The 12 Best Indoor Tanning Lotions For A Gorgeous Golden Glow

Would you like your skin to look sun-kissed and beautiful, without spending hours baking in the sun? There’s a simple solution.

Tanning beds can help you get a uniform tan if you don’t have the time to hang out at the beach.

To make the most out of your trip to the salon, you should use an indoor tanning lotion. They help keep your skin nice and moisturized, and they make your tan look even better!

The Best Indoor Tanning Lotions: An In-Depth Look

The thing is there are loads of indoor tanning lotions on the market right now. So how do you know which one to pick?

Well, we’ve done the hard work so that you don’t have to.

In this guide, we’ll go through all of the things you need to consider when choosing a tanning product, and we’ll also give you some solid recommendations based on our extensive research.

PLEASE NOTE – don’t mistake indoor tanning lotion for sunscreen.  Always use good quality sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays – see our full tanning guide below for further details.

So, What Are The Best Indoor Tanning Lotions Right Now?

Without further ado, let’s look at some of the most popular products at the moment. We recommend them as they have been tried and tested by hundreds of independent users and they have proved their effectiveness.

1. Australian Gold Cheeky Brown Accelerator

This is a great all-rounder that checks all the boxes.

Like some other products on our list, it’s both a bronzer and an accelerator, which means that everyone can use it.

The formula is designed to serve the hydrating needs of your skin, especially when exposed to tanning beds.

One great thing about this lotion, and the reason why we recommend it, is that it can be used for indoor and outdoor use with confidence.

Made with natural ingredients, it has long-lasting effects that anyone who wants to get a nice tan can appreciate.

What we liked

  • The natural oils act as  bronzers to provide a long-lasting effect
  • The formula is enriched with vitamin A and E, for well-nourished skin
  • It can be used successfully with tanning beds, as well as at the beach
  • Will not stain your clothes or your beach towel

What could be improved

  • Results vary depending on your skin tone (we’re being picky here)



2. Solid Black Bronzer By Millenium Tanning

One thing no one likes when they come back from the tanning salon is the feeling of dry skin.

Solid Black Bronzer, by Millenium Tanning, is a self-tanner and tan enhancer in one.  This product helps to avoid that dry sensation, whilst providing a nice jump start when you want to get a tan.

This best-selling lotion is designed to darken your skin even when you don’t have a base tan to work with.

So, since it’s a bronzer, as well as a moisturizer and an enhancer, you can use it even when you don’t have the time to get a sun-kissed, or salon-induced, tan.

A silicone-based product, it spreads well, providing good coverage, which is probably the most important attribute to search for in a bronzer.

Arguably the best indoor tanning lotion for fair skin on our list.

What we liked

  • It creates a subtle tan for everyone, including those with light skin
  • It’s a self-tanner, a tan enhancer, and a moisturizer, all in one
  • The silicone base allows easy application and provides good coverage

What could be improved

  • Its smell can be a little strong right after using a tanning bed
  • Careful application is mandatory to avoid streaks



3. Pro Tan Beautifully Dark Bronzer

Tanning lotions are all supposed to be expensive right?  Wrong!

The majority of the products on our list are priced well, but, for a perfect budget option, Pro Tan Beautifully Dark Bronzer is our top pick.

While it’s not designed to offer the same benefits as much more expensive products, this one provides you with the option to get a nice tan with or without going to the tanning salon.

It’s a good moisturizer, so your skin won’t become dry and flaky. And after use you’ll like you’ve been to the beach even if you haven’t left the house.

What we liked

  • The low price is simply unbeatable
  • It offers good moisturizing effects, and it spreads well
  • Many users say that its scent is very nice

What could be improved

  • If you’re already tanned you might not notice much difference



4. Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion

Hydration is vital for your skin when you’re trying to get a tan, even if it is one you intend to get indoors.

This lotion is made with coconut milk and coconut oil, to ensure your skin stays well moisturized.

It contains a blend of Tyrosine and MelanoBronze, with the ultimate goal to create the melanin needed for your skin to become darker and better tanned.

An extra benefit of this high-end product is its ability to make cellulite appear less visible and your skin firmer and more supple.

You may also want to get this product if you need to protect the colors of your tattoos.

What we liked

  • It’s made with high-quality natural ingredients that promote well-hydrated skin
  • Free of bronzing agents, it still delivers that golden tan you are after
  • You don’t have to worry about getting an orange, unnatural look

What could be improved

  • It has a strong fragrance which is not for everyone
  • Has received mixed results regarding the degree of darkening obtained



5. Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator

If you are looking for a tanning accelerator, Australian Gold’s leading lotion is an excellent choice.

