10 Best Outdoor Tanning Lotions

Let’s face it; tanning in outdoors is a lot more fun than being on a sunbed. There’s nothing quite like being laid out under the sun, relaxing, and knowing that you’re getting a nice glow to your skin. But the problem is that it can be trickier to get a nice tan going outside than you might think—sometimes you might seemingly not tan at all, and then there’s also the risk of burning.

Fortunately, there’s a whole host of lotions out there to help you get it right. With this in mind, we’ve brought together ten of the very best outdoor tanning lotions that you can buy right now, whether you need something to give you a super dark tone, or your fair skin needs looking after.

Top 10 Outdoor Tanning Lotions 2018

Product Name Image SPF Product Action Check Price
Beauty by Earth Mineral Sunscreen 91kXwNyyebL._SX522_-243x300-1 SPF 25 Protecting Price
Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion 81JytqoQBEL._SL1500_-2 SPF 15-SPF 70 Protecting, moisturizing Price
NIVEA Sun-Kissed Radiance 71Pg9Y28EnL._SL1500_-1 No Smoothing, moisturizing, gradual tanning Price
Maui Babe Browning Lotion 2017/12/61X7vEwkMdL._SY679_-1 No Accelerating Price
Millennium Tanning Paint It Black
(Editor’s Choice)
91LJ9xI875L._SL1500_-1 No Accelerating, bronzing, skin firming Price
Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Body Lotion 71TYU-mML._SL1500_-1 SPF 70 Protecting, moisturizing Price
Somewhere On a Beach Instant Dark Tanning Lotion 714EoEU8LRL._SL1500_-1 No Bronzing, anti-aging, softening Price
Australian Gold Cheeky Brown Tanning Accelerator Plus Bronzer 41k1h8Pg3L-1 No Accelerating, bronzing, hydrating Price
Alba Botanica Hawaiian Sunscreen 71fya5hyFL._SL1500_-1 SPF 30 Protecting Price
Ed Hardy #Beachtime Tanning Lotion 912Aa-sezIL._SL1500_-1 No Accelerating, softening, hydrating Price

Beauty by Earth Mineral Sunscreen – Best for All the Family

An all-natural SPF 25 sunscreen, this product from Beauty by Earth is a great all-rounder for people who want just a single lotion they can throw in their beach bag. The non-greasy cream is designed to go on really easily, and shouldn’t be any trouble for kids. It’s also water resistant.

What’s more is that all of the ingredients are natural. Beauty by Earth have tried to make sure that this lotion won’t cause any allergic reactions, and is also safe for marine life when washed off in the sea. One additional benefit is that these ingredients mean it smells good too.

Being SPF 25 and having no special tanning ingredients, it’s not designed for people who want a really strong tan, but it is good for getting a natural glow, and can be used by almost anyone.

  • Suitable for the whole family
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Not a dedicated tanning lotion
  • Has a pale sheen when applied

Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion – Best Lotion for Pale Skin

Sun Bum market this particular lotion as being a premium product, and we’d certainly have to agree. It’s packaged up really nicely, and backs this up with a quality lotion inside. Designed for people who spend a long time—or even work—in the sun, one of its biggest attractions is that it’ll last around 80 minutes, even through sweat and some water application.

The upshot is that this is great for those with pale skin too, who might worry about needing to re-apply constantly with some low-quality lotions. It’s also free of oil and parabens, and we’re pleased to see that it’s cruelty-free too, which isn’t always easy to find in a tanning lotion.

Despite not containing oil, this lotion does a very good job of helping you get a good tan going outdoors, and the moisturizer helps to keep your skin feeling great.

  • Great sweat resistance
  • Gives a nice moisturized feel
  • Not for serious tanners
  • Smell might not be to everyone’s taste

NIVEA Sun-Kissed Radiance – Best Budget Tanning Lotion

NIVEA are well known as one of the most popular skincare brands the world over, so it’s no surprise we’ve decided to include one of their products in our list. Their Sun-Kissed Radiance lotion is something a bit different, because it’s designed to help your tan on its way artificially.

Apply it once a day, and you’ll gradually build a nice glow, and it’s suitable for both fair and medium skin. The really great thing about this lotion is that you don’t need to worry too much about the really even application – it doesn’t leave streaks or blotches.

If you’re looking for a nice moisturizing lotion that will compliment and boost your outdoor tan just a little bit, then this might be it. It’s also really well priced so you don’t need to worry about using lots of it.

  • Easy to apply with no streaks or blotches
  • Gives a natural glow
  • No SPF protection
  • Takes a few applications to see results

Maui Babe Browning Lotion – Best Lotion to Get Dark Fast

There aren’t many products on the market that just seem to work as they say they will, but this one might just be one such lotion. The Maui Babe Browning Lotion was designed with one goal in mind—to give you a long-lasting dark tan.

We’d have to say that it does succeed, and using it for just a few days in the sun will certainly give you a noticeable dark tan. You can also use this for getting rid of any areas of tan that you’ve missed, as it’s quite easy to target any of your body with it.

