6 Best Indoor Tanning Lotion Substitutes


There are many ways to get a tan that doesn’t involve lying in the sun. But have you been inundated with information on which products work best for indoor tanning?

There are so many options out there it can be a bit overwhelming. Well, fear not. I took a close look at the numerous indoor tanning options available. In this article, I go in-depth on the pros and cons of each product.

Here are the best six alternatives to indoor tanning lotion.

1. Sheet Masks

Sheet masks are commonly known to help with moisturizing skin or creating a radiant glow to the face.

This product is perfect for someone who wants to freshen up their face with a little bit of tanned color. However, it isn’t a practical solution for those looking to tan larger parts of their body, like the arms or legs.

While these products are simple on the surface, they pack some powerful results. Sheet masks are made of a thin, paper-like material with openings for the nose, eyes, and mouth and are often infused with a product to enhance the user’s face.

Even though they are usually used for moisturizing or giving the face a glow, they have come a long way to include tanning properties. Some brands claim that sheet masks can produce the perfect golden glow without the need for a tanning bed or a lotion.

Simply put the sheet mask on and let it sit for up to 15-minutes. 5-minutes is said to develop a light-colored tan, 10-minutes will provide a medium-colored tan, and the full 15-minutes will give the skin a deeper tan color.

It is important to note that the full results of this product will be noticeable within 8 hours of application. The product needs to permeate the skin on the face.

2. Gel-based Products

Most people will associate “gel” with “aloe-vera gel.” However, when it comes to tanning products, gel plays a totally different kind of role!

Self-tanning gels are the perfect way to add a sun-kissed glow to the face, arms, and legs any time of year. Additionally, some brands that market self-tanning gels claim that the drying time is very minimal. This is perfect for people who want to touch-up a fading tan or add some darker color to their skin before heading out for an adventure.

The gels generally contain caramel and cocoa extracts that will aid in providing skin with the perfect glowing brown color. They also offer moisturizing properties like tanning lotions with the addition of aloe vera and shea butter. Thus, people who are used to using lotion products will find the gels to be quite similar in their application.

3. Tanning Mists (Water-Based)

Water-based tanning mists are an excellent solution to traditional lotions because they are a quick and easy way to get a golden hue. Because they are water-based, they won’t clog pores.

Sometimes, tanning products get a bad rap for clogging up skin pores. The quality and the base of the product will determine if this actually happens.

While having clear pores is undoubtedly a huge perk, another great feature of water-based tanning mists is that they generally yield results within 3 to 5 hours of application. This is a huge benefit compared to other products.

Some lotions, and even gels, can be more instant. However, for products that need to penetrate the skin a little more, this time frame is worth waiting for! This is because the product is getting a chance to really get into the skin.

4. Tanning Oils

Some people swear by tanning lotions, and some people swear by tanning oils. Is one side really better than the other? Yes…and no.

It really comes down to personal preference. Most people complain that tanning oils are too greasy. While this can be true, it depends on the brand of oil that is being used. Using a good, quality tanning oil should leave skin sheen and slick looking but not greasy to the touch.

A cheaper brand will probably be a bit greasy.

It is important to note that tanning oils come in a variety of ways of being applied. It can be an oil that is squirted into the palm of the hand and spread over the arms, legs, and face. It also comes in sprays where the skin is misted with the oil. Additionally, it can even come in a rollerball form, like the old roll-on deodorant.

The spray oils tend to be the most popular as they cover the skin more effectively. It can evenly coat the skin in hard to get areas.

Moreover, tanning oils can also be of the instant variety or ones that are applied before going into the sunlight. Most spray tans that people can get will feature a tanning oil that provides that honey-colored hue more instantly than products intended for sitting in the sun.

5. Self-Tanning Drops

Self-tanning drops are becoming quite a trendy product in the beauty world. While the bottles are relatively small, only a few drops are actually needed.

The drops aren’t directly applied to the skin. It is best if they are added to a body lotion or moisturizer apart from a regular beauty routine.

Because of this unique way to use this tanning product, it can be applied to the face, arms, or legs. It could even be added to the feet, a notoriously tricky area to get tanned compared to the rest of the body.

The other attractive perk to this tanning lotion substitute is that there are various types of drops on the market depending on the desired look that someone wants to get. For example, some of the self-tanning drops can focus on skin redness, while others can focus on brightening the skin.

No matter what, self-tanning drops are the perfect way to take a beauty routine up a notch, all way adding some beautiful golden glow!

6. Self-Tanning Serums

Many serums are a woman’s secret weapon to battle signs of aging. On the other hand, for women who are looking to touch-up a fading tan or give their face an even golden hue, there are self-tanning serums on the market.

These serums not only provide a beautiful tanned look to the skin but still have anti-aging ingredients as well. They are doing double duty, making them perfect for older women who want to have a sun-kissed look.

While the serums are only for the face, it doesn’t make them any less useful. Like the sheet masks, they are designed to make the face glow not only in color but also in their overall appearance.

Tanning lotions can be greasy, just like some oils can be, so using things serums, sheet masks, or the other suggestions on this list really are great ways to substitute traditional tanning lotions.

What Oils Help Tan Faster?

Tanning has been popular for decades, and the methods that people have tried to get a perfect hue have certainly changed throughout the years.

As expressed earlier, people either love or hate tanning oils. However, they do provide the skin with a gorgeous color and often can help to keep the skin soft as well. This is particularly helpful for people looking to ditch tanning lotions. Below are some oils that are said to help people get a tan faster!

Oils For Tanning Faster

  1. Coconut-oil
  2. Avocado oil
  3. Raspberry seed oil
  4. Carrot oil

These four specific oils have naturally occurring SPF (Sun Protection Factor), making them great for getting a quicker tan. They are also known for giving skin a healthy dose of hydration as well.

The best way to use them for tanning faster is by buying products that have them incorporated into the ingredients. Using a variation of them plainly on the skin isn’t the same as using them in tan-specific products. Products that contain these oils are said to provide a quicker, faster tan.

Important: These products should never replace sunscreen that is used to protect from sunburn.

Final Thoughts

I am a redhead, so laying in the sun or tanning bed does nothing for me. If I ever wanted a tan, it had to be done with a self-tanning product. But it doesn’t matter who you are. It simply isn’t healthy to get too much sun.

I hope this list has helped you decided which type to try. Happy tanning!

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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