How Long Does Tanning Lotion Last?

LuxeLuminous is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

If you’re looking for that sun-kissed glow, you probably know there are multiple ways to get there. But the most important one is to tan in the glorious sun. Many know that you can improve your tanning efficiency with tanning lotion, and protect your skin with sun tan lotion (aka sunscreen).

How long does tanning lotion last? Does tanning oil expire?

Tanning lotion will help darken your skin for 7-10 days. Tanning lotion will last up 1-3 years in the bottle. Sunscreen is required to last up to 3 years by the FDA, so if your tanning lotion has SPF in it, it should be good for 3 years.

If it doesn’t have SPF, it will likely last 1-3 years.

There are a lot of layers to this, and multiple products in different formats. We’ll discuss how long tanning lotion lasts below.


Tanning Lotion vs Tanning Lotion!

Tanning Oil by SunBum

The first thing you need to understand is that there is a huge difference between tanning lotions (such as Maui Babe and Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses), which generally come in oil and cream formations, and sunscreen (which is sometimes called “suntan lotion”), which is designed to protect the skin from harm in the sun.

But both are often called tanning lotions. It’s confusing!

And add to that many tanning lotions and oils include SPF in the formula, so they overlap!

We prefer to split these products into multiple categories in order to make it clear what we’re talking about. Those categories are:

By working with these categories, we can zoom in on exactly what we’re talking about.

Tanning Lotions with SPF

Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil with sPF

Although some tanning lotions do contain a low SPF number, such as the Hawaiian Tropic shown above with SPF 15 , many do not. And the SPF provided by these combination “outdoor” lotions is typically not very high.

Still, an SPF 15 is not bad, provided that you reapply it every two hours and every time you go in the water. This is particularly true if you don’t tan when the UV Index is too high, and if you follow our outdoor tanning tips.


Blue Lizard SPF50

Sunscreens, on the other hand, are meant to stop UV rays from penetrating your skin. This is why they come with protection higher than SPF 15. Most often they go over 30 and sometimes hit 50.

And of course, you will be able to get a tan when using sunscreen. It will just take longer, and it will be safer.

So now that you know the difference between tanning lotion and sunscreen, how long your tanning lotion and sunscreen last in the bottle

How Long Does Tanning Lotion Last On Your Skin?

In general, you can expect your golden glow to last anywhere from three to 10 days, depending on whether you use it for tanning indoors or in the sun.

Those with more olive and darker skin tones will find that their tans last on the longer side than those with fairer skin.

Also, indoor tanning lotions don’t last as long as tanning lotions that you can use with sun exposure. Although like anything, there are exceptions.

Apply the following products before sun exposure or before having a tanning bed session to give you a bronzed glow in no time:

Sun Bum’s Tanning Oil Spray

Sun Bum SPF 15 Moisturizing Tanning Oil | Vegan and Hawaii 104 Reef Act Compliant (Octinoxate & Oxybenzone Free) Broad Spectrum Moisturizing UVA/UVB Sunscreen Tanning Oil | 8.5 oz
  • SPF 15 DARK TANNING OIL . For those of...
  • HOW TO USE. Spray, rub in, and then bask...
  • PROTECT YOUR SKIN. The key to practicing...
  • TRUST THE BUM. What does that mean? It...

Sun Bum’s Tanning Oil Spray  is a broad spectrum SPF 15 product that is water resistant and will give you a golden brown hue. It will leave your skin nourished and silky smooth.

Great for all skin types, Sun Bum’s spray includes natural ingredients like aloe vera, green tea butter, and argan, avocado, and marula oils that moisturize your skin while keeping coral reefs safe from harmful chemicals.

That’s What Sea Said

That’s What Sea Said Tanning Lotion Accelerator - For Indoor Tanning Beds and Outdoor Sun Tan - Safe for Face, Body and Tattoos - With Coconut Oil - No Bronzer
  • ✅A Deep Tan: That’s What Sea Said...
  • ✅Safe: Ideal for outdoor use as well...
  • ✅Tattoo Protection: It’s time to say...
  • ✅Advanced Hydration: People love how...
  • ✅No Stains: Tell self tanner lotions...

That’s What Sea Said’s Extreme Dark Tanning Lotion  contains powerful tanning accelerators that stimulate melanin production on your skin.

It has no bronzer, and so can be used both for sun exposure and tanning beds to give your skin a dark even tan.

Its ingredients include hibiscus to help with skin elasticity, passion fruit, and coconut to seal in moisture. And its special secret formula is able to protect your tattoos by keeping them colorful and defined as the skin underneath gets darker.

That’s What Sea Said is also paraben-free, cruelty-free, and vegan.

Make It Last

There are a few things that you can do to make your bronzed skin last for longer after using tanning lotion. Following these tips will also help you to avoid damage to your skin from sun or tanning bed exposure:

1. Smooth Operator

Before you get your tan on, make sure that you exfoliate. By exfoliating your skin, you will remove any dead skin cells, which will create an even surface before you apply your tanning lotion. This will help your natural bronze glow last for longer.

However, you should only use a skin brush to do this before you shower.

Using a body scrub or products containing salicylic acid will fade your bronzing.

2. Hydration Station

When your skin is moisturized, your skin is happy and will hold on to your tan much longer. Keep your skin hydrated by applying moisturizer daily.

However, you should avoid using pure oils, like coconut, and oil-based moisturizers, which can break down the effects of tanning lotion.

3. Cool Moves

If you’re a fan of cold water therapy,  which can help to boost your immune system and elevate your mood, then you’ll be pleased to hear that cool showers after tanning will also help you keep your tan for longer.

If the thought of taking cold showers is unbearable, then know that taking hot showers will make your tan fade faster.

Faking It

If you still find your tan doesn’t last for long after using tanning lotion, and you don’t want to damage your skin with further sun exposure, then you can bronze your body with these safe self-tanners.

St. Tropez’s Self Tan Purity Vitamins Bronzing Water Body Mist  is a clear and 95% natural formula from the world’s most popular brand of self tanning water. It won’t stain your clothes and gives an even tan that will last for about a week before fading in a natural-looking way.

It contains hyaluronic acid, green mandarin water, and vitamins C and D. These work to mimic the effects of the sun to give a sunkissed glow to pale and medium skin tones over a period of four to eight hours. And it’s vegan-friendly.

Vita Liberata Heavenly Tanning Elixir  is a nourishing elixir that doesn’t contain fragrances, sulfates, silicones, pthalates or parabens, and produces color on application.

It’s also the only self-tanner that uses slow-release encapsulated DHA.

Heavenly Tanning Elixir’s advanced encapsulated DHA technology continues to release 100% natural Ecocert DHA over a period of three days, giving a gradual and deep medium tan that penetrates and fades evenly after about 10 days. It’s also vegan-friendly and hasn’t been tested on animals.

Now that you know how long tanning lotion lasts, you can plan your tanning strategy for the coming summer while allowing your skin to stay hydrated and healthy, and avoiding any sun ge.

How Long Does Tanning Lotion Last in the Bottle?

The FDA requires all tanning lotions and oils with sunscreen to be viable for 3 years from the manufacture date. So if your tanning lotion contains sunscreen, the sunscreen will still work for at least 3 years.

If your tanning oil doesn’t contain sunscreen, the expiration time will be harder to figure out. Some bottles will provide an expiration date on the bottom of the container, but many do not.

If they do not, you’ll have to use the smell and color tests.

If the lotion smells off, then it’s probably gone bad. And if it has separated and is chunky, even after you’ve shaken it, you should probably toss it.

Your tan will be uneven and you run a higher risk of sunburn.

See also:

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).