Tanning is a huge industry, and like any industry of its size you’re going to be looking at a ton of products, with all of them promising to be the best. We took the time to send out and compare results on dozens of products designed for use with tanning beds, making sure to bring the best indoor tanning lotions to the front.
If you’re looking for that sun-kissed, bronze look without long hours of laying outside then we recommend you snatch up Millennium Tanning Paint It Black 50X. It’s proved itself time and time again in the field, and it’s got a great action at a reasonable price.
There are a lot of good ones out there though, so let’s dive right in and we’ll show you five of our favorites and then help you make sure you approach indoor tanning safely in order to ensure you’ve got the look you want with as little damage as possible.
Millenium Tanning Paint It Black 50X is the best of the best, great for beginners and advanced tanners alike. It’s a bronzer, so you’ll see some immediate results, and it works great as an accelerator too. Essentially it’s the best tanning lotion for tanning beds as far as we’re concerned.
Top 5 Indoor Tanning Lotions
|Millennium Paint It Black 50X||Bronzer||5/5||Check Price|
|Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses||Accelerant||4.5/5||Check Price|
|Devoted Creations Trinity||Tingler||4/5||Check Price|
|Honey Dew Hemp Accelerator||Maximizer||4/5||Check Price|
|Australian Gold||Accelerant||3.5/5||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Indoor Tanning Lotion
Millennium Tanning Paint It Black 50X
Of all of the indoor tanning lotions we tested, Millenium’s Paint It Black 50X delivered the best and most consistent results for those looking to get started. It’s gentle and goes on the skin well, providing a rich, dark tone and it has a great, lasting scent.
It works great for beginners, and even some more advanced users have found that it keeps them with a smooth, deep tan that’s lasting. The bronzing action is nice, of course, but on top of that it’s also super moisturizing.
Our favorite thing, however, was that the bronzing leaves you a good shade of tanned with no hint of orange.
The bronzing action is quite strong, you’ll need to be careful with your hands and towels after using it to keep it from rubbing off on stuff. It’s a small price to pay, compared to how affordable the stuff is compared to some of the products on the market however.
Pros and Cons
- Bronzing lotion with a deep brown
- Accelerates the tanning process
- Smells awesome
- Great price for the value
- Tends to get on towels and stick on hands
- Some people get itchy using it
2. Runner Up for Best Indoor Tanning Lotion
Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion
Many people prefer natural products these days, even if they have to pay a premium, and this coconut-oil based lotion was our favorite of the lot. This one is strictly an accelerant, there’s no bronzing action going on here which many of our reviewers liked as well since it avoids streaks.
It’s also a great moisturizer overall and has one of the best textures we could find: not too thin and not too thick. It goes on smooth without any of the chunky mess which can sometimes be found with the wrong tanning lotions.
It smells great as well, the natural ingredients really seemed to work in its favor there. Of course, it’s not 100% natural, but there’s a good deal more of nature’s goodness in here than there is in many oils.
Most importantly, it works.
If you’re looking for the best accelerant on the market then you’ll find it right here. Ed Hardy has delivered with their Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion.
Pros and Cons
- Strictly a tanning accelerant
- Very hydrating
- Mostly natural ingredients
- Works great with sensitive skin
- No bronzing action
3. Best Indoor Tanning Lotion With Tingle
Devoted Creations Trinity XS
If you’re looking for a tingle lotion, then this is the best we found. This one is more mild than most, and we found that most people were easily able to tolerate it.
Tingle lotions are great for achieving a strong, deep tan due to the vasodilation which occurs. The problem is that only the toughest can stand the strongest ones. We only had a couple of our reviewers who decided this one was too rough on them however.
You don’t want to start with this lotion, but if you’ve already got a base tan in place it’s a great way to take it to the next level without being too hard on your skin.
If you’re looking for a tingle lotion which you can stand, but still delivers great results, then give this one a shot.
Pros and Cons
- Cosmetic bronzing action in addition to accelerant properties
- Maximizes your tan
- Under-the-skin vasodilation for a deeper tan
- Gentle tingle, but strong effects
- Not good for sensitive skin
- Rather expensive
4. Best Maximizer
Honey Dew Hemp Accelerator
Despite the name, this is actually a maximizer. With minimal hydrating properties, it’s designed to let you take your tan to the next level without having to deal with tingle.
Maximizers aren’t suitable for beginners, however, since they maximize the UV action contained within the tanning bed. Make sure you stay hydrated and use moisturizing lotions after using it.
Despite the inherent drawbacks of this type of lotion, however, you’ll be able to get an amazingly deep tan by utilizing it. You just need to understand whether it’s suitable for you.
For those it’s suitable for, maximizers are perfect. Even better, this one is cheap, has a nice smell, and goes on clear so you don’t have to worry about it rubbing off on towels or your hands.
