Tanning bed lotion vs. self-tanning lotion: Which is best?

Sun & Tanning

Whether you choose a tanning bed or apply tanning lotion yourself, you’ll achieve that perfect glow without the need of lying in the sun for hours on end.

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Comparing tanning bed lotion and self-tanning lotion 

Many of us understand the struggle of sunbathing. You are lying in the sun’s blinding light, overheating while covered in tanning oil, trying to determine the best time to flip sides. You also hope that your swimsuit does not give you awkward tan lines and pray that you do not burn. Even with all this effort, you still might not achieve the perfect sun-kissed glow.

Using tanning bed lotion in a tanning bed or applying self-tanning lotion for a sunless tan will get you that tan glow without having to lie in the sun for hours.

Should you use a tanning bed lotion or a self-tanning lotion?

Self-tanning lotion is a sunless tanning option that will darken the outer layer of your skin without the use of UV rays, giving you a fake tan. Tanning bed lotion moisturizes your skin so that it can absorb more UV light from a tanning bed, giving you a darker tan. These products share the same goal but achieve them differently. You cannot substitute one for the other, and there are pros and cons for each. Choosing between self-tanning lotion and tanning bed lotion depends on how you prefer to tan your skin.

Self-tanning lotion

You can apply self-tanning lotion from the comforts of your home, and with so many options available, it is easy to find one that works best for you. All these self-tanners contain FDA-approved ingredients that temporarily darken the skin and give you an artificial glow. If not applied evenly, self-tanning lotion can sometimes appear streaky, but if applied correctly, self-tanner will provide you with instant color that lasts.

Keep in mind that self-tanner can sometimes rub off on your clothes and sheets. Even though it can be messy and potentially uneven, many still prefer self-tanning lotion, because it is a safe option that does not expose your skin to harmful UV rays.

Best self-tanning lotions

St. Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion 

St. Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion 

This best-selling tanning lotion has a dedicated fan base due to its convenient in-shower application option that is easy and effective. Apply onto damp skin, wait three minutes, then rinse off for a streak-free tan that will gradually start to develop as soon as you step out of the shower.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

Fake Bake Original Self-Tanning Lotion

Fake Bake Original Self-Tanning Lotion

Get the most amount of product for your money with this easy-to-apply self-tanning lotion. With this buildable self-tanner, you will have a fake tan that lasts and is free of unnatural orange tones.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Healthy Glow Sunless Tan SPF 40

Healthy Glow Sunless Tan SPF 40

Not only does this sunless tan lotion protect your skin from the sun, but it also has an easy spray application. This cruelty-free product can be used to give your face natural-looking color. Simply spray the product onto the palm of your hand, but be sure to wash your hands after applying to prevent tanned palms.

Where to buy: Sold at Supergoop and Amazon

Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops 

Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops 

If you prefer to suntan but always cover the delicate skin on your face, then these self-tanning drops are a must-have. It is the perfect addition to any skincare regimen, because you can add a few drops directly to your moisturizer. The more drops you add, the deeper your tan will develop.

Where to buy: Sold at Sephora

How to get the most out of your self-tanning lotion

exfoliate

Before applying self-tanner, clean and exfoliate your skin to remove any dead skin cells. Make sure that you thoroughly dry your skin after exfoliating unless you are using an in-shower self-tanner option.

self-tanning mitt

You can use your hand, a latex glove or a self-tanning mitt, but if using your hand, remember to wash your palms after application. Begin to apply the self-tanner lotion in sections, starting at the bottom and moving in a circular motion to prevent streaks. Let the lotion dry and, if necessary, reapply until you have reached your desired shade.

Tanning bed lotion

Like the sun, tanning beds use UV rays to darken your skin. Applying tanning bed lotion will moisturize your skin so that you can get the most out of your indoor tanning bed session. While tanning beds are guaranteed to give you an even, long-lasting tan, the UV rays are harmful to your skin and can cause premature aging or skin cancer.

Best tanning bed lotion

Australian Gold, CHEEKY BROWN Accelerator Dark Natural Bronzers 

Australian Gold, CHEEKY BROWN Accelerator Dark Natural Bronzers 

This tanning bed lotion is affordable and effective, making it a good option for first-time bed tanners. You can’t go wrong with its coconut fragrance and nourishing vitamins that will leave tan skin feeling soft.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Millennium Dark Tanning Lotion

Millennium Dark Tanning Lotion

For quick results, this floral scented tanning bed lotion has auto-darkening technology that will help you achieve your preferred shade faster.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Maui Babe Browning Lotion

Maui Babe Browning Lotion

This tanning lotion is a fan-favorite due to its natural ingredients that give you a dark tan without any added bronzer.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

 

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Bailey Gates writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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