best tanning lotion

10 Best Tanning Lotion (2024): Comparison, Reviews & Buying Guide

In the quest for that perfect summer glow, the choice of the best tanning lotion can make all the difference. With many options available, it can be overwhelming to select the one that suits your skin type and tanning goals. 

Whether you’re looking for a deep, dark tan, a gentle sun-kissed glow, or something in between, the right lotion can enhance your tanning experience significantly. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ve rounded up the 10 best tanning lotions that stand out in the market for their effectiveness, skin-nourishing properties, and ability to deliver a beautifully even tan. From luxurious, hydrating formulas to quick-drying, streak-free options, we’ve got you covered. 

Let’s dive in to discover the top tanning lotions that will help you achieve your ideal bronze look safely and effortlessly.

What is The Best Tanning Lotion?

When searching for the best tanning lotion for achieving a beautiful bronze glow, it’s important to consider your specific tanning goals and needs. Knowing your skin type and tone and whether you want immediate color or gradual color development is key to finding the ideal product. 

I’ve researched and reviewed numerous self-tanners and tanning lotions to determine the top 10 highest rated and most effective formulations on the market this year. From nourishing bronzers to streak-free applicators, you’ll discover options for both indoor tanning beds and outdoor tanning. 

These leading tanning lotions checked all the boxes when it came to quality ingredients that moisturize skin, provide flawless color, and give you summer-ready color in no time. Keep reading for the full countdown of top tanning lotions for sun-kissed radiance.

1. Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion

The Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion stands out as a highly regarded choice for tanning enthusiasts. This lotion is praised for its thick and silky texture, which applies smoothly without leaving any greasy residue. 

Users are particularly fond of its scent, describing it as very pleasant with only a minimal after-tan odor. In terms of effectiveness, many have reported achieving a natural-looking tan, and the lotion is also gentle enough to be used on the face without causing breakouts. 

While the lotion itself receives high marks, there are some criticisms regarding the packaging, specifically the secondary clear cap that tends to break or fall off easily. Despite this minor issue, customers consider it a great value, especially when compared to more expensive options available in specialty stores. 

It’s also well-suited for those with sensitive skin, as there have been no reports of adverse reactions. Overall, the Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion is an excellent choice for anyone seeking a quality tanning product that offers a natural look, a delightful scent, and good value for money. 

2. Maui Babe Browning Lotion

Maui Babe Browning Lotion has garnered high praise for its effectiveness in achieving a deep, natural tan. This lotion is especially potent for those with an existing base tan, though it requires careful use to avoid burning, particularly for lighter skin tones. 

A standout feature of this lotion is its unique scent, reminiscent of coffee or teriyaki sauce, which many users find pleasantly unusual for a tanning product. Its texture is notably oily and moisturizing, a double-edged sword as it hydrates the skin effectively but can leave marks on clothing and doesn’t fully absorb into the skin. 

The inclusion of natural ingredients like aloe vera, Kona coffee plant extract, and macadamia nut oil is a significant plus, offering nourishment and hydration to the skin. The lotion is easy to apply and doesn’t leave behind a greasy residue, enhancing natural skin tones without streaking or turning the skin orange. 

Overall, Maui Babe Browning Lotion is a top choice for those looking to deepen their tan, combining effectiveness with natural ingredients. Its unique scent and texture are minor considerations against its proven results in achieving a beautiful, sun-kissed glow.

3. Tan Physics True Color Sunless Self Tanner Tanning Lotion

Tan Physics True Color Sunless Self Tanner Tanning Lotion is highly regarded in the self-tanning market, celebrated for its ability to deliver a natural, streak-free tan. Users consistently praise its effectiveness, noting that it avoids the common pitfalls of yellow or orange hues often associated with self-tanners. 

The lotion is user-friendly, though it’s important to wash hands immediately after application to prevent staining. Some have even found success using disposable gloves for a more even application. 

A significant advantage of this product is its lack of a strong or offensive scent, a frequent issue with many tanning products. In terms of texture and quality, the lotion is fast-acting, offering quick and reliable results. 

While it excels in providing a quality tan, there is a minor drawback of the lotion transferring onto clothing and bed sheets. However, users have found that these stains are easily washable. The product’s longevity is another highlight, with many customers remaining loyal to it for years, underscoring its consistent performance. 

