Why do people tan? The reasons for tanning are as varied as the people who choose to do it. Some tan because they love the look of bronzed skin, or because they see a sun-kissed glow as healthier than pale skin. Others do it to improve skin conditions such as acne. And many lay out in the sun to deal with mood disorders. But if you want to make the most of tanning, you need to use the best outdoor tanning lotion for you.
Why tan outdoors instead of indoors? Well, if the weather is good, why not? You get out of the house, enjoy the weather, and add some color to your skin. So to help you make the most of your time soaking up some sun, let’s take a look at what you need to know about tanning outdoors and some great products you can try.
How Does Outdoor Tanning Work?
For the majority of human history, outdoor tanning was the only type of tanning. Which means that it is less an issue of how outdoor tanning works and more an issue of how tanning works in general. While the exact science of it may be a little complicated, the basic idea is as follows.
The sun produces ultraviolet rays. These rays activate certain types of skin cells to produce extra melanin, which is the element in the body that gives the skin color. The more these cells are activated, the closer they migrate to the skin’s surface; the closer they migrate, the more melanin they produce. As such, the more sun you get, the more tan you become.
Now, this might make you wonder, why does our skin tan? Well, it tans because it is the body’s way of protecting itself against ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The darker your skin, the better it is at defending the body against deep penetration of the skin tissue by UV rays. This in turn guards against sunburns.
What Are Some Reasons to Consider Outdoor Tanning?
We are constantly told that we need to avoid damage to our skin from the sun, so it might seem odd to opt to tan outdoors. The truth is that there are benefits and risks that come with outdoor tanning, much like there are with most things in life. Some benefits to outdoor tanning include:
- The rays of the sun increase production of vitamin D.
- Ultraviolet rays have been shown to have a positive impact on mental health, while a lack of them has been proven to have a negative effect and causes seasonal affective disorder.
- Many people feel that they look better with a tan, giving them confidence that helps them in many areas of their lives.
- Once you have a base tan, you have increased protection against the sun, making it less likely you will accidentally burn.
- The heat of the sun’s rays can help dry out acne.
Because of these benefits, many people partake in outdoor tanning whenever possible.
What Is Outdoor Tanning Lotion?
Outdoor tanning lotion is a lotion you massage into the skin before you head outside to catch some rays if you are wanting to get a base tan or deepen your tan quickly. The idea behind using them is to accelerate the tanning process while keeping the skin moisturized and healthy. Each product has its own formula and works in different ways. Some common ingredients used in outdoor tanning lotions include:
- Tea tree oil
- Green tea
Could you just use an indoor tanning lotion while tanning outdoors? Some indoor tanning lotions are okay to use outside, while others can significantly damage your skin. For example, indoor tingle lotions should never be used outdoors as they will be exposed to UV rays much longer outdoors than they are indoors, which can cause a chemical burn on the skin. However, indoor tanning lotions usually do not offer SPF protection, which means you will need to mix it with sunscreen to be protected while outdoors. This ultimately is more trouble than it is worth, making it ideal to purchase an outdoor tanning lotion when tanning outside.
Couldn’t I Just Use Sunscreen?
If you are going to be tanning outdoors, it is important that you do use a product with sunscreen in it. However, just using sunscreen will not help you speed up your tan. In fact, sunscreen will slow down the process of getting a tan. Despite that fact, it is vital to wear some, so most outdoor tanning lotions will include some level of SPF to protect the skin while also including ingredients that accelerate the tan, providing the balance you need to tan safetly outdoors.
How Does Using an Outdoor Tanning Lotion Benefit Me?
Because different lotions have different formulas, they offer different benefits. With that said, there are some benefits that are offered by all or the majority of outdoor tanning lotions. These benefits include:
- Hydrated Skin: Most outdoor tanning lotions are designed to replenish the moisture that is lost when tanning. This ensures that you skin is not damaged by the process, and it can actually improve the overall health of your skin.
- Rapid Results: Since you need to use SPF when tanning outdoors, your results can be slower than when tanning in a tanning bed. Outdoor tanning lotions are designed to speed up the process, helping you get maximum results in minimal time.
