Best Outdoor Tanning Lotion

best outdoor tanning lotions featured image

A little outdoor tanning from time to time can boost your self- confidence the way a kinetic playlist does. Even though we know too much sun isn’t entirely good for our skin, we tend to shove those feelings of guilt under the sand and keep trying to get that magazine-ready, sun kissed glow. The top mission always, is to find the best outdoor tanning lotion to put our minds at ease. Although what a lot of people don’t realize is that many of these products don’t do what their makers say they do and most have ingredients that are not even FDA approved. How to pick the good ones from the bunch? Well we are here to guide you — keep reading.

Test Results and Ratings

Rank
Editor's Choice
#1
Top Pick
#2
#3
Best Budget Buy
#4
#5
#6
Somewhere on a Beach, Indoor Outdoor, Instant Dark Tanning Lotion 12.25 Ounce
Devoted Creations CAMO KING Black Bronzing Lotion - 12.25 oz.
Australian Gold Sinfully Black 15x Deep Dark Bronzing Tanning Lotion, 8.5 Ounce
Australian Gold Spray Gel Sunscreen with Instant Bronzer, Moisturize & Hydrate Skin, Broad Spectrum, Water Resistant, SPF 4, 8 Ounce
Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator, 8 Fl Oz
Maui Babe Browning Lotion 8 Ounces
Awards
Price
from $24.95
$24.95
$21.70
$4.09
$12.76
from $14.00
Our Rating
4.5
4.5
4
4
4
4
Rating on Amazon
Editor's Choice
Rank
#1
Somewhere on a Beach, Indoor Outdoor, Instant Dark Tanning Lotion 12.25 Ounce
Awards
Price
from $24.95
Our Rating
4.5
Buy Now
Rating on Amazon
Top Pick
Rank
#2
Devoted Creations CAMO KING Black Bronzing Lotion - 12.25 oz.
Awards
Price
$24.95
Our Rating
4.5
Buy Now
Rating on Amazon
Rank
#3
Australian Gold Sinfully Black 15x Deep Dark Bronzing Tanning Lotion, 8.5 Ounce
Awards
Price
$21.70
Our Rating
4
Buy Now
Rating on Amazon
Best Budget Buy
Rank
#4
Australian Gold Spray Gel Sunscreen with Instant Bronzer, Moisturize & Hydrate Skin, Broad Spectrum, Water Resistant, SPF 4, 8 Ounce
Awards
Price
$4.09
Our Rating
4
Buy Now
Rating on Amazon
Rank
#5
Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator, 8 Fl Oz
Awards
Price
$12.76
Our Rating
4
Buy Now
Rating on Amazon
Rank
#6
Maui Babe Browning Lotion 8 Ounces
Awards
Price
from $14.00
Our Rating
4
Buy Now
Rating on Amazon

If you're in a hurry, check out our top pick:
Great tanning results, smells like the tropics and no staining

If you don’t want to read through the whole article and just want our recommendations, here they are:

Best Outdoor Tanning Lotions

  1. Somewhere on a beach – Editor’s Choice
  2. Devoted Creations CAMO KING – Top pick for men
  3. Australian Gold Sinfully Black
  4. Australian Gold Spray Gel Sunscreen with Instant Bronzer – Best Budget Buy
  5. Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator 
  6. Maui Babe Browning Lotion

Below is a round up of some of the best products to use when tanning outside. We have used and experienced the benefits of all to tell the tale; they do exactly what their makers say they do and have all the potentials to optimize your entire tanning experience. Where they fell short, don’t worry we included that too.

Award Winners

Editor's Choice

Somewhere on a Beach

from $24.95
at Amazon
Price when originally reviewed: $22.84

See Available Offer

  • Gives a great looking tan
  • No staining
  • A great tropical fragrance
  • Some reviews have mentioned skin allergy

This is a terrific choice for several reasons; it facilitates dual functions so that you can use outdoors as well as indoors on the occasion you opt for tanning in a sunbed. The lotion has a great tropical scent and applies silky smooth, which ultimately gives you impeccable coverage and leaves your skin feeling soft and supple.

