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Discover the Best Tanning Lotion: Ultimate Comparison Guide

Ever wonder how celebrities or even someone you see walking down the street got such a sultry, golden tan? Most likely they’re using something to give them that nice, glowing skin like an indoor tanning salon or airbrush spray. The secret is they are using the best tanning lotion products. The world of tan-in-a-bottle can be quite intimidating with so many different products in the market.

That’s why we wanted to make it easier on you to find the best tanning lotion for you, so you don’t risk looking overly tanned, but instead have others wondering, “You think that tan is real or fake?”

If you’re looking to get a lovely tan, but you’re tired of sunbathing all day, look no further! We did the research for you, to find the top tanning lotions, most of which can be used not only for indoor tanning, but also outdoors as well. Check out our list of the 10 best tanning lotions out there, to help you find the best lotion to meet your needs.

RankLotion ImageProduct NamePriceRating
1Luminary BronzerDesigner Skin Luminary Tanning Lotion 25X$$5.0/5.0
2Millennium Tanning New Paint It Black Tanning LotionMillennium’s Paint It Black Tanning Lotion $4.9/5.0
3Australian Gold JWOWW Bronzer Tanning LotionJWOWW Black Bronzer Dark Tanning Lotion$$4.7/5.0

Review of the Top Five Tanning Lotions of 2017

#1 Designer Skin Luminary Bronzer, 25X

The Luminary bronzer is one of the best tanning lotions on the market. Most forums and reviewers agree. We personally think it’s the best out there today.Best tanning lotion Designer Skin Luminary Bronzer

Designer Skin has made a name for itself as a high quality manufacturer for tanning products. And it doesn’t disappoint with this tanner.

The Luminary 25X features L.E.D. Complex, which basically means Light Engaged Defiance; this feature enhances the rich, radiant look of your tan, locking in light while giving it a natural glow.

This tanning lotion also includes magical solar silicone emulsion, an ingredient that helps maintain the deep, glowing color.

It also provides a soft shimmer, featuring celestial stardust to make skin appear luminous (hence the name).

Tanning reviewers say this lotion delivers fast results, even tanning, feels smooth and silky, and doesn’t leave any grease or oil.

It’s suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin and comes in a sweet champagne fizz fragrance.

With the features and reviews to back it up, it’s no wonder that this tanner is regarded as the top tanning lotion available.

Click here to see a more detailed review of the Luminary 25x lotion.

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#2 Millennium Tanning Paint It Black Tanning Lotion, 50X

Millennium Tanning New Paint It Black Tanning Lotion
For tanners that want fast tanning results, at just the right price, this is the product you’ve been looking for.

Millennium Tanning Products is one of the most reputable product lines out there.

The company just came out with this tanning lotion, which they take pride in the latest advancement of its auto darkening tan technology included in the tanner.

This tanner is notable for its long-lasting results, where the lotion was created with a silicone emulsion blend, providing all-day moisture.

It also features agents including accelerating, bronzing, and skin firming.

Reviewers have commented on the deep tan coloration and the stunning glow as a result of use.

It comes in fresh and clean cotton blossom scent, so not too overwhelming to the senses. This product has been featured on bestraters.com’s best indoor tanning lotion list for 2018.

You really get the most bang for your buck when buying this Millennium tanner.

Read a more detailed description about Millennium’s Paint it Black lotion.

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#3 Australian Gold JWOWW Black Bronzer Dark Tanning Lotion

JWOWW Black Bronzer If you’re looking for a deep, sun-kissed glow at an unbeatable price, then JWOWW Black Bronzer is just for you.

Created by Australian Gold, this blend of natural ingredients like black currant, and walnut shell extract gives the bronzer a deep lasting color, while the hemp seed extract, kukui oil, and several vitamins provide moisture and hydration for your skin.

Products users have said this tanning lotion is great for use all over, on your face and body, providing a dark, even tan.

Serious tanners also recommend this product for those that may have reached their plateau in tanning, and want to go a step darker.

JWOWW isn’t the only one that can achieve a stunning dark tan, since this Australian Gold tanner looks great on pretty much all users.

