Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may earn a small commission for qualifying purchases.
How can you tell which are the best tanning lotions for sensitive skin?
What tanning oil can you use to go sunbathing if you have acne, eczema, or psoriasis?
Those are the questions I’ll answer today.
As you know, when you have sensitive skin, it’s best to consult with your doctor about your particular needs.
- Skin Type and Tanning
- Check the Ingredients in Tanning Lotions
- Test It Ahead of Time
- “Hypoallergenic” Doesn’t Mean That It’s Safe for Everyone
- Hempz Dark Tan Maximizer, Hypoallergenic
- The It List, Hypoallergenic and Vegan Tanning Lotion by Ed Hardy
- Devoted Creations #TANLIFE Hydrating Tanning Butter
- Body Nutritive Serum by Just Nutritive
- Devoted Creations Limited Couture Dark Tanning Creme Oil
- Ed Hardy Peace & Harmony Tanning Intensifier Bronzing Moisturizer Lotion
- Devoted Creations Flawless Perfection Hypo-Allergenic
- Swedish Beauty Sustain Natural Bronzer
- BAJA BAE Bronze Tanning Lotion for Indoor Tanning Beds
- Australian Gold Smooth Faces Facial Intensifier Tanning Lotion
- COCOOIL Tanning Oil SPF 6
- How to Tan When You Have Acne
- How to Tan When You Have Psoriasis or Eczema
Skin Type and Tanning
Some of us are genetically disposed to burn instead of tan.
If that describes you, start small.
Spend a short time, like 10 minutes, out in the sun. Be sure to apply one of the top tanning lotions for sensitive skin to protect against moisture loss.
It may take until the next day before you notice a change in color.
Be sure to skip a couple of days between your sessions in the sun.
Check the Ingredients in Tanning Lotions
But some things hold true for most situations. For example, fragrances and preservatives are a frequent cause of allergic reactions (1).
Look for products that say they are fragrance-free. Unscented lotions may still have an artificial fragrance that masks the chemical odor.
Also, parabens, phenoxyethanol, and methylchloroisothiazolinone are some of the preservatives that could cause you to have a rash.
When possible, choose a tanning lotion with fewer ingredients to minimize the risk.
Test It Ahead of Time
Once you’ve chosen a tanning lotion, it’s time to do a patch test.
Put a dab on the inside of your elbow. Then wait a couple of days to see if your skin reacts.
If you’re concerned about breaking out in pimples, you could put a small amount on the skin where you tend to have acne. Try the back of your neck or your chest if you don’t want to test on your face.
“Hypoallergenic” Doesn’t Mean That It’s Safe for Everyone
Unfortunately, in the USA, the FDA has no rule about when companies may use the term “hypoallergenic.” No manufacturer has to prove that their product is free of allergens (2).
Therefore, it’s left to you, the consumer, to protect yourself. Educate yourself about potential problems by reading reviews and selecting products from brands with good reputations.
Hempz Dark Tan Maximizer, Hypoallergenic
Hempz bases their tanning lotion on hemp seed oil. This is an ingredient that’s effective for moisturizing sensitive skin.
It’s also non-greasy and absorbs quickly.
Other ingredients include mango seed butter and oatmeal. Happily, it’s free of gluten and nut oils.
The It List, Hypoallergenic and Vegan Tanning Lotion by Ed Hardy
The It List doesn’t have gluten, parabens, wheat, oils, or nuts. Instead, it features extracts of caffeine, cotton, rice, ginger, and aloe to tone and soothe the skin.
There are no instant bronzers, so the color you achieve with it is all your own. The addition of tyrosine simply boosts your body’s ability to produce more pigment. Moreover, there is no DHA which could dry out and irritate sensitive skin.
Regrettably, it does have an artificial fragrance (“parfum”) and phenoxyethanol.
Devoted Creations #TANLIFE Hydrating Tanning Butter
The #TANLIFE tanning butter is made with shea butter, a lightweight moisturizer often recommended for sensitive skin.
The formula melts in to leave your body hydrated and velvety soft. It has tattoo and color fade protectors plus anti-aging benefits.
Body Nutritive Serum by Just Nutritive
This tanning serum doesn’t have parabens, alcohols, mineral oil, artificial dyes, or fragrances. It’s made in the USA from exotic ingredients like Kukui nut, peach kernel, and avocado oils.
