Best Tanning Lotions To Use For Tattoos

best tattoo sunscreen

If you have just gotten a tattoo and want to keep in looking nice and crisp, there are a few things that you are going to have to watch out for. One of these things is the tanning lotion you choose. This is particularly important because a tanning bed, or even long hours in the sun, can cause your tattoo to fade over time.

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How Tanning Fades Tattoos

There are millions of people who use tanning beds to get a tan each year, some people getting a tan more than once a year. There are also millions of people who have at least one tattoo as well, so it stands to reason that there are at least some people who have a tattoo and who also go to get a regular tan.

In order to help you understand how getting a tan affects a tattoo, it is very important that you first know a little bit more about what a tattoo actually is. Essentially, the ink of the tattoo stays in between two layers of your skin called the dermis and the epidermis.

The epidermis is the top layer of your skin that you see, the cells of which die over time and are replaced by new ones. By having the ink of the tattoo right below this layer of skin it ensures that you will be able to see it without it fading away over time as your epidermis layer is repeatedly renewed like this.

Tanning, whether from the sun or a tanning bed, is the result of something that is called melanin. Melanin cells are made so that when they are hit by a large amount of UV light they discharge a pigment of color that goes into the epidermis layer.

This literally covers any tattoos that might be there, making your tattoo look duller. As your skin then gradually fades back to its original color, the tattoo will fade some as well. While this is something that may not be too noticeable if you only do it once or twice, repeatedly doing this will eventually make it to the point where your tattoo is hardly even discernable.

Tanning Lotions

Some people think that tanning lotions are nothing more than a scam, but it actually isn’t. There are a number of benefits to using a tanning lotion, one of which is the fact that it can help protect your tattoo from fading.

Tanning lotions were made to help your skin to tan in a very specific way. In order to do this, it both enhances the UV rays that you encounter and it helps your skin to absorb the tanning pigment that is released by the melanin.

The best tanning lotions will also have ingredients in them to help moisturize your skin to prevent it from drying out. These should also have at least one ingredient that has some healing properties as well in order to continue caring for your skin.

All of this is done by a mixture of things. The usage of things like L-Tyrosine is what is often used to stimulate the production of melanin. Natural oils are used to keep the skin moist so that your skin does not peel, and vitamins and minerals are added as well for your skin.

Because it is the melanin that makes the tattoo fade and it is also what gives you a tan, tanning lotions that are made for people with tattoos have something in them to protect your tattoo from fading. The most common thing for this is dihydroxyacetone (DHA).

DHA protects your tattoo by coloring the cells on top of the tattoo so that it does not get covered by the layer of melanin. This coloring can affect the color of the tattoo over time but will still leave the edges much crisper than they otherwise would be.

Factors To Consider

You should know that tanning lotion is never 100% effective for everyone. This is because there are a host of differences in different people’s skin. Some people have skin that is lighter or darker, while others have skin that is very sensitive. Then there is also the fact that some people naturally tan easier than others.

All of these things are important to keep in mind since if you choose the wrong tanning lotion then you risk your skin peeling. If this happens then it will make your tan uneven and will shorten the amount of time that your tan will last you.

If your skin is sensitive, then you should try to find one that has more natural ingredients in it, especially ones that are soothing such as Aloe Vera or Shea Butter. You should also make sure that the lotion does contain a Sun Protection Factor (SPF).

Lotions with a good amount of SPF in them will make it take a little bit longer for you to tan. However, your skin needs this protection even in a tanning bed. You need to look for this because some tanning lotions do not have this in them since the SPF can negatively affect the acrylic that most tanning beds are made out of.

Tanning lotions can be divided into three main varieties. These are: bronzers, accelerators, and tinglers. Each of these is different and has its own unique pros and cons to it. You should know what these are to help you decide which one is right for you.


This type of tanning lotion uses DHA and also has somewhat of a dyeing effect. This can help you get a professional tan more quickly which can be a nice advantage. This is especially good if you are very fair since the longer it takes you to tan the more likely you are to dry out.

On the downside, this dyeing effect can also cause some “streaking” and it can even give your skin a slightly orange tint to it. This is, of course, not something that you want to happen to you.


This is a great option for people who have more sensitive skin. These are very hydrating and protect your skin as much as possible while still allowing you to tan. While tanning with an accelerator does take longer, contrary to what you might think from the name, this option does not carry the risk of getting orangish skin.


This tanning option is made to stimulate the skin so that more of the melanin is both made and absorbed by the skin. While this can be a good thing for your skin in other ways, the “tingly” sensation that gives this type of lotion its name can be enough to be unpleasant for those with sensitive skin.

Top 5 Tanning Lotions To Use With Tattoos

Now that you know a bit more about tanning lotions and why they are so important, you should also know what the top 5 lotions are. These are all great options that you can just grab and use with perfect confidence.

#1. Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion

Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion
  • Ultra-Darkening Skin Hydrating Intensifier: Contains coconut milk, coconut oil, and...
  • Tattoo Fade Protecting Formula: Helps prolong the life and radiance of your tattoos...
  • Quad Tyrosine Blend & Melano Bronze: Stimulates and increases melanin formation to...

Ed Hardy makes a number of different tanning lotions, but this one is perhaps their best one of all. The smell of the coconut is reminiscent of a tropical getaway. The different coconut ingredients in it help to hydrate your skin particularly well, and that is not even to mention the other ingredients.