One thing that must be said about this accelerator is that it is among the most popular around, and is used extensively by the tanning industry.

You may notice right away its pleasant fragrance that many people seem to be in love with.

Enriched with vitamin A and E, as well as natural oils, it will keep your skin well moisturized and supple after using a tanning bed.

Its primary purpose is to ensure that your tan gets darker. So, if you want a bronzer, you might have to pick a different product.

However, if a darker tan is your goal, this nice-smelling lotion is the answer.

What we liked

  • While some tanning lotions have an overpowering scent, this one smells great
  • Enhanced with vitamins and mineral oils, it is ideal for people with sensitive skin
  • It also absorbs quickly, which is a plus

What could be improved

  • Not everyone reports a highly visible darkening of their tan



6. SunGodZ Indoor Tanning Lotion With Bronzer

There are some exciting benefits associated with this lotion that you can’t find in others.

For instance, you can use the shower confidently after applying it, without fear that your freshly acquired bake will end up down the drain.

A Bronzer must also be a good moisturizer to get a place on our list, and this one provides excellent hydration for the user’s skin.

It also offers extra protection for tattoos.  So there!

Although we’re reviewing indoor tanning lotions, some surprise us with their versatility, like this one as it’s suitable for use at the beach as well as the tanning salon.

What we liked

  • It’s nice and creamy with excellent moisturizing qualities
  • It doesn’t leave an oily sensation on your skin
  • Shower-proof, and long-lasting, it provides the extra benefits of a bronzer

What could be improved

  • Its action might be too aggressive for people with sensitive skin



7. Australian Gold Jwoww Black Bronzer

Compared to other products on our list, this one is on the expensive side.

Still, it’s less than half of what you’d be charged at the salon for a single session, and lasts much longer.

It’s a tan enhancer that gives your skin a beautiful golden sheen.

Made with high-quality ingredients such as blackcurrant oil, kukui nut oil, and sunflower oil, it will take care of your skin, hydrating it properly and keeping it supple and healthy-looking.

Enriched with vitamins and minerals, it does a pretty good job of nourishing your skin, something much needed after a visit to the salon.

What we liked

  • Great at getting over a plateau when you can’t tan any further
  • It’s a cruelty-free product, which we really like
  • Its berry scent is delightful

What could be improved

  • More expensive than similar products, but cruelty-free so arguably worth it
  • It can be pretty tough on sensitive skin



8. Black & Tan 75x Indoor Tanning Bed Bronzer By Millennium Tanning

This tanning lotion will ensure that your tan becomes darker, and one of its specific traits is that it is delivered with warming beads that help your skin absorb the cream. That helps to avoid streaks and provides good coverage.

Because it is silicone-based, it spreads well and is fast-acting.

For people without a tan, it can also work well, because it’s a bronzer with the ability to make your skin appear darker.

At the same time, it provides excellent moisturizing, and that means that your skin will remain supple and flexible, even after visiting a tanning salon.

What we liked

  • It spreads well, so it will do an excellent job at covering difficult areas
  • Its moisturizing properties leave your skin feeling silky and luxurious
  • Unlike other bronzers, it won’t give your skin that unpleasant, orange look
  • Its performance is on par with that of more expensive products

What could be improved

  • Its fragrance may not be to everyone’s liking



9. Millennium Tanning Paint It Black 50X

This silicone-based tanning lotion for indoor use is an option for someone who wants to combine the benefits of a self-tanner with those of a good quality moisturizer.

So, the first major benefit is that this is more than just one type of tanning lotion.

You’ll get a nice-looking bake if you’re not at all tanned, and you’ll also be able to enhance the one you already have if that is the case.

The luxurious feel of your skin, once the lotion is absorbed, will convince you that it’s a good moisturizer too.

What we liked

  • Being silicone-based, it provides excellent coverage
  • The moisturizing effects are long-lasting
  • It is both a tanner and an accelerator
  • It’s tingle-free

What could be improved

  • Several applications might be needed to get noticeable effects
  • It might feel a bit oily, due to the moisturizing ingredients



10. Maui Babe Browning Lotion

This formula is designed to cater to all skin types, and even those with sensitive skin will find it a good option for getting a tan.

It will make your skin appear darker, and you don’t need a base tan to see it work.

Its most crucial beneficial aspect, however, is the fact that it’s an all-natural formula. The manufacturer advertises it as being based on a secret Hawaiian recipe. Seeing that it’s made in Maui, Hawaii, we hope that’s true.

You’ll be able to use it at the same time with your sunscreen, which is an excellent advantage over many of its rivals.

