What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Tanning Lotion? Best Substitutes For Darker Shade Of Skin

Within 5% -15% DHA, the tanning lotion is the most effective non-toxic way to exaggerate the tanning process. Besides, it offers you an effective way to have even tanning skin. 

However, when there is a shortage of available tanning lotion, you might get into trouble with finding potential substitutes that have the same ingredients and benefits.

Specifically, the different effects on both positive and negative sides will indicate a headache to consider a suitable one.        

What can I use if I don’t have tanning lotion? Fortunately, you don’t need a tanning lotion for a darker color shade. There are many forms of fake-tan products that meet your requirements.

If you have wondered about the answer to this question, please stay tuned to this article. 

Do You Need To Use A Tanning Lotion For Indoor Tanning?

The use of tanning lotion for indoor tanning is flexible in different situations. 

If you are acquiring a tanning bed, you should use accompanied tanning lotion to offset this technique’s hazard. Stemmed from exposing you to dangerous UV rays, a tanning bed leads to a high chance of sunspots, wrinkles, and skin cancer. 

As an easing solution to this case, tanning lotion adds more moisture to contribute to a deeper and faster skin tan.

It would help if you used a specialized indoor tanning lotion for the tanning bed to optimize the tanning results. 

Due to effective ingredients relating to expanding the skin tan’s lifespan, you must acquire this instead of other types. Any substitutes for this kind, such as regular lotion, suntan lotion, or outdoor ones, will not meet the same tanning level as expected. 

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Tanning Lotion?

After getting through various reviews, we have summarized the list of the best alternatives for skin tone treatment.

The list of top 9 indoor tanning lotion substitutes following will describe the features and advantages of each product. 

Self-Tanning Sheet Masks (Good For Face Tan)

This face-shaped mask better moisturizes for a gorgeous tone by facilitating the absorbing process. When it comes to tanning benefits,  is it proven to bring a deeper brown tan in 15 minutes? 

If you want a sunkissed glow, the recommended tanning time should be 5 minutes. After 8 hours of self-tanning application, you will receive a perfect result. 

About the serum’s ingredients, it is a combination of DHA and heavy-hitting hydration. Specifically, the moisturized components allow better penetration of DHA to trigger the tanning effect reaction.

Apart from tanning function, sheet masks also earn their spot in improving skin tone. Through Hyaluronic Acid, you will witness an improvement in tone, texture, and hydration. 

The sheet masks offer a convenient tanning way through 4 simple steps. In detail, you will experience a meticulous process from washing your face, setting the expected tanning time to massaging after having the mask off. 

Before initiating the process, you should moisturize along the hairline to make the tan blend easier. Whenever you finish the tanning sessions, make sure to wash your palms carefully. 

However, sheet masks are not an alternative to sunscreen, with no protection from sunburn. Besides, it is getting harder to control the amount of self-tan when using the mask. 

On the other hand, if you have broken or irritated skin, this stuff is not your suitable choice. Due to being a product specializing in face, you should aim for another product to tan larger areas such as arms and legs.

Compared to the tanning lotion, the sheet masks execute the same quality results with better protection to your skin. 


  • Satisfying results depend on tanning time
  • Improving tone, texture, and hydration
  • The convenient 4-step application process


  • Hard to control the amount of self-tan
  • Only well-applied for face

Tanning Mist (Water-based) 

In terms of self-tanner application finish time, the Tanning Mist appears as the most effective way. Specifically, the whole tanning process needs only 3-5 hours to reach the expected result. 

Through easy steps, you will successfully have a gradual, natural-looking glow. 

You need to cleanse and exfoliate your skin before adding moisturizer. Then, spray the mist onto the areas you want to tan and wait for the final results. Finally, remember to wear loose clothes right after having the tan dried to prevent stains. 

Unlike sheet masks which only apply to the face, the Tanning Mist can also turn the arms and legs tone into a darker shade. Due to being a water-based skin product, it helps avoid clogged pores. 

For a better description, the Tanning Mist supports eliminating the dead skin cells trapped in the skin into the environment.

However, you can not customize the amount of mist to suit your skin tone. Mist tanning applies the same formula to everyone regardless of personal existing tans and skin type. 

This issue leads to less precision in controlling the proportion of DHA that penetrates the skin. Consequently, the skin tone’s result might not meet your expectations. 


  • Quick tanning time
  • Easy steps to apply tanning mist
  • Well-applied for arms and legs with a darker tone
  • Prevent clogged pores


  • Hard to control the amount of mist
  • Less precision when controlling DHA proportion     

Tanning Oils (For All Body Parts)

Tanning Oils help spread the tans evenly to all body parts, even the hard-to-reach areas. About the operation, it intensifies UV rays for accelerating the tanning process. 

Specifically, the UV rays trigger melanin production faster for forming a dark skin tone. As a result, your skin will get a perfect dark shade with a high proportion of melanin.

