Whether you enoy indoor tanning, outdoor tanning or both, you'll get a better tan if you use lotion. The benefits of lotion differ depending on which one you buy. There are bronzers, oils, creams, tingle, facial clearing and cellulite tanning products. Here we explore lotions and conclude that while some of their effects differ from indoor to outdoor tanning, their moisturizing, anti-aging and other benefits are universal.

Indoor vs. Outdoor

Indoor tanning involves a lay-down or standup bed lined with bulbs that generate ultraviolet light. Outdoor tanning happens when you're outdoors as the sun is emitting UV rays. “When skin is exposed to UV rays, cells called melanocytes produce the brown pigment melanin, which darkens the cells of the epidermis," the Skin Cancer Foundation reports. "This darkening of the skin cells is the skin's natural – if imperfect – defense against further damage from UV radiation.” Because both the natural and created light tan our skin with UV rays, it would seem like lotions would work the same in both settings, but that isn’t always the case.


Lotion cannot increase the level or strength of UV rays contacting the skin. The purpose of lotion is to help in other ways, such as bronzing and moisturizing. Most outdoor lotions and oils contain some SPF (sun protection factor), even if it is as low as four.

Tingle Lotion

Tingle lotion is very popular for indoor tanning. It brings the blood closer to the surface of the skin, creating a tingly feeling while you're in the tanning bed. This lotion is activated by the close light and heat of a tanning bed and will not have that tingly effect outside. All lotions, however, will have the same bronzing, cellulite-reducing and anti-aging effects indoors, outdoors and even when applied without going tanning.


The biggest benefit of using tanning lotion, either indoors or outdoors, is its ability to moisturize. Healthy, moisturized skin holds a tan better because dry skin tends to flake off more quickly, and as these layers of skin flake off, so does the tan. Because UV rays dry out your skin whether you tan inside or out, it is important to moisturize before, during and after your tanning.


No matter which way you choose to tan, it must be done carefully. Too much exposure to UV rays can cause skin cancer and other diseases, not to mention wrinkles. When you're done tanning, sunscreen will protect your skin from damaging rays and keep it looking young and healthy.

About the Author

Kelley R. Ellert

Kelley Ellert has been for Flack Me and various other websites since 2007. She also works for Rylin Media producing commemorative magazines on major sporting events. Ellert graduated from Ball State University with a bachelor's degree in public relations and communications.