This lotion’s formula even has advanced Matrixyl Synthe 6, which is a powerful anti-aging peptide that reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. More fortifying extracts included comes from sea buckthorn berry, aloe vera leaf, coconut, and walnut oils to name a few.

There are potent tanning intensifiers coupled with deep natural bronzers without the use of DHA, to allow for instant skin darkening. I have been accustomed to expect a noticeable tan every time; this could hopefully be the case for you, considering you know how to tan correctly. As a quick guide: apply liberally and evenly, make sure to lie out in the sun for about 40 minutes, rotating on all sides to achieve uniform color all over. The color it produces is a beautiful dark hue with a shimmery bronzy effect.

The Cons: We love this tanner for the exotic color it gives, but don’t expect an extremely dark tan after using. For darker results, unfortunately, this would mean several tanning sessions in the sun, which is not recommended for the harm it may cause to your skin.

Also, beware sensitive skin users; there has been a few reported cases where people have had a bad skin reaction after using Somewhere on a Beach. So please do a patch test before completely smothering on your body.

Best Tanning lotion for Men

Devoted Creations CAMO KING

Top Pick 200x56

$24.95
at Amazon
Price when originally reviewed: $26.97

See Available Offer

  • Fast acting
  • Gives dark tans
  • Sensitive skin user approval
  • Too highly fragranced for some

Devoted Creations CAMO KING has a few featuresthat typically appeals to the men. It’s fast acting so you don’t have to lie out tanning for several hours like a girl. The natural and cosmetic bronzers combined with DHA gets you all dark and toned to optimize your handsomeness.

This is another tanning formula with advance Matrixyl Synthe 6, fused with powerful antioxidants that protect the skin cells against free radicals and the damaging effects of the sun. Therefore provides anti-aging and skin firming benefits plus helps fight dark spots to boast a healthy strong appearance.

Don’t worry about smelling like a girl either; CAMO KING has a unique body deodorizing system that not only makes you smell great but the way a real man should. Complete in its design are tattoo and color-fade protection technology and high moisture effects so even though you look super masculine your skin is still touch-ably soft and smooth.

The Cons: This tanning solution will stain your skin and anything else that it touches, so make sure to wash your hands when you’re done applying the lotion and avoid wearing any valuables while it is on. It may leave you with a streaky tan so try to rub the solution into your skin thoroughly to apply well, especially you dudes who don’t want to shave your body hair for tanning. The fragrance is manly and all but it’s a lot. It is very potent and perhaps too overpowering for some users.

Best Budget Buy

Australian Gold Spray Gel Sunscreen with Instant Bronzer

Budget Buy 200x56

$4.09
at Amazon
Price when originally reviewed: $9.02

See Available Offer

  • Fantastic price
  • Gives a great bronze glow
  • Smells great
  • Bad dispensing design

Not sure why this tanner is priced so low, the results it gives are incredible and definitely the same as any top of the line brand I’ve used. It’s a broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen and bronzing tanning spray gel in one. It provides just enough protection from the sun all while basting your skin with this amazing bronzed glow. The texture is light yet rich and gives very easy coverage — with effortless rubbing onto your body you will be lathered in the lotion in no time.

The gel like mixture gives noticeably high-levels of moisturization. With additions such as sunflower seed oil and olive fruit oil, these work to intensely condition and hydrate your skin. Also included are kakadu plum and tea tree oil, which are both powerful antioxidants that protect the skin from free radicals. There is caramel extract that helps to impart a rich, golden glow to your skin as well.  These ingredients react and absorb quickly into the skin so that it sustains moisture during tanning. This also builds up your skin’s resistance so that it doesn’t dry out, crack and/or burn during extensive sun exposure.

Also, the SPF protects your skin for over an hour at a time (up to 80 minutes), minimizing the chances of getting sunburn or unattractively red and blotchy looking skin. So if you’re planning on being out in the sun or at the beach for a long time then this is the perfect tanning product to use.

