning Lotions to Help You Get Your Bronze OnBanish the white flashes that are blinding to not just you, but to everyone who has the traumatic experience of seeing your exposed, pale flesh!

Instead, tan it on up and bronze it on in with the best self-tanning lotions that’ll have on-lookers checking you out instead of regrettably checking on out!

Dazzle and sparkle your tanning experience this way as you filter out what lotion will give you maximum results in maximum time.

If you’re a tanning bed gal or guy or even just an indoor tanner, we have the best options lined up just for you. And, for you beach bums and sunshine chasers, the top outdoor tanning lotions have been reviewed and rated too!

But, for you serious tan-o-holics that are on the loose, we’ll reign you in and tickle you away with the hottest heat and sexiest buzz you’ll find in the market.


The Top Tanning Lotions

With so many tanning lotions to choose from, it can be a serious understatement to say you might feel overwhelmed. Well, sweat no more! The hard work has been done, and we’ll offer up the best tanning creams for each category right here!


For the Tanning Bed...

millenium-solid-black-100xIf the tanning bed is your choice of tan, then don’t do it solo! The Millennium Tanning Solid Black 100X gets the highest recommendation out of the line-up.

Its ultra-advanced 100X silicone bronzer with auto-darkening tan technology is a serious formula for those serious about adding the “dark” factor in the tall, dark, and handsome – or beautiful – equation!


Indoor Tanning...

millenium-paint-it-black-50xFor a general indoor lotion that works magic in stimulating and intensifying the much-desired bronze shade, the Millennium Tanning brand takes home the gold once again with the Paint It Black 50X lotion!

This is no surprise since it’s a best seller! It’s extremely popular because it’s not tanner-discriminatory – everyone can get their bronze on with this special darkening formula.


Outdoor Tanning + Protection...

hawaiian-tropic-tanning-lotion-with-spf-4Taking the tanning party outdoors creates a different beast altogether, and the lotion needs to be your best friend if you’re braving the sun face on.

So, for our top pick with SPF, low as it may be, the Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen Protective Dark Tanning Lotion is a great option.


Outdoor Tanning + All Natural...

beauty-by-earthBut, it’s not so black and white here when it comes to outdoor tanners. Without SPF, Beauty by Earth is a winner in their own right.

If you want organic and all-natural, the Beauty by Earth is your obvious choice, and it’s also the best self tanning lotions around.


Tingle Tanning...

bombshell-100xxFrom this point on, no beginners are allowed – it’s for expert tanners only! And, to get in the dark club, the Bombshell 100XX Bronzer – 2 Pack is your ticket in. For a sizzle and a jizzle, you’re going to be left titillated and in love with your deep, dark tan.

Don’t guess it alone anymore, you don’t want to risk streaks, blotches, and the ever-dreaded pumpkin halo. Be a sexy, brown beast of nature, not a pale ghost or a tanning try-hard. Amateur status – gone. Pro status – earned.


Tanning Lotion Buying Guide

1. Tanning Lotion vs Tanning Oil

While no one is debating the benefits of tanning oil here, there is much to be said about the benefits of lotion. While oil is tempting, the creams and lotions are much more preferred because you’re not left with a greasy or oily residue – the most popular reason for choosing lotion over oil.

Tanning oil is also largely for outdoor use, and since getting some extra vitamin D and sunshine isn’t always convenient or on the priority list, lotions win the race again.

So, we’ll make it easy on you and list out all our favorite reasons why lotion vs oil is really no debate at all.

But, many experienced and pro tanners have found using both in combination can give extra dark and extra fast results. However, do you really want to use your complexion as a guinea pig?


2. Indoor vs Outdoor Tanning Lotions

Heck, did you ever notice there was even a difference? Well, now you do, so banish your ignorance in the dust of your tan heels! And, choosing between the two types can be the difference between an amazing shade of brown or no results at all.

Indoor Tanning Lotions

Indoor self tanners are typically made for use with tanning beds, and quite often, they’ll contain bronzers for an instant tint. The bronzer rating is indicated by a number followed by one or several “X” symbols. Usually 15X, 35X, 50X, or 100X are popular ratings.

But, they’re popular because they’re made to allow the controlled UV rays in a tanning bed to penetrate the skin for a luxurious tan in short spurts of time. So, instead of spending 3 hours laying out in the hot sun everyday for a week, spend a couple 8 minute sessions in a tanning bed for the same result. There’s really no argument against the logic here.

Plus, indoor self tanning lotions are made where they won’t damage the acrylic metal of the tanning beds. It also won’t leave a sticky film on the acrylic that ultimately prevents and interrupts the tanning process. Yeah, if you’re guilty of using an outdoor tanner in a tanning bed – tsk tsk.