We have to say that we love this bronzer for its practical price at $22, its reliable and glowing results, and not to mention the yummy “berry flirty” fragrance.

Find out more about JWOWW’s Black Bronzer and how we reviewed it.

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#4 Millennium Tanning Solid Black Tanning Lotion, 100X

Millenium Tanning Solid Black Tanning Bed Lotion
As one of Millennium’s top sellers, the Solid Black tanning lotion is one you can’t miss on the market.

This tanner includes 100X Ultra Advanced Auto-Darkening Tan Technology, giving darker results in no time.

It’s made with a blend of tan enhancer and silicone bronzer to moisturize your skin while giving a nice, even tan.

Product reviewers raved about the immediate results and how one coat of the tanner gave rich, dark results.

This lotion comes in a nice orchid blush scent and doesn’t have that “tanning lotion” smell.

What’s more, this bronzing lotion is sold at a reasonably low price. Users of this lotion argue this may be the best tanning lotion for what you pay, and worth every penny.

Reviewers love this product and recommend it for all tanners, whatever level of tanning they may be.

Check out more on the Solid Black Bronzer and what we think about this lotion.

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#5 Millennium Tanning Black Storm Tanning Lotion, 60X

Millenium Tanning Black Storm Tanning LotionAnd yet another tanning lotion from Millennium Tanning, this bronzer is great for those on a tight budget.

This lotion features the company’s auto-darkening tan technology and a silicone bronze blend.

It also produces immediate dark color enhancement with time released bronzers.

Special ingredients include acai oil, great for its antioxidant properties for skin moisture.

Reviewers have commented that this tanning lotion achieves a deep dark brown tan and spreads evenly on the body.

It comes in a pleasant fruity honey suckle scent which lasts even after a tanning bed session. This tanning lotion is relatively cheap for how well it works.

Millennium’s Black Storm Bronzer is a great pick for a tanner looking for a darker tan.

To read more about the Black Storm tanning lotion, click here.

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#6: Australian Gold DARK TANNING ACCELERATOR Lotion

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When you want to get a dark tanning faster, you need to try out the Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator lotion.

Seen and recognized as one of the best tanning lotion accelerators, you will be able to see the results very quickly.

Its formula is enriched with native oils as well as vitamins A and E. In addition, you’ll be able to notice a very pleasant Gold Cocoa Dreams fragrance.

Most reviewers are simply amazed at how their skin was with a dark tan so fast. They highly recommend it for any skin type and level of tanning.

Reviewers who have been using this tanning lotion are getting a lot of compliments from their families and friends about how their skin is glowing and healthy.

Click here to read more about the Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator Lotion.

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#7: Brown Sugar BLACK CHOCOLATE 200X Black Bronzer

7-Brown-Sugar-BLACK-CHOCOLATE-200X-Black-BronzerThis tanning lotion includes 200X advanced black bronzers that will help you get the darker tan that you want.

Its formula contains a double dark chocolate extract that will help nourish your skin with its powerful antioxidants.

As soon as you apply this tanning lotion on your skin, it will melt leaving you with a beautiful and supple glow. In addition, this powerful tanning lotion is both DHA-free and Paraben-free.

Reviewers are really enjoying the darker tanning they are getting with this Brown Sugar’s lotion. It doesn’t only deliver good results as your tan will last.

Most reviewers tend to love the smell of this lotion and just keep recommending it to everyone who wants a beautiful darker tan.

Discover more about the Brown Sugar Black Chocolate 200X Black Bronzer.

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#8: Supre Smoke Black Bronzer, Tanning Lotion

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This Supre’s Smoke Black Bronzer is one of the most popular tanning lotions of the brand.

This tenner can be used by either man or women who want to get a beautiful tan and, at the same time, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

The Smoke Black Bronzer includes different technologies that allow it to deliver the best results. It includes the Oxygen Regenerating SystemTM as well as self-acting bronzers.

This tanning lotion has a very good fragrance denoting mango, passion fruit, and pineapple.

According to the reviewers, the users who can benefit the most with this tanning lotion are the ones who already have a good base tan.