Overall, Tan Physics True Color Sunless Self Tanner is an excellent choice for those seeking a natural-looking tan without sun exposure. Its ease of use, effectiveness, and quality results make it a top contender in the self-tanning arena, despite the slight issue of fabric staining. 

4. Tanning Paradise Black Coconut Love Tanning Lotion

Tanning Paradise Black Coconut Love Tanning Lotion has earned significant praise for its combination of tanning efficacy and skin-friendly ingredients. Contrary to some expectations, the lotion’s scent leans more towards a blend of vanilla and cocoa butter rather than coconut, a twist that many users find pleasantly surprising and not too overpowering. 

The lotion stands out for its hydrating properties, offering a comfortable, non-greasy feel that makes it suitable for extended wear. Users commend its ability to accelerate the tanning process, achieving a glowing tan that rivals more expensive salon products. 

Notably, it includes ingredients that protect tattoos, preserving the color and detail of body art during tanning sessions. Additionally, its age-defying properties make it an attractive option for those concerned about the impact of tanning on skin aging. The lotion is also perceived as offering great value for money, especially when compared to higher-priced alternatives. 

Overall, Tanning Paradise Black Coconut Love Tanning Lotion is an excellent choice for anyone seeking a hydrating, effective tanning lotion with a unique and pleasant scent. Its added benefits of tattoo protection and age-defying ingredients further enhance its appeal, making it a versatile product for a broad spectrum of tanning enthusiasts.

5. Jergens Natural Glow +FIRMING Sunless Tanning Lotion

Jergens Natural Glow +FIRMING Self Tanner stands out in the self-tanning market, especially for its ability to deliver a natural-looking tan alongside skin firming benefits. Users with very fair skin praise the product for imparting a subtle, golden glow, avoiding the common pitfalls of orange or overly dark tans. 

The gradual nature of the tanning effect allows for a controlled, buildable color, making it ideal for beginners or those who prefer a cautious approach to self-tanning. Beyond tanning, the lotion doubles as a moisturizer, offering hydration that is particularly beneficial for dry skin. It also targets skin firming and cellulite reduction, adding to its appeal. 

The pleasant scent of the lotion is a notable advantage, as many self-tanners are known for their strong or unpleasant odors. Easy to apply, the lotion dries relatively quickly, which is convenient for those who don’t want to wait long before dressing. 

Users emphasize the importance of proper skin preparation, such as exfoliation, to achieve the best results. Given its dual functionality as a tanner and moisturizer, along with its firming properties, the product is considered to be a good value for its price. 

Overall, Jergens Natural Glow +FIRMING Self Tanner is an excellent choice for anyone seeking a natural, gradual tan, while also looking for the added benefits of skin hydration and firming, particularly suitable for fair to medium skin tones.

6. Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator Lotion with Bronzer

The Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator Lotion with Bronzer is well-received by users for its effective tanning capabilities and ease of application. Although marketed with a coconut scent, several users have noted that it actually possesses a citrus aroma, leading to mixed reactions. 

Some appreciate the citrus scent, while others miss the expected coconut fragrance. The lotion’s bronzer component is a highlight for those seeking immediate tanning results, but it does require careful handling to avoid orange palms, a common issue if not washed off properly. 

Users commend the lotion for its smooth texture, making it easy to apply evenly for a consistent tan. However, attention to detail during application is crucial to prevent darker spots caused by excess lotion. In terms of value, the package offers two bottles at a reasonable price, which many find economical, especially given the product’s tanning effectiveness. 

Overall, this tanning lotion pack is a solid choice for those looking for a natural-looking tan with the convenience of a bronzer. The scent may vary from expectations, but the product’s performance and affordability make it a popular option among tanning enthusiasts.

7. Snooki Ultra Dark 70X Black Bronzer

Snooki Ultra Dark 70X Black Bronzer is highly regarded for its effective tanning and skin firming properties, earning positive reviews from users. The lotion is noted for its pleasant scent, which stands out as neither too fruity nor tropical, a welcome change from the often overpowering odors of typical tanning lotions. 

Its thick consistency, while a bit challenging to squeeze out of the bottle, doesn’t detract from its effectiveness. Users do need to rub it in vigorously for even application, but the effort pays off with excellent tanning results. The lotion enhances existing tans, providing a natural color without any orange tint or streaking. 

Beyond just tanning, it is also appreciated for its skin firming and toning benefits, making it a hit among users with sensitive skin who find it gentle and non-irritating. Considering its salon-quality results, the product is seen as a good investment, offering professional tanning effects without the high price tag. 

