Do you Need Lotion for Tanning in a Bed? Is it Beneficial?

One of the most common questions I get from first-timers is, ‘Do you need lotion for tanning in a bed?’

And I’m ready to answer this finally!

I’ve always been more of an outdoor tanning girl, but we’ve all had to adjust to new routines with the pandemic. 

Thankfully, now that I have enough knowledge to pass on to you, my beloveds, it’s time to give you a solid answer on whether indoor tanning lotion is necessary. 

Don’t forget to check our indoor tanning lotions reviews.

Do You Need Tanning Lotion for Tanning Bed Sessions?

Yes, it would be best if you had tanning lotion when using tanning beds, and I’ll explain why in the next section.

But they’re a few occasions where you can tan without lotions.

I’ll also be discussing those special occasions and what to do in such cases. 

a middle-aged woman having a tanning bed session

8 Benefits of Using Lotion for Indoor Tanning

Here are reasons why I recommend using tanning lotion when using a tanning bed. 

1. It Keeps Your Skin Moisturized 

You’ll notice that once you start using a tanning bed, it causes your skin to dry when darkening it.

This is because the process depletes moisture from your skin during the process, which isn’t ideal. And the drying is even worse for those who have dry skin.

The lotion helps in keeping the skin hydrated and healthy through the process. 

CHECK: 13 Best Lotion for Crepey Skin on Arms and Legs

2. It Protects Your Skin From Excess UV Rays 

Okay, this part may sound a little bit nerdy, but I promise not to show off and use simple language instead. 

Research shows that tanning beds have the same UVB range as the sun, but the UVA range is 10-15 times stronger than the sun. 

This means that exposing your body to the sun leads to deadly illnesses such as skin cancer, including malignant melanoma; and tanning beds increase the risk by 15 times. 

Using lotion helps in significantly lowering this risk. 

3. It Slows Your Aging Process

I don’t know about you, but for me, this was reason enough for me to apply the lotion. I’m keeping this glow for as long as I can ?.

UV rays cause your skin to lose elasticity and lose collagen (the ingredient responsible for keeping your skin tight), which can lead to premature skin aging. 

Thankfully, most tanning lotions have collagen and anti-aging products that protect your skin and reduce cellulite and wrinkles appearance.

They also help in repairing damaged skin because they have Vitamin E and C. 

4. It Adds Nutrients to Your Skin 

The tanning lotions that I’ve used have ingredients that boost skin health by nourishing and hydrating the skin. 

Some of the magical skin-loving ingredients include essential oils, vitamins, antioxidants, and fruit extracts. 

These ingredients give your skin a beautiful glow and make it smooth, younger, and healthier. 

5. It Makes You Feel Good 

The tanning bed can get a bit warm, which can be a little uncomfortable before you’re used to it. 

Thankfully, some tanning lotions have a cooling effect, and others even have a tingling effect. The latter helps spice things up and make things interesting in the tanning bed. 

6. It Saves You the Trouble of the ‘After Tan Odor.’

Honey, this is something you don’t want to experience. Besides aging, this is why I don’t go in that booth without my lotion on. 

Do you know what the worst part is? You need to wait a few hours before you shower; even sweating after spraying tan can ruin everything for you. 

The odor is a result of bacteria from your skin getting hot from the tanning bed. Thankfully, many lotions have amazing fragrances that cover up this odor, as well as antibacterial ingredients. 

7. It Saves You Money 

Times are hard (I’m writing this during the pandemic), so I’m all about staying pretty and saving every nickel. 

Using indoor tanning lotions reduces the amount of time you spend in a booth by accelerating the process. 

Also, your tan will last longer because your skin is hydrated, which stops your skin from peeling. 

8. It Enhances and Gives You an Even Tan 

One of the biggest tanning secrets is that well-moisturized skin tans better than dry skin. 

Tanning lotion also gives you an even tone, and with regular usage, will enhance your tan and give you a beautiful glow. 

READ MORE: Best Outdoor Tanning Lotion

When to Skip the Lotion

As I mentioned earlier, there are some instances when using a tanning bed without lotion is allowed. 

Here are some of those times. 

1. When you’re allergic to ingredients in tanning lotions.

Not everyone can use tanning lotions. But this doesn’t mean you should give up tanning; you only need to be smart about it. Some of the solutions include limiting the time spent in a tanning booth, wearing protective clothing, and seeking hypoallergenic alternatives. 

2. When you’re using the booth as a source of vitamin D.

People living in high altitudes don’t get enough sunlight during winter. Therefore, they may use the beds to get vitamin D. Since most lotions contain sunscreen, they’d block vitamin D. 

