There’s nothing quite like sitting in the sun or going to a salon to give your skin a nice beautiful tan – it can drastically change your appearance and give you a real confidence boost after all.
Unfortunately, many sit out in the sun or visit salons only to leave disappointed with the results.
This is why it’s important to choose the best oils on the market, which can be quite a challenge considering there are hundreds of products to choose from. As always, we have waded through the extensive list to bring to you just the top 6 – no chance of dry skin, breakouts, an uneven tan, or sunburn here.
We have also included a handy buying guide to give you all the information you need to know to make the right choice, particularly if you’re new to tanning.
So without further ado we bring to you the best tanning lotions on the market, starting with an easy to read table for a quick comparison between all of our picks.
- 1 Tanning Oil Comparison Table
- 2 Tanning Oil Reviews
- 2.1 Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion
- 2.2 Australian Gold Cheeky Brown Tanning Lotion
- 2.3 Millenium Tanning New Solid Black Bronzer Tanning Bed Lotion
- 2.4 Maui Island Secret Browning Formula
- 2.5 Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator Spray
- 2.6 Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Sun Care Moisturizing Oil
- 3 Tanning Oil Buyers Guide
Tanning Oil Comparison Table
Tanning Oil Reviews
Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion
The first thing to mention about this tanning lotion from Ed Hardy is that it smells absolutely gorgeous without being too overpowering. I mean, who doesn’t love the smell of coconut or vanilla?
The lotion consists of a formulation of coconut oil and coconut milk so you just know that it is very moisturizing with the added benefit of not being sticky or greasy. The addition of other ingredients such as cocoa seed butter, safflower seed oil, aloe vera juice, among many others all play their part too of course. We’d say that that the consistency of the lotion is thin-medium and manages to rub into your skin very well.
Without getting too technical (there’s a melactiva-melanin synthesizer, quad tyrosine blend and melanobronze) the formulation does an impressive job of stimulating and increasing melanin, which is clearly very important if you want a faster tan. Perhaps best of all, however, is that the results are long lasting.
It’s also worth noting that if you have tattoos then you’ve found your tanning lotion of choice. The formulation contains a tattoo color fade protector that effectively works to both protect your tattoos and also brighten them.
If you have cellulite then there is another reason to buy this lotion from Ed Hardy, as it manages to reduce the appearance of cellulite while also promoting firmness.
Australian Gold Cheeky Brown Tanning Lotion
Australian Gold is one of the top brands when it comes to tanning lotion, and if the company keeps on releasing products as good as this Cheeky Brown lotion it will remain to be so for some time.
While the lotion is loved by people of all skin tones, it is really the fair skinned that have almost unanimously agreed that this is the lotion for them. This is because it gives fair skinned people a wonderful tan where other lotions have failed – either in terms of getting burned or just looking fake (Cheeky Brown contains a bronzer).
Due to the inclusion of native Australian oils, in addition to Vitamins A and E the lotion goes on smoothly, hydrating your skin in the process while also drying quite quickly. The cocoa smell is also pretty great too.
It’s best to see Cheeky Brown as a lotion that is able to give your tanning efforts a head start. Due to its natural bronzer immediate results are obtained, lasting for 2 days. Once you have got your base down, application of the lotion continues to enhance your tan, regardless of whether you’re tanning indoors or outdoors.
Millenium Tanning New Solid Black Bronzer Tanning Bed Lotion
The first thing that you will notice about this tanning bed lotion from Millenium Tanning is that it has a very high darkening ability – 100x in fact. This is great if you’re looking for a deep, dark tan in as little time as possible and/or want to avoid using tanning beds too often while still achieving an envious tan.
This top rated tanning oil has a very nice consistency that spreads on your skin easily and just as importantly evenly, without leaving any greasy residue or streaks behind. It also dries quite quickly, which is a real plus, particularly as the lotion is designed to be used indoors so fast drying is a must at any salon.
The scent is pleasant enough, with the dominant fragrance coming through as an orchid type scent while avoiding the ghastly smell that low quality lotions are renown for.
Many natural ingredients are included, such as walnut, pecan seed oil, oleraca fruit oil, and banana fruit oil to name just a few. The most important ingredients, however, that give your skin that beautiful glow include a silicone bronzer and tan enhancer that consists of many ingredients.
Maui Island Secret Browning Formula
The Maui Island Secret Browning Formula is best used for outdoor tanning, as it is just a bit too greasy for indoor tanning beds, and salons will likely complain about the stains it leaves behind.
So is this oil really a good choice for outdoor tanning? The answer is 100% yes.
The oil comes packed with lots of natural ingredients, including Vitmains A, E and C, Green Tea Extract, Macadamia Nut Oil, and uniquely Kukui Nut Oil. All this results in a great smelling oil that is also highly moisturizing and nourishing. Be warned, however, that as already mentioned the oil is quite greasy so keep that in mind when planning your tanning sessions.
Tanning performance is excellent. Many report that they are able to look a shade or two darker in as little as 20 minutes. This may not hold true for everyone, but either way the oil definitely darkens you faster than many comparably priced tanning oils. Best of all, however, is how your tan is long lasting – up to several weeks in fact.
Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator Spray
Another excellent choice from Australian Gold that makes the list of best tanning oils is the company’s Accelerator Spray. In fact, this is Australian Gold’s most popular product (particularly for indoor tanning), so you know just how effective it is.
Like many of the company’s products, this Tanning Accelerator Spray contains many natural oils native to Australia, along with the key A and E Vitamins, and the much appreciated Biosine Complex and Quinoa Extract that work to protect your skin (limits cellular damage from UV) while acting as a powerful antioxidant.
The oil has an orange dreamsicle type smell that many seem to love. It goes on your skin both evenly and smoothly, drying quickly, and can certainly be said not to be greasy. There is also no chance of orange streaks appearing on your skin, as there is no bronzer.
The results of this Tanning Accelerator Spray from Australian Gold speaks for itself. Achieving a tan is definitely accelerated, perhaps not so much as more powerful oils, but the benefit is that your tan will last longer.
Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Sun Care Moisturizing Oil
The last choice on our list is from Hawaiian Tropic. It is an oil that features a delightful natural, coconut fragrance and many agreeable ingredients. Such ingredients include a blend of rich oils, exotic island botanicals, and the all-important Vitamins A, C and E antioxidants.
The oil goes onto your skin smoothly and evenly while also being very moisturizing for those long tanning sessions. Keep in mind, however, that the oil is also quite greasy so can be a little difficult to wash off at times.
The results are what you would expect from a Hawaiian Tropic product – 30-45 minutes after sitting in the sun you will see a noticeable difference in your skin tone.
Tanning Oil Buyers Guide
What is Tanning Oil?
Let’s start with the absolute basics with this buyers guide.
What is tanning oil?
Tanning oil is simply a product that is applied to your skin to enhance tanning to give you a faster, deeper tan. However, you should keep in mind that oils tend not to offer any protection against ultraviolet rays, although there are always exceptions, as you can purchase oils that come with varying degrees of SPF.
Difference between Tanning Oil and Sunscreen
As just mentioned, tanning oil doesn’t usually feature SPF ratings, and even if it does it tends to be low – typically between 2 and 8.
Sunscreen, on the other hand, provides protection against the sun’s rays while also giving your skin a chance to tan, albeit at a much, much slower rate, which is why many opt to use oil with no protection. It’s not as if those who use oil spend all day in the sun or under a tanning bed though. So when you’re not exposed to UV rays for too long it isn’t too big of a deal to go without protection, although it’s still not something we would recommend.
Many people though, particularly those of us who are pale, tend to use sunscreen in combination with oil as our skin just can’t handle no protection at all without getting sunburn.
What SPF is Available for Tanning Oil?
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) varies wildly. You can purchase a product with a SPF as low as 2 and as high as 150. Keep in mind, however, that once you get beyond a lotion with a SPF of 45 it is just marketing. A SPF 45 lotion is able to block 98% of rays, and no lotion is able to offer 100% protection.
Considering you’re reading an article about the best tanning lotions it is unlikely that this will be of much interest you. But if you want to protect your kids or elderly people who aren’t concerned with obtaining a tan then be sure to purchase a lotion that offers a high amount of protection.
The AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) recommends a SPF of 30 or higher, whereas the FDA recommends a minimum SPF of 15. Therefore, it’s better to be on the safe side if you’re looking for protection for others.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Tanning
It’s important to remember that indoor and outdoor tanning lotions are designed differently and it is unlikely that you will get the desired effect if you use an indoor lotion outdoors and vice versa. More importantly, there is the safety aspect to consider. Lotions designed for outdoor tanning aim to block both UVA and UAB rays whereas the same doesn’t hold true for indoor tanning. Having said that, many products are suitable for both indoors and outdoors use.
There’s also something else to take into account – many salon owners will complain if you use an oil that damages their sunbeds and might not even allow you to use their facilities unless you purchase one of their overpriced bottles because of this.
Factors to Take Into Account
Salons are notorious for overcharging customers. Fortunately, buying online results in getting much more value for your money. You should also keep in mind that the most expensive tanning lotions don’t necessarily mean that they are any better than mid-priced lotions. Very cheap lotions, on the other hand, should be avoided at all costs – not only because they tend not to be very effective and make you look worse, but also because they can do damage to your skin.
Everyone has their own preference when it comes to SPF. Some people are comfortable using a lotion that has no SPF, whereas others wouldn’t dream of sitting out in the sun without any protection. It comes down to how easily you tan/burn and how safe you want to be when obtaining a tan. As mentioned, many opt to use sunscreen and oil in combination.
Size of the Bottle
As a very general rule the larger the bottle the better the value for money. However, there are also a couple of exceptions. For example, a smaller bottle that is highly concentrated may be better to buy than a larger bottle that requires a lot of oil or lotion to completely cover your skin. If you’re going on holiday and think that you will be unable to find the same brand in the shops, it’s a good idea to purchase a bigger bottle or a couple of bottles to ensure that you don’t run out.
The best tanning oils tend to come in spray-on bottles and squirt bottles. However, there is also something else to consider. Dry oils are also available, which simply means that they won’t leave any residue behind on your skin, which can definitely come in handy if you want to avoid that oily feeling on your skin after usage for whatever reason, such as when tanning indoors.