Can you tan through sunscreen?
If so, then what’s the best SPF for tanning?
Now that’s a good question. It depends on your skin tone.
People with dark skin tan easily with SPF 4 through SPF 8.
And those with light skin can avoid sunburn with SPF 15 and above.
But there’s more to the best tanning lotions with SPF than the number.
Here are other factors to consider.
Tanning Oil with Spf Versus Tanning Lotion
As you shop for a sunscreen for tanning outdoors, you have to choose between tanning oil and tanning lotion.
Tanning oil concentrates the sun’s rays so that the skin produces pigment faster. It’s best for people who want to tan quickly (1).
But both oil and lotion contain moisturizers and other ingredients to care for your skin.
Protection Against Premature Aging
At a minimum, tanning lotions should contain antioxidants like Vitamin E plus moisturizers.
These protect against premature aging caused by dehydration and destruction of collagen.
Excessive exposure to UV radiation dries out your skin and makes it sag.
It increases the risk of skin cancer no matter how dark your skin tone.
That’s why using a tanning lotion with SPF is safer than not using any tanning oil at all.
How Much Sunscreen or Tanning Lotion Should You Use?
There’s a very good reason why you should buy more than one bottle.
To adequately defend your skin, plan on using a golf ball-sized amount for your entire body. Divide it into a teaspoon each for your face and neck, the front and back sides of your torso, each arm, and each leg.
If you’re outdoors for more than two hours or you go swimming, you’ll need to reapply.
If your sunscreen is more than a year old, replace it because it won’t be as effective.
Why Is Broad – Spectrum Protection Important?
There are two main kinds of ultraviolet radiation. UVB is what burns the skin, which is why most tanning beds emit UVA instead.
But UVA causes wrinkles (2).
Choose a tanning lotion with broad-spectrum protection to as many potential problems as possible.
Now, let’s move on to reviews of the top tanning lotions with SPF.
Tanning Lotions for Dark and Medium Skin Tones
If you tan without difficulty, use a tanning lotion with SPF 4 or SPF 6 to defend your skin against premature aging.
Bain de Soleil Orange Gelee SPF 4
Bain de Soleil is a classic choice for sunbathing. It’s an American brand promoted by Coco Chanel over a century ago in the 1920s. Even today, it’s still packaged in a metal tube, not plastic.
Their Orange Gelee has a tropical fragrance that smells like vacation. The soothing gel-like texture will make your skin feel like silk. It also has a little instant bronzer, so you look sun-kissed from the moment you apply it.
Take note that its SPF 4 rating means it blocks 75% of UVB rays.
Bain De Soleil Mega Tanning Lotion SPF 4
The Mega Tanning Lotion is less like a gel and more like a cream. It contains DHA, which is a self-tanner that darkens your skin tone after a few hours.
This lotion is also packed with botanical extracts and moisturizers to nourish your skin while you soak up the sun.
Australian Gold Spray Gel with Instant Bronzer, SPF 4
Australian Gold’s Spray Gel has caramel, a bronzer that washes away when you shower. But the advantage is that you won’t look winter pale when you step onto the beach.
This sunscreen lasts up to 80 minutes in the water. Moreover, even though it’s a spray, rich moisturizers like olive fruit oil sink right into the skin. It won’t leave you greasy or sticky.
While the coconut and Creamsicle fragrance helps you relax, Kakadu plum and tea tree oil defend you against premature aging.
Australian Gold Spray Oil, Carrot Oil Formula, SPF 4
The best tanning oil with SPF might be this one from Australian Gold. Carrot oil is a natural tanning accelerator. It helps the skin produce pigment so that you get darker faster.
No need to worry about turning orange, either. The formula has instant bronzers that won’t streak or rub off for 24 hours.
Ocean Potion Suncare Dark Tanning Lotion SPF 4
Ocean Potion makes their lotion in the USA. It has Vitamin E, sea kelp, and aloe vera to keep the skin young.
On the downside, it contains parabens.