What we liked

  • It’s a natural formula, so you don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals
  • It’s made in Hawaii, where its recipe also comes from
  • Catering to all skin types, it’s a great indoor tanning lotion for sensitive skin
  • The formula has a unique and pleasant scent

What could be improved

  • It’s oily, due to all the natural ingredients included
  • You may notice some staining if you don’t rub it in well



11. Tan Asz U LUAU 200X Island Black Bronzer

Made with a natural ingredient that will nourish and make your tan appear a healthy golden tone, this bronzer is also free of parabens and DHA.

People with sensitive skin and those that care about their cosmetic products being made without harmful ingredients will definitely appreciate it.

The base of the lotion is silicone, so you can expect it to spread well and offer decent coverage. And the Marula oil included in the formula ensures good moisturizing.

For a tanning lotion that comes with a more than decent price tag, its effects are pleasing and long-lasting.

What we liked

  • It is free of parabens and DHA
  • It has an intense darkening effect
  • Great moisturizer for your skin, it is made with natural oils
  • The decent price tag is a selling point on its own

What could be improved

  • If you are not quick to apply it, your hands could stain a bit
  • Again, if you’re not quick you might end up with a few streaks



12. Ed Hardy Upgrade to Black Triple Bronzer

Of all the products that create a long-lasting tan, this one from Ed Hardy deserves a place on our list.

Using ingredients that promote the production of melanin for a good-looking tan, the product also has multiple benefits.

It can make your skin appear firmer and your body fitter, as it reduces the noticeable appearance of cellulite. Also, it is a good tattoo protector, with antioxidants that work toward keeping the colors radiant and fresh.

Multiple ingredients, such as Acai berry, white birch, and pomegranate, are enemies of free radicals, which means that this tanning lotion cares for the health of your skin very well.

What we liked

  • It uses plenty of antioxidants to protect your skin from free radicals
  • The formula is designed to provide a long-lasting tan
  • It also reduces the look of cellulite in affected areas
  • The lotion will nourish your skin, making it firmer and suppler

What could be improved

  • If you don’t hurry when applying it, your hands will stain
  • If you already have a dark tan, it might not make a big difference



So, Which One’s The Best?

All of the products on our list will do a good job of building a tan indoors.  They’ve all been around long enough to receive hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of independent reviews, and they all outscore the rest of the market when it comes to price popularity and performance.

If you really pressed us, we’d probably pick Australian Gold Cheeky Brown Accelerator.

It’s a bronzer and an accelerator that can be used indoors and out, is made with natural ingredients, won’t break the bank, and provides long-lasting results.

Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses is a great option if you have tattoos and want to preserve the coloring, while Pro Tan’s Beautifully Dark Bronzer is an excellent budget option.

The Different Types Of Tanning Lotion

If you are entirely new to the world of self-tanning, learning about the different types of products available will help you make a smart decision.

Here are the types of indoor tanning lotions you should know about:


These products are excellent for anyone who is going to use a tanning bed for the first time.  They help to create a base tan so that you have a good glow from the first application.

One great thing about accelerators is that they’re particularly good moisturizers, which help your skin maintain a beautiful tan for longer.


Enhancers, or maximizers, are the next level up in terms of tanning lotions.

Once you have a base tan and you want to build upon it, you should use one of these products. The thing is that some people hit a plateau with their tanning – this is where enhancers come in.

They are not that great moisturizers, so you’ll need to use them only right before using a tanning bed.


Bronzers, self-tanners, or ‘fake bake’ products, as they are called, are a bit different from the ones mentioned so far.

They do not play the role of enhancing the tan you already have. They make your skin look as if it is tanned, even though it’s not.

You can use bronzers for quick results when you don’t have time to hit the beach or the tanning salon.

Some caution when applying such products is recommended, as they can streak and create an uneven look.

Tingle Lotions

The name pretty much says it all. Indoor tanning lotions with tingle-inducing properties are made with ingredients whose primary role is to increase blood flow to your skin so that the product is absorbed faster.

The reaction that these ingredients cause is, unsurprisingly, a tingling sensation, hence the name.

Bear in mind that people with sensitive skin don’t usually tolerate them well.

Things You Need To Know About Indoor Tanning Lotions

You can always depend on tanning salon employees to recommend a tanning lotion, but be aware that the products they carry are usually expensive.

more about the tanning lotions that are readily available outside of the tanning salons can save you a small fortune, and sometimes some unnecessary grief.

You are the one who knows your skin best. So, we want to help you find a tanning lotion that genuinely works for you.

All of the products on our list have received loads of positive feedback from users, but now we want to go over some key things to help you pick the right product.


