Indoor tanning and outdoor tanning, when done properly, can both give you a beautifully natural-looking sun-kissed glow. In both cases, your skin is exposed to UV rays, so one would assume that the tanning lotion you use for either is the same, right?
However, the tanning lotions used for indoor tanning and outdoor tanning are different, and some care should be taken when using one in place of the other.
Can you use tanning bed lotion outside? You can use tanning bed lotion outside, but you must keep in mind that indoor tanning lotion does not contain any SPF as outdoor lotions do, so you will need to make up for this to ensure your skin does not burn when out in the sun.
It is always best to use indoor tanning lotion indoors, and outdoor tanning lotion outdoors, but when you don’t have an option, read on to find out if you can use indoor tanning lotion outside!
What Is Tanning Lotion?
Understanding what tanning lotion is will help you understand why you shouldn’t change it up too much!
Tanning lotion is a product that is applied to the skin before going under the sun, to amplify the UV ray effect on the skin, causing you to tan faster. These accelerating lotions reduce the amount of time you spend in the sun but still give you a beautiful tan.
Outdoor tanning lotions often have SPF built-in, to protect your skin from burning, but are not strong enough to prevent you from tanning. Indoor tanning lotions do not have SPF protection, as they are made to maximize the short time you spend in an indoor tanning bed.
Both outdoor and indoor tanning lotions contain nourishing ingredients that help to keep your skin hydrated and moisturized so as to not dry out during the tanning process.
If you’re looking for suggestions for the perfect tanning lotion, take a look at our article for the Best Bronzer Tanning Lotions.
Are Tanning Bed Lotions Suitable To Be Used Outdoors?
As the name suggests, tanning bed lotions are designed to be used indoors in tanning beds. Tanning in a sunbed is quite different from tanning outdoors. You are in a controlled environment, there is no sand from the beach or pools/ocean to interfere with the product, and you are exposed to UV rays for a set amount of time.
You can certainly use indoor tanning lotion outdoors, but you need to consider how an indoor tanning lotion is different from an outdoor one, and counteract these problems. These are the properties of indoor tanning lotions that make them problematic outdoors:
Indoor tanning lotions do not contain SPF, which might seem like a good thing, as you want to develop a tan when out in the sun, and you don’t want the SPF to get in the way.
With outdoor tanning lotions, there is a small SPF in the lotion that helps to protect your skin from the sun, but it does not prevent you from tanning. It just takes the edge off to prevent burning and any serious damage.
When using an indoor tanning lotion outdoors, you will not have this small amount of protection, and this could lead your skin to burn and not tan.
Most outdoor tanning lotions are made to be water-resistant, but there is no need for indoor tanning lotions to be. You would actually want your indoor tanning lotion to wash away easily once you jump into the shower afterward.
If you use an indoor tanning lotion outdoors, and you take a swim in the ocean or a dip in the pool, there is a good chance that most of the tanning lotion will wash off. This will likely leave you with a patchy tan and dry skin.
Most indoor tanning lotions can be quite greasy, and this is probably not a feel or look you are wanting when you are poolside or sitting at the beach.
Not only will your skin look quite greasy, but if you are on the beach, it could mean the beach sand sticking to your skin and just being really uncomfortable and irritating.
Outdoor tanning lotions are more suited to be used outside and aren’t as greasy or obvious when applied to the skin.
How Best To Use An Indoor Tanning Lotion Outdoors
If possible, you need to use an outdoor tanning lotion when going outdoors to spend time in the sun. If you cannot, and you only have indoor tanning lotion to use, here are some things you can do to make the indoor tanning lotion suitable for outdoors:
It is highly advised to use sunscreen (like one of our favorites from Hawaiian Tropic) in addition to the indoor tanning lotion if you are going to be out in the sun. This doesn’t have to be a strong SPF, but an SPF 20 or SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen would be fine, especially if you are spending longer in the sun.
You will still be able to tan, as the tanning lotion will maximize the UV rays, but the damage done to your skin will be less, and hopefully, you will not land up burning and peeling from exposure to the sun.
As indoor tanning lotion is not waterproof, you have to keep reapplying it to your skin after you have gone for a swim or have got wet.
Once you get out of the pool or the ocean, dry yourself off and reapply both the tanning lotion and the sunscreen to your skin. If you do not, then most of the tanning lotion will wash off and you will be left with streaks and a patchy tan.
Indoor tanning lotions are also designed for short spurts in a tanning bed, so they might become ineffective after some time in the sun. Because of this, you will have to reapply the tanning lotion if you are spending a long time in the sun.
Can I Mix Indoor And Outdoor Tanning Lotion?
There is no law that says you cannot mix indoor and outdoor tanning lotion, but you really shouldn’t. The two products are made with different ingredients, so there is a good chance they won’t even mix together nicely.
If you mix the two products together, to get the best of indoor tanning maximization, and the protection of an outdoor tanner, and then go and spend time in the sun, there is a likelihood that you will be left with a very patchy tan.
You will not be able to mix the two together perfectly, which means that some areas of your skin will have slight UV protection, and others won’t, and after spending some time in the sun, this can be very noticeable.
It is best to just stick with an outdoor tanning lotion for outdoors, and if you must use an indoor tanning lotion, at least apply some sunscreen over it.
Can I Use Outdoor Tanning Lotions Indoors?
As we mentioned earlier, indoor and outdoor tanning lotions were created for specific environments, and don’t often do well when interchanged.
While you can use indoor tanning lotion outdoors (with added SPF from sunscreen), you should never use outdoor tanning lotion indoors.
Almost all salons will have signs up warning against the use of outdoor tanning oils in their beds, and for good reason. Mineral oil in outdoor tanning lotions (and most contain this) can severely damage the acrylic lining in tanning beds.
Even the smallest amount of outdoor tanning lotion in an indoor tanning bed can cause serious damage, so it is best to leave the outdoor tanning lotion outdoors!
You can technically use indoor tanning lotion outdoors, but it is not recommended. Outdoor tanning lotion often contains SPF, to prevent your skin from burning, but indoor tanning lotion does not, and this leaves your skin vulnerable to burning in the sun.
If you are set on using a tanning bed lotion outdoors, then make sure to apply additional sunscreen over it, to prevent burning and peeling, and be sure to reapply the tanning lotion and sunscreen if you get wet, as it is not made to be waterproof.
It is best to use the tanning lotions for their intended purposes, to make the most out of the carefully selected ingredients!
Here are answers to some more questions you may have on the topic:
Can I use a tanning accelerator in the sun?
You can use a tanning accelerator in the sun, but be sure to have some SPF protection when doing so. It is advised to apply a tanning accelerator to your skin in the weeks leading up to your tan, to really make the most of melanin production for a darker skin tone.
Does baby lotion help you tan?
Baby lotion attracts UV rays to your skin and intensifies their effect, and while this may seem good to try and build a tan, it can be so damaging for your skin.
It is not safe to use baby oil to tan. There is no SPF in the baby oil to help protect your skin, so your skin will end up frying in the sun, rather than developing a healthy-looking tan.