- Lasting Results: In addition to getting you results faster, outdoor tanning lotions also help your results last longer. Moisturized skin gets a deeper tan, holding onto the color longer.
- Softer Skin: Outdoor tanning lotions soften the skin while they moisturize. This helps to give your skin a more youthful look. Some lotions also reduce cellulite and increase elasticity.
- Less Odor: Because our skin naturally has bacteria, allowing it to become heated by the sun means that the bacteria also heats, which releases a smell. Many outdoor tanning lotions have antibacterial properties, reducing or eliminating the odor.
It is important to note that you can have a bad reaction to outdoor tanning lotion. As such, you should always spot test it 24 hours in advance of tanning with it to ensure you are not going to have a reaction. Keep in mind that since different lotions have different formulas, you can have a reaction if you switch to a new lotion, so test every time you purchase.
Types of Outdoor Tanning Lotion
We have mentioned several times that different lotions have different formulas. But what is it that makes them different? While the exact ingredients vary widely, most outdoor tanning lotions fall into a few categories.
- Accelerators: Accelerators can be used by those who are new to tanning or who have the tan they desire and want to maintain it. Their intention is to develop a base tan that you can build on with more time in the sun.
- Maximizers: Maximizers are the next level up in tanning lotion. These lotions are meant to be used by those who already have a base tan but want to take that tan deeper. The goal with using a maximizer lotion is to get your deepest possible tan.
- Bronzers: Bronzer outdoor tanning lotions are combined with either accelerators or maximizers. The bronzer refers to self-tanning lotion—or fake bake—that is mixed with the other ingredients to help you look darker immediately, getting you the color you want while your skin darkens underneath it.
- Anti-Aging: Anti-aging outdoor tanning lotions are lotions that contain vitamins designed to fight signs of aging, especially those that result from sun damage. They can be accelerators or maximizers and can also be combined with bronzers.
- Tattoo Protection: Tattoo protection is not something that is offered by many outdoor tanning lotions, but if you have tattoos, you will want to find a lotion that offers this protection. UV rays can fade and damage tattoos, and protecting them will allow them to remain vibrant for longer.
Most of these types of outdoor tanning lotions are the same as indoor tanning lotions. This means that you can use indoor lotions outdoors if you also use sunscreen with them. However, there are two types of indoor tanning lotions you must avoid when outdoors: tingle lotions and body blush lotions. Both of these types of lotions contain chemicals that increase blood flow to the surface of the skin, allowing the skin to repair faster and tan faster. However, the increased blood flow at the surface of the skin makes it more prone to burning, and you can even end up with a chemical burn. Because of this, anything marked tingle or body blush should be avoided when tanning outside.
How to Use Outdoor Tanning Lotion
Getting the best results when tanning outdoors means taking the right steps. And the most important step is applying your tanning lotion properly. To achieve the best results, you should use your outdoor tanning lotion with two other lotions in the following order:
- When you wake up, apply a pre-tanning lotion. These lotions are designed to exfoliate, smooth, and moisturize the skin. This essentially preps the skin to absorb the tanning lotion well and to tan evenly. Allow this at least an hour to absorb.
- At the pool, beach, or wherever you are tanning, apply your outdoor tanning lotion. Be certain you apply this as evenly as possible, using lotion applicators to reach all spots on your back. Follow the instructions on the bottle to achieve the best possible results. If it contains no SPF, mix with a sunscreen with the SPF level of your choosing.
- After you are done tanning, use an after-tanning lotion. This lotion is all about hydration, ensuring that your time in the sun does not dry out or damage your skin. This will also serve to keep your tan even and healthy looking. You can look for those with aloe to help pull the heat out of your skin when done.
What Is Your Skin Type for Tanning?
How you go about tanning outdoors will be determined by your skin type. While skin type for other applications often means oily, dry, or combination, when it comes to tanning, there are six different skin types. Based on the skin type, you can determine how often you should tan and how long you can tan for each time you do. Some skin types cannot tan at all while others tan very easily. To discover which type of skin you have, check out our explanation from our previous article.