While the tanning process is the cause of dehydration, the moisturized components offset that for your skin. 

Specifically, they come with rich vitamin E and glycerin to protect the skin from drying out. Consequently, you will possess a darker color shade with enough moisturization. 

There are various kinds of Tanning Oils products that match different skin types. It can be the form that you squirt the oil into your palms and then spread the whole body. 

It also can be a mist form that allows you to spray the oil on your skin. In addition, it sometimes comes in a rollerball form, which you can associate with the old roll-on deodorant. 

However, the Tanning Oils irritate some users with a greasing feeling when in touch. 

Besides, it can lead to the risk of premature aging when suffering from the negative effects of ultraviolet radiation despite containing SPF protection. 

Therefore, you should invest your time in considering the pros and cons of each tanning oil product for a perfect decision. 


  • Accelerating the tanning process
  • Get a perfect dark tone with high melanin proportion
  • Provide enough moisturization


  • Cause greasy feeling when in touch

Self-Tanning Drops (For The Entire Body)

Self-Tanning Drops have a bottle design with a dropper. Due to the small capacity, you require only a few drops for each tanning session. 

The usage of this product experiences a unique technique when blending drops into moisturizers. When the process completes, you will have a chance of a gorgeous glow without lying under direct sunlight.

The self-tanning drops’ positive influence will fluctuate depending on how well you maintain the faux glow. 

Therefore, you should exfoliate when you want to eliminate the existing tans. Moreover, you should add more moisturizers to keep your skin well hydrated. 

Another must-read tip is only exfoliating to remove dead skin cells without more tasks before applying self-tanning drops. Additionally, you should apply tanning drops in combo with your night skincare routine to maintain moisture and tan skin.   

According to the difference in the skin tone quality expectation, there are multiple kinds of Self- Tanning Drops. Whether you focus on the redness or aim for brighter skin, you can always find a suitable product that satisfies you.  

However, the self-tanning drops are more a buildable tanner. The liquid emphasizes slightly on the skin and requires time for the best result. 

You should meticulously look through the label’s name to acknowledge the required time to get the perfect dark skin. 

Besides, it is advisable to apply self-tanning drops in the nighttime routine, pairing with other skincare products.


  • Require only a few drops for each tanning session
  • The result is satisfying with a gorgeous glow
  • Does not transfer to clothing and sheets


  • Difficult to find the best mix when applying

Self-Tanning Spray (For The Entire Body)

Self-Tanning spray comes in an aerosol type that sprays the mist on the skin. When penetrating the surface skin cells, it will trigger the reaction of DHA and amino acid to yield a darker skin tone. 

Ideally, you can have the skin tans last from 7 to 10 days. In addition, some kinds of spray contain erythrulose that enables the tans to last considerably longer but takes more time to tan. 

Furthermore, the self-tanning spray provides strong protection from sunburn and skin cancer. Without exposure to sunlight for hours, you can possess a desirable skin tone after each spray tanning session.

The 15-minute drying time makes tanning spray superior to other products. After each spray session, you can avoid contact with the remaining mist due to the fast drying time. However, it doesn’t mean that you skip on the washing-hand part to ensure a healthy glow. 

To prevent stains after the tanning process, you should wait for the tan to dry before taking on clothes. It would be useful to wear a loose shirt with a dark tone. Additionally, acquiring dark sheets when sleeping is recommendable.    

On the other hand, you need to separate your mouth, nose, and eyes from direct contact with the spay. If you have sensitive skin, you should try a small skin patch before spreading it to the whole body.


  • Strong protection from sunburn and skin cancer
  • Fast drying time
  • Enable considerably longer tan


  • Cause the risks of cancer when inhaling DHA

Tanning Mousse (For The Whole Body)

Due to a moisturizing and anti-aging formula, the Tanning Mousse offers a convenient way to yield a gorgeous glow. Specifically, the result comes with a deep brown tan and perfect fade.

If you expect light or medium tan, the tanning time should be around 1-3 hours. In the case of a deeper golden tan, you should take a shower after 5 hours. 

You can use the Tanning Mousse for massaging your skin. Apart from tanning function, the moisturizing ingredients help improve skin hydration. Besides, the translucent foam dries quickly to separate your body from the greasy feeling.  

24 hours before use, you must exfoliate and shave putting-on-mousse hair areas.   Subsequently, you need to add your dry skin, such as elbows and ankles, more moisturizer for best effectiveness. 

Depending on your expected tan depth, the waiting time is around 1 – 5 hours before taking a shower. You should avoid shaving and exfoliating after tanning applications to maintain a long-lasting tan. 

However, the Tanning Mousse remains a bit smelly that causes a stinky feeling. Compared to the tanning lotion, the mousse offers less moisturization but quicker drying and easier spreading.  


