10 Best Outdoor Tanning Lotions of 2023 – Expert’s Guide

women using tanning lotion

Whether you’re planning your next beach vacation or just spending time outside, applying a tanning lotion will help enhance and deepen your tan. They also help to keep your skin hydrated and fight off the drying effects of the sun.

Some contain bronzers to give you a deeper tan, and some contain tan accelerators to boost your own melanin production. But what is the best tanning lotion for outside?

We have been tried and testing the best outdoor tanning lotions on the market to let you know the top ones to buy now.

#1 Tanovations Sun Day Fun Day Cocktail

Tanovations Sun Day Fun Day Cocktail

This lotion, aptly named a ‘cocktail’ by the brand Tanovations, is a fantastic mix of hydration and tan acceleration. This combination is why I have named it the best outdoor tanning lotion. With a base of coconut oil, shea butter and cocoa butter, it is a deeply nourishing buttery lotion that will keep your skin hydrated and leave it so smooth.

The tan accelerating ingredients are designed to boost your skin’s melanin production to help you achieve a glow in a shorter amount of time. It is definitely the best outdoor tan accelerator.

Vitamin E is included and will also help to protect against free radicals and have the added bonus of slowing down skin ageing. As we know, spending time in the sun can cause damage to your skin over time and lead to early signs of ageing. This lotion will help prevent that.

  • Smooth hydrating formula
  • Effective tan acceleration
  • Anti-ageing
  • Stain-free
  • n/a

#2 b.tan Tanner AF Spray Oil

b.tan Tanner AF Spray Oil

This tanning oil from b.tan uses tan accelerators to help you achieve a long-lasting, dark tan in a short amount of time. Number two on the list but is definitely the best outdoor tanning oil, rather than lotion, on the market.

This one is bronzer free, so a great choice if you want your tan to come from UV rays, but just want to speed up the process.

With coconut and argan oils, it will hydrate your skin really well whilst you are lying in the sun, which is essential because UV rays can dry out the skin.

b.tan are a brand committed to the planet, and this oil is vegan, as well as cruelty free and reef friendly.

  • Fast tanning results
  • Hydrating oils
  • Easy-application spray
  • Vegan and cruelty free
  • n/a

#3 Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses

Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses

This golden tanning lotion from well-loved brand Ed Hardy absolutely had to get a feature on this list. This lotion does not use bronzing agents, but rather ingredients Quad Tyrosine and Melano Bronze to stimulate melanin production. The resulting golden glow is therefore completely yours.

With coconut milk, coconut oil and cocoa butter as its base, this lotion is extremely smooth and hydrating for your skin, which is essential when spending time in the sun.

This lotion will also help to protect your tattoos from UV exposure and extend their life. Sun damage is particularly noticeable on tattoos, and over time they can fade. Therefore, if you do have tattoos this is a great choice.

  • Boosts melanin production
  • Super hydrating
  • Tattoo protection
  • Leaves a slightly sticky residue

#4 Somewhere on a Beach Instant Dark Lotion

Somewhere on a Beach Instant Dark Lotion

This tanning lotion from Somewhere on a Beach can be used as an outdoor tanning lotion or inside on sunbeds and will enhance your tan with the bronzers it contains. These bronzers do not contain DHA, so it will not stain your hands and you won’t suffer the DHA smell, whilst still giving you a gorgeous golden glow.

Based in coconut and walnut oils, the lotion is deeply hydrating to combat the drying effects of UV rays. Your skin will not only feel amazing, but you will also see more even results from your tan. The lotion is very easy to apply, making it the best tanning lotion for the beach.

  • No orange stains on hands
  • Very hydrating
  • Anti-ageing
  • Lovely tropical smell
  • Not suitable for very oily skin

#5 Ed Hardy Hollywood Bronze

Ed Hardy Hollywood Bronze

Another lotion from Ed Hardy, this time with added bronzers is a great option if you would like a little bit of help on top of the color your skin can achieve on its own. The bronzers will give you a deep looking tan but are DHA free so will avoid the problem of stains and smells.

