Tanning Towels

The tanning industry introduced the concept of tanning towels in a very creative attempt to feed the public's growing desire for a tanned body.

Tanning towelsTanning towels boost your tropical holiday tan

Tanning towels history

This has been around since the late 1990's and remains a popular tanning alternative that allows you to look tanned without being exposed to the sun, or to get a head start on a tan when off on a tropical holiday and your skin is white as snow! 

One major benefit to this tanning method is that it doesn't require you to be in the sun and its potentially damaging ultraviolet rays, so it appeals to an increasing number of people wary of skin damage.

it also allows for a full body tan without any tan lines.

Search more than 200 pages on this site...

Variety of Tanning towels

Tanning towels come in different forms, such as towelettes or wipes. They are not the size of a towel you would take to the beach, which is sometimes expected by the description! 

These towels are packaged in small boxes or sealed sachets that would fit in your handbag easily and can be carried anywhere you go. This makes them convenient for use regardless of whether you're going to the beach or on a long vacation trip. 

Perhaps 'towelettes' is a better description and is used many times by various manufacturers. 

Typically they cater for:

  • different skin tones - for fair, medium or dark skins
  • various towel sizes - face, full body or half body
  • various bulk packages - 5, 15 05 50 in a pack

A large size, intended for the full body, is designed to give you a quick and even application from head to toe with no streaks, mess or fuss. This often depends on how well practiced you may be

A regular size, mostly intended for a half body application, covers typically your arms and legs.

A small size is usually marketed for the face only.

How do tanning towels or towelettes work?


  • Each towel is infused with a clear liquid formula that creates a natural-looking, sunless tan. A darker tan will typically contain erythulose as an added ingredient.
  • They may contain added ingredients such as Aloe Vera or Vitamins E, B5 and C to provide for enhanced moisturizing and nourishing element to your tanned skin. 
  • Skin coloring agents may include Dihydroxyacetone, which is rated 1- 4 on EWG's Skindeep database.
  • Also, watch for preservatives that may not be healthy options - eg. Sodium Metabisulfite is rated 4 with EWG. or Potassium Sorbate rated 3.
  • Some towels will incorporate an exfoliation in the towel to enhance the ability to apply streak-free and smooth.

Process of application:

  • Wipe the towel over all parts of your body where you want to look tanned, allowing the towel to come into contact with your skin directly
  • Application is done to a clean, dry skin in circular motions
  • Give it the tan the suggested time to gradually develop on your skin. This may vary with each product used, so read the instructions.
  • There should be no stains if the skin is allowed to dry
  • The process can take minutes or up to 4 hours, depending on the product you buy and the ultimate tan effect you desire and can develop further for up to 24 hours

These towels essentially work with the protein and amino acids in the skin, which means that individual results may vary. It may also result in making some age spots darken.

Mostly, the results of a towel application lasts for about one week before another application is required.

The price for tanning towels varies and can be relatively cheap to very expensive.

As always it all depends on the quality of the towel brand and the resultant tan you want.

New! Comments

Have your say... please leave me a comment in the box below.
Was this page helpful? Please share it. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.