15 Best Tan Extender Lotions That Actually Work (2019 Update)

Updated 5 years ago

So the summer has ended, and all that’s left of those beautiful, fun-filled, lazy days is your golden tan. You might have painstakingly cultivated it through endless hours of lounging under the sunny skies or chose the convenient route of visiting a tanning salon. Yet, be it a natural or sunless tan, without the proper care and maintenance, both types of tan may fade faster than you want. The solution to your tanning woes? Tan extender lotions.

We have reviewed the best-performing ones below so that you can hit the stores immediately and get your hands on one of these beauties.

Tan Extender Lotions: Top Reviews

Skinerals Amber Glow Tan Extender Lotion

Made with premium natural plant-based oils, essential oil blends, and botanical extracts, this cult favorite is ideal for all skin types to maintain a natural-looking bronze glow. With an organic ingredient list, this lotion is gentle and does not cause skin irritation, making it suitable for sensitive skin types. It glides smoothly onto your skin for an even, streak-free finish. To reap the full benefits of this lotion, wait at least four hours for the lotion to completely dry before coming into contact with water.

Australian Gold Moisture Lock Tan Extender Moisturizer Lotion

Just like its name suggests, this lotion not only extends the longevity of your tan, it also contains hydrating ingredients like Aloe and Panthenol to lock in the moisture. Besides that, the lotion also has Vitamin E to nourish your skin and keeps it baby-soft. Users have raved incessantly about this product on its ability to protect their tan while keeping their skin hydrated. However, its strong tropical smell with coconut and lime undertones may not be for everyone’s noses.

Jergens Natural Glow Tan Extender Daily Moisturizer

This list on tan extenders would not be complete without Jergens, a crowd favorite among many users. Formulated with fade-fighting technology, the lotion works effortlessly to extend all kinds of tan, be it artificial or natural. One reviewer even mentioned that it smoothens out the blotchy areas of her airbrushed tan for a flawless finish. Infused with Glycerin and Cocoa Seed Butter, this moisturizer ensures that your skin stays soft and smooth, thereby preserving a healthy, glowing tan. Do note that it does have a perfumed fragrance to it, but the good news is, the scent dissipates relatively fast within an hour.

Devoted Creations So Naughty Nude Tan Extending Moisturizer

As cheeky as its name sounds, this tan extender does its job well according to highly-rated reviews from users. It holds your tan well and is ultra moisturizing as Aloe Vera is listed at the top of its ingredient list. The moisturizer is also packaged in a leak-free packaging with a twist and shut pump, making it convenient for those who would like to bring it along on their travels.

California Tan Extender with Bronzers

This tan extender has been frequently used in salons and spas due to its high-end results in achieving a flawless tan. Made with its proprietary Original Bronzextend® blend, the lotion uses DHA and Erythrulose to prolong the life of both sunless and natural tans. It also consists of a nourishing blend of Aloe Vera, Shea Butter, Olive Oil, and Sunflower Oil to moisturize your skin for a soft and luscious feel without compromising on the longevity of your tan.

Norvell Venetian Sunless CC Tanning Color Extender Moisturizing Lotion

An award-winning tan extender, Norvell has innovatively leveraged on bronze and violet tones that are commonly found in darker skin tones. These hues work in tandem with the added premium-grade DHA to prolong and enhance your tan. The lotion also includes the skincare benefits of a CC cream, as it contains a mixture of vitamins E, B5, and C to nourish the skin. Furthermore, it has a blend of botanical oils such as Sweet Almond, Grape Seed, and Olive Fruit to prevent your skin’s natural oils from being stripped. Lastly, it does not contain shimmer so you wouldn’t have to worry about pulling an “Edward Cullen” when exposed to sunlight.

Maui Babe After Sun Lotion

Make sure your hours of hard work and sweat have not gone to waste with this lotion that is adept at sealing your golden tan and preventing its fade even after summer has ended. It goes one step further to heal any sunburns that you might have as it contains soothing Macadamia Nut Oil and Aloe.

Australian Gold Hemp Nation Moisturizing Tan Extender (Vanilla Pineapple)

This tan extender is infused with Pure Hemp Seed Oil that is rich in essential fatty and amino acids, vital elements for maintaining your skin barrier to give you smooth, healthy skin. It also utilizes a unique HydraRich™ Blend of Shea Butter, Jojoba, and Glycerin to lock in moisture. Additionally, it contains Soft Focus Microspheres that work against light to soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Due to its THC-Drug and paraben-free formulation, this lotion is suitable for sensitive skin types.

Sun Laboratories Tan Extender Lotion

A top pick among celebrities, this lotion is made with natural and paraben-free ingredients to accommodate all skin types. The lotion goes on evenly without any of the dreaded blotchiness or streakiness. It also deepens your tan over time without looking orangey. A tip for longer lasting results with this tan extender is to apply directly after your shower or bath.

Protan Perfectly Pink Moisturizer Tan Extender Moisturizer with Hemp Seed Extract

Packaged in a whimsical-looking pink bottle, this tan extender is the perfect choice for gracing your bathroom shelf. It contains nourishing Hemp Seed Extract to soothe and moisturize your skin. On top of that, the lotion is also formulated with antioxidant-rich ingredients such as Acai Berry, Vitamins A, C, and E. This help to plump up your skin and restore it to its natural suppleness. Users were satisfied with this lotion as they experienced a more lasting tan plus a boost in their skin’s hydration. The delicate scent of Vanilla and Nutmeg acts as the cherry on top.

