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Best Tanning Oils and Lotions For Outside Sun Tanning in 2019

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Tanning lotions and oils are perfect for getting a rich, bronze color in the sun.

It’s hard to choose between all of the lotions, oils, and gels on the market – especially when there’s a large range of different SPF protection levels!

We’ve made the decision easy for you.

We have spent days researching all of the top outdoor tanning lotions on the market, evaluated all the pros and cons, and ranked them below to suit different tanning needs.

Keep reading to find the perfect sun tan lotion for you!

New to the tanning game? Check out the tanning for newbies guide at the bottom of the list – it should answer your tanning questions.

Hungry for more options? Check out more info on tanning, and our list of the best 2 in 1 indoor and outdoor tanning lotions (without SPF) here.

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♥ Top Outdoor Tanning Lotions

#1. Best Luxury: Bronzo Sensuale Deep Tanning Carrot Oil

  • 8.5 ounces

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  • Organic, natural, botanic ingredients.
  • Vitamins and antioxidants
  • Doesn’t contain parabens, PABA, benzophenone, or mineral oil.
  • PETA and Leaping Bunny approved. Vegan certified. No animal ingredients or testing.
  • Biodegradable, recyclable.
  • Produced in small batches to ensure quality and freshness.
  • Kosher compliant.

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  • Pricey

Hydrating, protecting oil that helps you tan

The SPF protection, high quality organic and natural ingredients, and eco and animal friendly nature of the product makes this oil a great option for a guilt free tan!

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Customers have been impressed with the tan with high average reviews online.

Customers like that the oil gives a quick, subtle, golden sun kissed glowing tan. The moisturizing ingredients receive praise, with reviews noting it makes the skin feel soft, and absorbs well after application.  Customers are impressed with the SPF 15 protection.

Reviewers generally love the smell and no review thus far finds it overpowering.

Is it for me?

With high quality organic, naturals ingredients, SPF 15 protection, and eco and animal friendly ingredients and production – Bronzo Sensuale provides a guilt free tanning experience that justifies the luxury price tag for many.
If you’re looking for a luxury lotion that helps to counteract some of the negative effects of tanning to the skin, while helping the environment at the same time – this is a great option if you can afford to spend a bit more on your outdoor tanning lotion.

#2. Best without SPF: Absolutely Natural Platinum Tanning Oil 

  • 6 ounces
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  • Developed with high quality, moisturizing oils
  • Nice, non offensive fragrance
  • Customize your skin protection by adding SPF
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  • Pricey
  • Using without added SPF increases your chances of skin damage and burning

No SPF – enjoy a deeper tan, understand the risks, customize your protection

Unlike the others on this list, Absolutely Natural Platinum Tanning Oil doesn’t contain any SPF and is designed to be used once you’ve built up a base tan for a richer, darker color. Lotions without SPF don’t protect your skin, however they do help to build up a darker tan easier and quicker.
Even though it doesn’t contain SPF, it’s for outdoor use in direct sunlight only. It should not be used on tanning beds.
Because it doesn’t have added sun protection, this lotion provides a more risky tanning experience when used on its own. One of the benefits of a lotion without SPF is that you can choose to mix in your preferred SPF protection level for some added sun protection and to prevent burning.

Enriched with nourishing oils and vitamins

Developed with high quality oils, including: coconut oil, rose hips oils, organic sunflower seed oil, kukui nut oil, macadamia oil, olive squalane, cherry kernel oil, camellia oil, jojoba oil, and carrot seed oil.
In addition to the many nourishing oils, this tanning oil is also enriched with green tea, white tea, biloba, vitamin E,  and natural fragrance.
The high quality, moisturizing ingredients helps to soothe dry skin, and ensure that your skin stays moisturized under the hot, dry sun.
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The reviews for this lotion are very impressive, however there’s not a lot of feedback on it yet.
Multiple reviews said Absolutely Natural is the best oil they’ve ever used, and it’s their favorite tanning period of all time. Overall, customers said the tanning oil produces a noticeable difference in darkness of their tan.
The natural oil ingredients received high praise – customers like the positive impact that the oils have on their skin. The high quality ingredients are usually the differentiating factor for why customers chose this oil over less expensive alternatives. The oils worked to moisturize and soften the customers’ skin, and some noted that it works particularly well for dry skin. Sometimes it’s worth spending a little bit more when the quality reflects the higher price!
Reviewers tend to really like the fragrance, and none so far find it overpowering.
It’s not a cheap option, but the high quality, moisturizing ingredients justify the price if there’s room in your budget for a more luxury product.  It doesn’t contain SPF but can be mixed with SPF for sun protection. Unlike the budget option on the list, customers don’t find the smell of this product overpowering.