Even more than the smell of this lotion, reviewers love how quickly it is to show some results. In addition, it’s very affordable. So, many users are already recommending it.

Read more about the Supre Smoke Black Bronzer, Tanning Lotion. 

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#9: Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion

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Ed Hardy’s has many different tanning lotions but the Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion is one of the best and more popular ones.

This tanning lotion includes Melactiva which is a melanin synthesizer for longer and darker results, and a combination of MelanoBronze with Quad Tyrosine Blend, which is responsible for stimulating and increasing the melanin formation, accelerating the entire tanning process. Its formula also contains coconut oil and coconut milk.

This Ed Hardy’s tanning lotion is able to deliver a dark golden tan without using any bronzing agents.

Most reviewers are happy to recommend this tanning lotion no matter which type of skin you have, even if you are fair white.

The results are very consistent and your skin will glow and with a natural and beautiful golden tan.

Check more about the Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion. 

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#10: Self Tanner – Organic and Natural Ingredients Sunless Tanning Lotion and Best Bronzer Golden Buildable Light

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The Self Tanner is made only using natural and organic ingredients including Witch Hazel, Green Tea, Argan Oil, Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, and Aloe Vera that are combined in a special way to deliver a beautiful and long-lasting tan.

With Self Tanner, you don’t even need to be on the sun that can hurt your skin. Nevertheless, you’ll still be able to listen to all those amazing compliments about how your skin looks so healthy, hydrated, and glowing.

This tanning lotion can be used by everyone, even if you are very pale or have sensitive skin. It is also meant for both women and men.

Most reviewers state that this is one of the tanning lotions they have used so far that lasts longer. Since you only need to use a small portion and the package includes more lotion than most on the market, it becomes really affordable.

See more details about this Self Tanner.

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#11: Sun Laboratories Tan Overnight Self Tanning Lotion

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Sun Laboratories is a great company when you’re considering a tanning lotion. And this Tan Overnight Self Tanning Lotion is one of the best ones they have as well as one of the most popular.

This tanner features a blend of totally natural ingredients to ensure that besides a beautiful tan, your skin can also be hydrated, revitalized, nourished, and with an enhanced elasticity.

Most reviewers keep saying that this self-tanning lotion is one of the best they have ever used especially for pale and sensitive skin. And since you don’t even need to go into the sun to get a darker tan, it’s even better.

Overall, users are extremely happy with the results and they also like the smell of the lotion.

Discover more about the Sun Laboratories Tan Overnight Self Tanning Lotion.

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#12: Australian Gold Sinfully Black 15x Deep Dark Bronzing Tanning Lotion

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And here you have another Australian Gold tanning lotion that you will love.

This tanning lotion includes 15X deep dark bronzing power which will allow you to get that amazing and beautiful tan that you’ve been looking for.

The Australian Gold Sinfully Black is made of walnut shell, Monoi de Tahiti, caramel, and other bronzers that will allow you to get a darker and deeper color.

This tanning lotion will also take care of your skin since it includes hemp seed oil, which is one of the best natural moisturizers, and a great combination of kukui nut oil, sunflower oil, and vitamins to make your skin smoother and softer.

According to reviewers, this Australian Gold’s tanning lotion doesn’t only smell great as it’s not greasy at all. And the best thing is that besides you get a beautiful tan and your skin looks and feels healthy and smooth, it lasts for a very long time.

Read more about the Australian Gold Sinfully Black 15X Deep Dark Bronzing Tanning Lotion.

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What is Tanning Lotion and How Does It Work?

Tanning lotions, also referred to as indoor tanning lotions, are used to accelerate the tanning process and boost the ultraviolet rays’ effects on your skin.

In terms of science, it promotes the production of melanin, which occurs after exposure to ultraviolet rays and absorption of light, to create a tan.

Tanning lotions also increase blood flow to the skin, essentially increasing the melanin brought to the skin’s top layers.

Indoor tanning lotions are designed to be used with tanning beds or tanning booths that use ultraviolet rays as a source of accelerating the tanning process.

These tanning lotions work best in short, intense durations of tanning (for example, a tanning bed session at a salon).