Among these is a blend that includes something that is called melanobronze. Contrary to what you might think, this is not a bronzer and it is simply what is used to help stimulate the melanin. Melactiva is also used for this to help the results be darker and last longer.

All of these things work together to give you a nice golden glow without the use of any actual bronzers. This means that you won’t risk turning orange or getting streaks in your tan. Nouritan is used to ensure evenness as well to make sure of this.

As one final bonus, in addition to the coconut oil and coconut milk, this tanning lotion also has cocoa butter both for the delicious smell and to help your skin stay hydrated. This is one great option for you to use if you have a tattoo, with this lotion being made with tattoos in mind to protect them from fading and to keep them looking crisp and new for as long as possible.

#2. Devoted Creations #TANLIFE Hydrating Tanning Butter

Devoted Creations #TANLIFE Hydrating Tanning Butter - 12.25 oz.
  • 1.Super soft tanning butter build and maintain skin's natural glow.
  • 2.Sensitive Skin Shea Butter Formula.
  • 3.Provides anti-aging and skin firming benefits with RevitaFit, Body Fit and Advanced...

The fact that this tanning lotion is called a hydrating tanning butter should give you a hint at just how moisturizing this option is for your skin. The main moisturizer here is shea butter which, besides smelling amazing, is actually hypoallergenic.

This means that if you have sensitive skin then this may be just the tanning lotion for you. As the shea butter melts into your skin, it nourishes it and the other ingredients help to firm your skin some as well, working together to help your skin look younger all while helping you get a tan.

To help this even further, one ingredient called AcquaCell is even tasked with helping to fade your wrinkles and any lines as well. Finally, the tattoo and color fade protectors do their job well and don’t disappoint, all without the use of bronzers.

#3. Supre Snooki Hot Skinny Sizzling Super Dark Maximizer

Supre Snooki Hot Skinny Sizzling Super Dark Maximizer
  • Get the skinny on how to look hot with snooki's sizzling super dark maximizer,...
  • Combined with fit and firm complex for a more tone and tightened appearance and...
  • Tattoo color shield

This tanning lotion is definitely one that qualifies as a tingler tanning lotion. It is designed to feel like a skin stimulator and to give your skin that same tingling sensation while you get to a rich and golden tan.

All of this tingling helps to firm your skin, which in turn makes your skin smoother. This, paired with the other ingredients that moisturize your skin, helps to make your skin smooth and soft. Meanwhile, there are essential minerals that serve a double purpose in this lotion.

The first purpose is to feed your skin, but the second purpose is to help protect your tattoos. The color protection also uses algae and aloe, both of which are good for your skin. After all, what better way to show off a tattoo than having skin that is healthy and tan?

It is also free of many things that might bother your skin such as gluten, parabens, and nuts so that even if you have allergies you do not have to worry about using this tanning lotion. This all adds up to making this option definitely one you should consider tanning with.

#4. European Gold Dark Star 100X Ultra Tattoo Enhancing Complex

European Gold Dark Star 100X Ultra Tattoo Enhancing Complex
  • European Gold Dark Star 100x Ultra Indoor Tanning Lotion 13.5 fl oz
  • Salon formula
  • DeepWave bronzing technology

This tanning lotion uses deep wave bronzing technology to not only protect your tattoo but to take it a step even further by actually enhancing your tattoo. What’s more is the fact that this tanning lotion is designed to be able to give you an exceptionally dark tan if you want to spend that much time in the tanning bed.

This is because it has some powerful bronzers in it, bronzers which have a fairly nice smell and which won’t leave any oily residue on your skin afterward as some lotions do. And all of this while doing great things for your tattoos.

As a final note, you should know that no animal testing is done with this product, resulting in a tanning lotion that is cruelty-free and meaning that you can apply it liberally without any guilt about that. This is definitely a go-to option to consider even if your tattoos have already started to fade on you.

#5. Australian Gold SPF 50 Tattoo Stick

Australian Gold SPF 50 Tattoo Stick
  • Australian Gold.
  • Tatoo Stick SPF50.
  • 14gr.

My last option on this list is one that was specially made to offer tattoos the best fade-protection possible. It does come in a stick form, meaning that you use it like you would a stick of glue right on the spot where your tattoo is. The smell is infused with the smell of coconuts which is, once again, great for your skin.

The SPF 50 is also something that is really nice and which not every tanning lotion has. The fade protection is great, with moisturizers in it that even try to help brighten the colors of your tattoo in addition to preventing it from fading.

For the best results, it should be applied around 20 minutes before you go to get your tan. The stick is small, making it really easy to carry around, and the fact that it is a stick means that you don’t have to get any of it on your hands to apply it.

Final Notes

There are a few other things that you should know about tanning and tattoos. The first of these things is that you should never try to tan too soon after getting a tattoo. Your tattoo should be allowed to heal completely before you go to the tanning beds.

This is something that can take around three to four weeks to happen with the proper care, though you should try to give it a week or two longer. You should also take the sun itself into consideration if you are going to be spending a lot of time out in it.

Normal SPF sunblock can do a great job of protecting your tattoo from the sun and should always be worn on those long days at the beach. After all, what good is a tattoo if it gets faded and you can’t show it off to perfection?

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