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21 Best Sunscreens for Tanning: Reviews Guide & (How to Tan Safely)

by  Doris Harris -  Last Updated On 26th December 2020
Best Sunscreens for Tanning

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How can you get tan without burning? I’ll let you in on the secret.

Use one of the best sunscreens for tanning.

The trick is to choose a lotion with low SPF.

In fact, some of the best tanning lotions for outdoors have a little sunscreen in them.

How to Use a Sunscreen for Tanning

To tan without burning, you need to apply enough sunscreen.

Imagine the typical eight-ounce bottle of suntan lotion. Did you know that this is only good for eight full-body applications?

That’s why purchasing more than one bottle at a time is smart.

Put about a teaspoon on each arm and leg, at least two on your torso (front and back), and one on your face and neck.

Next, remember to reapply every two hours or when you get out of the water and towel off.

Okay, so those are the typical instructions for using an ordinary sunscreen. But what about getting a tan while wearing sunscreen?

This is where you need to experiment.

Do you know how long it takes you to burn? For example, light-skinned people might develop sunburn within fifteen to thirty minutes in the sun.

If you put on a tanning oil with SPF4, you’ll have four times that long to enjoy the sunshine before burning.

A small number of rays will still penetrate your skin to cause melanin production and give you a tan. This is more likely if it’s not a broad-spectrum sunscreen that only blocks UVB, not UVA.

(Keep in mind that sunscreen doesn’t block a hundred percent of the ultraviolet radiation. That’s why tanning with sunscreen works.)

Therefore, put on the sunscreen and layout for fifteen minutes if you’re fair-skinned. Flip over and wait for another fifteen. Then go inside and check your skin.

Even with sunscreen, don’t stay out longer than an hour total that first time.

You might not notice any redness or difference until the evening.

Skip a day or two before you tan again to allow your skin to recover (1, 2).

Quick Comparison

If you don’t have time to read the complete article, here are our top picks.

Which SPF Is Best for Tanning?

I mentioned a moment ago that the best sunscreens without UVA sun protection are more likely to help you tan. UVB radiation is what causes burns and skin cancer. Meanwhile, UVA leads to more pigment production but is linked to age-related skin damage like wrinkles (3).

Basically, for tanning purposes, use the lowest SPF you can, but limit your amount of time outdoors accordingly.

If you’re concerned about the unpredictable results of tanning outside, build up a base tan by tanning indoors. Get one of the best tanning lotions for fair skin to help you begin.

Now that you’ve had a brief overview, let’s get started with the reviews so you can find what you need.

21 Best Sunscreens for Tanning (2021 Update)

1. Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen Protective Dark Tanning Sunscreen Lotion – SPF 4

Hawaiian Tropic makes a variety of sunscreens for outdoor tanning. The lowest sun protection factor they offer is SPF 4. It will prevent sunburn four times as long as going without any suntan lotion at all.

As you apply it, you’ll notice the creamy texture and typical tropical coconut fragrance. It’s rich in moisturizers and emollients like aloe, shea butter, and petrolatum. It also has skin conditioners and antioxidants like Vitamins A, C, and E plus botanical extracts to protect your skin from premature aging.

It’s always better to tan with moisturized skin, and this lotion takes care of that in spades.

The active ingredients are octocrylene and oxybenzone that absorb UV radiation instead of reflecting it like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (which are physical sunscreens).

2. Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen Touch of Color Sunscreen Spray Lotion – SPF 4

What’s the difference between this spray lotion and the one above? This one is less greasy, plus it comes with a bronzer.

It contains caramel extract to give you an instant sun-kissed glow. It’ll wash off in the shower later, but it takes the edge off that ghostly pale skin.

3. Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Lotion Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum SPF 8

This sunscreen has a higher sun protection factor that’s better for tanners with light-colored skin.

Another benefit is that it’s reef-safe, meaning it doesn’t have ingredients like octinoxate or oxybenzone that can harm marine life-like corals.

4. Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen Silk Hydration Sunscreen Lotion – SPF 12

I included this sunscreen even though it has broad-spectrum protection and a higher SPF because gingers want to tan, too.