  • Bring a gorgeous glow due to a moisturizing and anti-aging formula
  • Prevent greasy feeling when drying quickly
  • Improve skin hydration


  • Remain a bit smell 

Tanning Wipe (For The Whole Body)

The Tanning Wipe offers a friendly and convenient tanning way for those having limited time. The whole process will cost you only one or two minutes. 

Moreover, you can toss it easily into your bag for use anywhere and anytime. Within each simple wipe, the ingredients in the towelette will penetrate perfectly into the skin for a perfect darker shade. 

Before applying the Tanning Wipe, you need to exfoliate and moisturize all the intentional skin, especially the dry areas such as the knees and ankles. 

Subsequently, you will wipe the towelette smoothly to spread the ingredients to the entire body. When contacting the high-absorption areas, you need to conduct it sparely. 

In the post-tanning phase, your hands should be clean-washed to avoid being darker than the rest of the body. In addition, to prevent splotchy colors and stained clothes, you should wait for the tanning to completely dry. 

The final result will be noticeable in 2 – 4 hours. If the tone does not meet your requirement, you can repeat the process to gain the desired color. 

There are various kinds of Tanning Wipe according to different criteria. Depending on your expected skin tone and skin sensitivity, you can come up with a perfect choice.


  • Fast tanning time, only one or two minutes
  • Easily apply anywhere and anytime
  • Generate a perfect darker skin


  • Require time to gain the desired color tone

Tanning Water (For The Whole Body)

Tanning Water is a spray or foam that results in a beautiful glow while improving skin hydration. 

Within the recipes of water, vitamin, and DHA, this product offers an effective way for gradually building up the brown skin tone. Besides, it also earns its spot in avoiding stuck stains in the hairline and blocked pores.

Commonly, you have to exfoliate and wax hair 24 hours before applications. By doing this, you will have an even surface for better spreading the tanning water. 

Besides, you should allow no makeup layer left before implementing the tanning process. When coming to optimizing the tanning results, cleansing oil must be restricted due to being a barrier to the tan’s penetration.    

Moreover, it is recommendable to use an applicator mitt to sweep the product on the entire body. Specifically, you should focus on areas under the arms and the whole legs. Alternatively, you can simply use your palms to rub in evenly. 

The average tanning lasting time is around 5-6 days. Regardless of how you maintain the tanning result, it is compulsory to add enough moisturization to the skin. 

Compared to the tanning lotion, this substitute provides more moisturization to improve skin hydration.


  • Improve skin hydration
  • Gradually build up the brown skin tone
  • Avoid blocked pores and hairline stains


  • Require a few using times to identify the best color for your skin

Tanning Pills (For The Whole Body Tan)

Tanning Pills is an exception from other substitutes when allowing mount digestion. The tanning process relies on a food-coloring additive called canthaxanthin. 

Specifically, when getting through to your body, it will trigger the pigment reaction to create a darker skin tone. As a gradual tanner, the pills might require two weeks to result in significant change while building up inside your body.  

Unlike the brown skin result of other substitutes, the tanning pills create an orange skin tone. This issue irritates most tanning addicts who hopefully look for a perfect darker tone. Besides, consuming a high amount of tanning supplements can lead to dangerous side effects such as hives, vision loss, and liver damage.

Due to the risks mentioned above, tanning pills do not get through the approval of the FDA. Therefore, you should consider other options instead. 


  • Easy to apply
  • Gradually build up a darker tone in 2 weeks


  • Cause dangerous side effects such as hives, vision loss, ad liver damage

How Do I Make My Own Tanning Lotion?

When finding no satisfaction in the above substitutes or in trouble with choosing appropriate suppliers, you can aim for making tanning lotion yourself. 

Depending on your skin condition, you can choose an appropriate recipe among various instructions introduced on the internet. 

In this article, we will recommend to you our favorite recipe, carrot-based homemade sunless tanning oil. Before initializing the making process, you need to prepare 3/4 gallon of water, 1 pound of fresh carrots, and 2 cups of brown sugar.   


  1. Wash the carrots and cut them into slices
  2. Boil the water, then add brown sugar and sliced carrots
  3. Reduce heat, and cook the mixture at low heat for three hours
  4. Let the mixture cool after turning off the stove
  5. Use a strainer to filter the clumps from the oil liquid
  6. Pour the finished product into a spray bottle for use
  7. Apply this self-made tanning lotion once a week


Regarding the question “what can I use if I don’t have tanning lotion?”, apart from tanning lotion, you have a wide range of substitutes that result in a perfect glow for your skin. 

However, the different pros and cons of each tanning product might slow your decision. Therefore, you should consider your skin type and sensitivity level to choose the right choice for a gorgeous glow.  

We hope the information in this article will be a precious guideline for you. If you need any tanning consultant, feel free to contact us.


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