Tips for Getting a Stellar Outdoor Tan
Now that you know how to use an outdoor tanning lotion and your skin type, you can get started with tanning. The first thing you need to do is determine your tanning schedule. If you are just getting started, you should stick to 10-20 minutes per side, depending on your skin type. As you develop a base tan, you can then increase your time in the sun by about five minutes per side, doing so steadily until you reach a maximum you feel comfortable with. If ever your skin hurts after tanning, even if there is no visible burn, reduce your time.
While it may be tempting to tan every day, your skin needs to time to rest and to heal. As such, you should never tan more than once every other day, or no more than one time in a 48-hour period. However, you should be certain to tan at least once every 72 hours to maintain or increase your tan.
Think carefully about your tan lines. While it is expected that you will have some when tanning outdoors, some lines are better off prevented. Take off all jewelry to prevent awkward tan lines, as well as burning from heated metal. Consider using indoor tanning eye protection rather than sunglasses, and take your shoes off.
Do not use eyeglasses or contact lenses without eye protection. In addition to the odd tan lines caused by glasses, both glasses and contacts can be damaged when in direct contact with UV rays. Instead, opt for sunglasses or, as noted above, indoor tanning goggles.
Avoid wearing makeup and perfume. Makeup can interfere with the tanning process, causing your face to be a lighter color than the rest of your body. Perfume is problematic because it can interfere with the outdoor tanning lotion you use and can also attract insects. Both can also make your skin more sensitive to light, which can result in burns, rashes, blotches, and uneven tanning.
Exfoliating your skin is vital. A light exfoliant should be used every day to remove dead skin cells, bringing your healthy skin to the top and allowing the sun to tan it. This results in a tan that lasts a long time and looks more even.
Be mindful of how you are positioning yourself when tanning. In addition to flipping over halfway through your session, you should keep your arms and legs spread enough to tan all the skin and should prevent your chin from touching your chest to avoid a white spot underneath. And even tan always looks best.
Does Outdoor Tanning Cause Cancer?
This is a question many people have, so it is important that we answer it and answer it honestly. And the truth is that outdoor tanning can lead to cancer, but this is generally in cases where the person tanning suffers sunburns. With the right approach to outdoor tanning, burns should be avoided, significantly reducing the chance of skin cancer developing.
It is important to note that this is a risk that comes with any exposure to UV rays. For example, if you are outside but not trying to tan, yet end up exposed to the sun for too long, you can burn, and that burn can become skin cancer. This can also occur with indoor tanning. The best approach to take is to be careful about how you tan, keeping in mind that those under the age of 18 should never tan and should always wear SPF while in the sun.
Top 10 Best Outdoor Tanning Lotions And Oils Reviews 2017 – Comparison Table
|Product and Rank||Accelerator or Maximizer||Bronzer||Anti-Aging or Caffeine||Tattoo Protection|
|1 Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion||Accelerator||No||Yes||Yes|
|#2 Millenium Tanning New Paint It Black, 50X||Maximizer||Yes||Yes||No|
|#3 Australian Gold SPF 15 Spray Gel Sunscreen with Instant Bronzer||Accelerator||Yes||No||No|
|#4 Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil||Accelerator||No||No||No|
|#5 Australian Gold, CHEEKY BROWN Accelerator Dark Natural Bronzers||Accelerator||Yes||No||No|
|#6 #BeachLife, Indoor/Outdoor Intensifiers||Accelerator||No||Yes||Yes|
|#7 Somewhere on a Beach, Indoor Outdoor, Instant Dark Tanning Lotion||Maximizer||Yes||Yes||No|
|#8 OrganicGOLD Virgin Coconut Best Outdoor Sun Tanning Oil||Accelerator||No||Yes||No|
|#9 Tropical Sands All Natural Dark Tanning Oil||Accelerator||No||Yes||No|
|#10 Maui Babe Browning Lotion||Accelerator||No||No||No|
#1 Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion
You can take a look here :
This is our choice for the all-around best outdoor tanning lotion. Tanning when you have tattoos or sensitive skin can be difficult. Most lotions do not offer tattoo protection nor are they designed to sooth sensitive skin. However, this lotion does both, and also works for those without sensitive skin or tattoos, making it our top choice. It is made from quality ingredients to increase melanin absorption and can deliver deep golden results.
