THE BEST in TANNING - Buyer's Guide

How To Choose A Tanning Lotion – Buying Guide

As you can see from this list of the top 10 best tanning lotions, there are many to choose from. We have compiled this list based on reviews, sales, testing by our professional staff and our desire to bring you the best tan possible. Ultimately the lotion you choose is up to you and your preferences and past experience. This is meant to be a guide to help you through the process. So let's figure out what will be best for you!

First off, where do you plan to use the product? Is it going to be an indoor tanning bed or outside at the beach? Although similar there are some differences. All of these products can be used indoors or outdoors but some retail store-bought outdoor products should not be used indoors. Also, keep in mind that none of these contain SPF. They are designed to accelerate your tan and do not block the rays. You will want to switch to an SPF if you are outdoors after some tanning time.

Do you prefer a lot of skincare ingredients, moisturization, fantastic skin care, anti-aging properties, vitamins and antioxidants etc. All of these products have professional skin care ingredients, some more than others. Price can be a determining factor as they more expensive they are the more advanced the skin care is. Some ingredients are only available in the top end products. We also have some great value products with some skin care ingredients as well as amazing tanning acceleration.

Lastly you have to decide which kind of lotion you prefer. Some choices are straight accelerator meaning no bronzers or tingle. Then there is bronzers but how dark of a bronzer and how much instant bronzer vs longer lasting DHA bronzer you like. Lastly there is tingle which is not for everyone because it makes you skin feel hot while you tan but delivers a great outcome.

If you’re not sure what your answer is to all of these, you’re not alone. Choosing the best tanning lotion can be interesting. I will now walk you through each of these considerations and hopefully, at the end of this buying guide, you will know what the best tanning lotion for you. At the very least you will have a starting point. You may have to try a few lotions over time to find your favorite.


Coconut Oil Best Tanning Lotions

Things to Consider when Buying a Tanning Lotion

As I mentioned before, the first question is where are you going to tan. Is it outdoors such as at the beach or are you using indoor tanning beds?

If you are tanning outdoors than I recommend using your tanning lotion for the first 30 to 60 minutes to tan, depending on your skin and how fast you tan. Always avoid burning. Tan for a time and then switch to an SPF to protect you for the rest of your time outside. None of these 10 best tanning lotions contain SPF. If a product contains SPF it will say it in the description.

If you are tanning indoors in a tanning bed, you should choose the tanning lotion for your level of tan. If you are a beginner than you will want a beginner tanning lotion. If you have an established tan or are a regular you will want a more advanced tanning lotion. 

Next we will figure out if you want the best accelerator, bronzer and/or tingle tanning lotion. All of these options contain accelerator, what you want to decide is if you want to add bronzers and/or tingle to the mix. If you are looking for a sunless spray tan, that is a different product entirely. These products are designed for use with actual tanning whether indoors or outdoors.

Best Tanning Lotion Accelerators

All tanning lotions are going to have a level of acceleration. However, when a tanning lotion is called "accelerator" or "maximizer" without the word bronzer or tingle it means that it only contains acceleration and does not contain extra added bronzers or tingle tanning ingredients. What they do have is tanning boosters such as L-Tyrosine and other skincare ingredients to boost your tan. The most popular of the best tanning lotions are actually the bronzers but there are a couple on this list that are straight accelerators such as #6 Ultra Dark Tanning Lotion and #7 Silver Strike Tanning Maximizer. If this is what you are looking for, give these a try.

Tanning Lotion Ingredients

L-Tyrosine is the granddaddy of tanning lotion ingredients. It is the main ingredient when you think of a tanning accelerator. There are some that don't contain it because it's rather expensive. I always look for it on the ingredient label. Combos such as Unipertan mix L-Tyrosine with other tan enhancers.

Natural Oils such as Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Hemp Seed Oil, Almond Oil, Argan Oil, Jojoba, Monoi, Kukui, Cocoa Butter and many others have varying degrees of tanning and skincare abilities. They add a great deal of enhanced quality to your tanning experience. Look for these when you compare lotions.

Moisturizers are an essential ingredient in tanning lotions. You will want to keep your skin moisturized, soft and supple. Healthy skin tans best. Some lotions can be used in place of your daily moisturizer as well as when you tan. You might also consider a good Moisturizer For Tanners that works as a daily moisturizer while also boosting your tanning ability for the day.


DHA Sunless Best Tanning Lotions

Bronzer Tanning Lotions

Bronzers come in 2 types. Instant bronzers give you immediate color when you apply them and they wash off the next time you bathe. DHA sunless bronzer develops over a few hours and stays with you for days to weeks. These also darken with each application.

The best tanning bronzers contain a mix of the two so you achieve instant color and longer lasting color with each application. All of this while boosting your tanning session at the same time. Each brand has their own number system (E.G., 200x or 656xxx) but generally the higher the number the darker the bronzing. You will see these numbers in the titles above.

Don't worry about bronzers looking fake. Our professional best tanning lotions are created with the consumer in mind with advanced bronzing technology designed to look rich, dark and natural combined with your skins natural tan.

Best Bronzer Tanning Lotions

The term "bronzer lotion" has a couple of different meanings. A bronzer is actually a color applied to the skin that gives you a natural tan like appearance without actually tanning. 

