Bronzer tanning bed lotions are used to enhance a tan by making the skin appear darker or tan faster. These types of lotions also are known as tanning accelerators. After it's applied, the lotion reacts with the skin to increase the body's production of melanin, the pigment in skin.

How the Skin Tans

Understanding how bronzers work requires a knowledge of how the skin tans. When exposed to the ultraviolet radiation produced by the sun, the skin reacts by making a pigment known as melanin, which gives the skin its tan color and also serves as a barrier to the sun's rays. When the skin is exposed to too much sun and a sunburn occurs, this is a sign the skin can no longer produce enough melanin to protect itself.

How Bronzing Lotion Works

Bronzing tanning lotion works by increasing the body's production of melanin. These lotions typically contain active ingredients that help the person tan more quickly with less time in the sun.

Active Ingredients

Active ingredients in bronzing tanning bed lotions include psoralen, which is extracted from citrus oils. This amino acid reacts with a skin's pigment cells on exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the tanning bed or the sun. Tyrosine, another amino acid, reacts in much the same way.


Bronzer tanning bed lotions and active ingredients like psoralen and tyrosine have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This does not necessarily indicate the products are unsafe, just that they have not been tested. However, people who experience a reaction, such as a red rash, itching or other skin-related effect, should stop using these lotions.


Bronzer tanning bed accelerators are usually priced at $5 and upward, dependent on the size and brand. They often are purchased at the tanning salon itself, a drug store, online or at a beauty supply store.