In addition to these qualities, it also has ingredients to stop signs of aging related to the tanning process, as well as body fit to reduce the appearance of cellulite. The tan it delivers is long-lasting, and it also leaves a shimmer on the skin, giving you a healthy glow from day one.
#2 Millenium Tanning New Paint It Black, 50X
You can take a look here :
If your goal is to get a dark tan in as little time as possible, this lotion is for you. Millenium Tanning Products has a stellar reputation, so you know that you can trust in their products. Paint it Black is designed to rapidly darken skin using auto-darkening technology. The end result is skin that looks rich and has an incredible glow.
Its skin-firming silicone emulsion helps to fight signs of aging while reducing cellulite. It packs in a lot of moisture, ensuring the sun does not dry out your skin. Finally, it comes with a very light scent that is ideal for tanning outdoors without attracting insects.
#3 Australian Gold SPF 15 Spray Gel Sunscreen with Instant Bronzer
You can take a look here :
Out of the ten picks on our list, this is the only one that comes with SPF already in it. If you are looking to tan while offering your skin maximum protection, this is the best choice for you. It comes in a few different options, so you can choose how much SPF protection you desire.
While this is an affordable option, it is still high-quality, infused with exotic oils and aloe to keep you comfortable and your skin well cared for. It is also one of the only outdoor tanning lotions that is water resistant, allowing you to make the most of your time outdoors instead of only focusing on tanning. The added bronzer ensures that you get instant results while your skin slowly tans underneath.
#4 Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil
You can take a look here :
While this product does not offer SPF, it still offers sun protection by including natural ingredients that help the skin resist sun damage. Despite offering this protection, it does not get in the way of the deep, rich tan that you want. The oils and other natural ingredients also help to moisturize the skin, keeping your skin healthy and your tan even.
It uses auto-tanning technology to speed up the tanning process. The scent is a strong coconut, which is pleasant, but can be overwhelming. Those with type two skin may not be able to use this product.
#5 Australian Gold, CHEEKY BROWN Accelerator Dark Natural Bronzers
You can take a look here :
Many people like the effect of bronzers but do not like all the artificial ingredients they use. This indoor and outdoor tanning lotion uses natural bronzers to help get your skin looking dark before your actual tan works its way in. This product is designed for those just getting started with tanning and allows you to build your base tan. For some, this is all they need. However, if you want to go darker, you will then need to switch to a different product.
It is a super hydrating lotion that uses herbal DNA to moisturize. The cocoa scent is fairly light, but it does last quite some time. And unlike many specialized lotions, it is affordable and easy to find.
#6 #BeachLife, Indoor/Outdoor Intensifiers
You can take a look here :
This is another entry from Ed Hardy, though it does not bear the name. This lotion is designed to achieve a strong, dark tan without using any bronzing agents. And if you only tan outdoors a few months out of the year, you are in luck; this lotion works well with indoor tanning too.
Also like our number one choice, this lotion protects tattoos from fading. It keeps skin firm and hydrated, and has vitamin A to protect against sun damage. For an interesting twist, it also contains seaweed extract to detox the body.
#7 Somewhere on a Beach, Indoor Outdoor, Instant Dark Tanning Lotion
You can take a look here :
If you are spending time in the sun, you have to be worried about signs of aging. While many lotions help to fight this, few do it as well as this lotion. It uses Matrixyl Synthe 6, one of the strongest anti-aging agents available.
It includes oils that help to soften and hydrate the skin. The scent is pleasant and light, making it easy to continue with your day after tanning even if you cannot shower immediately. And since it is DHA free, you can tan without worrying about negative effects from this problematic chemical.
#8 OrganicGOLD Virgin Coconut Best Outdoor Sun Tanning Oil
You can take a look here :
Many outdoor tanning lotions leave a greasy feeling behind, but not this lotion from OrganicGOLD. It goes on very smooth and leaves nothing behind besides a nice tan. It contains coconut oil, vitamin A, and vitamin E to soften and moisturize skin.
Unlike most options on this list, those with fair skin can use this lotion. If you have type one skin, tanning is still not recommended, but if you have type two skin, it is a good choice. It is also 100% natural, so you can use it without guilt.
