How do I Choose the Best Indoor Tanning Lotion?

S. Gonzales

With all of the options on the market, choosing an indoor tanning lotion can seem very difficult. You don't have to be overwhelmed by products on the shelves if you know what you want in an indoor tanning lotion. When looking for an appropriate lotion, you should consider the ingredients that the lotion contains, where you plan to use the lotion and whether the lotion functions as a tingler, a bronzer or a moisturizer.

A lightly tanned woman.
A lightly tanned woman.

First, make sure you know what indoor tanning lotion actually is. Indoor tanning lotion is like tanning oil. Many tanning lotions come with formulations containing melanin or ingredients meant to increase the production of melanin and blood flow. These lotions should not be confused with suntan lotion, because they don't have ingredients that can protect the skin from sun damage.

Indoor tanning lotion.
Indoor tanning lotion.

You should look for a lotion that can function as a great moisturizer. Tanning causes the skin to dehydrate, and dry skin can make tanning difficult. Many of the same ingredients found in regular hand or body moisturizers, such as vitamin E, can aid tanning or help tanned skin retain its moisture. Indoor tanning lotions also might contain exotic ingredients that can help moisturize the skin. Hempseed oil is one of them, as are an assortment of botanical extracts.

Some indoor tanning lotions can be described as bronzers. These lotions contain a chemical called dihydroxyacetone (DHA) or natural pigments to help darken the skin. Bronzers can help indoor tanners achieve a darker color faster, because they can pigment the skin and complement indoor tanning results. Bronzers also can come with ingredients, such as menthol, that make the skin feel cool or make it tingle.

Decide whether you want your indoor tanning lotion to tingle upon contact with your skin. Chemical ingredients contained within tingling lotions function to purposefully irritate the skin. This is so that the skin can have a reaction, redden and increase blood flow in its top layers. Increased blood flow can result in increased melanin, which can aid in the process of tanning. Potential users of tingling lotions should take their skin's sensitivity into consideration before buying a tingler, because the sensation can range from mild to uncomfortable or even to painful.

If you want to use one of these lotions, be aware that most indoor tanning lotion formulations are meant to be used only indoors. Many do not offer protection from the sun and do not have a sun protection factor (SPF). Thus, if you use these lotions outdoors, your skin could be damaged by the sun's rays.

Indoor tanning lotions are design to be used with tanning beds.
Indoor tanning lotions are design to be used with tanning beds.

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