If you’re in desperate need of a maximizer, then give Honey Dew Hemp Accelerator a shot. Just be aware it’s mis-named and not a great place to start if you’re just starting to get into indoor tanning.
Pros and Cons
- Super cheap
- A great way to get the most out of your tanning sessions
- Smells awesome
- Excellent value for those with a base tan in place
- Not suitable for beginners
- Not very moisturizing
5. Best Budget Indoor Tanning Lotion
Australian Gold Dark Tanning Exotic Oil Spray
If you’re looking to save some money for the salon, then this budget priced tanning lotion is just right for you. It’s not the best accelerant on the planet, but it’s good enough for you to achieve a nice and deep tan.
The best part is that it’s extremely moisturizing overall. There’s no mineral oil or other harmful ingredients and it just feels great on the skin as soon as it leaves the bottle.
It also has a little bit of bronzing action, just the right amount to change your shade with each session.
All of this is contained in a handy little spray bottle, which makes it super easy to apply as well. The unique distribution system is great for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time applying their lotion, just spray it over the body and work it in.
For those who need a cheaper option for tanning lotion, Australian Gold Dark Tanning is a great spray which can be a total game changer.
Pros and Cons
- Extremely cheap
- Easily applied from the spray bottle
- Bronzing action looks realistic
- Great smelling
- Not the best accelerant
- Disappears quickly on some people
What Are Indoor Tanning Lotions?
Tanning beds are quite popular these days, with many people getting in on the treatment. While most outdoor tanning lotions are designed primarily to protect the skin from burning, those which are going to be used indoors are designed to increase melanin production caused by the concentrated UV light within the pod.
There are a lot of different types of tanning lotions, each designed for a specific skin-type and helping you at a certain stage of the tanning process.
Whether you’re pale or already a deep olive shade, however, the real thing you need to make sure of is the type.
What Types of Tanning Lotion Are Available?
Before you even begin looking at lotions, you need to decide which type of product you’re aiming for. There are several different types of indoor tanning lotion.
Bronzers and Accelerants
If you’re a complete noob to the sunbed, then you’ll need a stage one product. These are for acquiring that “base” layer of darkness which can then be deepened if you so choose.
Your choices are going to be mainly between bronzing lotions and accelerating lotions.
Bronzers add color when you apply them, in addition to boosting melanin content. Many people use them in the beginning in order to let their skin “catch up” as time goes on since they very rarely streak if you get a good one.
Accelerators are a great choice for a first tanning lotion. They’re designed entirely to boost melanin production in the skin and often contain a ton of moisturizing ingredients in order to ensure that your skin stays dry in the early stages of acquiring a tan. They’re a great way to go if you want to measure your progress the whole way without any artificial colors.
While many people choose to stop at stages where these are the only necessary lotions, there are a couple of other types if you’re planning on taking things further.
Maximizers are designed for advanced users, or at least those who already have a base level tan in place.
These typically have less moisturizers as well, so regular moisturization of the skin is still going to be a major concern. They’re not a bad way to get a really deep and rich tan, however, particularly if you already have a good base tan going for you.
For those looking for a really dark and deep tan, these lotions are great. They’re not suitable for all skin types, however, and they can result in redness if used unwisely. They’re made to bring oxygen to the surface of the skin as much as possible by increasing microcirculation.
Before you commit to using one, you should always test a patch on your skin to make sure you can handle the sensation. If you purchase something too harsh for your skin, then you’re not going to have a good time.
Facial Tanning Lotions
Most indoor tanning lotions aren’t made to be used on your face. You can either purchase a specially made product or use a moderate SPF sunscreen in order to protect the delicate face and neck areas from premature aging.
These are really important to use, the wrinkled look achieved by many tanners is due to their neglect of this crucial factor in indoor tanning.
How Tanning Beds Work
Indoor tanning and your regular sunbathing work roughly the same way: exposure to UV radiation increases the amount of melanin available in the skin and darkens it over time.
Tanning beds became popular as a way to get a full and even tan, since often outdoor tanning occurs in a patchy way unless one is willing to lie in the sun for hours at a stretch. In general, they provide a much more consistent exposure, since it doesn’t vary based on weather and one can encompass their whole body using a tanning bed.
The person tanning then sets a timer, or one is set for them, and all that’s left is to lie down and let the tanning bed do its work.
Melanogenesis is well understood, but to get the best results it’s important to make sure that you know what you’re doing. It’s not quite as simple as lathering on a bronzer and hopping in then hoping for the best.
How Does the Tanning Process Work?
Ultraviolet radiation comes in a few different forms, the truth is that it’s just energy which is outside of the visible spectrum on the high end of things.