There are 2 types of bronzers generally used in the best tanning lotions:

  • Gradual Self-Tanning DHA Bronzers
  • Instant Highlighting Bronzers

Gradual Self Tanning DHA Bronzer
 is the best long lasting alternative to tanning. The key ingredient is DHA or dihydroxyacetone which is a colorless chemical that reacts with proteins in your skin to create a browning color. This is the key ingredient in Spray Tans, Sunless Lotions, Self Tanning Mousses and all other sunless products. The best tanning lotions also have some of this to give you the ultimate bronzing experience while you tan. You don't see it right away but it will darken as you tan and for hours afterwards and last for days to weeks.

Instant Highlighting Bronzers are temporary but very attractive because you get instant color although temporary because it will wash off easily. You generally see it right away and it lasts until you bathe again. You can see the color in the lotion as you apply it. They are great to use in the morning or before you go out at night or anytime.

The Best Tanning Lotions use a combination of both types of bronzers as well as acceleration of your tanning process. The lotions with high number bronzers generally contain both so you get the best of all worlds. You get instant color, you get gradual sunless color and you get your natural tan, all three working together to give you the ultimate golden bronze tan. The darkest tan of your life! 


Hot Tingle Best Tanning Lotions

Tingle Tanning Lotions

Tingle is a more advanced type of tanning lotion. Tingle stimulates blood-flow and oxygen to your skin by opening up the small capillaries at the surface. Also known as micro-circulation, this can cause a flush or warming feeling and can be a surprise for someone who hasn't used it before. Always start with a light tingle for beginners such as a 5x. As you become accustomed to the tingle you will want to get stronger lotions. As with bronzers, tingle strength is measured in numbers such as 5x or 99xxx but each brand has their own. The only tingle in this top 10 list of best tanning lotions is #10 Sons Of Outlaw which is an advanced 99xxx tingle. However, we have a large selection of tingle tanning lotions on our site from beginner to advanced. Keep in mind that some of them are called Tingle Bronzers or Hot Bronzers because they contain both tingle and bronzer.

Best Tingle Tanning Lotions

The best tingle tanning lotions will give you warming and a slight reddening with a little flush feeling as the micro-circulation increases blood-flow to the skin. This is nothing to be alarmed about and generally lasts 20-40 minutes. The increased oxygen at the skins surface increases the melanin production and thereby boosts your tanning process. The more you use a tingle lotion the less you will notice this because your skin adapts to the level of tingle that you use. This is why you would generally increase your tingle level with each bottle you use until you are using an advanced tingle tanning lotion.

There are several brands of indoor tanning lotions that offer tingle lotions. Some are more famous for tingle such as Outlaw products, others offer a milder tingle or a combo tingle bronzer.

If you haven't used a tingle before, be sure to start with a beginner strength tingle such as a 5x tingle. If you begin with an advanced tingle lotion, the tingle effect will feel very hot and uncomfortable. These are designed for people who use tingle regularly and are used to it.

Make sure to put your tingle tanning lotion on just before you tan because it only lasts about 30 minutes. You want that micro-circulation to be working while you tan. The most effective time being the first time you apply it that day.

Last, but not least, wash your hands or use a hand wipe after applying the lotion or apply it with a lotion applicator because you don't want to accidentally rub it in your eyes or other sensitive areas as this can be quite irritable. 

Tanning Outdoor Versus Indoor

Even though tanning indoor is often called fake, the tanning process is the same as outdoors. Indoor tanning is more controlled because it has a timer though the UV can be stronger depending on your bed. Start slow and work up your time. Read the skin types on the bed and work with your salon processional to increase gradually without overexposing. Beginners will want to use a beginning tanning lotion designed for those first sessions.

Tanning outside requires you to pay more attention to your tanning time. People often stay outside all day and thus overexpose. Overexposing is actually not good for your tanning journey or the health of your skin. It will ultimately make tanning harder and can damage your skin. Generally it's best to use a good tanning lotion for the first 30 to 60 minutes and then switch to a SPF for the rest of the day.

Whether you tan indoors or outdoors and even on your days off use a great moisturizer in the morning and before bed. Consider using a good Moisturizer For Tanners that works as a daily moisturizer while also boosting your tan. Replenish and nourish your skin.


Q: Is tanning lotion the same as a SPF or sunblock?

A: NO! Carefully read the sections above. Tanning Lotions accelerate your tan. SPF Sunblock blocks the suns rays. They are basically opposites.

Q: Do I really need a tanning lotion?

A: Obviously the tanning process will still work without it. However the benefits of using a tanning lotion can increase your tan drastically, nourish your skin, and help you keep your tan much longer. Always take good care of your skin.

Q: Are all tanning lotions basically the same?

A: Not at all. Different brands have different ingredients, quality and abilities. We only offer top quality brands with top notch ingredients. All are made in the U.S. at quality manufacturers. Cheap brands sold at retail stores have to leave out most of the best ingredients because of costs or put in such a tiny amount that it has little effect. We carry lotions with lavish amounts of key ingredients. You can feel the difference. 

Lotion Source Overview

Regardless of whether you prefer indoor tanning or outdoor tanning or both, remember to be responsible and also use a layer of sunblock after your tanning time. Use a SPF lip balm too. Don't overexpose ever if you can help it. If you do overexpose stay out of the sun until it's gone. Always use protective eye-wear tanning goggles or disposables, especially in a tanning bed. Use SPF sunglasses outside too.

If you are a beginner, look for a beginner lotion. If you are advanced look for an advanced tanner. Decide if you want to use tingle or bronzers or both. Try different lotions to see what works best for you. We are always bringing in new products for you to try and hope this buying guide has helped you decide. If so please bookmark this page and share it. Don't hesitate to ask questions, we are available every business day and will respond quickly.