I don’t know about you, but I love the sun. It just feels so good! But too much sun can cause tons of damage to your skin, and usually, you won’t notice until years later when it’s too late.
But who wants skin that’s so pale, it’s translucent?
I, for one, don’t. Which is where the best indoor tanning lotions come in. Whether you want to get a pop of color to your cheeks before your bestie’s wedding or so you feel warm inside when it’s snowing outside, indoor tanning lotions can help.
However, it’s not just as simple as ordering one delivered to your door (though it will be, I promise!). There are a few things to decode so you get what you’re going for. There are ones you can use indoors and outdoors, plus ones that will enhance a tanning session at a tanning salon.
It’s likely you’ll notice a few different terms on indoor tanning lotion packaging too. Here’s what they mean:
- Self-tanner – It may also say ‘sunless tanner.’ Some even call it ‘fake bake’ but whatever you want to call it, this stuff will darken your skin without any sun for as many as 5 days.
- Tanning accelerator – This stuff boosts the melanin production in your skin to pigment it. It often contains an amino acid called tyrosine.
- Bronzer – Bronzers work just like sunless tanners. They deepen skin color by way of dyes and other ingredients like erythrulose and DHA.
Before you choose an indoor tanning lotion, you’ll need to consider your tanning style. Do you burn after 5 minutes in the sun even with SPF lotion slathered all over you? Or do you get a nice, deep tan? Being honest about how your skin tans will help you select the best indoor tanning lotion for you to use.
Once you think about that, follow me and let’s go through 15 of the best indoor tanning lotions you can use to get a lovely sun-kissed look without sweating it out by the pool or sea!
Best Indoor Tanning Lotion Reviewed for You
Do you want a dark, deep tan that looks like you spent a week in the Caribbean sipping on frosty libations? Or do you want a sun-kissed touch that makes your favorite white blouse really pop? What textures do you prefer…mousse or lotion? Well, whatever you prefer, it’s going to be on my list of the best indoor tanning lotions that I’ve reviewed for you!
As one of the most famed brands, St. Tropez has self-tanning dialed in. This mousse is amazing lightweight, easy to smooth on, and even easier to get the depth of tan you want, no sun or tanning bed required.
Now, you should know that this goes on with a bit of a green tinge. But don’t let that scare you because it will cancel out orange tones. That means you get a sunless tan that looks natural.
It’s not instant either, so you’ll need to plan on at least an hour if you want a light tan, 2 hours for medium, or 3 hours for a deep, dark tan. The customization of your tan is easy to do, though using an applicator mitt will keep it from staining your hands. There’s no funky self-tan smell. It smells really nice actually! And the way it works to give you a beautiful tan safely is fantastic. It dries quickly and doesn’t feel sticky, and it won’t transfer so you don’t have to worry about leaving telltale fake-tan splotches everywhere. Downfall…price. It’s not cheap, but you are definitely worth it.
Vita Liberata is also a mousse, but has no odor which might be better for anyone with sensitive skin. The brand claims to give the longest-lasting results for self-tan products, all powered by natural and organic ingredients like aloe vera, raspberry, gingko biloba, and licorice.
It’s really nourishing from the start. Skin loves it and I’m not alone in this. It won a beauty award from Natural Health Magazine in 2014. One revolutionary detail: it has Flash Dry Technology, an exclusive ingredient that helps this formula dry instantly.
You get a long-lasting tan too. When I used this, it took about 2 weeks before it starting fading as naturally as if I’d tanned under the sun. Not too expensive, but definitely in splurge-territory.
Another option from Vita Liberata is the Sunless Glow Self Tanning formula that improves on the former Body Blur to not only blur things away but also give you a longer, more radiant tan. This one is awesome if you have any little blemishes or imperfections to make skin instantly look more amazing.
It’s so hydrating and soothing on skin too, and really brings out your best. I tried this one and felt like I got immediate gratification while building a natural-looking tan. It doesn’t rub off and really boosts confidence when you want to strut your stuff. Whether you have freckles, veins, or other things you wish would disappear, this will make it happen for you. The price isn’t too bad either!
If you have a lot of tattoos, you might think tanning in a tanning bed is better for them. But you still need to protect them or they’ll fade. Using something to enhance your tan time while protecting those tats is most important for you, which is why Australian Gold’s JWOWW ONE and DONE Intensifier is your best bet.
It doesn’t have bronzers so you won’t wind up with stains all over your hands. With a decent smell, this tyrosine-fueled formula helps your skin take on a beautiful tan. The other nourishing ingredients include shea butter, vitamins, beeswax, and raspberry to give tattooed skin what it needs to get an even tan and soft skin without sun and without fading ink. While it does give great results, it is on the expensive side of things.
For a more natural look, this might be right up your alley. No streaks, blotches, or imperfections…simply beautifully tanned skin through a 100% natural DHA self-tan treatment with plenty of nourishing compounds to reveal your best skin. It’s vegan and cruelty-free too.
The tone is golden and glowing, not orange and pumpkin-like. It has a wonderful lightweight mousse texture that gives you a bronze glow in an instant, dries fast, and is done in just 2 hours. A nice bonus is that this brand smells really tropical and lovely. It’s easy to fantasize about vacations to far off lands with foamy cocktails and nothing but the crash of waves on the shore to disturb you.
There’s no transfer, no orange, and no fuss in applying this. With a moderate price, it’s not the most expensive though there are cheaper options. But if you want the kind of tan people think you got lounging on the beaches of Miami, get this.
Bombshell nourishes skin with CoQ10, white tea extract, and soy while giving an intense sizzle for your best tanning bed tan. It’s a radiant bronzer that smells fruity and fresh in the most pleasant of ways.
