You’ve heard people say that tanning cured their psoriasis. Phototherapy can indeed help, but that’s not the same as indoor tanning for psoriasis. However, some people don’t have access to light therapy while almost everyone can spend time in the sun. We’d like everyone to enjoy healthier skin, so we researched the best tanning lotion for psoriasis in the hopes that you’d find safe options for sensitive skin.
Can you use tanning lotion with psoriasis? It depends on the formula. We recommend fragrance-free, hypoallergenic tanning lotion. Artificial fragrances may trigger flare-ups, but other ingredients could also irritate sensitive skin. It’s smart to check the label and do a patch test on a small spot first. You can see in-depth reviews of indoor and outdoor tanning lotions for psoriasis below.
How does tanning help psoriasis?
Anyone can develop the auto-immune disease psoriasis. The most common form is plaque psoriasis where the person has reddish, raised spots with silvery-white scales. These patches are likely to sting and feel itchy. They are caused by overactive skin cell production (1).
If you get phototherapy treatments for psoriasis, they use UVB rays (which are part of natural sunlight) to slow down the growth of hyperactive skin cells (2). This is why some experts recommend spending a few minutes outdoors to soak up the sun. But be careful because UVB radiation causes sunburn and that will trigger another flare.
There’s also a treatment that combines medication called Psoralen with UVA radiation (a combination called PUVA). Since UVA is the most common type used in a tanning bed, some people think that indoor tanning is an effective solution for psoriasis. Unfortunately, without the medication, indoor tanning beds are not as helpful. Worse, indoor tanning greatly increases the risk of skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.
How do you tan with psoriasis?
So, how do you tan if you have psoriasis? Is there a safe way to do it?
We highly recommend talking to your doctor first because some of the medications prescribed for psoriasis (like steroids) may cause adverse reactions if you spend too much time in the sun (or in the tanning bed).
Next, spend some time gently exfoliating the psoriasis plaques. The dry, dead skin won’t tan like moisturized, healthy skin. Also, if you use a self-tanner, it’s likely to darken those spots more than the surrounding area, leading to an uneven appearance.
Instead of using salt scrubs or a loofah, opt for chemical exfoliation which encourages peeling of the dead skin without abrading anything. Examples include salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid. In a pinch, you can use dandruff products like Neutrogena T/Sal or coal tar shampoo (3).
Exfoliate the day before you go tanning so that your skin has time to calm down. Apply plenty of moisturizer. Tanning lotions and oils tend to be very moisturizing, especially if you put them on right after bathing.
Don’t hesitate to use sunscreen if you’ll be outdoors for an extended amount of time. Mineral sunscreen for sensitive skin like the one we reviewed below is ideal for preventing psoriasis flare-ups. And yes, you can still tan while wearing sunscreen – it’s just slower.
Finally, take it slow. Only spend a few minutes in the sun or the tanning bed while you build up a base tan. Injuring your skin will just worsen psoriasis. But taking your time to tan slowly might be just what you need to put psoriasis in remission (4).
How to use tanning lotion if you have psoriasis plaques
If your psoriasis is in an active state, chances are your skin is very sensitive. Rubbing in lotion might not feel too comfortable. Instead, pat it on and use a generous amount. It might take a little longer to absorb, but it’s worth it.
If you’ll be using self-tanner, try moisturizing the plaques first, and don’t put the sunless tanning product on those areas. However, if the psoriasis is in remission, a gradual tanning lotion might be the perfect solution for a beautiful bronze. We reviewed several self-tanning lotions for sensitive skin below.
|Tanning products for psoriasis||Highlights|
|Devoted Creations #TANLIFE Hydrating Tanning Butter||
|Hempz Dark Tan Maximizer, Hypoallergenic||
|Body Nutritive Serum | For Outdoor Body Tanning||
|Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil||
|Beauty by Earth Self Tanner Tanning Lotion||
|Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion with SPF 50||
Best Tanning Lotion for Psoriasis in 2023
Devoted Creations #TANLIFE Hydrating Tanning Butter
Reviewers with psoriasis have had success tanning while using this lotion. They reported no adverse reactions and said that it made them visibly darker even after short sessions. It even smells pleasant after tanning.
The lotion features shea butter, a nourishing moisturizer for sensitive skin. Plus, the creamy formula also offers tattoo fade protection and wrinkle-reducing benefits. It has Advanced Matrixyl Synthe 6 and RevitaFit to firm the skin and AcquaCell to keep it hydrated.
Lastly, the hypoallergenic lotion has no instant bronzers or DHA so the color you develop is all your own.
- Hypoallergenic indoor tanning lotion with no instant bronzers or DHA
- Creamy formula features shea butter and Advanced Matrixyl Synthe 6
- Firms the skin and keeps it hydrated while accelerating the tanning process
- It’s difficult to find a list of ingredients
Hempz Dark Tan Maximizer, Hypoallergenic
There are two versions of the Hempz tanning lotion. This one does not contain DHA or instant bronzers and won’t stain the skin. The luxurious white cream is also free from parabens, gluten, and nuts. Instead, it has soothing oatmeal and mango seed butter. Yet, it’s fast-absorbing and non-greasy to the point where some people choose to use it as their daily moisturizer even if they aren’t tanning.
Reviewers with psoriasis are happy that it has no weird odor and doesn’t make the skin sting. It’s gentle on eczema-prone skin and it softens psoriasis plaques. Although it’s not as packed with tanning accelerators as the competition, it will keep the skin comfortable while you tan.
