10 Best

Tanning Bed Lotions

of October 2023

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Tanning Bed Lotions, For a Healthy-Looking Tan All Year

Yehudah Posnick

Shall I wasting in despair

Die because a woman's fair?

Or make pale my cheeks with care

'Cause another's rosy are?

Be she fairer than the day,

Or the flow'ry meads in May—

If she be not so to me,

What care I how fair she be?

George Wither (1588-1667), “Shall I wasting in despair”

The standard of beauty in Europe used to be that fair skin was considered more desirable. This was because the wealthy didn’t have to do menial work, and didn’t have to expose their skin to the sun. For centuries, even common people used to purposely try to apply ointments to the skin to purposely make them seem paler!

Needless to say, that’s not the case nowadays. People want to appear more athletic–and a robust suntan is part of that image. Whether you want to achieve a tan by sunbathing or by visiting a tanning salon, it’s important to apply a lotion before exposing your skin to UV light. Among tanning lotions, there are accelerator lotions to help intensify the success of a tanning session, as well as bronzer lotions, which themselves stimulate the skin to become tanned. But, in addition, these lotions will also contain ingredients for moisturizing the skin, by providing special oils, or anti-oxidant ingredients to help you avoid skin damage and aging due to UV exposure.

We’ll examine some of the selections in the Best Reviews Guide’s list of tanning bed lotions. There are also several nuances among the products, like those that are meant to keep the sun from fading your tattoos, or products with all-natural ingredients. You’re sure to be able to find one that suits you and the type of tan that you want to achieve!


How does a tanning bed lotion work?

A tanning bed lotion helps to accelerate the tanning process by increasing the skin's ability to absorb ultraviolet light. There are also lotions that color the skin, without any exposure to sunlight.

What types of tanning bed lotions are there?

There are three main types of tanning bed lotions:

  • Accelerators: These speed up the skin’s production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. They commonly use the amino acid tyrosine.

  • Tingle lotions: These are lotions that increase blood circulation, exposing your skin’s melanin to oxygen. It gives your skin a “flushed”, pinkish appearance. You won’t exactly have a tan, but at least you won’t be pale.

  • Bronzers: These lotions effectively imitate the effect of getting a suntan, but without the need for exposure to sunlight or UV rays.

    • Some bronzers use DHA (= dihydroxyacetone) or erythrulose: sugar molecules that react with the amino acids in the skin to create a browning effect (much like how the flesh of an apple turns brown when exposed to the air).

    • Alternatively, there are bronzers that use ingredients that expose melanin that is already in the skin, to get a tanned appearance.

    • Yet other bronzers are very much like make-up: they give the skin a tanned appearance, but can rub off on your clothing, or wash off with soap and water.

Are tanning bed lotions safe?

There is no definitive answer to this question as the safety of tanning bed lotions depends on the ingredients they contain. Some ingredients, such as DHA, are considered safe for topical use, while others, like oxybenzone, are associated with health risks.

Types of Tanning Bed Lotions

Looking over the Best Reviews Guide of the best tanning bed lotions, we can classify the lotions by their main active ingredient:

  • Tyrosine-based Accelerator: Tyrosine is an amino acid that accelerates melanin formation when applied to the skin, before exposure to sunlight or a tanning bed. An example of such a product is the Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion. It also contains coconut oil and cocoa butter to moisturize your skin.

Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion

  • DHA Bronzer: As mentioned above, DHA reacts with amino acids in the skin to create a tanned hue. An example of a bronzer that uses DHA is the Bella Black 100x Black Bronzer. It’s recommended to apply it in the morning on a day that you don’t go tanning, and just before tanning on days when you do go sunbathing.

Bella Black 100x Black Bronzer

  • Accelerator & Bronzer: There are products that use both known accelerator and bronzer ingredients. An example is the Paint It Black 50X Auto-Darkening Tan Technology. It uses tyrosine, DHA, and erythrulose, which accelerate the tanning process when you sunbathe, as well as tan the skin passively, just from chemical reactions with the skin.

Paint It Black 50X Auto-Darkening Tan Technology

What reviewers say

Here are some of the impressions of customers regarding their choice of tanning bed lotion:

  • Prefer accelerator: People tend to prefer an accelerator, such as Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion, as opposed to a bronzer. Bronzers tend to color the palms of your hands, and can leave streaks on your skin. Instead, the Ed Hardy tanning lotion can give you results in just 3 tanning sessions of 10 minutes each!

  • Great during long winters: One customer who bought the That’s What Sea Said Tanning Lotion Accelerator said that she used it during the fierce winters in Colorado, or when it’s particularly rainy and sunbathing isn’t an option. She recommends applying sunscreen to your face and chest before applying the tanning lotion. This will ensure not getting sunburned.

Important Features

Here are some tips and essential features to look for when selecting a tanning bed lotion:

  • Won’t fade tattoos: Many of the tanning bed lotions that we reviewed allow your skin to tan, without affecting the color of your tattoos. These products are designed not to react with the ink that has been injected into your tattoo. In addition, you should also apply sunscreen, to prevent UV light from affecting the tattoo. It’s also advised to avoid sunbathing when the sun is the most intense, from 12 PM to 4 PM.

  • Contains moisturizers: Most tanning products will also include moisturizers, so that sun exposure won’t dry out your skin. Common moisturizers will include coconut oil, walnut oil, cocoa butter, aloe vera, silicone emulsion, and more.

  • Contains antioxidants: Sun exposure will also tend to age the skin because the sun’s UV rays will create free radicals in the skin. These highly reactive free radicals will break down the skin’s collagen, making it look older. Therefore, look for tanning bed lotions with antioxidants that will neutralize these free radicals. Typical antioxidants include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, hemp oil, and Yangu oil, as in the Hempz Hydro Max Ultra Dark Maximizer Indoor Tanning Lotion.

Hempz Hydro Max Ultra Dark Maximizer Indoor Tanning Lotion

Final Verdict

We studied some of the main ingredients in tanning bed lotions and were able to draw some conclusions about what you should expect from each product. Adhere to the advice of the experts and customers who recommend each product, so that you’ll be able to enjoy these tanning products without any adverse effects. There’s no reason not to be able to sport a healthy-looking tan, all year around!

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