Is it possible to enjoy both worlds? Can you tan and still protect your ink?
Yes, if you turn to the best tanning lotion for tattoos.
It’s also smart to cover your ink with sunscreen, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
In the meantime, let’s talk about tattoo protection for the tanning bed.
What do you put on a tattoo when tanning?
Can you put tanning lotion on a tattoo? Yes, as long as it’s healed.
In fact, you need to protect the ink while tanning. UV rays will fade tattoos (1).
You’ll get the most protection from sunscreen, but it will prevent that part of your skin from bronzing the same as the rest. That’s where tanning lotion picks up the slack.
Most tanning lotions contain antioxidants, minerals, and moisturizers to keep the skin healthy. In turn, the ingredients help keep tattoos from fading as quickly as they would without the lotion. They guard against damage from UVA rays, which penetrate deeper.
You might also try tanning lotion with bronzer if you decide to use sunscreen anyway. Bronzers like DHA and erythrulose will make the skin develop a golden tan without exposure to the sun. Cosmetic bronzers, however, could make brightly-colored or pastel tattoos look muddy (2).
Also, UV rays will fade light-colored tattoos faster than those done with dark ink.
Best Tanning Lotion for Tattoos in 2023
Let’s keep your ink vibrant with the tattoo fade protection offered by the tanning lotions below. We’ll begin with products that don’t contain bronzers or self-tanning ingredients. Then, we’ll move on to tanning lotion with bronzer and sunscreen, too.
Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Golden Tanning Lotion
Coconut Kisses has no bronzer, but it’s infused with tanning accelerators. With ingredients like Melano Bronze and the Quad Tyrosine Blend, it stimulates melanin production to help you tan faster with less exposure to harmful rays.
Less exposure to UV means less damage to your tattoo ink. Plus, the lotion has a tattoo fade protecting formula to keep tattoos radiant.
It’s not just enriched with antioxidants, but also plenty of moisturizers like cocoa butter and coconut milk. It even smells like coconut with a hint of vanilla.
By the way, you’ll hear a lot about antioxidants. Vitamin E is one. It protects the skin against premature aging by neutralizing free radicals. You’ve heard of oxidation – it’s like rust. Therefore, tanning lotions with antioxidants keep you from “rusting”.
Devoted Creations #TANLIFE
Here’s another indoor tanning lotion without bronzers. The color you gain from sunbathing with it is 100% natural.
It also happens to be a sensitive skin formula that soothes away dryness. One of its secret weapons is shea butter, an excellent natural moisturizer.
Moreover, it contains proprietary components like Advanced Matrixyl Synthe 6, which is clinically proven to reduce wrinkles.
When you wear it, you also benefit from tattoo and color fade protectors. The lotion might make your ink look more vibrant, making it desirable for everyday wear, not just tanning.
Hempz Dark Tan Maximizer
Hempz makes two types of tanning accelerators, one without DHA and one with it. This one does not contain DHA, a natural bronzer. It’s hypoallergenic and designed for sensitive skin.
It is lightweight and not greasy, plus it’s free of parabens, nuts, and gluten. It sinks in fast and leaves the skin smooth with mango seed butter and oatmeal.
I have to be upfront with you – there’s no official word on whether it protects tattoos from fading. But it’s better to wear this while tanning than no lotion at all.
Devoted Creations Truly Iconic
Besides tattoo protection, here’s a lotion that helps reduce oiliness on the skin. It features white charcoal in a silicone emulsion. It’s not greasy, yet it seals in moisture to leave the skin velvety soft.
There are no bronzers or sunless tanners in it. But it has a tanning maximizer called MelaTime to get you darker faster.
Users say it has a subtle floral fragrance.
Ed Hardy #Beachtime
You can enjoy this lotion for tanning indoors or outside. It won’t harm tanning beds as it doesn’t contain mineral oil.
It defends ink against UV rays and provides other essential benefits. For one, it softens the skin with coconut milk while seaweed draws out toxins.
Then, hibiscus makes the skin more supple, while passion fruit prevents wrinkles.