On top of the bronzing agents, the lotion contains MelanoBronze, which stimulates melanin activity to give you a darker natural tan that will last longer.

Hemp seed oil and cocoa butter will hydrate the skin and repair any dry patches that could lead to an uneven appearance. It is also packed with antioxidants from cranberry seed oil, to fight against free radicals and prevent signs of ageing.

  • DHA free dark bronzers
  • Boosts melanin production
  • Hydrating and Repairing
  • Not ideal for sensitive skin

#6 Cocooil Tanning Oil SPF 6

Cocooil Tanning Oil SPF 6

It’s unusual to find a tanning oil with SPF protection, which is why I have added this tanning oil by Cocooil to the list. Knowing you have SPF protection built into your tanning oil means you don’t have to worry about applying two different products. It will also reduce the risk of them interfering with each other and causing streaks in your tan.

Containing 100% natural ingredients including coconut oil, it will deeply hydrate your skin without feeling too heavy. The ingredients also give a gorgeous scent, with no hint of chemicals, which is common in other products.

This oil focuses more on skin hydration than tan acceleration or enhancement and does not contain bronzers or super accelerators. So, if you are looking for an instant dark tan, this probably isn’t the right tanning oil for you.

Cocooil are another company committed to saving the planet and use sustainably sourced coconut oil that helps to support local communities.

  • Deeply hydrating
  • Pleasant, chemical-free scent
  • Eco-friendly and sustainably sourced
  • Not the strongest tan acceleration

#7 Millennium 100X Dark Tanning Lotion

Millennium Dark Tanning Lotion

This tan deepening lotion from Millennium is well-loved by experienced tanners. It contains moisturizing sunflower oil and essential oils to lock in hydration and nourish your skin whilst tanning. These ingredients also give it a lovely floral scent.

Another key ingredient in this lotion is silicone, which helps it glide over your skin with ease. This smooth finish will help you to achieve an even finish on your tan. Lotion that is hard to spread can leave you with a patchy tan, so there is no risk of that with this one.

This lotion adds huge enhancement to your tan with its bronze color, leaving you with beautifully brown skin just one hour later. We loved the shade of bronze because it is completely free from orangey tones.

  • Great bronzing effect
  • Highly moisturizing
  • Light floral scent
  • Can be used on tanning beds too
  • n/a

#8 Australian Gold Tan Intensifier Lotion

Australian Gold Tan Intensifier Lotion

This rapid tanning intensifier from Australian Gold works to actually speed up the natural tanning process rather than using bronzers or skin darkening ingredients. So, if you are determined to have a totally natural color, fast, this is the lotion for you.

Whilst it does not contain SPF protection, it contains antioxidants in vitamin E and Tea Tree oil which will help to fight off free radicals and nourish your skin, whilst bringing darker pigments to the surface.

Aloe vera is another dominant ingredient, to hydrate your skin whilst spending time in the sun. This is essential in a tanning lotion, because dry skin could lead to peeling and an uneven, patchy tan.

This lotion is also vegan and cruelty free, so great for those of us who love animals!

  • Speeds up tanning
  • Nourishing and hydrating
  • Beautiful summer scent
  • Vegan and cruelty free
  • Less noticeable results than bronzing lotions

#9 Millennium 200X Solid Black Tanning Lotion

Millennium 200X Solid Black Tanning Lotion

If you have ever worried about what will happen to your tattoos whilst you’re tanning, this lotion will be a revelation. The infusion of silicone will not only help to apply the product evenly, but also protect your tattoos from fading in the sun.

This lotion will provide all the moisturization you need to keep your skin hydrated while you are tanning, with ingredients like acai berry oil. Acai is a berry that grows in the Amazon rainforest and is well-loved amongst wellness enthusiasts for its incredible levels of antioxidants. These will help to nourish and protect your skin whilst tanning, as well as leaving it super soft.

