Suntan Lotion: Your guide to Getting Perfectly Tanned Skin

Do you desire that even and perfectly tanned skin? Are you planning to spend time outdoors to get that? If a perfectly tanned skin is what you truly desire, then you need suntan lotion.

Sun Bum Browning Lotion | Vegan and Reef Friendly (Octinoxate & Oxybenzone Free) Sun Tanning Cream with Aloe Vera | 8.5 ozIn this buying guide, we’ll show you how to discover which product is truly a suntan lotion. Also, we’ll guide you on how to use suntan lotion and recommend tips to make the most of it.


What a Suntan Lotion Is

A suntan lotion, simply defined, is a mixture that is topically applied to the skin to enhance the process of tanning. Naturally, our skin becomes darker (tan) when exposed to the sun as melanin production is increased.  The constituent ingredients of a suntan lotion are specifically designed to boost this process.

Let’s point out at this early stage that suntan lotions are basically used when outdoors. These are quite different from indoor tanning lotions that do not require the sun’s input for tanning to occur. Our emphasis as our title boldly reveals will be solely on suntan lotions.


Differences between a Suntan Lotion and a Sunscreen Lotion

A lot of people seem not to be able to differentiate between a suntan lotion and a sunscreen lotion. This however, on the part of a lot of these folks, is not their own doing. Manufacturers and brands over the years have somehow categorized suntan lotion as sunscreens. This misnomer under the name ‘sunscreen’ was a bid to dissuade people from excess use of suntan lotions due to the sunburns some experienced. You’ll only find few products out there that are explicitly labeled ‘suntan lotion’.

It is therefore compulsory that we discuss these differences which will enable you make the right purchase.

  • Sun Protection

The primary purpose of a sunscreen is to protect your skin from exposure to sun and its harmful rays. However, a suntan lotion is not majorly concerned about sun protection even though it might offer a bit of it. These two products function in almost opposite manner. A suntan lotion possesses ingredients that allow sun rays to enter into the skin and increase melanin production. But sunscreens slow down or prevent the sun from penetrating the skin.

Most sunscreens possess Sun Protection Factor or SPF. This is the measure of protection against UV rays that one can get from a particular sunscreen. A product with an SPF that is less than 15 is regarded as a suntan lotion. Ensure you watch out for the SPF on the product’s label.

It is important to note that you can still get a tan even while using a sunscreen. The protection against the sun is not a 100% guarantee which means you can still get tanned but at a slower rate.

  • Texture

Most suntan lotions tend to have a soft, smooth and light texture. This is necessary to enable it penetrate the skin’s outer layer. On the other hand, a sunscreen tends to be thicker and does not get easily absorbed into the skin.

Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 8 oz





Suntan Oil is not a Suntan Lotion

Another product out there that has gotten most people confused as well is the suntan oil. Suntan oils are products that do not contain any SPF whatsoever as well as sunscreen ingredients. (In rare cases where they do contain SPF, it is not more than SPF 4). Rather they contain what is referred to as tanning accelerators which speed up tanning.

The major difference however, between suntan lotion and suntan oil is that the latter contains no SPF at all. Also, the texture is quite different. Like their name implies, suntan oil is an oily substance while a suntan lotion comes in your typical lotion texture. Suntan oil is very dangerous and we do not recommend it for use in the tanning process.

How to Recognize a Suntan Lotion

Remember we said earlier that most products out there do not explicitly bear the name ‘suntan lotion’ on their containers. Most of them are listed and labeled as sunscreens by brands and manufacturers. So how does one know which one is actually a suntan lotion?

A general rule that guides the purchase of any skincare product is for you to read what’s on the container. This would assist you greatly especially in locating a suntan lotion. When you pick up a product as you go shopping for a suntan lotion, look out for the following:

  • The Word “tan”

A product that has the word “tan” even if it is labeled as a sunscreen mostly functions as a suntan lotion. It would possess, to a great degree, properties that will enhance the tanning process.

  • The SPF Number

We already mentioned earlier that SPF refers to the measure of protection against UV rays that a sunscreen provides. Anything below SPF 15 would naturally function as a suntan lotion instead of a sunscreen. In essence, the lower the product’s SPF, the higher its sun tanning potential. It has been said by some that suntan lotions are actually sunscreens with extremely low SPF. This is another reason manufacturers decided to categorize suntan lotions under sunscreens.

Due to the sun’s harmful effects, it is still advisable you choose a suntan lotion that has a high SPF. Most suntan lotions range from as low as SPF 4 to as high as SPF 14. Using one too low might have adverse effects on your skin especially if you have sensitive, dry or aging skin.

  • Skin Cancer Foundation Seal

The skin cancer foundation does not endorse ‘suntans’. This is because of past incidents as well as their commitment to protecting people from the negative effects of the sun. Therefore any product that seems not to offer adequate protection from the sun cannot receive their seal. So suntan lotions or sunscreens that function as suntans do not have the skin cancer foundation’s seal.

Self Tanner with Organic & Natural Ingredients, Tanning Lotion, Sunless Tanning Lotion for Darker Bronzer Skin, Self Tanning Lotion - Self Tanners Best Sellers, Fake Tan





Ingredients Found in a Suntan Lotion

Basically, the ingredients in a suntan lotion are geared towards increasing the results of UV rays.

  1. Melanin

Melanin is natural pigment that is found in the skin which is responsible for the skin’s color. The more the amount of melanin in your skin, the darker it is. Melanin production is also enhanced when the skin is exposed to the sun. However, melanin can be synthetically manufactured and most manufacturers include them in suntan lotions for obvious reasons. If your suntan lotion lacks melanin, it would naturally take you more time to get that desired tan. Therefore ensure your suntan lotion contains this essential ingredient.