- No parabens, nuts, or gluten to cause allergic reactions
- Infused with soothing mango seed butter and oatmeal
- Non-greasy and suitable for use as a daily lotion, not just tanning
- The list of ingredients was not readily available at the time of writing
Body Nutritive Serum | For Outdoor Body Tanning
What about tanning oil for psoriasis? We say why not – there’s something decadent and luxurious about tanning with oil. It leaves the skin shimmery and soft and seems to concentrate the sun’s rays.
This delicious tanning oil is rich in skin-friendly fatty acids and antioxidants. For instance, it has hazelnut seed and Kukui nut oil plus extra vitamin E. But it’s the geranium, grapefruit, and lavender oils that give it an herbal fragrance. Each ingredient has its own unique ability to keep the skin smooth and moisturized and together they are unstoppable.
What’s more, it may be an oil, but it’s surprisingly lightweight and non-greasy. It soothes flaky, dry skin, making it comfortable for persons with psoriasis to enjoy. Reviewers say they use it before and after sunbathing and it seems to speed up tanning.
- Rich yet lightweight blend of natural oils and botanicals plus vitamin E
- Smooths and soothes dry skin while accelerating tanning
- Packed with antioxidants and fatty acids for healthy skin
- If you have nut allergies, skip this one
- Can’t be used for indoor tanning because oils are damaging to the acrylic in tanning beds
Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil
Here’s the classic tanning oil that everyone loves. It’s inexpensive, plus it has the tropical coconut scent that reminds us of fun summer days.
Moreover, it’s a reef-friendly product that shouldn’t harm corals or wildlife in waterways. Of course, it’s certified cruelty-free, too.
The formula’s base ingredients are mineral oil, coconut oil, aloe, and cocoa butter. It’s paraben-free and the artificial fragrance is the last one on the list.
Remember, this is for tanning and has no sunscreen whatsoever. It’s not ideal for pale people who spend a lot of time in the sun. If you don’t tan easily, limit your time sunbathing and try to avoid the hottest hours between 11 AM to 4 PM.
- Paraben-free tanning oil with the classic tropical coconut scent
- Reef-friendly and cruelty-free
- Features coconut oil, aloe, and cocoa butter
- Not fragrance-free but the fragrance is the final ingredient on the label
- No sunscreen or UV protection
Beauty by Earth Self Tanner Tanning Lotion
Can you self-tan with psoriasis? That’s a tricky question. We wouldn’t recommend spray tanning unless the psoriasis is in remission. If you have plaques, the rough, dry skin will soak up extra product and form dark patches that stand out from the surrounding skin. One way to compensate is to apply self-tanning lotion at home.
Take this gradual tanning lotion, for example. It comes in two versions: fair to medium and medium to dark. Both use DHA (dihydroxyacetone) to darken the skin the same way that an apple slice turns brown when exposed to the air. It only takes a few hours to give you a sun-kissed glow. Put it on again the next day and you’ll go a little darker.
Although it’s not as potent as self-tanning mousse or a spray tan, that’s actually a good thing. If it takes a few days to build up a decent tan, it will look more natural and be easier to maintain. Just apply the lotion two times a week to keep the color.
Happily, it’s also an excellent moisturizer softens and hydrates the skin with organic aloe, shea butter, and coconut oil. With plenty of antioxidants from green tea and pomegranate, it prevents signs of aging, too. There are no parabens, artificial fragrance, or other irritants.
Will it turn you orange? Reviewers say no. The pleasant-smelling lotion is comfortable and easy to use. Just remember to wash your hands after applying it to keep it from darkening the cuticles or affecting the color of the palms.
- Organic ingredients and no irritating chemicals like parabens or an artificial fragrance
- Builds color gradually with repeated applications
- Available in versions for pale and medium to dark skin
- Very moisturizing and easy to use
- None – but skip applying it to dry patches and exfoliate first
Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion with SPF 50
How should you protect psoriasis plaques if you go tanning? If you can’t keep out of the sun, use one of the best sunscreens for eczema and psoriasis. We suggest Aveeno’s mineral sunscreen with a high UV protection factor.
It’s a small tube which means you have no excuse to leave it behind. Rub it in fifteen minutes before you go outdoors and put it on again after swimming or if you’ve been outside for two hours.
It blocks the sun’s rays with 21.6% zinc oxide, the world’s most potent sunscreen ingredient that’s safe for sensitive skin. Furthermore, it’s fragrance-free and moisturizing with oat and feverfew. No wonder dermatologists (and the EWG) recommend it for sensitive skin.
Reviewers say it takes a bit of effort to rub in, but it absorbs well and doesn’t leave much of a white residue after a while.
- Dermatologist-tested for sensitive skin
- Uses zinc oxide to prevent sunburn and premature aging
- Fragrance-free with no parabens
- Infused with oat and feverfew
- May leave a white cast on dark skin
We hope our reviews of the best tanning products for psoriasis helped you find what you need today. What’s more, we hope that you find relief while you enjoy soaking up the rays. Let us know what other tanning topics interest you in the comments below.
1. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/ About Psoriasis, by the National Psoriasis Foundation
2. https://www.psoriasis.org/phototherapy/ Phototherapy
3. https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/psoriasis-skin-care-toolkit This skin-care toolkit can help psoriasis, by Jessica Kaffenberger, published February 7, 2018
4. https://www.goldenstatetanning.com/blog/tanning-with-psoriasis-what-you-need-to-know Tanning With Psoriasis: What You Need to Know, published August 8, 2018