Hawaiian Tropic Protective Dark Tanning Lotion – SPF 4
Hawaiian Tropic’s dark tanning lotion will keep you from burning four times longer than if you didn’t wear sunscreen at all.
It has the traditional coconut fragrance and plenty of skin conditioners. Botanical extracts, shea butter, and vitamins will make your skin ultra-soft.
Hawaiian Tropic Touch of Color Sunscreen Spray Lotion – SPF 4
If you prefer a little color to hide that blinding white skin, try Hawaiian Tropic’s spray lotion. It has caramel extract that will wash off later in the shower. Plus, it gives your body a silky sheen.
Some experts criticize spray sunscreen. They say that people tend to spritz it on instead of applying it properly. Then their protection isn’t complete. To avoid this problem, spray it into your hand, then massage it where it’s needed.
Banana Boat UltraMist Deep Tanning Dry Oil Continuous Clear Spray SPF 4
If you hate the tacky, greasy texture that some tanning lotions have, try Banana Boat’s Dry Oil. Contrary to its name, it’s not drying at all even though it absorbs quickly.
It contains argan, coconut, grapeseed, and olive oil for a healthy glow.
Banana Boat Sunscreen Dark Tanning Oil Spray- SPF 4
Banana Boat’s dark tanning oil has carrot and banana extracts because they help the skin produce melanin faster. People that tan easily love this product because they get extra dark with it.
Panama Jack Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 4
Panama Jack’s lotion doesn’t smell like the typical sunscreen. It has a cucumber melon fragrance instead.
Of course, it contains Vitamin E and moisturizers. But it also has Coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant that’s scientifically proven to slow down the aging process.
Maui Island Secret Browning Creme SPF 5
Whether or not you go to Hawaii, take advantage of the Secret Browning Creme. It was developed for anyone who wants to bronze without burning.
The ingredients include shea butter, aloe, and rosehip oil along with Maui coffee and Hawaiian ginger. It tightens and firms the skin while you tan.
But don’t be fooled by the name – it doesn’t have any instant bronzers in it.
COCOOIL Tanning Oil SPF 6
COCOOIL is made with free-trade cold-pressed coconut oil. It’s produced sustainably so that local communities in the Pacific Islands benefit from its sale.
Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil, Spray Pump, SPF 6
Hawaiian Tropic’s dark tanning oil is lightweight because it relies on exotic oils and botanical extracts.
If you tend to burn after half an hour in the sun, this spray will protect you for up to six times longer. But please reapply after two hours in the sunshine to prevent sunburn altogether.
Nivea Sun Deep Tanning Oil Spray SPF 6
Nivea’s tanning oil is dermatologically tested to be safe for sensitive skin. It has jojoba oil, which is plant-based but very similar to human skin’s natural oil.
Once you apply it, it doesn’t just screen out harmful rays. It also increases moisture levels so that your skin won’t peel and your tan will last longer.
The formula is water-resistant, too.
Tanning Lotions for Medium to Light Skin Tones
If you burn when you spend too much time out in the sun, use SPF 8, 10 or 12 to help you tan without undesirable side effects.
Australian Gold Sunscreen Lotion, Moisture Max, SPF 8
If you have dry skin, you won’t after you use Australian Gold’s Moisture Max. Aloe and sunflower seed oil keep your body smooth and hydrated.
It’s free of mineral oil and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
NO-AD Protective Tanning Lotion, SPF 8
NO-AD doesn’t waste their money on publicity or pretty labels. Instead, they spend it on scientific research. Their inexpensive tanning lotion includes necessary ingredients to help you get dark without burning.
Some the highlights include carrot extract, aloe, and Vitamin E.
Coppertone Tanning Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 8
If you hate feeling sticky and greasy after applying lotion, try Coppertone’s product. It sinks in to moisturize your skin. You can swim with it for up to 80 minutes before you need to reapply.