Lancaster Tan Maximizer Soothing Moisturizer Repairing After Sun

If you are looking to prolong your holiday tan for a lengthy time, Lancaster’s Tan Maximizer will be your perfect choice. This lotion is formulated with the brand’s exclusive tan booster complex, Heliosome, which impressively lengthens your tan up to one month! Besides that, the complex stimulates melanin production to enhance your sun-kissed glow by up to 50% to 80%. The fast-penetrating and ultra moisturizing formula also keeps peeling and sunburns away. It is no wonder that this lotion has garnered praise and compliments from reviewers after trying it out.

Ocean Potion After Sun Lotion with Aloe Tan Extender

Infused with skin-soothing Aloe Vera, Seaweed, Algae Extracts, and Deep Sea Minerals, this tan extender helps to speed up the recovery of sunburned skin so that you can show off your impressive tan within a short period of time. Moreover, users vouched for the lotion’s effectiveness in protecting and maintaining their tan for weeks, after consistent use. The paraben-free formula sinks in quickly to keep your skin healthy and well-moisturized without any greasiness.

Brown Sugar White Chocolate Advanced Moisturizer for Dark Tanning

This luscious tan extender lotion is ideal for those looking to show some TLC for their dark tans. The added Double Dark Chocolate Extract adds a decadent, mouth-watering scent to your skin. Not only that, but it also works in tandem with the added Moroccan Argan Oil and Vitamin E to replenish your skin with much-needed antioxidants for a healthier look. The anti-aging complexes also help to firm and tone your skin. Due to the dramatic results in extending the longevity of all tans, users have clamored to repurchase it after their first bottle.

Ed Hardy Ooh La Luxe Moisturizing Tan Extender Lotion

For those with tattoos and are looking for a tan extender that will prolong your tan and protect your exotic inked patterns, Ed Hardy is the answer. The lotion is formulated with a Tattoo and Color Fade Protector which safeguards both your tattoos and tan. Furthermore, the tan extender has Wheat Protein to firm up your skin for a toned look, while the complementary Caffeine and Green Tea helps to maintain the vitality and youthfulness of your skin. One potential drawback would be the fruity fragrance which some might find a bit too overpowering.

In summary, there are many variants of tan extenders to cater to different needs and skin types. Listen to what your skin and tan need so that you can pick the one that suits you best from our list.

Why Tan Extenders Are a Must

Whether you have chosen the natural or artificial way of sun tanning, the longevity of your tan is still highly dependent on a tan extender. As such, using a tan extender is your best bet in both cases, in order to ensure that your tan is still present even after the holidays have passed. Tan extenders use a myriad of ingredients to lock in the deep bronze color so that you can still boast a sun-kissed glow even after a certain amount of time has passed.

Every self-respecting tan extender will contain a key active ingredient called Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which reacts chemically with the naturally-occurring amino acids on your skin’s outer surface to create a darkening effect. Before you worry about adverse health effects, do note that DHA is an FDA-approved ingredient in the US. This is because DHA only affects the skin cells on the outermost skin layer, the stratum corneum, and as such will not cause lasting skin damage to the inner layers. Therefore, using a tan extender that contains DHA will effectively protect and prolong your tan with minimal side effects.

Key Ingredient Types Your Tan Extender Should Have

As we have mentioned earlier, tan extenders normally will include the skin-darkening agent, DHA. However, that is not the only ingredient that you should look out for when choosing a tan extender. We all know that natural or sunless tanning may cause peeling or dryness after the process. As such, choosing a tan extender that contains hydrating or nourishing ingredients to replenish your skin barrier is of top priority. In here, we list out what other ingredient types you should look out for in your tan extender:

  • Moisturizing & Hydrating: dry skin is usually a concern after tanning. Go for moisture-rich ingredients like Aloe Vera, Shea Butter, and essential oils to replenish the hydration levels in your skin. Humectants such as Glycerin and Hyaluronic Acid are also your BFFs as they are capable of retaining large amounts of water within the skin layers. Moisturizing and hydration are particularly important for sun damaged skin which often results in dry and rough textures.

  • Anti-Aging: given that sun tanning does come with the risks of skin aging effects due to prolonged sun exposure, it is important for your tan extender to contain anti-aging ingredients that can alleviate these symptoms, and even reverse them. Antioxidants like Vitamin E and Green Tea are effective at fighting free radicals that give rise to fine lines and wrinkles.

  • Exfoliating: some tan extenders may contain gentle exfoliants like Salicylic Acid and Glycolic Acid to slough off dead skin cells. This, in turn, reveals a brighter and smoother skin texture that enhances your tan.

  • Firming & Toning: if you are keen to skip the gym but still want your tanned body to look sleek and toned, consider tan extenders with firming ingredients like Caffeine and Ceramides in it.

The Right Time to Apply A Tan Extender

To maximize the endurance of your tan, use a tan extender the day after your tanning. As most tan extenders contain moisturizing ingredients, you can use the tan extender as a replacement for your body moisturizer. This way, you get to enjoy a longer-lasting tan while ensuring your skin stays moisturized. One last important thing to remember is to always let your tan extender lotion be completely dried before donning on clothes. This will then minimize any transference of the lotion onto the fabric.

Wrap Up

The effectiveness and convenience of a tan extender in preserving your tan in its best state is not to be underestimated. After all, the gorgeous bronze glow is your last remaining link to summer and all its wonderful memories. Keeping your tan on for weeks, or even up to a month, might just be the thing to tide you through long and tedious work days, before the next vacation approaches.