The Cons: The cap dispenser doesn’t distribute the tanning solution properly, instead it squirts out similarly to the way a tube bottle design would. It’s best to ‘spray’ the solution in your hand, rub them together then unto your body.

Also, the bronzers in this tanning formula will stain, so be careful not to get any on your clothes, however, say hello to a soiled beach towel.

Best Of The Rest

Australian Gold Sinfully Black

$21.70
at Amazon
Price when originally reviewed: $22.75

See Available Offer

  • Smells terrific
  • Gives a great dark tan
  • Good application
  • No sunscreen

This one will always be a fav in the tanning community; it’s just that good and always reliable. It works for pretty much anyone, so it doesn’t matter what skin shade you were born with. If you need a tan, it will help you to get one. The Australian Gold Sinfully Black has 15x deep darkening and bronzing power to get you super tanned and in rapid time. Whether you choose to use it outdoors or inside the results are quite similar.

It’s loaded with a bunch of terrific moisturizing ingredients to hydrate and nourish your skin as you’re being tanned. Some of which are walnut extract, sunflower, kukui nut, and hemp seed oil along with the combination of some essential vitamins. These are especially responsible to not only rehydrate and replenish your skin but also help to prolong your tan. Added fragrance boosters of Tahitian monoi oil and their signature temptuous berry makes for a pretty awesome smell as well.

The Cons: You would think a mega manufacturer such as Australian Gold would have a better, more absolute made product. As great as this outdoor tanning lotion is, there is no SPF in its composition. So you may want to grab a separate bottle of one of their sunscreens to go with it.

Also, a word of caution- popular brands such as AG sell by the dozens online, so be careful you’re getting yours from a reputable seller. There have been cases of knock off versions being sold as well expired solution being rebottled.

Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator

$12.76
at Amazon
Price when originally reviewed: $13.07

See Available Offer

  • Tans quickly
  • Smells great
  • Gives a great dark tan
  • No sunscreen

I love tanning accelerator lotions and this Australian Gold Dark tanning one has all the perks. This lotion cuts right to the chase by giving you superbly dark results in less time than any traditional tanning lotion would. This also means less time in the sun, which we all know can cause sunburn and long-term skin damage. I usually achieve noticeable changes in my complexion as quickly as 12 minutes after being in the sun (considering it’s a bright and sunny day). I usually tan for about 40 minutes with a break in between and I experience color deepening every time.

Don’t be alarmed, but the color of this accelerator lotion is actually orange. It doesn’t turn your complexion orange but instead gives it this amazing sun kissed and deep rich glow like no other. You can always count on Australian Gold to deliver deep conditioning effects to your skin. This is especially important to safeguard your skin from the harmful UV rays emitted from the sun so that it is well preserved during the tanning process.

The lotion has a great smell; I would describe it as fresh and tropical with hints of coconuts. The texture is not too thick or thin for that matter neither does it feel extremely sticky like some other tanners I have used. There are no bronzers, so you don’t have to worry about any mess or struggle to scrub every square inch of your body during a shower after tanning.

The Cons: Has an oily base and perhaps too greasy for the face – may clog skin and cause you to break out. Not a lot of people appreciate the orange color of this solution, however, others think its fun. This is an outdoor tanning lotion, if you happen to try it at a salon in a tanning bed, you may not get the full benefits this lotion has to offer or even the best tan.

Maui Babe Browning Lotion

from $14.00
at Amazon
Price when originally reviewed: $15.19

See Available Offer

  • Gives a golden caramel tan
  • High moisture effects
  • Nice coffee scent
  • No sunscreen

This is an all-natural browning lotion made and imported from Hawaii. The formula produces a nice warm golden caramel tan in one tanning session at the beach, say for about an hour or so. It can also be used in the tanning bed but outdoors is much better. It’s great on any skin tone and type, so it’s a safe option for fair skinned as well as sensitive skin users.

