What is the Best After Tanning Lotion? (2021)

Hello Beautiful! You may know that you need to take steps before and during your tan to get your best glow, but did you know what you do after has an effect on how your skin looks?

One of these steps includes keeping your skin hydrated and moisturized by using an after tanning lotion.

Taking care of your skin properly after getting your skin beautifully tanned is essential to keep your glow looking its best and lasting as long as it can. This applies for whether you tan outdoors, get your deep color in a tanning salon bed, or you use products that don’t involve UV. Your after tanning skincare routine can also make a difference if your skin has gotten burned by UV rays or had a reaction from sunless tanning products.

The most important thing you can do is to keep your skin hydrated and one of the easiest ways to do this is to use a great moisturizer. Well, how do you know which products are the best after tanning lotions? We’ve got you covered.

We have found the 10 best after tanning lotions to keep your beautiful glow looking its best. Of course, we have all the other information you need like why you need to take special care after you tan and all about the different tanning products.

Are you ready to learn everything you need to know about keeping your skin hydrated?


How Tanning Works

To understand why your skin needs some extra TLC after you tan, let’s first talk about how tanning works. When tanning outdoors, your body is exposed to the sun and UV rays and that is how your skin gets its glow. Tanning beds and other similar devices also expose your skin to UV rays to help your skin tan.

About UV Rays

Whether you are tanning out in the sun or going to a tanning salon and using a light, both expose your skin to UV rays. UVA and UVB rays are what are associated with tanning.  UVB rays are can cause sunburn as they burn the upper layers of the epidermis. The epidermis is the outer layer of your skin.

UVA rays are the radiation that causes your skin to tan by penetrating the lower level of the epidermis. UVA is what activates melanocyte cells in the skin to produce melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives your hair, skin, and eyes their color. It is also your body’s way of trying to protect your skin from burning, although this does not mean that you cannot burn with a tan. It also cannot protect you against skin cancer, premature aging, or other conditions that result from sun damage. To learn more about UV rays and their effects on skin check out this article from the CDC.

What About “Fake Baking”?

Using a sunless tanning product that does not expose your skin to UV rays is a safer option when comparing the risks of being in the sun or using a tanning bed, but we are sure you know that already.

Sunless products come in multiple formulas, including mousses, airbrushes, oils, and lotions. These fake tanning products use a chemical called dihydroxyacetone, or DHA. This is the active ingredient that reacts with your skin cells on the epidermis to darken your skin temporarily, which simulates a tan that lasts for a few days. While this chemical process may not pose the same risk as sun and tan bed tanning, your glow will benefit from after-tan care.

Why Does Your Skin Needs Extra TLC After Tanning?

After tanning, either with or without UV rays, your skin is much more vulnerable, dehydrated, and possibly irritated. UV rays will typically cause the most stress to your skin. Another thing to keep in mind is, if you have been tanning outside, what other activities have you been doing. Chlorine, salt, and sand can add to the irritation of your skin. So what steps do you need to take to have the perfect after tanning routine?

Rehydrating your skin is very important to keep your skin looking its best. After tanning with UV rays your skin becomes dehydrated because it decreases the water that is in your body.

TIP: If you are planning on spending the day by the pool or on the beach, be sure to drink plenty of water. This will help your body, including your skin, stay hydrated!

Your skin may have also been burned during your tanning session. This is another reason for special treatment because those areas will need to be properly treated and soothed.

Your skin can still need some extra care even if you are tanning using a sunless tanner. One reason is that a common side effect of the chemical DHA found in these products is drying of the skin.

After your tan, you also want to try to maintain that warm glow for as long as possible. There are certain products that are specially formulated to help extend your tan. We have a few of our favorites below and we also explain what tan extenders are further down too.

The best way to bring moisture back to your skin is to use one of the best after tanning lotions.

TIP: take a short lukewarm shower after tanning using UV rays. This will help remove any tanning lotions, oils, sand, chlorine, dead skin, and other possible irritants. After your shower pat dry to avoid irritating your skin further. The shower will also help to open up your pores to allow the lotion to absorb better. (Thinking of tanning oil, do you have a favorite tanning oil? Here are the ones we recommend that will get you a deep dark color!)

After tanning lotions are formulated especially for moisturizing your skin after being exposed to UV rays. Some are even made to help calm and cool sunburns.