#9 Tropical Sands All Natural Dark Tanning Oil
You can take a look here :
All natural always sounds good, but a concern with all-natural tanning lotions is that they often contain mineral oil. This oil can cause trouble for your skin by clogging pores. If you have skin troubles, it is best to avoid it and use this lotion from Tropical Sands.
In addition to not clogging your pores, it has wonderful ingredients that promote overall skin health. After use, your skin will feel soft and supple, and even look younger. And, of course, it helps you achieve a deep, dark tan.
#10 Maui Babe Browning Lotion
You can take a look here :
While this one does not offer lots of special ingredients or features, it does deliver a deep tan. As such, it is very popular amongst tanning enthusiasts. It includes lots of natural ingredients that improve the quality of your skin and help to lock in your tan.
However, it does have one major downside: it clogs pores. If your skin breaks out easily, this is not the lotion for you. Additionally, it is recommended that you either use a different lotion for your face or that you cleanse your skin thoroughly as soon as you are done tanning.
What if You Can’t Tan?
If you have type one skin, tanning isn’t a possibility. Well, at least not a natural tan from the sun. This can also be the case for some people with type two skin. If you fall into this category but wish you had a tan glow, you can still achieve one using self-tanners, also known as bronzers and fake bakes, or if you have type two skin, light accelerators. Below are some of the products we recommend for those with fair or sensitive type one and type two skin.
Self-Tanning for Type One and Type Two Skin
- Beauty by Earth Self-Tanner: This self-tanner is well-liked because of its smooth results, lack of DHA, and exfoliating properties.
- Fake Bake Flawless: While it does have DHA, it provides a streak-free look that does not come off on clothing or with exercise.
- Tropez Bronzing Mousse: For a lasting tan, this is the right choice. It also comes in a kit with all the items you need for application.
Gentle Tanning Lotions for Type Two Skin
- New Sunshine Designed Skin Belle: As an accelerator, this lotion is meant to establish a base tan. If you have type two skin, this is all the tan you need.
- Australian Gold CHEEKY BROWN: This is another accelerator for establishing a base tan, and you already saw this one on our list above because it is great for all skin types.
- Australian Gold DARK TANNING ACCELERATOR: Out of these three choices, this one gets the most radical results for those with type two skin.
Tanning Accessories You Need to Have
While having the best outdoor tanning lotion is important, there are other things you need to tan safely and comfortably. Outdoor tanning accessories help to protect you and just improve the experience overall. While you might be tempted to skip them to save money, we promise you that these are items you should have on hand.
Exfoliators: You want the sun to reach your healthiest skin, which means exfoliating dead skin away. This can be done with special scrubs, brushes, or even just your usual shower loofa. Our pick for the perfect skin scrub is, Skinfood Black Sugar Strawberry Mask, a combination scrub and mask that smells incredible.
Towels: If you are tanning outdoors, you will want to have a big fluffy towel to lay on, dry off with, and even warm up with when needed. Kaufman Sales Terry Beach Towel – 4 Pc Pack is a great purchase, getting you lots of fun towels for your outdoor tanning sessions.
Eye Protection: The rays of the sun can be very harsh on your eyes. While sunglasses are great, they do leave some pretty strange tan lines. Instead, opt for goggles that are used with indoor tanning to stay safe while also preventing ugly lines. We recommend EVO FLEX Sunnies Flexible Tanning Bed Goggles.
Lotion Applicators: If you want your outdoor tanning lotion to give you the best results, you need to make sure you apply it everywhere. Lotion applicators allow you to access spots on your back that are otherwise unreachable without needing help. The Remedy Roll a Lotion Applicator will evenly apply your lotion while also feeling like a massage.
Chapstick: Because the skin on your lips is thin, it damages easily. This can lead to premature aging around the mouth. To ward this off, use chapstick with SPF protection. Banana Boat Spf#50 Sport Lip Balm is a great choice.
For a tan that comes on quickly and lasts a long time, you need to use a best outdoor tanning lotion. However, not all are created equal, so you must take care to purchase the one that is the right choice for you. Weigh your options carefully, and always use them according to the directions on the bottle.