My friend Tanya is a serial tanning bed haunter. This is what she uses. She loves the tinge lotions and that it doesn’t leave a gross smell behind. With just one use, she says the color is perfect. “I really loved that I got to my desired level of tan immediately. It was instant gratification, and people thought I’d been on vacation somewhere exotic,” she told me. She did say it’s a little expensive for the size but she loves it.
Take DHA to the next level with this bronzer that really kicks butt all across the board. It’s on the pricey side, but the texture is really divine. Boasting collagen-boosting ingredients plus charcoal extract to keep skin from getting oily as it detoxifies, skin is left looking even better than before.
The funky-shaped bottle is really cool too. With tattoo and color-fade protection, you can safely use it with tattoos. While it’s a great formula, take care when applying it because it will stain your hands. Transfer is a slight problem, so be careful!
Australian Gold is a great brand that delivers on dark tans. This one now adds a bronzer to the mix along with nourishing Australian oils, vitamins, and skin-hydrating complexes that give skin a gorgeous glow.
For indoor or outdoor use, it’s a multi-tasking accelerator with a tropical coconut scent at a very decent price. What I love is that it’s easy to build a solid base tan while wearing this. And with the bronzer and accelerator what it does is deepen the tan so you brown rather than burn. It’s really great stuff that works well at the pool and in the tanning salon for a tan you can count on.
How about a Hawaiian tan? This formula will absolutely give you that back-from-Maui island tan glow. Designed for tanning beds and formulated with ingredients that won’t damage the acrylic, skin is left soft, supple, and smooth. The ingredients come from Hawaii with Kona coffee extract and a medley of vitamins to help your skin improve too.
You can use it outside with sunscreen too and even splash and play. The water resistant formula helps keep you covered. What a gorgeous fragrance on this too…if you’re expecting another tropical aroma, you’ll be bowled over but in a good way. It has a smell like fresh-baked cookies.
There’s no streaking, no staining, no weirdness to it at all. With a great price and results that look tan and not even slightly orange, it’s definitely one you’ll love.
Another tattoo-protecting option comes from Ed Hardy. With a formula that protects your tattoos from fading while giving you bright results, it contains a tyrosine blend and bronzer to kick in melanin formation and speed up the tanning process. Nourishing coconut products nourish while deliver a splendidly sweet coconut fragrance.
This formula is innovative with its ultra-darkening skin hydrating intensifier to deepen your tan without using bronzing agents. Neat! Because it smells so nice and the texture is so lovely, you don’t have to feel like you stink of tan when you go somewhere after the tanning salon. Great price too, so it’s definitely something tanning-booth babes gotta get.
This is only for those of you who want the deepest darkest tan. Millennium Tanning gives you its unique 50X Auto Darkening Tan Technology for extra dark results. The formula uses silicone too which gives skin a silky and smooth look and feel.
The fragrance is fresh like laundry and it is easy to apply for streak-free tanning. The bronzing agent spreads easily so it comes it looking natural and not like, well, like you smeared your tan on while wearing a blindfold. With a moderate price, you may find you like this option. It does give a nice glow but it can get really deep and dark. That’s a great look but if your goal is to simply get sun-kissed, it might be too deep.
Another Australian Gold product, this one contains tea tree oil and a bunch of vitamins and other natural oils to support skin with moisturization and good health. The heavenly smell evokes the sea breeze and moments running down the shore with a coconut, vanilla, and orange delight buzzing in the air.
The tan comes out natural with a nice bronze look whether you use it in the sun or in tanning beds. At this great price, you get a speedy tan that looks completely legit. It’s better if you use it a few times a week, but even for a quick tan, you’ll be pleased.
I haven’t used this but my friend Trinity says it’s amazing. She says the smell is so nice, a mix of coconut and brown sugar but without being cloyingly sweet. She also told me you will look nice and sun-kissed after one tanning session.
Keep using it and she swears you will get a deep color. The best part, according to Trinity is that while it has a bronzer, there’s zero transfer drama at all. “My skin is super tan and so incredibly soft to the touch thanks to this stuff,” she told me. “People ask me all the time if I’ve just been vacationing in the islands because my tan makes me look like all I do is sip cocktails on the beach every day.”
For a tingle option, Ed Hardy has you covered with something that will get you the tan you desire will keeping tats safe from fading. A great smell awaits and the price is a steal for anyone loving those tanning beds. Dry skin types will love it most as it nourishes deep down.
However, due to the tingle action, the sensation can be a bit much for some. Try it on your body first before you use it on your face. It gets you to a good tan faster though with this particular brand, I recommend taking a cool shower after you finish tanning. Warm or hot water has the power to reactivate it which could make you uncomfortable or look burnt.
This DHA-free bronzer has what you need to look like, as the name suggests, you’ve been somewhere on a beach. With streak-free and stain-free results, it’s a great lotion for sun worshippers and indoor tanning bed freaks alike.
The formula is made for anti-aging concerns too so if you want to look tanned and vibrant without doing damage to your skin, the anti-aging peptides in the formula will help smooth lines and wrinkles over. Along with coconut and walnut oil, your skin will take on a soft and hydrated appearance.
The smell is wonderful and it comes at a decent price. You get a smooth, even-looking tan that leaves skin looking better and better with every use.
Conclusion on choosing the best indoor tanning lotion
That’s a LOT of tanning lotions for you to check out. Many of these are for indoor tanning as you may have noticed though if you don’t want to use a tanning bed, the sunless tanners are the best way to go about it. They’ve come a long way and don’t have that smell anymore. If you like having a choice of going to the tanning beds or sitting outside, choose one of the formulas that works for both. Regardless of how you like to tan, you’ll find just what you’re looking for right here to keep up your favorite type of glow all year long.