This isn’t a sunscreen, so you may also need to consider additional SPF protection, and do be aware that it can get on clothes. But aside from that, it’s probably the best product on our list for getting a deep color quickly.

  • Gives a deep brown tan
  • Works quickly
  • No SPF protection
  • Somewhat greasy

Millennium Tanning Paint It Black – Best All-in-One Tanning Lotion

This is another lotion that’s designed to be used as a complimentary tanning product. While it won’t necessarily give you a super-dark tan, it will give you a fairly strong and natural look that’s going to be suitable for most people.

The best thing about the Paint It Black lotion is that it does a very, very good job of moisturizing your skin after you apply it. It’s easy for skin to become dry when tanning outdoors, but this is one of the better lotions at keeping you hydrated without being greasy.

What’s more is that there are skin firming ingredients in it too, so this is a good lotion to use if you’re looking for something that’s good at all-round skincare in the sun.

  • Tans, moisturizes, and firms in one
  • Smells good
  • Doesn’t protect you from the sun
  • Not as strong as some other tanning lotions

Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Body Lotion – Best Lotion to Prevent Burning

If you like the idea of getting a bit of a tan going, but you’re very prone to burning, then Neutrogena’s Beach Defense might just be the best product for you. With an SPF of 70, and a strong resistance to water and sweat, it’s going to do a very good job of keeping you safe from the sun’s rays.

This combination of sun and water resistance also means that this particular lotion would really suit those who engage in watersports. The thick lotion is very good for protecting the face from reflected rays of the water’s surface, and it will last for an impressive 80 minutes if you get wet.

The lotion consistency is fairly thick which means you have to take care when applying to make sure you’ve got even coverage, but this is a small price to pay for excellent protection against the sun.

  • High SPF protection
  • Excellent water resistance
  • No tan boosters
  • Takes a little longer to apply than sprays

Somewhere On a Beach Instant Dark Tanning Lotion – Best Smelling Tanning Lotion

Next up is the Somewhere On a Beach lotion, which can actually be used either indoors or outdoors. This product promises to get your tan going very quickly, however you want to use it. It’s a nice looking bottle, and it clearly has a target market in mind.

While the end result isn’t as strong as something like Maui Babe, it is nonetheless a good color, and you should find yourself getting lots of compliments. If you already go quite dark when you tan, you might not notice a big difference, but those with light skin certainly will.

Another thing we really like about Somewhere On a Beach is that it doesn’t feel the same as a lot of other lotions that are designed to give this kind of deep tan. It’s not sticky, doesn’t leave a residue, and smells really nice. All-round this is a great product for most people.

  • Feels great on your skin
  • Gives a noticeable tan quickly
  • Might not be suitable for people looking for a very dark tan
  • Won’t protect your skin from the sun

Australian Gold Cheeky Brown Tanning Accelerator Plus Bronzer – Best Tanning Lotion for Natural Look

The first thing you’re going to notice here is the brightly colored bottle, which is really very fun indeed. And it somewhat hides the fact that this is a seriously good lotion that aims to do lots of things—moisturize, bronze, and tan—all at the same time.

The name ‘cheeky brown’ is a great description for the color that this lotion will get you. It’s a very natural feel—the kind you’d expect from lots of short bursts of sun over a period of time. The bronzer does, however, have an effect that might not be good for guys.

Now this lotion does have a pretty intense smell that might not be to everyone’s tastes. It’s not bad, but it’s quite a strong orange and coconut scent, so you should be aware of this before you buy.

  • Tans, bronzes, and moisturizes
  • Great color
  • Smell won’t be for everyone
  • Can only be used after getting a base tan and won’t protect you skin from the sun

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Sunscreen – Best Everyday Tanning Lotion

Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian sunscreen is a great 30 SPF sunscreen that’s ideal for pretty much anyone who is looking for a nice all-round sunscreen with the added benefit of it being vegetarian, and not tested on animals.

What we really like about this lotion is that it’s one that you can use every day while you’re outdoors, without having to worry about things like white marks, smell, or greasiness. It doesn’t leave a film, rubs all the way into your skin, and isn’t too greasy when you’re applying it either.

If you like to get your tan naturally while you’re out and about, whether you’re sightseeing on vacation, or you work outdoors, this is a really great choice.

  • You can barely tell you’re wearing sun lotion
  • Cruelty-free, vegetarian product
  • You’ll have to wait to tan naturally
  • Not all ingredients are natural

Ed Hardy #Beachtime Tanning Lotion – Best Tanning Lotion for Tattoos

Our final lotion is a really great specialist product. The Ed Hardy #Beachtime lotion is an all-in-one tanning beautifier that packs a lot into the bottle.

Rather than using any bronzers to give you an artificial tone, this lotion has been created to intensify your tanning time while outdoors. It works very well, and we’d recommend this to anyone who wants a strong color.

What’s more is that the lotion has been combined with a variety of additional ingredients that help to firm and moisturize the skin, as well as protect the color of tattoos. This makes it ideal for those looking for the full range of skincare from their tanning lotion.

