Find Swagger Home

The Best Indoor Tanning Lotions for 2018

Spring break, a wedding, a first date, a graduation and other important events make us want to look our best and to revitalize our appearance. Nature doesn't always cooperate in giving us time to acquire a natural golden tan but don't fret, indoor tanning lotions are designed to help get that healthy sun-kissed appearance. We will guide you in choosing the best indoor tanning lotion for your needs but first there are a few things you should know about the best indoor tanning lotions.

Best Indoor Tanning Lotions

A few tanning sessions at your favorite salon can go a long way and you can maximize the results by using a tan accelerator or bronzer. Common ingredients found in tanning lotions include melanin for pigmentation and a blend of oils to protect and condition your skin. You do not need excessive exposure to UV radiation from the sun to achieve that fresh look, in fact a sunless tan can help you achieve a healthy skin tone without damage or premature skin aging. Most lotions also contain a moisturizer for healthy skin care and quick recovery.

Not all lotions are created equally!

Outdoor suntan lotions are not designed to be effective with indoor tanning beds and indoor tanning lotions should not be used as general protection outdoors. Tanning lotions are divided into two distinct groups, indoor and outdoor, due to specific ingredient differences. For example, mineral oil is a common ingredient in moisturizing lotions but you will not find mineral oil as an ingredient in any high quality indoor tanning lotion. This is due to the fact that it acts like a magnifying glass under tanning bed conditions and is not acrylic glass friendly. The best indoor tanning lotion will not contain mineral oil.

Skin Sensitivity

In order to accelerate the tanning process some products contain ingredients to temporarily increase blood flow to your skin. These ingredients will typically only cause a minor tingling sensation but people with sensitive skin may experience a slight burning sensation during the first few minutes of application. Redness, sometimes lasting a few hours, is also possible however this usually fades into a more desirable tan color over time. It is advised to apply only a small amount of any tanning lotion, bronzer or accelerator to a small area of skin as a test if it's your first time using that product.

Medical Considerations

The Canadian Dermatology Association( advises against using indoor tanning beds if you fall into any of the following categories: You are under 18, have fair or freckly skin, burn easily, have a lot of moles, have a family history of skin cancer or use medication that increases sensitivity to UV light. The US dermatology association largely agrees so consult a physician first to be safe.

About Bronzers

A Bronzer is a tanning product that provides a temporary sunless tan. Bronzers are used to darken an existing tan and contain DHA, a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid to accomplish this. Generally applied after receiving a tanning session at the salon these will promote continued darkening of the skin. Washing your hands after application is required unless you enjoy orange stained hands. Top quality bronzers also contain skin conditioning agents that leave a smooth feel to your skin. As with tingles it's recommended that you apply a small amount in a concealable location for testing before covering your body entirely with it. Results vary by person so while one person may love a brand of tanning bronzer it can leave another decidedly less satisfied and potentially more orange or even yellow in appearance. Try different bronzers until you find the product that's right for your individual and unique skin complexion.

Finding the best indoor tanning lotion

To help you get started I've scoured the reviews and tested lotions myself in order to find the best indoor tanning lotions available. I recommend you try more than one to determine which works best for you. The following top candidates have gotten glowing results from others, including myself, and are highly recommended right now.

Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion by Ed Hardy

Type: Bronzer with intensifiers. Ed Hardy is a popular brand of indoor tanning lotion for sunless tanning. As you would expect with the name this product has a pleasant slight coconut smell and is thick and creamy in texture. It can be left on for two to four hours and generally will not permanently stain your clothes though it's recommended to avoid wearing white after a fresh application. Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion contains coconut oils and a Quad Tyrosine blend + melanobronze intensifiers to speed the tanning process by stimulating and increasing melanin formation. It also contains a tattoo color fade protecting agent and hydrating agents to speed skin recovery. Highly recommended.

Somewhere on a Beach by Devoted Creations

Type: DHA Free bronzer. Devoted Creations is also a popular brand of indoor and outdoor tanning lotion. Somewhere on a Beach is DHA free and designed not to stain clothes. It's main active ingredient is Advanced Matrixyl Synthe 6 which is an anti-aging peptide to reduce fine lines in your skin. It also contains coconut and walnut oils to soften, moisturize and hydrate your skin. It does not contain mineral oil and can be used outdoors as well but I recommend using it indoors for best results because it is not sweat or water proof. I would describe the smell as slight, appealing and it actually smells like the beach.

Dark Star Select by European Gold

Type: Salon Formula accelerating enhancer. This indoor tanning lotion contains silicones designed to leave your skin silky smooth to the touch. It uses European Gold's patented Deep Wave and Ever Dark tanning technologies to produce a lasting result. This product is not designed to provide a tanned appearance by itself, it is made to help improve the results of your tanning sessions at the salon. It does not have a hot tingle like many enhancing formulas but I find the smell appealing and it did not streak or stain.

Beautifully Dark Bronzer by Pro Tan

Type: Bronzer Accelerator. Beautifully Dark is a bronzer designed to accelerate the tanning process of your tanning salon sessions. If you have never had a problem with your skin turning orange in the past you needn't worry about that happening with this product either. It is virtually odorless and does not tingle after application. I noticed the results after one tanning session but it is more golden brown in color than dark, in my opinion. The color is best described as medium brown. This product is not tested on animals and is at the lower end of the price range while providing good results.

Solid Black Bronzer by Millenium Tanning Products

Type: Sunless Bronzer. For a truly dark but smooth appearance Solid Black performs. I recommend gently shaking before applying and to let it dry a little before hopping on a tanning bed to prevent mild streaking with any darker product. If you want the darkest tan possible in the shortest amount of time this bronzer is one of my favorites. It is designed with a patented auto-tan technology and is billed as a tan enhancer and silicone bronzer. The fragrance is officially orchid blush but I found it to be quite pleasing, perhaps even a little fruity(banana pecan?) although only mildly so. The fragrance is not overwhelming which is good. Overall this product is rated a solid 4.5 stars out of 5 and is popular. I would definitely recommend it but if you are only starting out on your tan perhaps work your way up to it with lighter products first.

Proper Use

When used properly the best indoor tanning lotions will provide excellent results. Please do not use them as an outdoor sun block, especially on children, or in any way not intended specifically by the manufacturer(read the label!). Remember to wash your hands after applying a bronzer and to wash off these products in the shower within a couple hours of use. These products are designed for use of less than 20 minutes in total, they are not meant to be worn for hours outdoors, burning and skin damage may occur if used improperly so please, read and follow the instructions for best results.

In Conclusion

Indoor tanning lotions vary as widely in goal as there are different skin complexions so I highly recommend trying several products to find the one you most enjoy. I hope this information helps you better understand what indoor tanning lotions can and cannot do and why it's important to read the directions before use. As a regular at my local tanning salon I will do my best to keep this list updated regularly.

Lastly I encourage you to always test a small patch of skin before applying it everywhere to test for reactions and coloring effects. Always consult and follow the directions on the packaging itself, this guide is only designed to help you in the right direction, it is not a replacement for manufacturer guidelines. Enjoy your golden tan to it's fullest by following manufacturer and health professional guidelines.

Sources: Over 15 years of personal tanning experience, government dermatology health recommendations and the following manufacturer websites:, and as well as countless reviews by consumers on multiple platforms.