By keeping the skin moisturized and hydrated, you ensure that your skin is ready for your next tanning session. Moisturized skin absorbs light better and helps the tan develop faster. There are also after tanning moisturizers that are meant to extend your tan. These products are categorized as tan extenders.

So, how do you know which type of lotion to use?

What Lotion Should I Use After Tanning?

You know that you want a lotion with something moisturizing but how do you decide which moisturizer to use? Your skin type and how you are tanning determines what type of lotion will be best. There are also certain ingredients to look for in your after tanning moisturizer to ensure that your skin is being properly treated.

Some great hydrating ingredients found in the best after tanning moisturizers are vitamin E, shea butter, omega 3 and 6, and coconut oil. Also, keep an eye out for humectant ingredients that will help keep the water in your skin, like glycerin.

Hemp seed oil is another moisturizing ingredient often found in after tanning lotions. The fatty acids found in hemp seed oil help mimic the skin’s natural lipids, which is why it is such a great ingredient in after tanning lotions.

TIP: If you are tanning indoors and use UV lights to get your deepened color, you probably already use a tanning lotion to help get a better color during your tan. You can always ask your salon attendant if they recommend an after tanning moisturizer to complement what you use while you are tanning. Want to see our top picks for tanning lotions? Check out our post here.

Are You Sunburned?

If you have been tanning using UV rays and your skin became red or sunburned, look for ingredients that are meant to be cooling, calming, and anti-inflammatory. One of the most common ingredients you will see in the best after tanning lotions is aloe vera because it is calming on the skin and helps to keep the skin moisturized.

Another ingredient to look for in your after tanning lotion is bisabolol, which is an anti-irritant meant to soothe the skin. Zinc gluconate is another soothing ingredient that will help your skin to heal.

TIP: Feeling really burned after your tanning session? Try using a cold compress on the area. You could also try using an over-the-counter steroid treatment like hydrocortisone to help decrease the inflammation.

What is Your Skin Type?

Those that suffer from dry skin will want to pay extra attention to the ingredients in their after-tanning lotion. Look for those skin-loving, hydrating ingredients. Thicker formula lotions may also benefit you, just be aware that the heavier the formula the less refreshing your after tanning lotion will feel.

If your skin is more on the sensitive side or has been severely irritated by the sun, we recommend a lotion that is free of fragrances as these can cause more aggravation to the skin.

TIP: Some after tanning lotions contain SPF to help keep your skin protected from sun damage, which is great! Just keep in mind that the same rules apply and the SPF will have to be reapplied as usual.

What You Should Avoid

Beware of after tanning lotions that contain drying ingredients like different formulations of alcohol.

Another ingredient to beware of is mineral oils as these do not allow the skin to breathe. Mineral oil creates a barrier over the skin to keep moisture in, which also means it locks in the heat. This could possibly cause increased pain, sensitivity, inflammation, and redness. And isn’t that contrary to the reasons you using an after tanning lotion?

If you got your glow through airbrushing, lotion, mouse, or other UV-free options, there are other special things to avoid in your after tanning lotion. Stay away from oil-based moisturizers as these may cause your deepened color to fade faster. So can products with alcohols, Parabens, and fragrances. Using a basic and simple moisturizer is your best bet for keeping your skin and tan looking its best.

Tan Extenders vs After Tanning Lotion

You may have heard of tan extenders and wondered what they are? Well, it is all in the name, these products help to extend your tan. These products nourish your skin with great ingredients like vitamins to help your tan last longer and lock your color in.  Tan extenders can be used for those that sunless tan and those that get their color from UV rays.

Some tan extenders contain small amounts of DHA to help keep your tan by gradually building color. Others contain some bronzer that enhances your tan. Using a tan extender also helps to moisturize your skin and keep it looking.

Here is a video that will let you know a little more about how to care for your skin after tanning.

Best After Tan Lotions 2021


Summing Up

There are a lot of steps to getting the perfect tan and taking care of your skin afterward is an important one. The best way to keep your tan looking great is keeping your skin moisturized and hydrated. To do this you have to use an after tanning lotion with ingredients that will nourish your skin, some will even help your deep color from fading.

You know what to look for now to keep your glow looking great for days after your tanning session.

What is your after tanning routine? Do you have a favorite after tanning moisturizer?
Let us know down below.
Scroll to Top