#3. Best Budget: Piz Buin FP15 Tan & Protect Accelerator Tanning Lotion

  • 5 ounces

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  • Budget friendly
  • UVB and UVA SPF15 protection
  • Contains Vitamin E for hydration
  • Contains anti-ageing ingredients
  • Tan twice as fast with this accelerator lotion vs without

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  • Scent can be overpowering for some
  • Not a lot of product in the bottle

Tan twice as fast while protecting your skin

An outdoor tanning lotion with added SPF 15 protection, Piz Buin’s Tan and Protect is designed to develop your tan twice as fast as regular tanning.

Sometimes when you’re tanning outside it’s hard to strike the perfect balance between protecting your skin and getting a good tan. This tanning lotion includes both UVA and UVB protection with advanced sun filters – giving you some protection peace of mind while you get a beautiful bronze tan.

Hydrating, water resistant formula – perfect for the beach!

The lotion is sweat and water resistant.  It’s ideal for tanning at the beach – no need to worry about your tanning lotion wearing off with the slightest contact of water!

If you do feel like going for a proper swim in the sea, the tanning lotion is easy to reapply. Three table spoons worth of lotion are enough to cover your entire body for tanning and protection.  And it won’t feel greasy or sticky on on the skin – the lotion is designed to absorb fast for easy reapplication.

The hydrating ingredients prevent dry patches or peeling on the skin, which is key when you’re laying out in the drying sun and the grainy, rough sand. The sun can take its toll on the ageing process too – Tan and Protect is specially formulated with Vitamin E to counteract premature ageing and free radical damage.

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Overall reviewers are impressed with the lotion with high average reviews online.
Multiple reviewers said it the lotion did exactly what it described. Others said they think Tan and Protect is the best product made for sun exposure that they’ve tried, and that the US competitors don’t compare.
Many reviews mentioned that moisturizing benefits of the lotion – they like the soft, moisturised, healthy  glow that the lotion gives. Some added it would work really well as a lotion on its own for someone with dry skin.
Customers noted that each bottle lasts them a long time, and were impressed with the quality and longevity considering the price.
Some didn’t like the smell – noting they found it overpowering, and one reviewer said it gave them a headache. Some did like the smell, however if you’re sensitive to scents this is not the best lotion for you.

Is it for me?

Looking for a tanning accelerator on a budget with added SPF 15 for skin protection? This is a great option at an affordable price.
The SPF 15 UVA and UVB protection gives you some safety peace of mind while accelerating your tan. It’s sweat and water resistant so it’s perfect for tanning at the beach. The lotion contains vitamin E and moisturizing ingredients to hydrate your skin and counteract some of the damaging ageing effects of the sun.

However, some find the scent overpowering – if you’re sensitive to smells this isn’t for you. Check out Bronzo Sensuale or Absolutely Natural Platinum Tanning Oil instead.

Check out the current price of Piz Buin FP15 Tan & Protect on Amazon here


#4. Best Tanning Gel: Bain De Soleil Orange Gelee

  • 3.12 ounces
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  • High quality moisturizing ingredients
  • Nice scent
  • Works well for fair skin and hard-to-tan areas
  • PABA free
  • Budget friendly
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  • Hard to find in stores
  • The packaging isn’t user friendly
  • Not a lot of product in each bottle
  • Contains mineral oil

A moisturizing tanning gel with SPF 4

Bain De Soleil Orange Gelee is a tanning gel designed to enhance the color of your tan, with added SPF 4 protection to help prevent some skin damage and sunburn. Even though it’s an orange colored gel, it doesn’t turn your skin orange!
Although it contains some sun protection, SPF 4 is not a high factor protection. Skincare experts typically recommend an SPF of at least 15 protection. It’s easy to use a higher SPF of your choice first, and then add the gel on top when the SPF has soaked in. Bain De Soleil recommends reapplying after prolonged contact with the sun.

