Best Tan Accelerator [Reviews And Top Picks]

After comparing dozens of tan accelerators in the market and reading customer reviews, we think the 125ml Elemis Tan Accelerator is the best one for deep tanning.

The 250ml Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator is the best one for most people while the EcoTan Accelerator is the best choice if you are on a budget.

What is a Tan Accelerator?

Your skin doesn’t like the sun. Sure it gets some vitamin D from it but the UV rays can also cause a whole lot of health problems.

When you go out into the sun photosensitive receptors on the skin sense UVA radiation from the sun and immediately go into defence mode.

Over the next several hours your skin will gradually turn brown or golden. If you have dark-coloured skin, it will get even darker. The change of hue is caused by the production of melanin, the skin’s natural shield against sun damage.

It’s also melanin that gives you the warm tanned look after a 2-week holiday in the Bahamas.

For a lot of people however, the skin tends to react too slowly to sunlight exposure because we spend a lot of time indoors. Melanin production is slow and inadequate to give you that tanned look you are looking for.

Most worryingly, your skin will not be properly protected from sun damage especially if you are light skinned. You may find that you develop heat rash or get prickly skin after just a few moments in the sun.

What a tan accelerator does is encourage your skin to naturally produce more melanin when it’s exposed to UV either from the sun or a tanning bed.

Tan accelerators use specific ingredients like tyrosine to stimulate increased melanin production. They may also contain moisturisers and SPF for added benefits.

To get the best results you are supposed to start applying the tan accelerator around 2 weeks before you go on holiday as well as during. This will give you a deep tan and maintain it for longer.

Benefits of Tan Accelerators

  • Achieve a more noticeable tan. If you have trouble tanning no matter how long you stay in the sun, a tanning accelerator can help. Your skin will tan faster and achieve a more noticeable tan.
  • Better skin protection. If you are not used to being in the sun, suddenly exposing your skin harsh UV rays could cause serious skin damage. Using a tan accelerator to prepare for the sun before a vacation increases melanin production, thus preparing the skin for increased sun exposure.
  • Moisturising. Many tan accelerators contain moisturising ingredients that not only improve your skin’s melanin production but also leave your skin smoother and softer.

What to consider when choosing a Tan Accelerator

The most important thing to do when buying a tan accelerator is to check the ingredients label. First, check that the product has an active ingredient that actually improves melanin production such as tyrosine. Some tan accelerators are just plain moisturisers that don’t enhance tanning as much.

Also check if there are moisturising ingredients such as oils or Shea butter. It’s even better if it also contains extra nourishing ingredients such as Aloe Vera.

If you want to use your own moisturizer, check for instructions on how to use it together with your own products.

Remember that a tan accelerator is not a replacement for sunscreen. Though some contain SPF, always use good quality sunscreen whenever you are out in the sun.

As with other skin products make sure you are not allergic or sensitive to any of the ingredients on the label.

The Best Tan Accelerator Reviews [UK Market]

1. The Best Tan Accelerator for Most People: Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator Lotion 250ml


  • Enhances tanning.
  • Moisturises.
  • Great fragrance.
  • Affordable.


  • Doesn’t produce as deep a tan as other pricier tan accelerators.


With over 1,200 reviews and a 4.5/5 rating on Amazon, this is one of the most popular tan accelerators. It’s well priced too with 100ml costing just £5.58.

It comes in a sizable 250ml bottle ensuring it last longer. It’s has a thinner texture than some accelerators but this means that a little goes a long way.

It smells great too. The label describes it as Classic Cocoa Dreams though users say it smells more like mango.

What it does best

This accelerator contains no bronzers. It doesn’t artificially tan your skin; it only enhances your skin’s own tanning process using an ingredient combo they call a Biosine Complex.

It consists of olive oil, tea tree oil and Panthenol (a form of vitamin B5). The three ingredients work together to soothe and moisturise the skin as well as intensify melanin production.

Apply it before you go on holiday and keep reapplying as you enjoy the sunshine to get a deeper tan.

Unlike some accelerators it does not leave your skin chapped and dry. Native Australian oils moisturise your skin to a silky softness. You can also apply your own moisturizer on top if you want and remember to also use sunscreen.

Flaws but not deal breakers

Because the Australian Gold Dark tanning accelerator does not contain tyrosine, it does not produce a very deep tanning effect. But you’ll still notice more tanning than usual thanks to the nourishing and moisturising ingredients that condition the skin to produce more melanin.

What other customers think

As I mentioned, this is one of the most popular tan accelerators. Customers absolutely love it. It’s affordable and works well enough for those who want just a little bit more tan than usual.

Should you buy it?

If you are looking for a good quality and low cost tanning accelerator, get this one.

