Tanning lotion

There are a number of reasons why people seek a tanning lotion as opposed to a sunscreen or sunblock when it comes to getting a "great looking tan".

What really amazes me is that while there are masses of people turning to sunscreen to block harmful UV rays, there are probably more people that actually invest in this alternative product to help increase the effects of the sun's rays?

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Looking into it more, there are some varieties to be found on this lotion theme:

  1. Indoor tanning 
  2. Self tanning or sunless tanning 
  3. Designer skin tanning 

1. Indoor tanning lotion

Indoor lotions are mostly designed to produce more melanin, which is the substance that gives our skin its natural color. The more melanin, the darker our skin.

Some ingredients used to help speed this process up include:

  • natural oils
  • tea oil
  • copper
  • green tea extract
  • fragrance oils

Indoor lotions are mostly used in tanning salons, although they are also fine to use at home. Because tanning beds can dry the skin out in the process, the majority of lotions also contain ingredients to help moisturise your skin. With a skin that is hydrated and moisturised, you'll help get that smooth, healthy and tanned look.

These lotions are designed to moisturize in the same way that regular body lotions do but usually do not contain as much alcohol. There seem to be quite a few that are formulated with hempseed oil due to its moisturizing ability, since it is high in fatty acids and locks in moisture after application.

Tingle Factor

This is an interesting and quite common feature in tanning products. The tingle sensation is obtained through the use skin irritants or chemicals in the lotions, which cause the skin to redden, or flush, by increasing the skin's blood flow at the surface.

Although rare, some people have experienced slight pain from this tingle effect but of course, it varies from person to person. There isn't any official standard or rating for these tingle lotions but some manufacturers, or the tanning salons themselves, offer tingle ratings in an effort to provide some guidance to their consumers.

As consumers become more savvy about what's actually in their cosmetics, not knowing why their skin tingles tends to push them to choose a non-tingle option. 


2. Self Tanning Lotions or Sunless Lotions

The appeal of a tan as shown opposite, without exposure to the suns UV rays, or indoor tanning salon UV rays, has become increasingly popular over the last 10 years or so.

Self tanning lotions mostly contain a "bronzer" called Dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, which is combined with other ingredients that help boost the tanning process. This differs slightly to the use of DHA in sunless tanning, as the goal is to get an immediate tan but then be allowed to go in the sun. In other words, the self tanners are used to get a head start on the tanning process.

When combined with 'tingle' ingredients, they are called Hot Bronzers. If combined with any cooling agent ingredients like Menthol, they are called Cool Bronzers.

Sunless lotions in contrast, will stipulate that contact with UV rays will be detrimental and is to be avoided. Results might involve blotching, or an irregular tan.


3. Designer Tanning Lotions

The tanning salon industry is huge and as a result the competition between lotion brands has produced some really interesting innovations.

Non-toxic tanning lotion options are becoming more popular

Graphic designs on the tubes or bottles of lotion are mostly colorful, sexy, zany, flashy and provocative. They promise some truly amazing results like "delivers instant, dramatically dark color" while appealing to "the discriminating tanning connoisseur".

But as the discerning public is becoming more astute about their health, manufacturers are also focusing on improved, non-toxic formulas:

  • excluding parabens
  • including antioxidants and botanical oils
  • being more natural
  • being Hypoallergenic
  • using natural fragrances and avoiding chemical ones

How to apply a tanning lotion

The best tan will be obtained if you apply the lotion generously all over your exposed skin.

As indoor tanning usually requires an all over tan, a 250ml bottle of lotion will last about 8 - 16 applications. This depends quite obviously on how generous you choose to be with the lotion as well as how much body there is to cover! eg. A petite woman on one extreme will require a whole lot less than a large, tall man on the other extreme!

Bottle sizes are usually 250 ml or 500 ml in size and even larger when used in bulk in salons.

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