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Tanning lotion or SPF - what should I be using?

by Jade Newton |

Tanning lotion vs SPF - what should I be using?

To tan or not to tan: that is the question, and the answer is obvious. (To tan, duh.)

Whether basking in the summer rays or taking a 12 minute holiday, it seems a golden glow is the most coveted shade of birthday suit. 

However, where for many a sun kissed glow is the goal, come winter or summer, the general understanding of how best to attain the perfect bronze is unclear. 

"Should I wear an SPF if I tan indoors?"

"I know it says this is for indoor tanning, but can I use this instead of an SPF in the summer? I want to tan quickly."

SPFs and indoor tanning lotions have completely different properties and purposes... it's time we understand their differences and when best to use them!


Sun cream

SPFs are self explanatory and their predominant use is common knowledge. As Sun Protection Factors, they protect your skin from UV radiation by acting as a barrier between the sun's rays and your skin, ensuring UV exposure is limited, and protecting you from overexposure and burning. 

This works differently depending on the type of sun cream:

Botanical SPF

how botanical spf works

Our line of mineral sun protection act as a barrier on the skin. As it is applied on the skin, the natural UV filters reflect UV rays, preventing overexposure and burning. 

Classic sun cream

 how chemical sun cream works

Our line of classic sun cream creates a chemical reaction in the surface layer of the skin. Unlike mineral sun protection, our classic sun creams absorb the UV rays, and then expel the energy as heat, combatting the overexposure and burning risk. 

However, did you know that sun cream not only works as sun protection? It also helps with:

  • Year round protection to prevent damage from not only the sun, but the wind, rain and snow too.
  • Anti-ageing
  • Acting as a barrier on the skin, to protect from daily pollution and environmental stressors


There is only one place where SPFs shouldn't be used. It is sometimes believed SPF should be used on a sunbed. However, as time spent on a bed is limited, and the UV exposure is controlled, as long as you follow salon staff's recommendations and don't spend too long tanning for your skin type, burning is a lot less likely.

Plus, with 0.3 regulations in place, sunbeds are unable to emit more powerful UV irradiation than the midday Mediterranean sun. So, bearing in mind the limited time spent on a bed, applying SPF lotions will do nothing but block the rays that you have gone onto a sunbed to absorb, meaning that you will not gain any tan. They can also be harmful to the tanning bed and damage the acrylics, as SPFs are not designed for indoor tanning.

The only times sun protection should be used on a sunbed is on the below specific areas:

  • Tattoos
  • Scars
  • Microblading
  • Hyperpigmentation

Overall, when spending time outdoors, no matter the time of year SPFs are brilliant skin protection. However their domaine is for outdoor use. 


Tanning lotions

Tanning lotions help build a fantastic tan when used correctly. They stimulate the skin's melanin production, allowing for a deeper, more developed tan. Lotions also keep skin nourished and moisturised whilst tanning, ensuring skin stays in the best condition possible - Healthy, hydrated skin is the quickest way to a golden tan. 

These lotions typically contain a lovely blend of vitamins, natural oils, minerals, antioxidants, natural botanical extracts, and aloe vera, alongside natural colour-boosting ingredients. All of this will give your skin the extra moisture needed to achieve a deeper tan that will last longer than a tan developed on dry, dull skin. Plus, dry skin reflects UV light, wasting up to 50% of your tanning session by not allowing UV to work with your melanin.

 Unlike sun cream, tanning lotions do not contain any sun protection. Therefore, although they can be used on their own on a sunbed, if used outdoors, they MUST be layered with sun cream:

  1. Apply your SPF 20 minutes before sun exposure
  2. Layer your tanning lotion immediately before UV exposure
  3. Reapply both every two hours as a minimum. This frequency should be increased if swimming, sweating or towel drying.