Overall, Supre – Snooki Ultra Dark 70X Black Bronzer is a top choice for those looking for a quality tanning lotion that not only delivers a great tan but also cares for the skin, all with a pleasant scent and at a reasonable price.

8. Somewhere on a Beach Indoor Outdoor Instant Dark Tanning Lotion

Somewhere on a Beach Tanning Lotion is highly acclaimed for its effective tanning results and pleasant user experience. Users are particularly fond of its tropical scent, which evokes a beach-like atmosphere and avoids the typical ‘burnt skin’ smell often associated with tanning lotions. 

The bronzer component is praised for providing a natural-looking tan, effectively enhancing color without leaving an orange hue, and is especially good at tanning harder-to-tan areas like legs. The lotion’s texture is another highlight; it’s light and silky smooth, allowing for easy application without any streaking or staining, while also leaving the skin feeling moisturized. 

A unique feature of this lotion is the subtle shimmer it contains, adding a sparkle to the skin that enhances the overall tanning effect and gives a radiant appearance. In terms of value, many users consider this lotion a great deal, particularly when compared to the prices at tanning salons, making it an affordable option for the quality it delivers. 

Overall, Somewhere on a Beach tanning lotion is an excellent choice for those seeking an effective, pleasant-scented bronzer with moisturizing properties, suitable for both indoor and outdoor tanning. Its ability to provide a natural-looking tan with a subtle shimmer, combined with its affordability, makes it a popular choice among tanning enthusiasts. 

9. Millennium Solid Black 100X Dark Tanning Lotion

Millennium Tanning Products’ Dark Tanning Lotion 100x is highly praised for its effective tanning capabilities and overall quality. Users are particularly fond of its pleasant scent, which strikes a perfect balance without being too fruity or overpowering. 

The lotion’s texture is another highlight; it’s light and silky, absorbing quickly into the skin without leaving any greasy residue. This makes it comfortable for users who want to avoid the oily feel that some tanning lotions can leave. In terms of tanning results, the lotion is highly effective, with many users reporting a noticeable darkening of their skin after just one use. 

It works exceptionally well for those who already have a base tan, enhancing it further without causing any streaking or staining. The bronzing effect of the lotion is appreciated for its subtlety, adding a natural-looking tan without the risk of turning the skin orange. 

Additionally, the lotion is noted for its moisturizing properties, leaving the skin feeling hydrated and smooth after use. When it comes to value for money, many users consider this lotion a great deal, especially in comparison to similar, higher-priced products available in tanning salons. 

Overall, Millennium Tanning Products’ Dark Tanning Lotion 100x is an excellent choice for anyone looking for an effective, pleasantly scented tanning lotion that offers both a natural-looking tan and moisturizing benefits, all at a reasonable price. 

10. Bondi Sands PURE Gradual Tanning Lotion

Bondi Sands PURE Gradual Tanning Lotion, enriched with Hyaluronic Acid, has garnered positive attention for its ability to provide a natural, streak-free tan without leaving an orange tint. Users appreciate its gradual tanning effect, which delivers a subtle, sun-kissed glow, making it ideal for those seeking a natural look. 

The lotion is also noted for its moisturizing properties, particularly beneficial for fair-skinned individuals and seniors who are sensitive to the sun. While it is fragrance-free, some users have detected a typical “tanning lotion” smell, but it’s generally not considered overpowering. 

The application process is straightforward, with the lotion blending well and covering evenly, making it effective for maintaining a tan without streakiness. It’s also well-tolerated by users with sensitive skin, though careful application is advised to avoid splotches. Some users have reported seeing immediate results, with a noticeable color change the morning after application. 

Overall, Bondi Sands PURE Gradual Tanning Lotion is highly recommended for those looking for a gradual tanner that hydrates the skin and provides a natural-looking tan. Its suitability for sensitive skin and the added benefits of Hyaluronic Acid make it a versatile and appealing choice for a broad spectrum of users.

What To Consider When Choosing the Best Tanning Lotion?

Achieving the perfect tan often hinges on selecting the right tanning lotion. These lotions are designed not only to enhance the tanning process but also to protect the skin and ensure an even, lasting tan. With numerous options available, it’s important to know what to look for to make the best choice.

Understanding Your Skin Type

Your lotion choice should align with your skin’s sensitivity and natural tone. Those with sensitive skin should opt for hypoallergenic formulas, while the choice between gradual or intense tanning lotions should be based on your skin tone.