Outdoor Tanning Lotions

But, outdoor self tanning lotions have their place too. Often, they can be enhanced with sunscreen to protect your skin from prolonged exposure from the sun. And, since you’re in an environment where you can’t control the UV rays of the sun, you have to remember to reapply as often as the manufacturer suggests.

If you’re a water bug and you’ll be swimming and splashing all day long, reapplication is the key to resembling a beautiful kiwi fruit and not a horrid beet.


3. SPF vs No SPF

This aspect depends entirely on your style of tanning. Indoors are we? Tanning beds, self-tanners, and sunless tanners don’t have any broad spectrum/sunscreen for skin protection. Why not? Because, you’re not tanning and exposing yourself to the naked sun.

But, outdoor lotions are a different story, and more often than not, it’s difficult to get sunscreen and tanning lotion “right”. That’s because the sunscreen elements tend to leave a sticky and filmy reside on the skin that can be difficult to rub in thoroughly. And, the white, streaky tell-tale signs of sunscreen aren’t too attractive.

So, the bottom line here is, if you’re an inside type of tanner, don’t worry about SPF. Perhaps your daily moisturizer has SPF in it anyway. But, if you’re addicted to the outdoors, either pull up your big girl panties and go with an SPF tanning lotion or apply an SPF first before applying your self tanner.

There’s a very fine line between burnt and leathery versus supple and brown.


4. Bronzer vs No Bronzer

tanned woman in bikini

This debate can also fall into the chemical or natural tanning lotion category because bronzers are usually the target of unfair misconceptions. So, let’s go over the types of bronzers that exist in your self tanners.


Natural Bronzers

No Bronzer

While DHA tanning lotions are more often known as self-tanners, it can also be just one element in a lotion. It can be combined with tanning accelerants and intensifiers to help enhance the process.

But, natural bronzers are best known for the stain and streak-free reputations. While DHA lotions may not streak or stain as well, you should practice proper application methods to ensure an even and stain-free experience – that’s the trick to the no orange hues allowed.

DHA, natural bronzers, and no bronzer tanning lotions all try to achieve the same goal – for you to have a natural-looking tan. However, it really depends on your individual goals, ability to tan or not tan, and how often or not you may want to apply the lotion.


5. Face and Body Tanning Lotions

It’s no secret that tanning the face can be such a worrisome experience – it’s what everyone has to see everyday, besides you of course. And, the hardest struggle is getting your face to match the rest of your body.

And, luckily for you, there’s more than a few options that you can explore.


6. Moisturization

Every tanner needs to burn this tid-bit into their tan brains – hydrated and moisturized skin tans better than dry, flaky skin.

And, tanning tends to dehydrate the skin because it’s moisture-greedy. The more long-lasting hydration you offer your skin, the easier it will be to tan and the longer you get to keep it.

Moisturizing ingredients are a dime a dozen when it comes to the tanning lotion world, but some of the most popular ones are Aloe Vera, Shea and Cocoa Butters, Vitamin E, Hemp Seed Oil, and even Silicon.

Hydrated, smooth, and moisturized skin also helps to slow down sun-damaging effects and the signs of aging. It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 65, make sure you’re getting the multitasking benefits of moisturization when you buy your self tanner.


7. Beware of Fake Products

It goes without saying that whenever you find something good, be aware that there’s probably a knock-off replicate waiting to take its place.

And, what’s even sadder is there are many sellers that are more than willing to take advantage of you.

So, arm yourself with knowledge of your product by doing a ton of reading up and research on tanning lotion reviews to really know what to expect when you do get your lotion. If you can, get your hands on a sample to test it out first before daring to spend any amount of pennies on the actual product.

But, most of all, buy from a trusted seller and website. This can’t be emphasized enough. Not only is your credit information at risk, a waste of money is at stake.

And, worst of all, your bod will have to endure the damage of who the heck knows what’s in it. Best scenario possible, no results. Worst case scenario, identify stolen, money gone, and face and body are destroyed. Okay, we have a flair for the dramatic, but how else are we to get your attention? Don’t buy from anyone you don’t trust!


Achieve a Natural Tan Fast

With a plethora of tanning lotions at your very fingertips, you don’t have to be buried with all the options. Filter, sort by type, and figure out what you want to achieve. Then embrace the seductive, bedazzling shimmer of a golden, bronze tan that has everyone jealous.

You can safely lie and say that the Bahamas cruise you never went on was amazing or you can flat out say, “No, this tan is natural, it’s all me!”

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