Reading the fine print on the back of each product might not sound like your idea of fun, but it’s essential.

We’ll run through and talk about the ingredients that you are most likely to see on that tiny label.

Hemp seed oil

Hemp seed oil, for instance, is a great moisturizer, and that is why you will see it in many formulas that are considered to be good quality. Its ability to nourish the skin will eliminate that dry, unpleasant feeling you might get when you return from the tanning salon.

Natural butter

On this list, we’ve included avocado oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter, as they are the most efficient in providing your skin with the necessary moisturizing effects. Your skin will feel suppler, and firmer if these ingredients are included.

Body Blush

One particular ingredient that you will see in many indoor tanning lotions is body blush. Its role is to stimulate the blood flow in the upper skin layers to help them to absorb the product. In its effects, it is like a tingle, but it doesn’t cause that prickly, unpleasant sensation that people with sensitive skin just hate.  You can check out our guide to the best tingle tanning lotion here.


This ingredient is used for the sake of making the tan look more luxurious and golden. Your tan will glow, so tanning lotions with shimmer might be a good idea for people who like to party a lot.


So far, we’ve mentioned ingredients that do not influence the tanning process in any way but provide other benefits. Tyrosine on the other hand is an ingredient responsible for the production of melanin in the skin, the one responsible for the darkening effect when catching a tan.


Tanning lotions that are silicone-based spread well and offer excellent coverage. At the same time, your skin remains silky, and smooth to the touch after using these products.

Beta Carotene

This is a form of vitamin A that also sustains the tanning process. It’s responsible for the long-lasting effects of your tan.


If you buy a self-tanner, and not an accelerator or an enhancer, you will most probably find DHA on the list of ingredients. Its primary role is to make your skin appear dark, so it is very efficient. On the other hand, products without DHA will deliver a more natural-looking bronze.


This one is a form of vitamin E and has a significant role in nourishing your skin and acting as an anti-aging agent.


Another tan booster, Unipertan is a mix of collagen, vitamin B2, and Tyrosine. So you most probably will find it in self-tanners.

How To Apply Tanning Lotions The Right Way

If there is one recommendation you will hear over and over again about tanning lotions it’s that you need to make sure that you apply them the correct way.

Here are the steps that will help you get good results when using such a product.

1. Exfoliate your skin thoroughly

A tanner will cover your skin, and if you have patches where there are too many dead cells, that will cause your tan to be uneven. So, for better results, you should first exfoliate thoroughly, taking extra care on tricky areas, such as your knees, your elbows, or your ankles.

2. Apply your lotion only on dry skin

Another essential thing to bear in mind is that wet skin might cause uneven effects and streaks, so the next step after exfoliating is drying your skin.

3. Be methodical

Do not hurry to apply the self-tanner haphazardly everywhere. Start with your arms, and then use the lotion on the legs, and only after that, proceed to apply it on your torso. On each area, rub patiently to allow the skin to absorb the product.

4. Wash your hands

While you use lotion, make sure to wash your hands once in a while, or after you finish with one part of the body. This will prevent the unpleasant orange stains on your hands that tanning lotions are known to cause.

5. Pay extra attention to the joint areas

To avoid having parts of your body looking darker than the rest, expand the lotion from the joint areas to create an even look.

6. Wait for 10 minutes before dressing up

The stains on the clothes that some people complain about can be avoided if you follow this simple step. Also, until the lotion gets absorbed properly, it is not a good idea to hit the gym. Sweating will cause the tanning lotion to come off.

7. Use sunscreen

Do not mistake your tanning lotion for sunscreen. Use good quality sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays. An SPF of 30 or more, as well as proper UVA and UVB protection,  are common recommendations.

Before Using An Indoor Tanning Lotion

Here are a few more things you need to know before starting to use such a product.

Always make sure that the tanning lotion you intend to use comes from a reputable manufacturer and vendor.

Also, you need to get a product that works well for your skin type.

Don’t hurry the tanning process. Even if you’re impatient, applying more lotion than needed, or exposing yourself more than is necessary to tanning beds, will not work in your favor.

How Do Indoor Tanning Lotions Work?

These products work toward helping your body develop a natural tan. Even bronzers that create the fake tan effect will help your skin become more responsive to the tanning process. What happens is that the lotions allow your skin pores to open, thus ensuring more coverage for the UV exposure when you’re using a tanning bed.

Some have specific ingredients that help the production of melanin, which is responsible for the dark color of your tan. Plus, those that are made with good quality ingredients, such as natural oils, will ensure that your skin stays well hydrated and maintain a nice-looking tan for longer.