Types of Tanning Lotions

Bronzers offer immediate color and are great for quick results, while accelerators are ideal for beginners seeking a gradual tan. Tingle lotions, which increase blood flow to the skin, are better suited for experienced tanners without sensitive skin.

Ingredients Matter

Key ingredients like aloe vera and coconut oil keep the skin hydrated, essential for a smooth tan. The level of DHA, which affects tan intensity, should also be considered. Natural ingredients are generally gentler, but if opting for chemical-based lotions, ensure they are safe and approved.

SPF and Sun Protection

For outdoor tanning, a lotion with SPF is crucial to protect against harmful UV rays, balancing safety with tanning effectiveness.

Additional Features

Choose a lotion with a pleasant scent or go fragrance-free if sensitive. Water-resistant lotions are ideal for swimming, ensuring your tan remains intact.

Application and Aftercare

Opt for lotions that spread evenly and don’t leave streaks. Lotions with color guides can be particularly helpful. Aftercare is crucial, so choose products that help maintain the tan and keep the skin moisturized.

Price and Brand Reputation

Prices vary, and while expensive doesn’t always mean better, investing in a quality product often yields better results. Researching brands and reading reviews can provide insights into the effectiveness and safety of their products.

Tanning Lotion FAQ

1. How Does Tanning Lotion Work?

Tanning lotions work by increasing melanin production in the skin, which is responsible for the tanning effect. They often contain ingredients like bronzers or accelerators that speed up the tanning process and provide immediate color.

2. Can Tanning Lotion Replace Sunscreen?

No, tanning lotions are not a substitute for sunscreen. Many tanning lotions do not contain sufficient SPF to protect against UV rays. It’s important to use a separate sunscreen for adequate protection.

3. How Often Should I Apply Tanning Lotion?

This depends on the type of lotion and your tanning routine. For outdoor tanning, apply it before sun exposure and reapply as needed, especially after swimming or sweating. For indoor tanning, apply it right before you use the tanning bed.

4. Is Tanning Lotion Safe for All Skin Types?

Most tanning lotions are safe, but it’s important to choose a product that suits your skin type, especially if you have sensitive skin. Look for hypoallergenic or dermatologist-tested products if you have skin concerns.

5. Can Tanning Lotion Expire?

Yes, like most cosmetic products, tanning lotions have an expiration date. Using expired products can lead to reduced effectiveness and potential skin irritation.

6. How Do I Avoid Streaks When Using Tanning Lotion?

For an even application, exfoliate your skin before applying the lotion. Apply the lotion in a circular motion and make sure to cover all areas evenly. Wash your hands immediately after application to avoid staining.

7. Can I Use Tanning Lotion on My Face?

Some tanning lotions are suitable for facial use, but it’s always best to check the label. If you have sensitive facial skin, look for lotions specifically formulated for the face.

8. Will Tanning Lotion Stain My Clothes?

Some tanning lotions, especially those with bronzers, can stain clothing. Allow the lotion to fully absorb and dry before dressing, and consider wearing dark or older clothes after application.

9. How Long Does It Take for Tanning Lotion to Work?

The time it takes for a tanning lotion to work can vary. Some lotions offer immediate bronzing effects, while others that work by accelerating the natural tanning process may take several hours or days to show results.

10. Can I Use Tanning Lotion Outdoors and Indoors?

There are specific lotions for outdoor and indoor tanning. Outdoor tanning lotions often contain SPF, while indoor lotions are formulated to be safe for use in tanning beds. Check the product label to ensure it’s suitable for your intended use.

11. Does Tanning Lotion Help Prevent Sunburn?

Tanning lotion alone does not prevent sunburn. Even with tanning lotion, it’s important to use sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburn and UV damage.


In conclusion, our guide to the 10 best tanning lotions aims to streamline your search for the perfect product. Whether your priority is a deep bronze, a light glow, or a formula suitable for sensitive skin, there’s an option for everyone. It’s essential to choose a lotion that aligns with your skin type and tanning objectives, considering factors like moisturizing properties, drying time, and intensity of the tan.

Remember, the health of your skin is important. Opt for lotions enriched with nourishing ingredients and ensure you use adequate sun protection when necessary. Our curated list offers a diverse range of lotions, each with unique benefits, to suit various preferences and needs. With this guide, you’re equipped to make an informed choice and achieve that beautiful, bronzed look safely and effectively. Happy tanning!

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