Panama Jack Sunscreen Tanning Lotion – SPF 8
Panama Jack sometimes offers discounts when you buy more than one bottle at a time. They want you to use as much as you need to protect your skin.
They are also interested in protecting the oceans. The formula is reef-safe. Accordingly it won’t harm corals or sea life.
Caribbean Sol 100% Sol Natural Guard SPF 8
Caribbean Sol skips chemicals in favor of natural ingredients. This mild and gentle sunscreen contains non-nano zinc oxide to reflect 87% of the harmful UV radiation.
It’s also friendly to the environment because it’s reef-safe and biodegradable.
Some of the ingredients include Kukui oil, organic aloe, green coffee beans, and hibiscus.
Bronzo Sensualé SPF 8 Sunscreen Deep Tanning Carrot Oil
Bronzo Sensualé won an award from Organic Spa Magazine for their natural and organic products. Their tanning oil uses carrot extract to deepen your tan naturally.
Instead of mineral oil or parabens, the formula features certified organic hemp and aloe, shea butter, and Vitamin E to leave your skin radiant.
Australian Gold Spray Gel Sunscreen with Instant Bronzer, SPF 8
Not everyone is aware that SPF 8 doesn’t provide double the protection of SPF 4.
While SPF 4 filters out 75% of harmful radiation, SPF 8 blocks 87%.
But more protection is better when you want to tan without burning or causing your skin to age too fast.
The Australian Gold spray gel with SPF 8 is similar to the SPF 4 version. It just has a little more protection.
Both are lightweight, water-resistant, and moisturizing. And even though they are sprays, both are free of alcohols, parabens, and artificial dyes.
Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Lotion, SPF 8
Hawaiian Tropic’s Sheer Touch Lotion is safe for marine life. That’s good to know if you’re traveling to a place like Hawaii that has been certain sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone or octinoxate.
Coppertone Tanning Defend & Glow Continuous Spray SPF 10
Coppertone’s Defend and Glow Spray is non-greasy and resistant to sweating and swimming. It’s not alcohol-free or reef-safe, however.
Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen Silk Hydration Lotion, SPF 12
Hawaiian Tropic’s lotion has a delicious fragrance. The creamy texture sinks in to make your skin sleek and smooth. It has silk amino acids, papaya, aloe, and shea butter to condition your body while you sunbathe.
Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Dry Oil Clear Spray Sunscreen SPF 12
If you prefer a lightweight oil instead of a lotion, try the spray instead. It contains exotic extracts like plumeria, mango, and passionfruit.
Tanning Lotions to Build a Base Tan
If your skin hasn’t seen the sun for months, start slow and build a base tan. Apply a tanning lotion with SPF 15.
Palmer’s Formula Moisturizing Gel Oil, Cocoa Butter, SPF 15
Palmer’s Gel Oil goes on nicely even if you have damp skin. It locks in moisture with cocoa butter, shea butter, and jojoba oil. But it’s only water-resistant for 40 minutes.
Lancaster Sun Beauty Melting Tanning Milk SPF 15
Have you ever noticed that some sunscreens seem to make you feel warmer? This one from Lancaster Beauty keeps you cool. It defends your skin from infrared rays as well as ultraviolet radiation.
Infrared doesn’t just make you hotter – it also “cooks” your skin to cause wrinkles later in life.
Also, the Tan Activator Complex in this lotion stimulates pigment production in your skin. Then you can develop the perfect bronze even on those snowy white legs.
Sunburn sucks, but a golden tan looks fabulous.
Go straight for the bronze when you use a tanning lotion with sunscreen.
Remember to protect your scalp, ears, lips, and eyes, too.
If you have a moment, tell us about your favorite tanning oil below in the comments.
1. https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/do-tanning-oils-with-spf-provide-proper-protection-from-the-sun/70008181 by Amanda Schmidt, accessed August 1, 2019
2. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-08/skin-cancer-sunscreen-sunburn-uvb-uva-melanoma/9310516 by Terry Slevin, published January 12, 2018, accessed August 1, 2019