The bronzers in this lotion will also enhance the effects of your tan, giving you deeper and longer-lasting results. This is a 200x bronzing effect lotion, so if you have very pale skin or don’t want to see too dramatic a color change, the bronzers in this lotion might be too intense for you.

If you tan quite deeply on your own however, and want a deeper and darker color, this lotion will certainly do the trick.

Because of the deep color from the bronzers in this tanning lotion, you need to be very careful when applying this lotion to achieve an even color. If you make a mistake in the application, it will show up on your skin. Ask someone to help you with your back, and it’s also a good idea to use a tanning mitt like our blackout tanning mitt whilst applying.

  • Highly moisturizing
  • Bronzers to deepen your tan
  • Tattoo protecting
  • Skin tightening
  • Will stain hands if not washed off
  • More prone to streaks

#10 Ed Hardy #Beachtime Tanning Lotion

Ed Hardy #Beachtime Tanning Lotion

The final lotion on this list is another by Ed Hardy. A tanning lotion without bronzers that you can use indoors or outdoors, with tanning intensifiers to enhance your natural golden glow.

The intensifiers in this lotion will stimulate melanin production in the body. Melanin is the compound responsible for a darker color in your skin, so this lotion will definitely help you achieve a darker tan whilst spending less time in the sun or on the sunbeds.

With a base of coconut oil and coconut milk, this is an extremely soft lotion that will keep your skin hydrated and help to lessen the drying effects of UV rays on the skin. Seaweed is another ingredient in this that is beneficial, as it is known to draw toxins out of the body.

The other focus of this lotion is on firmness in the skin and ingredients to fight cellulite. Hibiscus extract, for example, is known to increase skin elasticity. Whilst this is a great option if you have concerns in these areas, it is not as focused on the tanning effects.

  • Contains tanning intensifiers
  • Nourishing and hydrating
  • Increases skin elasticity
  • Not the strongest tan results
  • Slightly sticky residue

Related Questions

What Outdoor Tanning Lotion Gets You the Darkest?

If getting a dark is your main goal when choosing a tanning lotion, it is best to buy one that contains bronzers. Bronzers in tanning oils can make your tan appear darker without spending as much time in the sun or on a sunbed.

One major advantage to this is that you will do less damage to your skin. Over-exposure to UV rays can lead to a number of issues in people. Firstly, because tanned skin is actually the result of skin damage, over time this can lead to premature signs of ageing like wrinkles and age spots.

Secondly, damaging the skin cells with a lot of UV exposure can lead to health risks, most notably melanomas and skin cancer.

Bronzers in tanning lotions are therefore a great way to achieve a beautiful dark tan, without doing as much damage to your skin.

I would recommend the Instant Dark Lotion by Somewhere on a Beach, featured earlier in this article, as the tanning lotion that gets you the darkest.

Does Tanning Lotion Work for Outside?

There are differences to tanning outside and on a tanning bed. On a tanning bed the level of UV rays is controlled, and you will be able to choose whether you want more UVA or UVB rays in a high-quality and reputable salon. Outside in the sun, there is no control, and it is harder to know exactly though you can use the UV index.

You shouldn’t use tanning lotion designed for outdoor tanning whilst using tanning beds. They will not provide adequate protection.

You can, however, get away with it the other way around. Whilst many tanning lotions are sold to be used on sunbeds, it is fine to use them outside too.

The important thing to remember is that tanning bed lotions are not designed to protect your skin from prolonged exposure to UV rays, because people don’t use sunbeds for more than a few minutes on average. So, SPF is essential alongside your tanning lotion when tanning outside.

Apply your SPF sunscreen first. Try to choose a lightweight and fast-drying sunscreen that will absorb well into your skin. Check here for more – best sunblock’s to prevent tanning. This is so that when you apply the tanning lotion on top, they won’t mix together and cause unevenness in your tan.

As long as your skin is protected, you can enjoy all the bronzing or tan accelerating benefits of a tanning lotion outside, too!

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