- UVA(315-400nm) causes tanning. It’s commonly given off by black lights and a large portion of it comes in through the atmosphere from the sun as well.
- UVB(280 to 315nm) causes most of the damage of a sun burn. Even worse, when combined with UVA it causes even more damage.
- UVC(100 to 280nm) is pretty inconsequential to humans on the Earth’s surface since it gets filtered out by the atmosphere.
Ultraviolt radiation is the entire reason for tanning.
In most people with fair skin, UVA radiation causes the production of melanocyte-stimulating hormone(MSH). This creates skin pigmentation, which creates the brown or bronze look of a person who’s tanned.
The production of melanin takes a bit of time, which is why you don’t just automatically tan the first time you hit the beach or jump in a tanning bed. Instead, your skin builds up over time in order to achieve a protective level for the amount of light that’s hitting you.
It’s not an entirely harmless process, either, but that’s never deterred people from seeking to acquire a tan in the past and it’s unlikely to do so anytime soon.
How to Get the Most Out of a Tanning Bed
Getting the most out of your tanning experience is a careful, and individual, process. The following can all be recommended as ways to make sure you get the most out of your tanning experience:
- Preparing your skin beforehand is one of the biggest keys. Use body wash and an exfoliating wash before you come into the tanning salon, this will remove any buildup on your skin before you even get there and increase the benefit you’ll get.
- Don’t use any scented products before you go in. The molecules providing the scent can act unpredictably under heavy UV radiation and become irritants which leave rashes.
- Let the tan “settle” after you’ve gone in for three to four hours before you decide to take a shower. This practice will help you get the most out of the process, think of it like this: the procedure is quite similar to a sunburn and they take a while to set in after your too-long exposure to the sun.
- Start off small. Tanning beds have most of the same risks as using the sun for tanning, and that can include some serious problems. Build up slowly, you may want to cut your first couple of sessions short.
- Check your prescriptions before going in, some medicines can cause sensitivity which will result in a burn instead of the smooth bronze you’re looking for.
- Make sure to protect your lips with SPF 15 sunblock in order to avoid burning.
- Always use some form of eye protection, and put a sun-blocking lotion over your eyes as well. Most places won’t let you in without any eye protection anyways, but it’s absolutely essential to not damage your eyes.
As long as you follow the above, you should be able to approach the whole process simply and safely.
Benefits of Tanning
While tanning in general has taken on something of a demonized tone within the medical community, there are still some definite benefits.
The first is undoubtedly the appearance of a good tan. Tans look good and there’s a lot to be said for acquiring that awesome bronze color through any method available. Indoor tanning provides an easy way to do it, and you’ll receive a predictable amount of energy each time rather than relying on weather and the UV reflection around you.
UVB radiation also promotes the body’s creation of Vitamin D, which is an essential part of your metabolism. However, it’s present in minimal amounts in most tanning beds and the recommended sun exposure is only ten to fifteen minutes anyways.
Lastly, there’s the fact that it seems to improve mood and energy. While the effect is most pronounced in those with seasonal affective disorder, it’s actually quite commonly reported among many of the people who engage in tanning.
While part of it is undoubtedly attaining that aesthetic, it also seems to promote increased endorphin levels overall which means it’s chemically mood altering as well as increasing one’s self confidence.
While the risks can be largely mitigated, there are always going to be risks associated with UV exposure. Modern beds have a pretty good UVA to UVB ratio, more favorable than the sun in many locations, but they’re not perfect and UVA still has some risks associated with it.
Just make sure you know the risks before you get in, it’s important that you don’t just hop in blindly forge ahead.
The biggest risk is undoubtedly melanoma. Keep this in mind: while many owners of tanning beds portray it as a healthy way to acquire Vitamin D, it’s actually UVB which produces the vitamin in the body and UVB is suppressed largely in tanning beds.
Nearly all skin cancers are associated with the presence of ultraviolet radiation, but most of the fatalities are caused by melanoma in particular. The risk seems to run from 50%-70% higher than the average population.
Roughly 5% of the population will get some form of skin cancer in their lifespan, and roughly 1% of those cases are melanoma.
So, the odds aren’t super bad, but it doesn’t help for the most part. 97% of cases of people under 30 with melanoma were found to have used indoor tanning beds.
Whether you think the odds are worth it is really up to you, it doesn’t seem much can be done to mitigate the risks and they definitely rise with the darker you want to be.
Finding the right indoor tanning lotion is one of the best ways to ensure that you get the most out of your sessions in the salon. Make sure you use something which is right for your skin and base level of tan in order to maximize things.
Tanning isn’t going to go away anytime soon, and it’s definitely nice to look at. If you’re committed to the course, then pick up the products which make sense for you and your goals. If you stick with those we’ve recommended, then chances are you’re going to be more than happy with the results.