Why Is Tanning Lotion So Expensive?

There are a couple of reasons why indoor tanning lotion is so expensive. If you've never been to a tanning salon before you may be shocked when you get there and they try to talk you into buying a bottle of lotion that's $60, $80 or even $110. It is imperative that you use a lotion on your body during a session in a bed and you can't use the stuff you use outdoors.

Let's start with the secondary reason tanning lotions cost so much. These types of lotions have very special ingredients and their formulas take time to be developed by chemists and scientists. Some of these ingredients include hemp seed oil, tinglers and more commonly added skin bronzers. The use of such unique ingredients in the formulas is one of the reasons why the price jumps to a level that seems very high to most.

The main reason indoor tanning bed lotions are as expensive as they are is... well there isn't really any good reason. The profit margin on lotions is extraordinarily high, much more than most consumer products. The sale of indoor tanning products is a big part of a salon's business model when it comes to the bottom line. However, some tanners dislike the idea of having to pay that much for a consumable product that they'll need to buy again in 2 months. Add that on to the price of tanning itself and you have a pretty decent monthly expense. The good news is that if you have some negotiation skills you can usually become friendly with the salon operator and they'll start giving you nice discounts on bottles of lotion.

Even though it may be very costly we still recommend that you stay away from cheap tanning lotion. This is something you spread over your entire body so it's a good idea to make sure you're using a very high quality product.

Share Your Thoughts »


  1. tami   Friday, January 24th, 2014 11:18 am GMT +00:00

    I always find it comical when an owner of a tanning salon trys to justify outrageous pieces for a product and limIt the channels which they are avaiLable through misinformation and fear mogering. The next urban legend, people stalking a tanning cream’s Manufacturing plant to steal cream from the dunpster. Yep, that’s believable…lol.

  2. JoJo   Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 10:37 pm GMT +00:00

    I am looking for a tanning lotion that I used about 15 years ago it was a set before and after it was the best stuff and the bottles looked like a tanning bed together. Does anybody know or remember these lotions or no where I can get them? I can’t remember the name. Just thought I’d ask :)

  3. Amanda   Monday, December 16th, 2013 04:21 pm GMT +00:00

    Everytime I have bought offline. I brought it I’m and compared it to the product in the store. Offline was consistently- a slightly different color, smell was off, more watery consistency, if it had bronzes- they would bead up when i applied them, the packaging was ever so slightly off and it didn’t feel as good on my skin or smell as good after. I have bought if quite a few sites like amazon and tanning websites. All without fail seem to not be exactly what they have in the salon. That doesn’t mean I didn’t continue to use the lotion.. But honestly I still felt ripped off because I paid 25 instead if 60… But the quality was significantly less! Someone else was obviously making a profit off of a cheap knockoff lotion!

  4. YourMom   Saturday, May 18th, 2013 02:44 pm GMT +00:00


    Get off your high horse. Who are you to say what is and isn’t sexy? Get over yourself.

  5. Alonso   Sunday, September 16th, 2012 05:21 am GMT +00:00

    No, you will not tan faster. Your skin will burn bauecse sun-screen and abstaining from the sun are the only ways to not get burned.Tan skin isn’t sexy. It’s damaged. You age quicker, and it looks awful.References :

  6. derek   Thursday, May 31st, 2012 07:11 pm GMT +00:00

    Tanning lotion prices are borderline criminal. There are no magical (read: expensive) ingredients, and development costs do not significantly exceed the average store brand hand lotion. “Scientifically formulated” is a meaningless marketing ploy – every product on the market could make the same claim. Additionally, whenever a retailer or industry is “blacklisted” (as per a previous comment) or disparaged in industry reports, a likely reason is potential reduction in companies’ bottom lines. Every industry has trade groups whose sole job is to maximize industry profits. One major strategy is convincing customers of the exclusivity and superiority of certain products.
    This is not to say all products are equal – we all know they are not.. However, price is absolutely no indication of quality. None. Trial and error is a consumer’s best (only?) option. Manufacturers use veiled marketing-based claims as though they were some scientific indicator. This deliberate obfuscation makes comparing products extremely difficult, to the benefit of the manufacturers. Otherwise everyone would see their ruse and the market would no longer support obscene prices.
    This is mostly generic advice, applicable to most any industry. Always be wary of product claims when the author has a financial stake in your purchase (though even knowing this is difficult – trade groups often publish PR articles designed to look like independent analysis.)
    Apologies… did not intend on such a long response.