The lotion has a caramel brown color with a silky, medium viscous texture that rubs in like butter. Making your skin feel silky and smooth after application and continue feeling hydrated throughout tanning.

It doesn’t stain but goes on leaving your skin tinted with the solution, also gets on your towel, clothes, bag. Everything. But don’t worry it washes off quite easily. 

I actually like the smell of this lotion; it is reminiscent of the scents you pick up at a coffee shop with bursts of coffee intensities. It’s made with ingredients from the Kona coffee plant, aloe vera, kukui nut oil and mineral oil plus vitamins A, C and E

The Cons: This is a very good tanning solution, however it has terrible bottling. The bottle this lotion comes in is flat out ugly; it doesn’t even look like tanning lotion or come close to many of the other designs in its category — come on Maui Babe you can do better! There is no SPF or any protective ingredients within, so you may want to consider using sunscreen.

Has an oily feel upon the initial application, so make sure to rub deeply into the skin, but once it is fully absorbed and dries, will feel less icky.

How does outdoor tanning lotion work?

First lets understand what a good bottle of outdoor tanning lotion should accomplish to provide the ultimate outdoor tanning experience.

Your tanning lotion should:

  • Smell great
  • Cover effortlessly
  • Hydrate your skin
  • Help you to tan quickly
  • Protect from ultra violet (UV) rays
  • Produce great color

It can be hard to find one lotion with all these potentials, often times you have to add another type of cream or oil to pick up the slack. For instance, in addition to your tanning lotion, you may have to mix a separate intensifier lotion to speed up the tanning process so that you don’t end up sitting out in the sun all day.

Also, you need to understand that tanning lotions are different from sunscreen or sunblock. While sunscreen blocks ultraviolet light, tanning lotion primes your skin to absorb these rays from the sun to turn the skin tanned looking. Nonetheless, there is a balance that needs to be established in this process to help get you tanned all while protecting your skin from the sun. So ultimately you want to identify a well-made outdoor tanning product with both potentials.

What is the difference between indoor and outdoor tanning lotions?

Indoor and outdoor tanning lotions will share the same fundamental ingredients that any tanning product should have. The major differences are usually the activating agents responsible for tanning your skin. Indoor products usually contain synthetic bronzers, such as dihydroxyacetone (DHA) that brown your skin autonomously as well as those that are activated by the UV lamps in indoor tanning beds. While outdoor tanning lotions have ingredients in them that prep your skin so that it increases its ability to absorb UV rays from sunlight.

Many people make the mistake of assuming that outdoor tanning lotions all have sunscreen. Don’t expect that since it’s made for outside use mean that there will be SPF in its mixture; actually, some manufacturers may lead you to believe this. So take note, if the lotion has sunscreen (i.e. sun protection factor or SPF) then it will be properly stated on the label of the bottle.

The Skin Cancer Foundation endorses using a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen that includes some combination of the following UVA-blocking ingredients: ecamsule, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, and oxybenzone. This information can help you to identify some of the ingredients to look for on the back label of any outdoor tanning lotion that suggests it contains SPF.

Did you know? In July 2006, the FDA approved Mexoryl SX, also known as ecamsule, for sale in the United States. Mexoryl SX is only sold by the popular retailer L’Oreal in the US, however, has been used by its customers in Europe and Canada for more than 10 years now. It apparently does a better job of blocking UVA rays than other sunscreens on the market. Even dermatologists are calling it the best sunscreen ingredient in the world.

Anyway, don’t be discouraged to use outdoor tanning lotions without SPF. Maybe there is a cool one you’d like to try because it has rave reviews or someone you know had incredible tanning results from using it. Simply apply your own SPF and this also goes for moisturizers that may be lacking in the tanning lotion as well. 

Applying sunscreen over your tanning lotion is very important but you also can’t forget that it’s just as wise to moisturize. This is especially essential to keep your skin renewed after being in the sun for long hours. It keeps the skin hydrated and conditioned plus helps prevent premature skin damage.

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