If you typically burn instead of tanning, try this one first. But don’t soak up the sun for long the first time. Chances are you’re in the type I skin category where tanning salons won’t allow you to tan (4).

If you’ve nearly given up on getting a tan, you still have options. Get a spray tan or use sunless tanning lotion instead. Then enjoy the outdoors with a high-level broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF50), and no one will know the difference.

5. Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Dry Oil Spray Sunscreen SPF 12

Vacationers who enjoyed the Hawaiian Tropic Dry Oil Sunscreen report it’s lightweight and not greasy, plus it smells fantastic. Some of them ended up with a tan.

Spritz this on your skin, and you don’t even have to rub it in like a typical lotion.

Moreover, it’s reef-safe for use in rivers, lakes, and the ocean.

6. Australian Gold Spray Gel Sunscreen with Instant Bronzer, SPF 4

This bronzer is made by an American company that makes indoor tanning accelerators. But their spray gel sunscreen with bronzer is also a success.

Even though it’s very lightweight, it doesn’t have any alcohol in it. Instead, it moisturizes your skin with glycerin, aloe, olive, and sunflower seed oils. The addition of caramel ensures that you have a little instant color as well.

Antioxidants like tea tree oil and Kakadu plum protect your skin against free radicals that cause aging signs.

To top it off, the delicious fragrance smells like coconut and creamsicle.

7. Australian Gold Spray Oil Sunscreen, Carrot Oil Formula, Broad Spectrum SPF 4

Carrot oil won’t turn you orange, but it will help you tan. Here’s a bottle with a natural tanning accelerator to help you bronze faster.

The formula hydrates and firms the skin, too.

8. Australian Gold Sunscreen Lotion, Moisture Max & Water Resistant, SPF 8

If your skin tends to be dry, it’s harder for you to get bronzed. But the Moisture Max sunscreen will soften and smooth your body. It has natural moisturizers like sunflower seed oil and aloe. Moreover, there’s no mineral oil in it.

On the downside, it may make it hard for you to tan with it. Even though it only provides SPF 8 protection, it has both zinc oxide and chemical sunscreens in it, plus it’s water-resistant.

9. Banana Boat UltraMist Deep Tanning Dry Oil Continuous Clear Spray SPF 4

This tanning oil comes in a convenient and easy to apply spray bottle. Reapplying only takes a few seconds.

The texture is ultralightweight and absorbs quickly. It’s bound to make your skin silky soft and bright with argan, coconut, and grape seed oils.

10. Banana Boat Sunscreen Dark Tanning Oil Sunscreen Spray- SPF 4

Another Banana Boat tanning oil features carrot and banana extracts for a natural golden tan. Fans say that they go extra dark while wearing this.

11. Banana Boat Deep Tanning Oil Spray Sunscreen SPF 4

One of the benefits of this tanning oil is that it has tan-extending conditioners. In other words, it prevents peeling and dryness that can cause you to lose your color faster.

The sunscreen ingredients are octinoxate and padimate. The latter ingredient is uncommon. It’s a derivative of PABA that used to be very popular in the best sunscreens in the market.

12. Panama Jack Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 4

No suntan lotion review would be complete without Panama Jack. It’s a popular product in Beachside places like Florida.

It has a cucumber melon fragrance that appeals to women and men alike. Even though it seems creamy, it sinks in quickly. Then, Vitamin E and Coenzyme Q10 defend your skin’s health while you soak up the sun.

13. Bain de Soleil Orange Gelee Sunscreen SPF 4, Classic Formula

Bain de Soleil is French for “sunbathing.” It’s an American brand that’s been around for almost a century. Coco Chanel was one of the first to promote their products in the 1920s (5).

I’m a fan of their Orange Gelee Sunscreen. It has an attractive fragrance that I associate with relaxation at the beach.

But more than that, the soothing formula is like a cross between a lotion and a gel. It makes the skin feel like silk and adds a touch of instant bronze.

As long as you’re not concerned about mineral oil or parabens, this one is worth a try.