Plus, it has the trademarked Body Fit blend that makes cellulite less noticeable.
Devoted Creations H.I.M. Gold Edition
Devoted Creations has an entire series of men’s indoor tanning lotion. Each one targets specific needs. For example, the Gold Edition is an anti-aging formula.
It doesn’t just keep the skin looking like old leather, but it also maintains the brightness and clarity of body ink.
It has tanning accelerators to maximize each moment catching rays. At the same time, SunXtend makes the tan last for as long as possible.
Tamanu oil regenerates the skin to fade scars and also fights acne. Then, clinically-proven ingredients smooth fine lines and wrinkles and calm redness and razor burn.
Finally, FreshTek eliminates any after-tanning odor.
Jwoww Shore Love
Now, let’s look at tanning lotion with bronzer. This one has erythrulose to develop a sunless tan, but it takes hours to work. On the bright side, it extends the tan for longer than it would last on its own. Without instant cosmetic bronzers, it won’t blur tattoo ink.
Then, there’s tyrosine to speed up melanin production during tanning. It’s boosted by a caffeine and coffee seed complex that also tones the skin.
Intense moisturizers refresh while Odor Defense neutralizes that burned smell that comes from tanning beds and self-tanners. It leaves you with a Sparkling Kiwi aroma.
Onyx Tattoo Tanning Lotion Ink Care Formula
It matters a lot to me how my lotion smells. That’s why I try to include that information in each review. This one has a Papaya Bliss fragrance. It’s a blend of pineapple, melon, raspberry, and pineapple.
It’s packed with natural ingredients to nourish the skin while you tan. The label makes it sound like an exotic recipe with melon, jasmine, pomegranate, and peach extracts.
Each part has a role to play. For instance, the peach prevents water loss, while sesame and tamanu oil prevent ink from fading. At the same time, avocado, grape, and pomegranate shield against wrinkles and age spots.
Devoted Creations Yes Way Rose
Illuminate your skin with a champagne and diamond infusion that adds a little bit of sparkle. The dual bronzers in this lotion offer instant color and the gradual deepening of your tan.
There’s Body Fit Technology to firm the skin and hide cellulite. Meanwhile, the BB cream formula color-corrects and improves tone.
Don’t forget the tattoo and color fade protection. It defends ink while it hydrates dry skin.
Reviewers say their skin stays soft and comfortable for hours after tanning. It never smells burned.
Devoted Creations CAMO KING
Guys use bronzer, too. The Camo King ensures that you never need to be shy in a swimsuit. It will grant you a sun-kissed glow from the moment you apply it because it’s fortified with cosmetic and natural bronzers.
Next, you’ll enjoy improved skin texture thanks to RevitaFit and Advanced Matrixyl Synthe 6. These are potent anti-aging blends.
The tattoo fade protection kicks in underneath the UV. Then after you tan, you’ll still smell manly because of the deodorizing formula and appealing fragrance.
Supre Snooki SLAY ALL DAY
This is another bronzing lotion that protects tattoos while tanning. But what makes it stand out is the Hyperdark technology. Even if you don’t lay out or hit the tanning bed, you’ll look like you did.
The blend of dark bronzers isn’t ideal for pale skin unless you want to pretend you spent a month at the seaside. On the other hand, they will give you a deeper tan than you’ve ever had before.
The tattoo protection part of the formula incorporates aloe, algae, and minerals. But that’s not the only nourishing blend. It also has moringa and tamanu oil to smooth fine lines.
Happily, this one is also free of parabens and gluten.
Ed Hardy Tanista
Are you familiar with BB cream? This is the equivalent for your body. It perfects and corrects tone and texture to turn back the clock on your appearance.
Not only does the bronze you, but it also shrinks pores and hides discoloration.
While you tan, it uses the MelanoBronze and Quad Tyrosine Blend to speed up pigment production. There’s the standard tattoo fade protection, of course. Plus, it hides redness in case you stay out a little too long.