As a result, it softens and smooths flaky, ashy, or crepey skin without adding any color of its own.
Devoted Creations Limited Couture Dark Tanning Creme Oil
The Limited Couture Dark Tanning Crème is advertised as hypoallergenic and free of parabens and artificial fragrances.
Please take note that it does have macadamia nut oil and tanning accelerators, though.
If you’d like an indoor tanning lotion with anti-aging benefits, this one has Matrixyl to reduce wrinkles.
Ed Hardy Peace & Harmony Tanning Intensifier Bronzing Moisturizer Lotion
The Peace & Harmony lotion will try to get along well with your skin. It doesn’t have oil, parabens, gluten, or nut derivatives in it.
The cream has a light tropical fragrance along with several cosmetic benefits. For example, it has MelanoBronze to intensify color.
Next, it has caffeine and green tea to firm and tighten the skin. Meanwhile, cotton and rice extract calm irritation.
Devoted Creations Flawless Perfection Hypo-Allergenic
The Flawless Perfection lotion is free of artificial dyes, gluten, parabens, and oil. It uses cotton and rice to calm sensitive skin.
Although there is no bronzer, the formula works to make you look your best. It fights wrinkles with PhytoCellTec and Renovage. These proprietary components boost collagen production and repair cell damage.
Swedish Beauty Sustain Natural Bronzer
The Sustain Natural Bronzer is free of synthetic dyes, gluten, soy, nuts, silicone, parabens, sulfates, and BPA. It uses organic natural bronzers made from sustainable ingredients.
While you wear it, organic persimmon nourishes your skin with iron, calcium, potassium.
Another interesting feature is the “Herbalodorant” to help you smell fresh after tanning.
BAJA BAE Bronze Tanning Lotion for Indoor Tanning Beds
This product is a tinted moisturizer like a BB cream as well as a self-tanner and an indoor tanning lotion. You won’t need a mitt to apply it, and it shouldn’t feel greasy or sticky once it’s absorbed.
The delicious fragrance comes from Mexican vanilla, real caramel, and coconut oil. Other ingredients include jojoba, agave, and hibiscus.
Australian Gold Smooth Faces Facial Intensifier Tanning Lotion
Faces tend to be more sensitive than other parts of the body, so be sure to use a facial tanning lotion that won’t cause you to break out.
The Smooth Faces lotion from Australian Gold is labeled as hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. Lamentably, it contains parabens and other ingredients that may be of concern to people with sensitive skin.
On the bright side, it minimizes oiliness and improves tone.
COCOOIL Tanning Oil SPF 6
CocoOil has only natural ingredients like coconut oil, beeswax, and botanicals. When you buy it, you’re supporting the economy of the Pacific Islands.
It’s made from free-trade coconuts that are cold-pressed to extract Fair-Trade certified organic coconut oil.
The final product is manufactured in Australia and has been dermatologically tested.
How to Tan When You Have Acne
When you have acne, it’s important to avoid products that could clog your pores. Lightweight tanning lotions are better than greasy tanning oils.
Even though some time in the sun may seem to reduce your acne, you could end up with more pimples over the next few days (3).
Although some exposure makes the skin look less inflamed, UV radiation is suppressing the immune system. It’s concealing the acne, not curing it. Then, the sun dries out the skin and causes the sebaceous glands to overreact and produce extra oil.
Minimize your risk by using sunscreen to tan outdoors.
A sunscreen only filters a certain percentage of the UV rays. It extends the amount of time you can spend outdoors without getting burned. But that means some radiation still reaches your skin, and that will cause you to tan.
Aveeno Ultra-Calming Fragrance-Free Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15
Aveeno’s lightweight face moisturizer has minimal protection against the sun. It calms redness and hydrates but absorbs quickly so that your skin doesn’t feel greasy.
Not only is useful for tanning outdoors, but you can use it to protect the sensitive skin of your face in a sunbed.
ZERO All Natural 4 ingredient Sunscreen
How about a sunscreen where you control its potency? Depending on how thick you apply this lotion, it provides SPF 20 or more.
The best part is that it has only four main ingredients: shea butter, coconut oil, non-nano zinc oxide, and beeswax. There is also a small amount of rosemary extract and almond coconut scent added.
There are no parabens, alcohols, or chemical filters to irritate the skin.
