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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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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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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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