Luxurious hydrating ingredients

The gel contains luxurious emollients designed to protect and moisturize the skin. Emollients mimic the functions performed by the sebum in healthy skin, to moisturize as you tan for a longer lasting color and to prevent peeling. It’s hydrating and enriched with added vitamin E and beeswax, and at the same time, the gel is not greasy and soaks in easily to the skin. It’s lightly scented with a tropical fragrance for summer.
Although it does contain these luxurious ingredients, it also contains mineral oil – an ingredient many try their best to avoid.

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Customers are impressed with the tanning gel – with very high average reviews online.

Multiple reviewers said it works better than any other tanning product that they’ve tried. Customers liked that the gel works well as a moisturizer and feels buttery on the skin.

A reviewer with fair skin noted it helped her get a nice tan that lasts a long time. Others said it works well on areas that they usually find hard to tan (the legs, below the knee etc.).
Although there’s only SPF 4 protection in the gel, multiple reviewers noted they didn’t experience burning when they used this product.
Smells are often a divisive feature of tanning lotions. Reviewers said they like the subtle scent.
Customers didn’t like that the retro style tube isn’t very user friendly. Others said they wish it was more readily available in stores.

Is it for me?

If you find it difficult to tan, or suffer from dry skin – this is a great hydrating tanning gel for the price. The gel is enriched with highly hydrating ingredients. Customers note it works especially well for fair skin, and areas of the body that don’t tan easily. However, the packaging isn’t super user friendly, and it does contain mineral oil.

Click here to view the price of the Bain De Soleil Orange Gelee double pack on Amazon


BONUS: A Safer Alternative To Tanning

CleanTan Self-Tanning Concentrate  – Add to Any Lotion To Make A Self Tanner

  • 3 ounces
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  • Non-toxic, dye free, fragrance free, soy free
  • Can be mixed with any facial or body lotion, serum, self-tanner, or oil
  • 100% Vegan and cruelty free
  • Gives a long lasting natural looking tan that lasts around a week
  • Customizable false tan
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  • Pricey, but may save you money because it’s versatile
  • Hard to get an even application on face, feet, and ankles for some

Plant based, vegan, natural looking tan

Cleantan is the world’s first non-toxic, dye free, and fragrance free self tanning liquid product. The sunless tan provides a natural but deep, long lasting tan. It’s designed to mix with any of your favorite facial or body lotions, serums, or oils to create a sunless self tanner.
This guilt-free self tan is great for a safe alternative to UV tanning. Clean Tan promises no streaks, no mess, and no odor with this toxin, soy, and dye free product.

Antioxidants & Plant based and Anti-Ageing Ingredients

100% plant based pigments (including teas, herbs, and spices) combine for a healthy sunless tan. Dark organic cocoa fruit extract, fresh beet extract, organic blue green algae, and caramel work to provide the rich, deep color of the tan.
The lotion works to protect your skin against harsh environmental damage from pollution and UV rays. Cleantan is full of antioxidants and anti-ageing ingredients.

The manufacturing process and product is 100% vegan and cruelty free.

Easy to use, easily to customize your tan

The self tanner is highly concentrated, so it should be mixed with your favorite lotion, cream, serum, or oil. You can also add a few drops to your current favorite self tanner for a deeper glow. It’s easy to use – just add the liquid tanner to your favorite lotion in the palm of your hand.

Because it’s so highly concentrated, it’s easy to control the darkness of your tan. The darkness of your tan will depend on how much tanning product you used. Feel like a deeper tan? Just use more of this product with your preferred lotion. Want a subtle glow? Mix only a small amount of product with the lotion of your choice.

The plant pigments provide an instant tan color guide after application. Wash your hands immediately after application. Let the tan develop for at least 8 hours before washing it off. The pigment will darken after 6-8 hours and will develop further for 48 hours after initial application (even after you wash it off!).

The product has a powerful herbal/aromatic/spicy scent on application, but this fades pretty fast. The natural ingredients used means the initial scent after application can vary from batch to batch.

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Customers are very impressed overall with the product – with high average reviews online.

Many reviewers said it’s the best self tanner they’ve ever used.

Although it’s pricey, one review said it has saved them money because of how versatile it is.

Customers say the tanner looks like their natural summer tan, and it works even for those with fair skin. The bronze color left many feeling confident, and multiple reviewers said they get many compliments when they wear it.

It doesn’t streak or leave blotchy spots, and one reviewer said it even conceals their varicose veins.

It’s easy to mix with other lotions and comes with easy to follow instructions, and doesn’t stain clothes or bed sheets.

