Ultimate Battle: Tanning Oil vs Sunscreen vs Lotion 2021

Difference Between Sunscreen, Tanning Oil and Lotion

Have you ever wondered about the different kinds of tanning oil vs sunscreens vs lotions out there? It can get quite confusing knowing what to get, especially if you’re new to skincare.

Not to worry, as it’s pretty easy to understand, and as long as you select the right one, you’ll be able to achieve your skin goals, whether you need a good tan, more protection, or healthier skin. So read on to learn more about the differences of tan oils, sunscreen, and lotions!

Lets compare tanning oil vs sunscreen vs Lotion

Contrary to popular belief, these three skincare products are not similar. If anything, they all offer almost opposite services. 


Sunscreen contains ingredients that help reduce the impact of the sun’s rays on your skin. It protects your body from sunburn, keeping it free from discomfort and preventing skin conditions due to the sun. It does this through providing SPF protection, usually made from chemicals and/or natural ingredients that are water-resistant and help the skin stay fresh even when under the sun all day. 

If you are a sun bum, you definitely need sunscreen, especially if you have sensitive skin. For those with sensitive skin, it’s best to use sunscreen daily, even when you’re just out running errands.

Sun Tanning Oils

By contrast, tanning oils enhance sun tanning, which is the process through which the sun’s UV rays penetrate into your skin glands and enhance melanin production.

The sun’s UV rays contain high energy that occasionally cause skin burns on some people’s skins. Sometimes, excess exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause skin cancer. Prolonged exposure also darkens certain parts of the skin, giving it an unattractive outlook. To reduce these effects, sunscreens are manufactured with ingredients that reduce the strength of UV rays on your skin.

Tanning oils intensify the impact of UV rays without causing burns on your skin. This oil focuses the sun’s UV rays on the important parts of your skin where melanin is produced. Through this process, your skin gets a darker and more attractive tone. Sun tanning oil ingredients can be green tea, copper and non-alcoholic essential oils that moisturize your skin. Sometimes, it also includes coconut oil or aloe vera, which are helpful in protecting your skin while giving you a deep dark tan.

These products can also come as a spray for tanning, making it more convenient.


This is a skincare product designed to be applied on your skin for either medical or cosmetic purposes. The main purpose for regular lotion is to hydrate and nourish your skin with nutrients to keep it moisturized and healthy. There are many types of lotions out there made for different skin types and conditions, having different natural ingredients that may help in treating or preventing blemishes and the like.

What’s nice about this product is that they may have dual purposes, and you can find good lotion for tanning or sun protection. The best tanning lotion would usually have properties that moisturize and darken your skin naturally, but instead of having an oil consistency, it’s smoother and more absorbent. 

Because manufacturers tend to use similar terms when referring to lotion, sunscreens, and tanning oil, it’s important to look keenly on the labels to ascertain you are purchasing what you intend to. 

In most cases, tanning products will have the word ‘tan’ in them. The word sun tanning, for instance, will refer to tanning oils, whereas sunscreens will likely provide an SPF figure that shows how protective they are. 

Sunscreens have a sun protection factor (SPF Protection) that ranges between 15 and 75: The higher the SPF protection, the more protective the sunscreen. Tanning oils with SPF will have an SPF factor of between 0 and 20, with the higher the factor, the more protective they are. With lotion, they are more used for skincare routines to maintain skin health, though you may find products made for sun protection or to achieve a deep dark tan.

It’s all about checking the labels, its claims, and the ingredients it offers. 

Can You Use Sun Tanning Oil As Lotion?

You may have wondered if you can interchange products, particularly tan oil and lotions.  It’s possible to use the tan oil as part of your routine to moisturize your skin, as it does have great moisturizing abilities that hydrate the skin, keeping it smooth and supple. Plus, it also has good scents and extra ingredients that can benefit the skin greatly!

However, it has little to no SPF, so it can’t protect your skin when under the sun. This can risk sunburn or dry your skin out. I only recommend using tan oil during the wintertime when the sun isn’t out as much, or when staying indoors.

I still recommend to use the appropriate skincare product for your specific goals, may it be for tans, moisturizing, or for SPF protection. As for using lotions as tan oils, it IS possible, and you may even find the best lotions for tanning!

What Kind of Skincare Products Should I Get?

Now that you’re familiar with the difference of the three main skincare products, which are the best ones to invest in? Here are quick reviews to help you see what suits you most:

Banana Boat Sunscreen

✔ Easy to apply as a spray sunscreen with a twist and lock feature
✔ Keeps your entire body protected for the entire day
✔ Great for people of all ages without the formula from breaking down

✘ It may not have enough SPF as required for some users
✘ Sometimes leaves a bit of color despite applying the spray well

Banana Boat Sport Performance Sunscreen Review

The Banana Boat Sunscreen is made for everyone, whether for children or the ultimate athlete. It comes with SPF 30, and stays resistant to water for up to 80 minutes!

This is a spray sunscreen, which is easy to apply and also doesn’t feel too greasy. It emits the invisible clear spray and has the twist and lock cover without a cap, still keeping it locked and safe to use. 

I like that it ensures better protective properties to keep you free from sunburn and other risks associated with UV rays. Overall, I think it’s worth the price, especially because of its excellent protective properties that absorbs well and keeps the body feeling fresh. You can go out with confidence without worrying about burning your skin or leaving it exposed to harmful UV rays.

Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil

✔ Made with oils that help with your skincare routine and tan goals
✔ The oils hydrate without the heavy feeling
✔ Nice consistency with protective properties
✘ The oils don’t smell as good as expected
✘ It may get mushy when left outside

Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil Review

While this isn’t made of coconut oil, I like how the Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tan Oils offer everything you need for a good tan. It’s made with a mix of exotic island botanicals, with a blend of nature’s richest oils. That ensures you will be nourished while achieving a deep tan.

I like that the oils are lightweight, not feeling too heavy or greasy when applied. Furthermore, it includes broad sunscreens to keep you feeling soft and radiant. It’s definitely a great buy if you want to achieve the deep tan that looks natural.

Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion

✔ It may restore your skin’s barrier and hydrate your entire body well
✔ Excellent consistency that doesn’t feel greasy
✔ Long-lasting hydration from one of the world’s famous brands

✘ It may be a bit expensive for some
✘ Works for the body, not best for the face

Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion Review

I appreciate the Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotions for its amazing benefits and results. It’s one of the most popular brands, known for its efficiency and healthy ingredients to smoothen and moisturize. 

It is non-greasy, fragrance-free, and made with various vitamins and nutrients to hydrate your body and restore your skin’s barrier within a week! While it might be a bit more expensive than the usual lotions you get, it shows better results you won’t get from just ANY skincare brand. 

Wrapping It Up

Hopefully, my insight on these three skincare products gave you an idea on what you should invest in. Now, you know what to choose if you want a tan, better protective properties from the UV rays, or for moisturizing your body.

So check out any of my reviews and make sure to select the right one to achieve your goals!

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