Tanning lotions are different from regular suntan lotion that people commonly use outdoors because they don’t cause damage to the tanning beds, which are usually made of acrylic material.

You should note that there are outdoor tanning lotions; however, those are for outdoor use and are not to be used for indoor tanning.

Indoor tanning lotions are specifically created to be used in tanning beds and tanning booths.

You can use indoor tanning lotions outside as well. It is important to note that some lotions may not contain SPF, sunscreen, or offer protection from sun exposure.

Therefore, it is recommended that you use sunscreen along with the tanning lotion to prevent sunburns. When using the lotions outside, you can reapply every few hours to help you tan.

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The Different Types Of Tanning Lotions

When you hear the term “tanning lotion”, you need to understand that it can be referring to different tanning processes.

The first thing you will notice is on the consistency. The truth is that you can have tanning lotions that come in the form of sprays, oils, gels, mousse, creams, and, obviously, lotions. 

Most tanning lotions also tend to include some ingredients to ensure that your skin can look healthy and hydrated.

Overall, there are three main types of tanning lotions: indoor tanning lotions, outdoor tanning lotions, and sunless tanning lotions. Let’s check each one of them in detail so you can understand how they work and that you can make a better decision about the one you should use.

Outdoor Tanning Lotions:

When you are looking for a good outdoor tanning lotion, you want to make sure that it includes sunscreen. The truth is that we all know about the sun effects and how they can hurt your skin. So, you need to make sure that your skin is always protected as well as you’ll be, at the same time, preventing premature aging and sunburns.

When you are looking for a tanner, you need to ensure that you know your skin type, your desired level of tanning, and your personal skin tone as well. With all this information you’ll be able to decide which outdoor tanning lotion is the best one for you. In addition, most of these tanners include variations. Some are meant for fair skin, others for medium or olive skin, and still others for dark skin.

Indoor Tanning Lotions

When you want to try out a tanning lamp or a tanning bed, you need to choose the best indoor tanning lotion to use. Please notice that these lotions are only meant to be used inside since they don’t contain any sunscreen.

When you are searching for an indoor tanning lotion, you have a wide variety of products to choose from:

  • Bronzers:

These are the most popular type of indoor tanning lotions. They are able to provide you with a deep and natural bronze. However, within this category, you can still choose between instant bronzers that wash away, natural bronzers that include the necessary ingredients to increase the production of melanin, and DHA bronzers, which basically stain your skin with the use of amino acids.

One of the main disadvantages of using bronzers is that some of them may leave your skin orange. While in case you remain with the best brands on the market this will hardly ever happen, there is still the risk of staining and streaking. In order to prevent this from happening to you, you need to make sure that you apply the lotion evenly.

  • Basic Tanning Accelerators:

When you are looking for a base tan and if you are a beginner in what concerns to tanning lotions, this is probably the best type of indoor tanning lotion that you can choose.

In case you opt for this kind of accelerators, make sure that the tanning lotion that you choose includes ingredients that can help your skin be hydrated, softer, and smoother at the same time as it gets darker.

  • Tingling Tanning Lotions:

If you have been tanning for a while and you consider yourself as an advanced tanner, that you can also consider the tingling tanning lotions. While beginner tanners can still use it, it’s not very advisable as well as if you have sensitive skin, you should also stay away from them.

In case you decide to buy a tingling tanning lotion, one of the things that you should do is to do a test first.

One of the reasons why many tanners love tingling tanning lotions is because they are able to deliver a deep and dark tanning. The truth is that they tend to maximize the microcirculation of your skin as well as the oxygenation process. As a result, the tan that you get is darker and deeper. In case you are in a hurry to get that beautiful tan, you can also use a bronzer at the same time. 

Before you try out a tingling tanning lotion, you need to be aware that it will cause you some degree of tingling as well as some redness. The truth is that not everyone is able to tolerate these lotions well and some users have already complained of itching and burning sensations. Since this tingling feeling can last for some hours, you need to ensure that you have plenty of time available.

  • After Tan Moisturizers:

When you go through a tanning process, it is very important that you replace all the vital nutrients that your skin needs. This also has the advantage of avoiding the itchiness and dryness that you will experience after the tanning session.