The fragrance is described as Lush Pink Woods Action. I wish I knew what that meant as I didn’t have a chance to smell it.
Ed Hardy Get Ripped Cooling Bronzer
If tanning lotions with tingle intimidate you, try this cooling lotion instead. It helps you stay relaxed and comfortable as the tanning bed heats up your skin.
The oil-free formula has a bronzing serum without cosmetic bronzers. In other words, when you apply it, it doesn’t change the color of your skin immediately. It deepens the bronze gradually as it’s a self-tanner.
Other ingredients defend tattoos and make skin supple and elastic. The masculine fragrance is called Midnight Passion.
Ed Hardy INK
It’s not tanning lotion. Instead, this is a tan-extending moisturizer.
This is precisely what you need to keep your bronze for longer, no matter where it came from. It works on naturally tanned skin as well as that golden glow from sunless tanner.
Use it daily to keep skin healthy as it’s packed with vitamins and nutrients. It hydrates with lotus extract and shea butter. The same ingredients perk up old tattoos.
Moreover, the formula is hypoallergenic, with no oil or wheat in it. It absorbs quickly without making the skin sticky or greasy.
Malibu Tan Hemp Tattoo-Enhancing Body Moisturizer
Anyone who tans you should use a decent body lotion. It makes sense to stay hydrated as it helps the skin stay tanned for longer.
This moisturizer is based on hemp seed oil, coconut, shea butter, and aloe. It makes old tattoos pop and soothes newer ones. (But please use proper tattoo aftercare lotion if your skin is still healing).
Furthermore, the clean fragrance is subtle and gender-neutral.
INK Tattoo Brightener Spray with SPF 50+
The sunscreen was made especially for protecting tattoos from fading. It’s a reef-safe product that won’t harm wildlife or corals in oceans, lakes, rivers.
It has no fragrance and leaves no residue once it dries. The fine spray goes so smoothly you’ll forget you applied it.
It’s made without parabens, artificial colors, and petroleum derivatives.
But how can you go tanning with sunscreen? It happens that no sunscreen blocks 100% of the UV rays. This one has SPF 50 protection, so it blocks about 98% if it’s applied correctly.
It would be a waste to go indoor tanning with it as you’ll be wasting your money. But if you’re outdoors, it’s perfect.
Always apply the sunscreen first and let it absorb before you apply tanning lotion.
INK-EEZE Ink Shield Spray SPF 50
Perhaps you’ve seen INK-EEZE products on tattoo reality shows. Their spray-on sunscreen is coconut-scented and reef-friendly. It defends against both UVA and UVB rays.
In case you’re wondering, UVA is what wrecks tattoos and causes wrinkles. UVB is what causes sunburn and some types of skin cancer.
But when you apply this transparent sunscreen, it creates a barrier to protect your ink from destruction.
Users say it isn’t greasy, and it works well to prevent sunburn.
Australian Gold SPF 50 Tattoo Stick
You have no excuse to forget the sunscreen when it’s a pocket-sized stick. The small but mighty product offers two benefits. It defends against ink discoloration and also moisturizes to illuminate tattoos.
ProTan INK TATTOO FADE SUN SHIELD STICK SPF 30
Here’s an alternative sunscreen stick that costs less and smells nice. It has a cotton candy fragrance.
What’s more, it’s waterproof once it sets. Use it to protect your ink or other sensitive areas like nipples.
The most important decision when choosing a tanning lotion for tattoos is whether or not you want bronzer.
I’d recommend trying both alternatives if you’re anxious to get a golden glow. Just remember that bronzer may dim the vibrance of light-colored ink. That might be a small price to pay when you want to get dark faster.
If you found your new favorite tanning lotion here today, come back and tell us about it in the comments below.
1. https://www.byrdie.com/tattoos-and-tanning-3187338 by Karen L. Hudson, published May 14, 2019, accessed October 24, 2020
2. https://www.byrdie.com/sun-protection-and-tattoos-4769244 by Isabelle Lichtenstein, published July 6, 2020, accessed October 24, 2020