The false tan lasts up to week, longer than most self tanner and spray tans.

It doesn’t have that typical fake tan odor. You don’t have to worry about giving off that unpleasant biscuity tan when you go about your day!
Some customers said they love the eco-friendly and organic aspect of the product. However, they wish it was contained in a glass bottle instead, to prevent exposure to chemicals from the plastic container.
Tip: use a makeup brush to apply it to your feet for even application.

Is it for me?

Looking for a safe alternative to UV indoor or outdoor tanning? This highly concentrated self tanning liquid is perfect for a guilt free, customizable tan. It’s easy to mix with your favorite lotion – add more for a deeper tan, only apply a conservative amount for a more subtle glow. While it’s not cheap, it may save you money in the long run because it’s so customizable and can be used on both the face and the body.
  • Maybe you’re looking for a safer alternative to UV tanners? CleanTan Self-Tanning Concentrate is a great option for you. It’s a super concentrated lotion that you add to any of your favorite lotions, and it’s easy to control the shade of your tan by adding more or less product. Although it’s quite pricey, it can save you money over time because it’s such a customizable product that’s suitable for the body and the face.


♥ Sun Tanning for Newbies

♥ Indoor vs Outdoor Tanning

Typically, you’re exposed to the sun’s rays for longer when tanning outside, while when using an indoor tanning bed you’re getting a shorter, more intense tanning session for a deeper tan more quickly.

Never use an outdoor tanning lotion in a tanning bed – they’re typically banned from tanning salons, and can damage the tanning beds.

Many tanning lotions designed for indoor tanning can also be used outside. You should use an SPF lotion with this type of lotion when using tanning in the sun, because indoor tanners typically don’t include any SPF protection.

Outdoor tanning exposes your skin to both UVA and UVB natural rays, however indoor tanning exposes the skin to UVA rays in a controlled environment. The difference in exposure calls for a difference in protection and enhancement needs.

In a tanning bed you restrict your exposure to UV by setting a timer. Outdoors you should limit your exposure by using an SPF.  This does not mean that tanning indoors is safe.

♥ How does sun tanning work?

Melanin is produced in the body to protect it by absorbing Ultraviolet radiation (UV rays). Too much UV radiation results in sunburn and damage to the skin. The body reacts to this damage by protecting the skin via the developing of more melanin into the skin’s cells – the extra melanin results in a darker skin color. This process can occur via the sun or a tan bed.

UVA induces a tanned appearance to the skin by oxidizing the existing melanin which darkens the melanin rather than producing more melanin.  Little melanin is produce by UVA, meaning there’s not a lot of extra melanin protection against sun damage, sun burn, or cancer.

UVB rays, on the other hand, do increase the production of melanin in the skin as a direct result of DNA photodamage.

UVB produces Vitamin D in the skin and is reduced by most sunscreen in accordance with their SPF. It causes skin ageing but at a slower rate than UVA, and is linked to moles and skin cancer.

Your natural skin color impacts how the skin reacts to exposure to UV rays. Some skin types tan easier than others. The Fitzpatrick scale can you determine the impact of UV on your skin type.

Exposure to UV rays can result in sunburn. Sunscreen can prevent subburn but can inhibit the effectiveness of the tanning process. Overexposure to UV rays can increase the risk of cancer, age the skin quicker, impact the immune system, and mutate DNA.

♥ Are there any benefits to sun tanning?

Besides a golden glow, there are some potential benefits to sun exposure (provided the exposure is in moderate doses).

Moderate exposure to UV rays can increase the production of vitamin D (a vitamin essential for human health).

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is not as common in the sunniest regions of the world. Exposure to UVB may be connected to less prevalence of MS, potentially due to vitamin D synthesis.

♥ How To Reduce the Risk of Skin Damage

Tanning in the sun or under the tanning bed increases the risk of skin cancer.

12 times more UVA light is emitted from indoor tanning beds than the natural sunlight. Tanning under the sun is still dangerous – a bad sunburn can double the risk of skin cancer.

Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes, hats to protect your scalp, and use sunscreen under the sun to prevent burning.

Tanning can also cause premature skin ageing – wrinkles, leathery skin, and sun spots.

A higher SPF will protect the skin for longer, but will make a tan harder to achieve. Try to cut down on tanning by using a tan extender/healer (check out Maui Babe here). Opt for a sunless tanner (like Clean Tan on this list) for a safer bronze tan.



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