Last updated: August 7, 2021

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Nothing makes you feel more like summer than a nice holiday tan. But often you just don't have the time to take full advantage of summer and you don't achieve the tan you want. If you want to give the natural tanning process a boost, you should get yourself a tanning accelerator. With a tan accelerator, your tan will be intensified and your skin will achieve the desired result faster.

Before you buy, read our guide. In our tanning accelerator test 2021 you will find all the information you need to know before you buy. With our buying criteria, you should be able to find the best product for you and maximise your tan.




Summary

  • Summer is coming to an end and you suddenly realise that it was too short and you missed out on getting the tan you wanted. Getting a tan has become a ritual for many people. To get an even and deep tan, they turn to tanning accelerators.
  • A darker complexion is considered a figure-definer on the one hand, and a sign of good health and glowing skin on the other. It is interesting to know that sun rays help to create vitamin D from the body, which counteracts depression and fatigue as well as helps concentration.
  • A distinction must be made between tanning accelerators and self-tanning products. The former amplify the UV light of the sun and the latter act directly on the skin through chemical substances.

The Best Tanning Accelerator: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a tanning accelerator

What is a tan accelerator for?

A tan accelerator is designed to give the skin a more intense, even and healthy tan in a short period of time. This product is an anti-sunscreen. It works not only on the surface, but also in depth.

It does not colour the skin, rather it makes it more UV sensitive by simply applying it, thus accelerating the effective tanning process.

If you are a regular tanning bed user, you need to choose your tanning accelerator with extra care. If it is applied excessively and also used at the beach or on the tanning bed, it can quickly become dangerous for a light skin tone (skin ageing, development of different pigments and increased risk of skin cancer).

Frau mit Hut und Sonnencreme

Tanning creams are intended for a quick and even tan. (Image source: pixabay.com / skeeze )

The tanning accelerator usually contains nourishing ingredients that moisturise the skin and make it much more supple. In addition, it has different fragrances, thanks to which it is more enjoyable to apply.

When and how should you apply tanning accelerator?

The right time to apply it is before sunbathing or going to the solarium. It is very easy to use: apply to the skin like a simple lotion and spread the product well with massaging movements.

As far as the amount is concerned, you should neither use too little nor too much. You have to use enough so that your skin is not irritated when you spread it and, of course, you don't overdo it with the product. Once the tanning accelerator is absorbed, you can look forward to tanning.

However, it should be noted that it is better to read the instructions for use of each product carefully before using it.

How much does a tanning accelerator cost?

You can find a simple tanning accelerator for as little as €4 on Amazon, for example. Prices vary depending on the

  • Manufacturer
  • Type of application
  • Ingredients
  • Quantity
  • Final effect

and range up to more than 100€.

You can find a normal product for as little as €9.

If you're looking for exceptional quality and brands, you'll have to spend more.

Type Price
Oil/with SPF From 4€
Cream/lotion From 5€
Spray/gel/with self-tanner From 8€

What are the alternatives to tanning accelerator?

Tanning accelerators - also called sun oils - can be applied both before going to the solarium and before sunbathing on the beach. However, if you don't want to use these tanning accelerators, there are several alternatives that you can use in the same way.

This table gives you an overview of the different alternatives:

Alternative Description Use
Carrots Beta-carotene, a pigment found in carrots that gives them their orange colour, is processed into vitamin A in our bodies. The downside is that you can't eat that many carrots a day to get a real tan from them Eating carrots: in 1 kg there are around 70-100 mg of beta-carotene - only some of this is absorbed by the body
Tanning capsules In these capsules, carotenoids like beta-carotene are found in high doses. Taking the capsules is less harmful than regular visits to the solarium. The skin looks browner due to the highly effective carotenoids and the copper, which contributes to normal skin pigmentation. Melanin is the pigment that gives our skin its colour oral intake of the capsules: consume 2 capsules in the morning and 2 in the evening with sufficient liquid - 4 capsules contain 32 mg natural carotenoids
Tanning injections These injections contain the active ingredient afamelanotide, a modification of the body's own hormone that is released when exposed to sunlight. Melanin production is strongly stimulated by the release of the hormone. The injections are not legal in all countries. Researchers are not yet in agreement about the side effects and consequences Melanotan ampoules are administered every 24 hours over a period of about 10 days - the tan lasts for six weeks, but does not serve as sun protection
Self-tanner Self-tanner achieves a tan on the skin without harmful UV light. You can choose between different tanning intensities when you buy the product. The active ingredient DHA (dihydroxyacetone) reacts chemically with proteins and amino acids of the horny layer, resulting in a tan spread the self-tanner evenly on the desired areas to avoid dark spots - after approx. 3-6 hours you can expect the brown colouring, the tan disappears after a few days

Decision: What types of tanning accelerators are there and which is the right one for you?

Tanning accelerators are intended, for example, for tanning beds in studios. But they can also be used on the beach while sunbathing. If you use the tanning booster while sunbathing, it is advisable to combine it with a sunscreen. After all, it accelerates tanning at the expense of sun protection.

Advantages

Faster effect in the solarium

Disadvantages

No sunscreen

In general, we distinguish between these types of tanning accelerators:

  • Tanning accelerator without self-tanner
  • Tanning accelerator with self-tanner
  • Tan accelerator with SPF
  • Tanning accelerator for the face

In the following, we explain the different types and their respective advantages and disadvantages. In this way, we want to help you find the best tanning accelerator for you.

How does a tanning accelerator without self-tanner work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

As described above, a tanning accelerator does not colour the skin with its active ingredients. Rather, as the name suggests, it accelerates the tanning process through the sun.

Melanocytes are responsible for the skin becoming darker under the sun in the first place. The more melanocytes there are, the faster and more intense the tanning. These melanocytes are formed by the accelerator and thus accelerate the tanning process.

Advantages
  • Accelerates the formation of melanocytes
  • Suitable for daily care (depending on the product)
  • Suitable for the solarium
Disadvantages
  • Partly danger of phototoxic effect with herbal active ingredients
  • Some products only of short-term benefit
  • The skin remains UV-sensitive

Basically, you should also take a close look at the exact composition of the product. After all, there are herbal active ingredients, such as St. John's wort, that make the skin particularly receptive to the sun's rays, which can lead to burns (phototoxic effect).

On the other hand, there are sometimes active ingredients such as nutmeg, which increases blood circulation and thus brings about a darker skin tone - but only for a few hours.

Most tanning accelerators contain, in addition to the specific active ingredients, skin care ingredients such as vitamins (A, C, E), extracts of aloe vera or similar ingredients that soothe stressed skin. However, the classics do not offer sun protection.

How does a self-tanning accelerator work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Not all self-tanning products work in the same way. There are light and more intensive variants, depending on the chemical composition. The tanning accelerator with self-tanner gives the skin a tanned, even complexion when used regularly and at the same time supports the tanning process "under the sun" or in the solarium.

Advantages
  • Faster and deeper dark skin colour
  • The rich care partially compensates for the skin damage taken
  • Supports the natural tan
Disadvantages
  • Double stress on the skin
  • Skin remains sensitive to light

Moisturising and nourishing ingredients are also used here. The chemical active ingredients can be seen as a disadvantage if they are generally met with scepticism. UV protection is also not provided.

How does a tanning accelerator with SPF work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

In principle, a tanning accelerator with SPF works in the same way as one without this additive, i.e. it accelerates the natural tanning process. The additional sun protection factor offers additional protection against UVB and UVA rays, which can leave long-term skin damage or cause the skin to age faster.

Advantages
  • Protects against UVB and UVA rays
  • Good for the beach
  • Cares for the skin
Disadvantages
  • Without SPF, the tanning effect is more intense

Nevertheless, even with an SPF product, you should not spend too much time in the intense midday sun, because even with high sun protection factors there is no absolute sun protection.