3. If you’re leading a natural life.

Some people are trying to live a chemical-free life. And as much as most lotions are approved and safe, they still contain chemicals that could potentially lead to health problems if used in excess

Expert tip: Tanning with lotion is safer, but if you’re in the three groups I just discussed, that’s okay.

However, whether you use lotion or not, it’s essential to moisturize your skin after a session in the booth.

Vitamin E is an excellent alternative in this case, as it contains antioxidants and amazing moisturizing powers.

Great sources of vitamin E include coconut oil, jojoba oil, and almond oil.

Failing to moisturize your skin after a booth session causes it to dry, which isn’t pretty. 

brown-haired lady applying a tanning lotion on her shoulders

CHECK: Best Tanning Bed Lotion for Fair Skin

What Types of Lotions Are Best for Indoor Tanning?

All tanning lotions do the same thing, but there is a variety you can choose from. 

Let me give you a small orientation

#1 Accelerator Tanning Lotions 

I recommend maximizer lotions if you’re new to tanning. This is because the lotions have great ingredients that keep the skin hydrated, moisturized, and smooth.

The lotions also go well with all skin types, which is amazing if you’re still trying to figure out the best lotion for your skin. Plus, it gives you a golden tan that looks almost like a natural. 

#2 Tingle Lotions

Tingle tanning lotion is one of my favorites; not only do they give you a great, long-lasting tan regardless of your skin tone, but the tingling lotion brings you back to the world of the living.

However, I recommend this lotion for intermediate or advanced tanners.

It would be daunting to figure out the sensations caused by the lotion and the ones caused by the tanning bed as a beginner. Too much unnecessary anxiety! 

#3 Bronzers

I’m sure you’ve come across the term bronzers several times since you started researching tanning. So, let me expand on it.

They’re two types of bronzers:

  • The natural bronzers that boost melanin production and subsequently give you a tan.
  • And DHA bronzers that contain dihydroxyacetone (an active ingredient that creates a dark color on your dead skin cells). 

Tips for Picking the Perfect Tanning Bed Lotion

Anxious about picking tanning lotions? I got you. Here are helpful tips to increase the chances of choosing suitable indoor tanning lotions. 

Your Skin Type

This is the most critical factor when choosing any beauty product. For example, if you have sensitive skin, you should go for hypoallergenic tanning lotions to avoid any reactions in the booth. 

Your Timeline & Goals

How deep do you want your tan to be, and after how long? All tanners have different levels of intensity. Suppose you want a deep tan; it’s best to go for immediate bronzers.

Also, with a short deadline, using delayed bronzers would be a big miss because they take at least 7 hours to start seeing results. 


When you want a tan, you don’t want to bake under UV rays while doing it. Therefore, when choosing tanning bed lotions, it’s always good to select the ones with sunscreen. 


I love a tanning lotion with a good scent, but I don’t want it to be overboard.

I’m okay with lotions with coconut, lavender, or chocolate scent. But if you don’t like scents, it’s ideal to go with non-fragrance creams. 

Should I Use Tanning Lotions in a Tanning Bed? 

Yes, tanning lotions play several roles in your tanning process.

They protect your skin from all risk factors associated with exposure to excess UV rays.

Some common effects include signs of early aging, skin cancer, and sunburn.

They also help you get a golden tan that lasts for longer.

That said, it’s okay to skip tanning lotion if you’re getting in the booth to attain vitamin D.  

a woman squeezing tanning lotion on her hands

Are you new to tanning? What are your biggest challenges? 


  • “Dihydroxyacetone | DermNet NZ.” n.d.
  • Gerber, Beat, Patrick Mathys, Mirjana Moser, Dominique Bressoud, and Charlotte Braun-Fahrländer. 2002. “Ultraviolet Emission Spectra of Sunbeds.” Photochemistry and Photobiology 76 (6): 664–68.;2.
  • Mayo Clinic. 2019. “Melanoma – Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic. 2019.
  • “What Is the Difference between UVA and UVB Rays?” 2016. University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. July 2, 2016.
lady putting lotion on her legs but do you need lotion for tanning bed session?

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About Edith Russo

Edith is a self-made entrepreneur with a keen business sense that others admire and a total “can-do” attitude. She’s always coming up with new ideas to anticipate her readers’ needs and help solve all their toughest beauty and skincare problems. READ HER LATEST ARTICLES. FOLLOW HER on Linkedin and Twitter. Learn more about her HERE.