  • Facial Tanners:

While some people like to tan their entire bodies, there are others who just want to get some more color on their faces. If this is your case, you may want to consider using a facial tanner.

The truth is that most body tanning lotions are not meant to be used on the face and neck since these are two of the most sensitive areas of your skin. In case you don’t want to use a tanner but you’re simply looking to protect your facial skin, then you can also consider a using a good SPF. This will help you prevent premature aging.

Sunless Tanning Lotions

With all the safety concerns that we are all aware off because of skin cancer, sunless tanning lotions have become extremely popular. After all, with these self-tanners, you will get the tan that you want without being on the sun. Nevertheless, sunless tanning lotions are the type of tanning lotion that tends to last fewer days. In fact, with most of them, your tan will start to fade in just 3 days and your tan can look a bit artificial.

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Tips When Using Tanning Lotion

When using tanning lotion, you should keep in mind what your skin type is: light, fair, medium, dark, olive, and deep. You should also consider what type of lotion you want to use for your tanning experience.

Different types include bronzing lotions, lotion sprays, moisturizing lotions, accelerators, and more. Make sure that whichever type you choose, that it is compatible and works well with your skin type.

When you use a tanning lotion, you should apply it 30 to 60 minutes before your tanning session, to get the best results. Apply the product evenly on your body. Also, make sure you exfoliate your skin before applying the lotion.

For those hard to reach places, like your back, you can use an applicator so that your back also gets tanning lotion as well. Be sure to remove any excess tanning lotion that’s on your hands with a towel.

For those that can’t resist a great spray tan, check out our detailed  instructions and tips for spray tanning.  It covers everything you need to know about it to help you get an irresistible glow.

What to Consider When Looking for the Best Tanning Lotion

Accelerators

Tanning accelerators are used to increase the tanning time, helping you get faster results. They are made of vitamins and oils that help increase the amount of melanin your skin produces. Most accelerators have moisturizer in the tanning lotion as well. Products with accelerators can be beneficial to achieve that glowing faux tan in no time.

Maximizers

Tanning maximizers are for those that already have a base tan and want to get a darker level tan. It usually does not contain a lot of moisturizer and is designed to increase rapid UV response to help you achieve a darker, richer tan.

Tingle or Hot Action Lotions

If you’ve reached your tanning plateau, tingle or hot action lotions may be what you need to get a deeper tan. These lotions increase micro-circulation and blood flow to your skin to help achieve that next level of tanning results.

Moisturizers

Opt for a tanning lotion that’s supplemented with moisturizer. Since moisturizers include natural oils, creams, and extracts from plants, these elements are essential to hydrate your skin and keep it looking healthy and youthful. Also, you can’t beat how it makes your skin so silky and touchably smooth.

Firming

Some self-tanners include skin firming ingredients that boost collagen and elastin to firm up and tighten your skin. You can’t ask for more in a product that both tans and firms your skin.

Aloe

Another great way to keep skin hydrated is aloe vera because it helps skin stay moisturized and has natural cooling and healing properties, especially for sun tanning gone wrong (e.g. staying too long in the tanning bed or out in the sun).

Other Additives

Tanning lotions usually contain other additives and ingredients to enhance your tanning experience. Milk protein, caffeine, and natural extracts (e.g. algae) can help firm, tone and tighten skin. Silicone blends are also used to hydrate skin. Vitamins, including vitamins A, C, and E, antioxidants, and floral extracts might also be added as anti-aging agents to decrease fine lines and wrinkles. Tanners often come in pleasant fragrances to leave a nice scent instead of the tanning product smell.

Time to Shop

Now that you’ve reviewed our top picks for the best tanning lotion in the market today, it’s up to you to pick what meets your needs, is in your price range, and overall help you get that gorgeous glow you’ve always wanted.

As you may already know, new tanning lotions are being created all the time by product lines.

For this reason, the comparison chart of the top 10 tanning lotions will be updated as new lotions come out into the market.

If you’re interested in learning more about other tanning products (self-tanners, tanning sprays, foams, creams, or gels), check out our other articles that provide in-depth reviews on the best tanning products.

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