The Best Tanning Bed Lotions

When you're tanning outdoors, you're exposed to a full spectrum of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays from the sun. But when you're using a tanning bed, the exposure is different. These beds are designed to deliver a certain amount of UVA rays. Sunscreen helps block the variety of rays you're exposed to in the sun, but those variables don't exist inside, so a regular sunscreen isn't appropriate. Instead, you can use a tanning bed lotion to enhance the effect of UVA rays and stimulate the tanning process. There are so many tanning bed lotions on the market today that it's hard to sort through all the options. To help you decide which one will work the best for your needs, we've rounded up a few of our favorites. Read on to see what we found.

Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion

Intensify Your Tan

You won't have to worry about streaks with this tanning bed lotion as it doesn't contain any bronzer.
Best Overall

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Your skin will get hydrated while you tan with this luxurious lotion. It contains coconut milk and coconut oil to help keep you soft. The scent is a soft, coconut fragrance. Formulated to increase your melanin production, it’s a tanning intensifier. This lotion will help you get darker skin without using a bronzer. You won’t accidentally cause streaks or orange patches if you don’t use it correctly, so it’s great for beginners. It offers tattoo and color-fade protection, so your tattoos will continue to be radiant. The bottle contains 13.5 fluid ounces, and the lotion comes out evenly when you squeeze.


  • Hydrates your skin
  • No bronzer means no streaks
  • Tropical coconut scent


  • The scent is pleasant but very mild

Millennium Tanning Products: Dark Tanning Lotion 100x

100x Instant Bronzer

Help your skin turn a golden brown with this tanning bed lotion that has 100x bronzer.
Runner Up

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This tanning lotion smells amazing with its lovely Orchid Blush fragrance. It has a 100x silicone bronzer, so make sure you apply it carefully and rub it in completely before you jump into the tanning bed. Otherwise, you may notice streaks or an uneven tan. It will take some time to apply this product correctly. If you are just starting off with the tanning process and have pale skin, you might consider going down to their 50x to start. The bottle doesn’t have a pump top, but the lotion squeezes out evenly.


  • Great smell
  • Instant bronzer for immediate color results after tanning
  • Helps achieve a golden tan


  • Will streak if not applied properly

Tanning Paradise Black Coconut Love Tanning Lotion

Beach Bum

Why choose between pretty skin and moisturized skin when you can have both?
Best Hydration

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While we could go on and on about what makes this lotion special — such as its melanin stimulators and ultra-tan activators — that wouldn’t be very helpful. Why not? Well, almost all tanning bed lotions on the market contain similar properties. What sets this one apart is its ultra-hydrating ingredients like coconut milk, coconut butter, and cocoa oil. After all, you’re not just tanning so that your skin looks healthy — you want it to actually be healthy, too.


  • May help prevent tattoos from fading during tanning sessions
  • Applies smoothly
  • Pleasant, non-offensive scent


  • Incredibly long ingredients list may scare some shoppers away

Hempz Dark Tan Maximizer

Get With the Times

If you simply have to keep up with the trends, you won't want to go tanning without using hemp-infused lotion.
Best Soothing Formula

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Though some may argue that wearing hemp-infused lotion is more of an unjustified fad than anything, what do they know? Those who are sold on the hemp-is-everything hype have a friend in this lotion from Hempz. Sure, this lotion is a bit costly, but with its fragrance-free formulation that contains hemp seed oil and oatmeal to soothe the skin, many feel that it’s worth the cost.


  • Contains mango seed butter for hydration
  • 100% vegan
  • Doesn’t contains parabens, gluten, THC, or nuts


  • With a fairly small size at 9 ounces, this isn’t the best cost value

Flash Black European Gold

Music to My Nose

While it does a decent job on the tanning front, this lotion's standout feature is its lovely scent.
Best Scent

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Sometimes, certain products develop a reputation for reasons that have little to do with what the product was initially designed to accomplish. Such is the case with this lotion from Flash Black. Though it works okay as a tanning bed lotion, its true allure lies in its magnificent, bold floral scent. If boring old “neutral” isn’t the scent you want to smell when you’re inside that bed, opt for something with more personality on the olfactory front.


  • Smell isn’t just pleasant — it’s truly unique
  • Very affordable
  • Helps develop a nice golden glow


  • Not meant to be used outdoors

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use tanning bed lotion outside?

Most tanning bed lotions are not designed for use outside. They are formulated for indoor use. However, there are some products that can be used in both locations. You may find that products for indoor and outdoor use don’t work as quickly indoors. But we get it: it’s convenient having a multi-use product. Just be sure to read the packaging carefully so you know what sort of protection (if any) it will offer you outside.

How do I apply tanning bed lotion?

The application of tanning bed lotions will vary based on the type you use. If your lotion has a bronzer, you’ll want to be extra careful when applying. You may even consider wearing a pair of disposable gloves to help keep your hands from turning orange. You want to start with a small amount and rub it on evenly. On parts of your body with creases, such as your knees and wrists, make sure you are very careful not to apply too much. Once you have the lotion applied evenly, make sure you rub it in completely. Your skin shouldn’t feel wet from it when you get in the tanning bed. When you’ve finished applying it, wash your hands.

Will tanning bed lotion stain my clothes?

Some tanning bed lotion can stain your clothes. It’s always best to apply at the tanning salon, right before you tan. This will help minimize the risk to your clothing. Also, consider wearing darker-colored clothing to your appointment. That way the lotion won’t be as noticeable if you accidentally get it on your clothing. If a stain occurs, try to treat it as soon as possible. The longer it is on the fabric, the harder it will be to get out.