14. Bain De Soleil Mega Tanning Lotion SPF 4

The Mega Tanning Lotion also has a self-tanner (DHA). That way, you’ll look like you got a tan even if you spent only a little amount of time in the sun.

There are also plenty of moisturizers, emollients, and botanical extracts to keep your skin supple.

15. NO-AD Protective Tanning Lotion, SPF 8

NO-AD tanning lotion with carrot extract will help you deepen your color without burning. It has Vitamin E and aloe, plus it’s free of parabens.

16. Ocean Potion Dark Tanning Lotion SPF 4

Ocean Potion’s tanning lotion is made for people that bronze easily. It’s perfect for building a tan gradually. Similar to other best sunscreens, it strengthens the skin with aloe and Vitamin E.

17. Coppertone Tanning Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 8, Water-Resistant

Coppertone is one of the big names in sun care products. Their suntan lotion isn’t greasy, and it’s water-resistant for eighty minutes. It has just enough sunscreen to help you bronze, not burn.

18. Caribbean Sol 100% Sol Natural Guard SPF 8 with Zinc Oxide

If you prefer natural products that are friendly to the environment and your skin, try this lotion. It reflects UV radiation with non–nano zinc oxide instead of chemicals.

Additionally, it’s reef-safe and biodegradable. (Even the packaging is biodegradable.) The EWG (Environmental Working Group) rates it as a safe, natural sunscreen.

It’s made in the USA with ingredients like organic aloe, cucumber, Kukui oil, green coffee beans, and hibiscus. As a result, you can truly relax in the sunshine.

19. Maui Island Secret Browning Creme SPF 5

Maui Island blends aloe, shea butter, sunflower, and rosehip oil with Hawaiian ginger and Maui coffee extract to make their Browning Créme. Although it has no bronzers in it, it will help you develop natural color.

Happily, you don’t have to make a trip to the islands to get it. Order it online, then enjoy it in your backyard, wear it in the pool, or sunbathe on the sand.

20. Bronzo Sensualé SPF 8 Sunscreen Deep Tanning Carrot Oil

Carrots have beta-carotene, which is a natural tanning accelerator. That’s why you’ll have success using this product. What’s more, the manufacturer won an award from Organic Spa Magazine.

Instead of slathering your skin with chemicals, you’ll be pampering it with organic ingredients like carrot extract, jojoba, and soybean oil. There are no parabens, phthalates, or mineral oil in the bottle. Also, it’s vegan and cruelty-free.

21. Sun Bum Lip Balm, SPF 30

I’ve talked a lot about the top sunscreens for tanning, but there’s one other essential thing to mention.

Your lips won’t tan.

They will burn unless you protect them.

So save yourself the suffering by remembering to get lip balm to wear whether you tan indoors or outside. Wearing it prevents sunburn or chapped lips caused by dry air or wind.

Sun Bum’s assorted pack of lip gloss includes watermelon, banana, and coconut flavors. They’re all packed with aloe, coconut oil, and vitamin E. And there are no petrochemicals, gluten, or parabens in them.


I’m pleased you decided to try sunscreen for tanning. It can help you build a base tan so that you can enjoy more time in the sun.

Remember that you need to protect your lips and eyes. Sunglasses and lip balm are essential.

 Even your scalp can burn, so consider wearing a hat.

Now, go have fun! Drop me a line below to let me know which sunscreen you tried out of our best sunscreens list and how it worked for you.


1. https://www.leaf.tv/articles/how-to-get-a-tan-with-sunscreen/ by Corey M. Mackenzie, accessed 22 May 2020

2. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/how-to-tan-shade-sunscreen-factor-suncream-sun-uv-radiation-safe-skin-a8418586.html by Chelsea Ritschel, published 22 April 2020, accessed 22 May 2020

3. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-08/skin-cancer-sunscreen-sunburn-uvb-uva-melanoma/9310516 by Terry Slevin, published 12 January 2018, accessed 22 May 2020

4. http://tanresponsibly.com/skin-types/ accessed 22 May 2020

5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bain_de_Soleil accessed 22 May 2020

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