Conditioning is an essential part of getting and maintaining a good tan. That is why the products we recommend are the ones that come with moisturizing agents for supple skin.

As long as your skin maintains proper levels of moisture, it will be able to produce the required amount of melanin for darkening.

Dry skin is known to reflect UVs, and you may lose about half of the potential your skin has for getting a proper tan.  That is why indoor tanning lotions with moisturizing effects are preferable.

Best Brands Making Indoor Tanning Lotions

One way of making sure that the product you’re using is of good quality is always to purchase a tanning lotion from a reputable company.

Here are the most popular brands you can’t go wrong with.

Millennium Tanning Products

For this company, it all started with a tanning salon back in 2003. Focusing on providing their clients with top-of-the-line service and products, they began making their tanning lotions to help customers achieve a natural-looking tan.

Millennium Tanning has even received accolades for being the best tanning salon in their area, based on their consumers’ vote of confidence.

Ed Hardy Tanning

For people who want to take care of their tattoos when they hit a tanning salon for perfect glowing skin, there is a choice, and that is Ed Hardy Tanning. A unique line of tanning lotions created by the same person who made tattoos become a part of the glitzy fashion world, Ed Hardy Tanning offers a broad range of products that cater to everyone’s needs.

Australian Gold

With a long-standing tradition in making sunscreen products since 1985, Australian Gold is the go-to brand when you’re looking for quality at a decent price. One of their most significant selling points is that they cater to every level of tanning, offering products that can ensure a base tan, as well as accelerators, enhancers, and extenders.

Frequently Asked Questions About Indoor Tanning Lotions

Are indoor tanning lotions safe?

Quite a bit of a debate seems to be going on about one of the ingredients that can be found in tanning lotions: DHA. While there are concerns that this chemical could get into your bloodstream, studies have yet to prove such a thing. Some healthcare specialists say that when applied correctly, creams with this ingredient will not pass the natural protection of the skin, but they do recommend care for pregnant women and children.

Why can’t I use a regular suntan cream?

When you get a tan outdoor, from natural UVs, it is not the same thing as achieving your tan at a tanning salon. The way your skin is exposed to UVA rays differs, and therefore you need different products for the two. Also, suntan creams contain sunscreen that will block the action of UV rays, which is something that would contradict the purpose of using a tanning bed. Another reason is that suntans could damage the acrylic material tanning beds are made of.

What is the so-called ‘smart tanning’?

Indoor tanning is often named smart tanning, and you might have wondered why that is. The number one reason for this name is the fact that you will be able to reduce the risk of getting sunburns. Without excessive exposure to UV rays out in the open, you can still enjoy the benefits of having a nice tan.

Why are the tanning lotions they sell at salons so expensive?

Some may try to tell you that the tanning lotions are expensive because the ingredients used are also expensive and that there is a lot of technology involved. But the truth is that salons sell their tanning lotions for such costly prices because it is a venue of profit. The same brand and quantity of tanning lotion can cost double or even triple at the salon. If you don’t like to pay for overpriced salon-sold tanning lotions, getting these products from reputable sellers is highly recommended.

What’s the best indoor tanning lotion for fair skin?

Probably Solid Black Bronzer, by Millenium Tanning.  It seems to get good results for people with light or fair skin more consistently than many of the others.

What’s the best indoor tanning lotion without bronzer?

Probably Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses.  It’s a bit more pricey than most, but it’s made with natural ingredients that get good results according to users.

Can you use indoor tanning lotion outside?

See above. It depends on which brand you are using.  You can with many of the products on our list, but be sure to use them with good sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays.

Wrapping It Up…

Providing your skin with the right product will help your tan look more beautiful and last longer. Picking the right lotion is essential, which is why we took a close look at all the popular products available.

In our view Australian Gold Cheeky Brown Accelerator is an excellent pick because it acts as a bronzer and an accelerator, offering something for everyone.

Plus, it can be used indoors and outdoors with the same great results, so, if you don’t want to spend money on two products, this one checks both boxes really well. Another great thing about it is that it’s made with natural ingredients that will make your tan look natural and last for a longer time.

If you’re looking for good tattoo protection, and want to make sure that your colors remain vibrant and beautiful, Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion is a great choice.

And, for those who want to stay away from DHA and parabens, 200X Island Black Bronzer by Tan Asz U is another solid choice.

Which one do you think is the best?  Have you used any of the products on our list?  If so, how did you find them?

Let us know below, we’d love to hear from you!

Remember: always use an appropriate level of sunscreen when tanning.  If you find yourself a bit burnt, follow our sunburn aftercare guide.

Want to know how to get the best tan possible?  Check out our ultimate tanning guide here.

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