How does a tanning accelerator for the face work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The face is an area of the skin that requires special care, and this principle can also be applied to tanning accelerators. Thus, products have been developed that are adapted to the facial skin and the décolleté

Advantages
  • Gentle on the face and décolleté
  • Provides moisture
  • Reduces skin ageing and prevents skin damage (when used conscientiously)
Disadvantages
  • Often only suitable for the face

The demand is for supple skin and special care, as skin ageing or damage is most noticeable in this area. This is counteracted with vitamins and oils, for example

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate tanning accelerators

In the following, we will show you which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate tanning accelerators. This will make it easier for you to get an overview and decide on a suitable and effective product.

In summary, these are the following criteria:

  • Tanning effect
  • Care
  • Fragrance
  • Quantity
  • Application method

In the following, you can read about the respective criteria and find out why it makes sense for you to purchase a product based on the criteria or not.

Tanning effect

The tanning effect depends on the conditions listed below.

  • Ingredients
  • Period of use
  • Consistency

Those tanning accelerators that also contain self-tanner work more intensively because they not only work in depth, but also react through chemical reactions on the top layer of the skin.

Did you know that perfume can stain the skin when tanning?

Alcohol-based perfume can actually cause some people's long and hard-earned summer tans to stain. However, many people find the smell of sunscreen fragrant, so you can avoid the perfume

Concerning the period of use: the more often they are used, the stronger the tan will be. But WARNING! Do not tan for more than 15 minutes without sunscreen! Afterwards, you can apply sunscreen and after-sun lotion.

It should be noted that very few tanning lotions exist that provide reasonably solid sun protection.

Many tests have shown that tanning accelerators with sun oil containing melitans increase tan intensity by up to 70%. A major reason for this is that the oil acts like a magnifying glass on the skin in the sun, which is why it has a more intense effect.

Even if this is your preferred criterion, you should use lotions, creams and gels for comparison, as they also contain oils and are therefore not necessarily worse in terms of tanning intensity.

Care

Tanning oils and lotions are currently popular not only because of their "ability" but also because of their skin care components. Common examples of such components are:

  • Coconut oil
  • Shea butter
  • Aloe vera

These valuable ingredients not only have an essential benefit: they usually prolong the tan and the skin remains soft and fresh.

Fragrance

Self-tanning products have a variety of different fragrances to suit all tastes. From mango to carrot or fragrances without the fruity note.

It is obvious that you are more likely to find your dream scent in a shop than in an online shop, where you have to rely on the scent description and cannot imagine exactly what the scent is for you.

Quantity

There are different types of packaging and quantities, ranging from travel sizes to stock tubes. You can find the exact details on the packaging or online in the details section. Tanning accelerators specifically for the face are usually sold in smaller quantities than those for the body.

Application method

Only one application method would be boring. That's why you can choose the one that suits you best:

  • Spray (easiest to use, convenient for travelling)
  • Oil
  • Cream
  • Gel

Facts worth knowing about tanning accelerators

How long do you have to wait for the tanning result?

You will hardly notice the desired tanning effect on the first day. However, you will notice differences after the second application. It all depends on how long you tan and whether you use sunscreen or not.

How do you get a long-lasting summer tan?

  • You should avoid sunburn if possible, because besides damaging the skin, it will peel off faster.
  • Regular body peels also have an effect on the lifespan of your tan. Gentle peels are clearly preferred.
  • Eat carotene-rich foods
  • Protect the skin from dehydration
  • Be out in the fresh air often

Will tan accelerator rub off on clothes?

The extent to which the oil, cream or gel will rub off on clothes cannot be generalised. Rarely is the problem mainly to be found in the colour. Mostly, the oil film on the skin interferes with putting on the affected garment.

However, the individual way of dealing with it is decisive, but so is the respective product. It is advisable to wipe the remains away from the skin with a cloth after a certain soaking time to avoid an unpleasant wearing sensation.

Image source: 123rf.com / 21378186

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