  7. Kim   Friday, March 30th, 2012 01:17 am GMT +00:00

    I have owned a tanning salon for 6 years, before I opened the salon I was a regular tanner during spring and summer season… For all those inexperienced commenters on here… Remember this, you get what you pay for. The 8.99 tanning lotion from walmart, sallys, etc. Damages the acrylics in a commercial or residential tanning bed, because the ingredients are not formulated properly and do not help to give you a healthy tan. There are many SALON FORMULATED inexpensive INDOOR (not indoor/outdoor rip offs) tanning lotions that are affordable. I have an excellent reputation in my salon and I never overcharge any customer or sell them anything they dont need. My goal is to provide the healthiest and a relaxing experience they expect. We in the tanning industry are trained (or most of us should I say) to know what works best for each individual person. Btw…online tanning lotion companies selling online, have been blacklisted by Designer Skin and the rest of the manufactures of the industry….. Think about that. Research is a powerful tool. I respect others opinions and this was just my experienced opinion.

  8. Tabbitha   Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 07:47 pm GMT +00:00

    i have managed a tanning salon for over 5 years, and would NEVER buy online lotion. Designer Skin does NOT sell to 3rd party people. You have to be a salon owner to have a contract with them. you never know what someone is going to do to the lotions or what your actually getting.

    a lady bout a tingle online one time and it had hot sauce in it. it gave her the worse rash you’ve ever seen!!!

    people steak out the designer skin plant in AZ and wait for them to toss a bunch of lotion that is not formulated right so they can steal it!! of course then they are black marketing it. or better yet, they are robbing the shipment trucks and then selling it.

    its all bs.

    bottom line. quit being cheap and buy salon lotion. at least you know where it came from.

  9. Jillian   Thursday, January 26th, 2012 11:29 am GMT +00:00

    you make an awful argument. define ‘tinglers’ — i know what it is and what it feels like but i want to know what it’s chemical compound is and why it is so rare and expensive – hemp seed oil is certainly not ‘unique’ at all and has a base value that dosnt even approach the exorbitant prices that salons boasts. If the ingredients are the same in a cheaper lotion, than clearly it is like buying stop n shop butter or lando lakes butter. exact same ingredients. — different price. choose cheaper!!

  10. Anonymous   Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 03:34 pm GMT +00:00

    The people that pay these high prices at the tanning salons for indoor tanning lotions are crazy!!! What a rip off!!! You can buy these lotions on line, or at Sally’s Beauty Supply for 3.99-8.99. They will not lower the prices on these lotions until people quit buying from them. Then they will lower the price. They charge more for the lotions than they do for the tanning!!!!!

  11. Apryl   Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 05:43 pm GMT +00:00

    My friend bought a lotion at her tanning salon and they charged her $125.00. She had a bit left so I tried it and loved it. I knew I wasn’t going to spend that kind of money on a lotion when my monthly package was cheaper than the lotion, so I went online and found the same exact lotion for $45.00…when I told her what I paid, she almost fell over!! We have been to that website 4 times now and have a variety of lotions….all with tingle bronzer! Love them!!

  12. Peaudor   Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 08:22 am GMT +00:00

    I have not used the mentioned product but I use Peau D’ Or sunless tanning solutions. Their ‘Pure Elements’ range is for everyday use which has 3 shades to choose from. These products have deep colour which stays longer and the skin looks healthy and glowing. The products are world class with no visible side effect till date.

  13. Mika   Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 03:40 pm GMT +00:00

    I totally agree with this article. Buying the lotions at the salons are such a rip-off!!! Before I knew about this site I used to pay ridiculous amounts of money for the lotions and then would use them so sparingly that I wouldn’t get good results! Buying online is not only economical but there are so many more choices!