  1. Aloe Vera

This amazing ingredient performs one major function in your suntan lotion: It allows easy absorption of the lotion into the skin by softening the skin.

  1. Melanobronze

This ingredient enhances skin pigmentation giving your skin the tan you desire.

  1. Coconut oil

This ingredient performs the following functions:

  • Nourishes the skin
  • Offers a small amount of protection from dangerous UV rays
  • Softens the skin
  • Hydrates and retains skin moisture
  • Boosts the production of Vitamin D
  • With its antiseptic ability, it helps in healing wounds at a much faster rate.
  1. Kukui Nut Oil

The sun rays need to penetrate the skin in order for it to bring about melanin production. Kukui nut oil serves to soften the skin and allows the sun’s ray penetrate it much easier.

  1. Tea Tree Leaf Oil (Melaleuca)

This oil possesses cooling properties that makes your skin feel cool despite being under the heat of the sun. That means it counters the heat produced by the sun. We consider this a major plus as you would love to get your tan while feeling and looking cool.

  1. Hydrators

We all know the sun can cause skin dryness and more time under it means more dryness. These ingredients will fight that and keep your skin hydrated while you sun-bask. Examples of these hydrators include butter and milk.

Other ingredients you’ll find in your suntan lotion include: Tea oil, green tea, copper, kona coffee plant extract hemp seed oil, caramel, Monoi de Tahiti, sunflower oils and walnut shell extract. Generally opt for a suntan lotion that is strictly natural.

Avoid the Following Ingredients

  1. Alcohol

Exposure to the sun can be dangerous to the skin and the addition of alcohol will simply compound matters. Alcohol is a drying agent with the ability to dry out and crack the skin, thereby multiplying the sun’s effect.

  1. Mineral Oil

Avoid any suntan lotion that contains mineral oil. The combination will cause moisture to be evaporated out of the skin. They can also worsen skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

  1. Paraben

This ingredient is used as a preservative and performs no other function. If It was just that, it would be safe to use but it also irritates the skin.

  1. Perfumes

Our skin is already exposed to the sun and its harsh conditions and perfume will only worsen it. Avoid this by all means.

  1. Para-Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA).

They can be listed as: glyceryl amino benzoate, amino benzoic acid, amyl dimethyl PABA, ethyl-4 bis amino benzoate, ethyl dihydroxypropyl PABA, octyl dimethyl PABA (2-ethylhexyl dimethyl PABA) and amyl dimethyl PABA.



Maui Babe Before and After Sun Pack (Browning Lotion 8 oz, After Browning Lotion 8 oz)





Using your Suntan Lotion

  • Before applying a suntan lotion, always use a moisturizer first. This will allow your lotion a better chance of penetrating the skin thereby giving you a better tan. And you should allow it get absorbed completely before you apply your suntan lotion. Some experts recommend a full hour before using your suntan lotion.
  • The next thing is to apply your suntan lotion before getting into the sun. A common mistake made by a lot of folks is that they apply the suntan lotion when they are already in the sun. Your tanning process begins right from the time you step out in the sun. Be reminded that you are not supposed to spend so much time in the sun therefore every second counts. Applying the suntan lotion some few minutes before stepping out into the sun is more appropriate.
  • Ensure you apply your suntan lotion to all body parts that you can comfortably expose. Failure to do this will give you an uneven tan.
  • It is best you apply an after tan lotion after your tanning session. This keeps your skin well hydrated after being under the drying effects of the sun.


Check out these interesting skin care product reviews/articles:

How to Improve Sagging Skin on Legs – Comprehensive Answer

How to Rejuvenate your Skin – In-depth Answer

How Long Does Exilis Skin Tightening Last – Comprehensive Answer

How to Make Your Skin Look Smooth – Comprehensive Answer

What Is the Best Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin – Extensive Answer

How to Remove Body Wax from Skin – Detailed Answer

Tips for You to Get the Best Results

  • Swap your suntan lotion with a sunscreen from time to time if you intend staying in the sun for days.
  • It is advisable not to sun-bathe for too long while using a suntan lotion. The sun naturally tans the skin and your suntan lotion speeds up that process. So most times when using a suntan lotion you actually multiplied the time you’ll get a tan against getting one naturally by 3. (It could be higher depending on the SPF and the ingredients in your suntan lotion). A maximum of 20 minutes should be your target. However, you should consider your skin type before staying out in the sun for 20 minutes.
  • You can still combine a sunscreen with your suntan lotion if you discover you possess and extremely sensitive skin.
  • Do not apply your suntan lotion on your makeup. Ensure that you all makeup has been removed first if you desire an even tan.
  • Apportion equal exposure to all sides of the body. Lie on your back for 10 minutes then switch and lay on your belly for 10 minutes too.
  • Do not tan if you are under 18 year of age. At this stage, the skin is still developing and inducing a different color (tan) might cause some skin-related issues.

In conclusion, a suntan lotion will enhance and speed up your tanning process. However as a final word of caution, suntan lotions can have adverse effects if not used with caution. Like we stated in the tips, do not expose yourself for so long in the sun while using only a suntan lotion. Stay safe and protected even as you get that evenly perfect tan.

Have you ever made use of a suntan lotion before? Please share your experience with us in the comments section. Also, if you found this buying guide to be helpful, we will like to hear from you too.

1 thought on “Suntan Lotion: Your guide to Getting Perfectly Tanned Skin”

  1. Pingback: Jergens Natural Glow vs L’Oreal Paris Sublime Glow Moisturizers – Detailed Comparison

Comments are closed.