  • Great tanning ability
  • Lots of benefits packed in
  • Higher priced option
  • Not all ingredients are natural

Buying Guide

There are a lot of different types of tanning lotions out there on the market, which can make it very difficult to pick the right one, even when you’re reading reviews. After all, if you’re not totally sure what you’re reading about, how can you come to a decision? Fortunately, we’re here to help. We’ve put this brief buyer’s guide together to help make sure you know what you’re looking for.


The first thing to think about is the type of tanning lotion that you want, because there are several, and they do different jobs even though they might be branded the same. Let’s go through the three main ones.

Firstly, you’ve got your standard sunscreens that are designed to protect your skin while still allowing to build up a bit of a tan. Now, if you’re searching for outdoor tanning lotions, you might think that this ain’t what you want, but rest assured that you will still build up a tan if you sunbathe gradually even with sunscreen on. If you’re worried about burning, or you only want a hint of tan, then these are the best kinds of lotion for you.

10 Best Outdoor Tanning Lotions - Reviews and Top Picks

Next up are lotions that are not really designed to protect your skin from the sun’s rays—they’re designed to boost them and increase the tanning process. They are often oil-based, and can really help to give you that deep natural tan that can only come outdoors. You do need to be careful with these as you can burn if you’re not sensible, but there’s nothing better for getting a strong tan.

Finally, there are lotions that are similar to fake tan, but give you some color gradually. You apply them each day, and they slowly give your skin a darker tone. While they will work by themselves, they work best when used with a natural tan from the outdoors, which is why a lot of sunbathers like to use them as a complimentary lotion.

It’s worth noting of course that lots of tanning lotions will actually combine one or more of the above. Products like the Australian Gold Cheeky Brown that we’ve mentioned do help to increase the effectiveness of outdoor rays, but they also have bronzer in them for an instant bit of tone.

Either way, as long as you know which of the types you’re looking at, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about which is best for you.


Not all tanning lotions will have an SPF rating. Many of the ones that are just to help get you as dark as possible as quickly as possible offer no sun protection at all, but many of course do. If you’re picking from those, then it’s certainly useful to understand what SPF is and what it means.


SPF stands for sun protection factor, and it refers to the amount of the sun’s UV rays that make it through to the skin when the sunscreen is applied. For example, an SPF 30 sunscreen would mean that only 1/30th of the sun’s rays make it to your skin compared with wearing none at all.  Higher is therefore better. Another way of thinking about it is that if you would normally burn in ten minutes outside, it would take 300 minutes while wearing SPF 30.

It’s important to note also that not all sunscreens block against UVA rays. These don’t generally cause burning, but they are considered to be a risk for certain types of skin cancer. To get the full protection, you want a sunscreen that also blocks UVA rays. These are usually known as ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreens.


Ingredients can be really important. While you might not be looking to see if a product contains a specific ingredient, you may well want to know that some aren’t.

Lots of lotions, for instance, do come with a great many artificial ingredients. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but lots of people do like to use only natural products on their skin. If this is you, then check out the reviews carefully to see what goes into the lotion—it’s usually quite easy to find out.

Similarly, as outdoor tanners are naturally used on the beach a lot, people who are environmentally minded do like to know that if they go in the water, the lotion that they’re using isn’t going to be harmful. Look for lotions that are branded as being ‘reef safe’, such as the Beauty by Earth lotion we reviewed earlier.


Ingredients can have a big effect on how the product feels, too, and this is going to be important to a lot of people.


Sunscreens, in particular, are often quite thick because this is part of the reason they’re so effective at blocking the sun’s rays. Poor quality ones can be difficult to apply well and seem to get everywhere, so it’s a good idea to check out reviews to see what people are saying about how easy the lotion is to put on. This will be especially true for people who are looking for products they can use on children.

With a lot of tanning lotions that are designed to dye the skin slightly, or increase the effectiveness of the sun, the lotion itself can also be quite difficult to get off clothes if it’s allowed to dry, so think about this in advance. The lotions we’ve selected on our list were very easy-to-use, but there’s nothing worse than getting a lotion that seems to get everywhere you don’t want it to, and stains your clothes or nails.

Oil-based products are often the worst for this, which is why you’ll see a lot of lotions that advertise the fact that they don’t contain it. That doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t buy them if they do, but just be aware that not everyone likes trying to use oil.


The final thing we think you should consider, as funny as it sounds, is the smell. It’s true that very few tanning lotions don’t smell of anything, and in reality, lots of them don’t smell good at all. This is often down to fake tanning ingredients but is sometimes unavoidable. In order to combat this, a lot of manufacturers will give their lotions quite a strong floral or fruity smell. Often this is great, but it might not be for everyone. Men, in particular, might find that a lot of lotions can be quite feminine in their fragrance, so it’s worth seeing what people say. Bear in mind that some of the lotions that are designed to gradually build a tan do rub into your skin, so you’ll have to put up with the smell for quite a while—it won’t easily disappear after a couple of hours sunbathing.


The next time you think about heading out into the sun, you can now do so knowing that you are aware of what you need to buy to enjoy yourself. Grab some tan accelerator like the Maui Babe and wait to turn a deep brown, or opt for the Beach by Earth sunscreen for some natural protection. And always remember to stay safe in the sun.