Caribbean Sol 100% Natural Sol Guard SPF 15
The NaturaL Sol Guard lotion filters out UV radiation with non-nano zinc oxide. At the same time, it conditions sensitive skin with cucumber extract, organic aloe, and Kukui oil.
Furthermore, the packaging is biodegradable.
How to Tan When You Have Psoriasis or Eczema
While you may have an easy time finding a non-comedogenic tanning oil that won’t cause acne, It’s harder to find tanning lotion when you have psoriasis or eczema.
That’s because eczema and psoriasis are triggered by stress, the weather, tight clothing, and a variety of allergens.
It’s likely that your doctor won’t recommend visiting a tanning salon. That’s because commercial tanning beds emit mostly UVA because it causes more melanin production to create a tan.
But psoriasis is helped by UVB. Sadly, UVB is what causes sunburn. Getting a burn is a sure way to trigger a flareup (4).
Therefore, it’s a fine line between too little and too much sun.
If you tan to treat your psoriasis or eczema, be sure to consult with a dermatologist or physician beforehand. They can help you decide on the best way to go about it.
The treatment may include customized UV light therapy. One study showed that controlled doses of UV light improve itchy skin lesions by dampening the inflammatory immune response (5).
If you really want to look bronzed, try one of the best self-tanners for sensitive skin. Some come with satisfaction guarantees that allow you to patch test, then request a refund if there’s a problem.
Sun Bum Moisturizing Tanning Oil, SPF 15
Sun Bum’s tanning oil has a minimal amount of sunscreen and plenty of moisturizers and emollients. It stays on in the water for up to 80 minutes.
Even with a host of natural oils like coconut, argan, Kukui, and marula, it won’t clog pores. Instead, it tightens the skin with Kona coffee and green tea butter.
The formula is also free of parabens, gluten, and oxybenzone.
Zinc Oxide Sunscreen from Coconut Joe’s SPF 15
Take good care of your skin and the environment with this sunscreen from Coconut Joe’s. It’s reef-safe and free of hormone disruptors.
Self Tanner with Organic & Natural Ingredients from Beauty by Earth
If you decide that tanning isn’t in your best interest, you can still look sun-kissed with a sunless tanner.
This lotion from Beauty by Earth contains DHA derived from sugarcane.
DHA interacts with your skin in a way similar to what happens to an apple slice when it’s exposed to the air. It takes a few hours, but it darkens the color of your skin.
Meanwhile, moisturizers like shea butter, aloe, and jojoba seed oil pamper your body to keep it velvety soft.
There are no artificial fragrances or preservatives in the bottle.
Skinerals Californium Self Tanner Sunless Tanning Mousse
The Skinerals Self Tanner gives you a streak-free bronze that lasts up to a week after you apply it. It won’t turn your skin orange, and it doesn’t have a chemical odor.
The lightweight mousse goes on even smoother if you use a mitt. It has a light fragrance that’s listed as one of the last ingredients.
Disappointingly, it contains proprietary artificial dyes and phenoxyethanol. But since it has a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can try it with little risk to your pocketbook.
St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse
Perhaps the best-known of all sunless tanning products, St. Tropez has won awards from In Style and ELLE. The bronze it creates last for up to 10 days and fades evenly.
The mousse absorbs quickly and dries within a minute. It takes anywhere from four to eight hours to develop its color fully.
Happily, it won’t transfer onto clothing, and it doesn’t have a chemical scent.
Protect your sensitive skin with one of the best tanning lotions. Then, from the moment you lay down on the sunbed or step outdoors, your skin will be easier to bronze.
If you’ve found a tanning lotion for sensitive skin that works well for you, let us know in the comments below.
1. https://www.webmd.com/allergies/cosmetics#1 by Debra Jaliman, MD, published March 14, 2019, accessed August 5, 2019
2. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-labeling-claims/hypoallergenic-cosmetics published November 3, 2017, accessed August 5, 2019
3. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/does-sun-cure-acne by Phillip Picardi, published June 12, 2014, accessed August 5, 2019
4. https://www.everydayhealth.com/psoriasis/tanning-with-psoriasis.aspx by Beth W. Orenstein, published May 20, 2013, accessed August 5, 2019
5. https://mrc.ukri.org/news/browse/scientists-uncover-how-sunlight-on-skin-reduces-eczema-inflammation/ published June 19, 2017, accessed August 5, 2019