Tanning Lotion


Unlike sunscreen but like tanning oil, indoor tanning lotions accelerate the tanning process, by promoting the production of melanin or by increasing blood flow to the skin, thereby increasing the amount of melanin that is brought to the top layers of the skin.

Indoor tanning lotions contain no sunscreen and offer no protection from the sun.

Tingle is the de facto standard description for indoor tanning lotions that contain ingredients that increase blood flow at the skin level. This is because the ingredients cause the wearer to experience a tingling sensation. The science behind the concept is more theory than fact, but it is usually accomplished using irritants or chemicals that cause a reddening sensation, flushing the user’s skin. People react differently to the ingredients, and one lotion that has no tingle effect on one person may cause mild pain in another. This is why it is impossible to create a system of rating tingle that is objective.

Many indoor tanning lotions now contain bronzers, usually dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA is a colorless chemical (it is derived from glycerin) that interacts with the amino acids in dead skin cells to produce a brown color change. Since these dead skin cells are constantly being shed, the color change produced by DHA usually lasts about five to seven days. DHA is usually combined with other ingredients to create the bronzing effect. This is somewhat different from the use of DHA in sunless tanning, as the goal is to give the user immediate color but they are not avoiding ultraviolet exposure. Often the bronzing lotions are combined with other ingredients to give them tingle, called Hot Bronzers, or cooling agents like menthol to make them Cool Bronzers.

While fragrance offers no advantage in tanning, it is often one of the most critical elements in which brand a person prefers. This is because most people use tanning lotions in a tanning bed, which is a closed environment, so the aroma of the lotion is much more pronounced than lotions used outdoors. To some, the right lotion will have aromatherapy benefits.

Indoor tanning lotions are usually designed to only use ingredients that will not cause damage or build up on acrylic surfaces. This is because all tanning beds use 100% acrylic in their protective shields. This is one reason people should not use outdoor tanning lotion in a tanning bed, as some common ingredients such as mineral oil (common ingredient in cosmetics, including some baby oil brands) will damage the surface of the acrylics.

One of the primary purposes for indoor tanning lotions is to moisturize the skin. This is because tanning (indoors or out) can dehydrate the skin so additional moisturization is needed to compensate and leave the skin looking smooth and healthy. The primary moisturizing ingredients in tanning lotions are essentially the same as in regular hand lotions, although they tend to have less alcohol in them.

Most indoor tanning lotions do not offer protection from the sun and are not intended for outdoor use. There are a few products, unofficially known as ‘All-In-One’ that have no tingle and limited amounts of the active ingredients that can be used outdoors, but still offer no SPF in them. These are used primarily for their moisturizing benefits as well as mild to moderate amount of boost to the tanning process. They are designed to be used before and after tanning or as everyday moisturizers for people who tan frequently.

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