2. The Best Tan Accelerator for a Deep Tan: Elemis Tan Accelerator


  • Best for deep tanning.
  • Moisturises.
  • Mild and pleasant fragrance.


  • Pricey compared to other tan accelerators.


While it comes in a much smaller tube than other tan accelerators, a little goes a long way.

In addition to helping bring out your body’s natural tan, it contains moisturising ingredients that soothe, soften and brighten your skin.

You don’t have to use a moisturiser along with the accelerator. The macadamia nut oil, Shea butter and jojoba oil are enough. But you can certainly use your own moisturiser if you want.

What it does best

The Elemis tan accelerator is quite pricey when compared to other brands. It costs £18 per 100ml, more than triple the rate of the Australian Gold dark tanning accelerator.

But it’s the only tan accelerator that contains tyrosine, an amino acid that is crucial in melanin production. Compared to other accelerators, Elemis produces a much deeper and more noticeable tan.

If you really want a deep tan, the price is worth it.

I also recommend it highly if you have a delicate skin that gets sun-damaged quickly. If you get sun burns or prickly skin after just a few minutes in the sun, this will help. Start applying it a couple of weeks before you go on holiday or use a tan bed to start building up melanin production.

Flaws but not deal breakers

It’s pricey but as I said, it’s worth it. The tyrosine works to really bring out your tan. It’s more effective than other non-tyrosine tan accelerators.

The only issue is that 125ml may not be enough to get you through your vacation. If you are planning to enjoy the beach for more than a week or two order at least a couple of tubes.

What other customers think

Many users say it’s definitely worth the extra money. Not only does it give their skin a nice deep bronze, they no longer get sun burns, prickly skin or heat rash.

Should you buy it?

If you don’t mind the price tag, buy it. It’s the best tan accelerator out of our three picks.

3. The Best Budget Tan Accelerator: EcoTan Accelerator 500ml


  • Affordable.
  • Large bottle.
  • Enhances and retains natural tan.
  • Moisturising.


  • Doesn’t produce as deep a tan as pricier tan accelerators with tyrosine.


If you don’t want to buy a £20 tan accelerator this is a good budget alternative. It costs £3.40 per 100ml making it the cheapest of these three picks.

It comes in a large 500ml bottle that will last longer and which you can use more generously. If you are taking a longer vacation just one bottle is enough.

In addition to enhancing your natural tan, it also moisturises and conditions your skin.

What it does best

It will not give you a deep tan like the Elemis accelerator but you’ll definitely notice a difference.

The label recommends using it 7 days before going on holiday or using a tanning bed. It will build up a nice supply of melanin before you expose your skin to UV. Once you are in the sun keep using it to maintain your skin’s golden tan.

Flaws but not deal breakers

The main complaint from users is that it feels a bit sticky as it dries. But it’s not a big problem. If it bothers you, try applying a moisturizer on top of the accelerator. This will keep your skin soft and smooth as the accelerator dries.

What other customers think

With over 300 reviews and a 4.3/5 rating, the EcoTan accelerator is quite popular. Customers especially love the larger bottle which they say lasts longer than most other brands. They also love how it moisturises the skin, leaving it feeling soft.

Should you buy it?

If you are looking for a large bottle of tan accelerator for use with a tanning bed or on holiday, this is a great buy.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do tanning accelerators really work?

Tanning accelerators can really make a difference to the final outcome of your tan. They work by affecting the Melanin in the skin, and encouraging it to produce more so that you end up with a really natural, sun kissed look.

For best results, you will need to use a tan accelerator at least two weeks before exposure, either to the sun or before a tanning bed session.

There are two types of tanning accelerator – those which are applied to the body, and those which are taken in tablet form. Some of the types that are applied to the body contain SPF, and these are not recommended if you are planning a tanning bed session as they can interfere with the tanning process.

If you have a tanning session booked, you should start applying your tanning accelerator at least two weeks before, to help the final result. You can also use your tanning accelerator after your tanning session, to improve the results and keep the tan lasting longer.

2. What can I use as a tan accelerator?

You can either buy a specialised tanning accelerator over the counter from a shop, or you could consider making your own from the list below:

  • Carrot oil. This useful little vegetable is filled with Omega 3s, plus vitamin A, which is great for cell development. You can smother your body with it and hope that you change colour – but you may end up turning orange, so remember that a little goes a long way!
  • Olive oil. This store cupboard staple is great for the skin, and it is cheap and easy to get hold of. It will moisturise your skin and help a tan set better.
  • Wheat germ oil. Great for the skin and healthy for the body, wheat germ oil is a good addition to a tanning accelerator.
  • Henna. This natural dye is made from plants and has been used to colour the skin for centuries. If you have ever used henna to dye your hair then you will know that it can really change the colour of your skin!
  • Cocoa butter. A very useful skin care ingredient, cocoa butter can help to moisturise the skin and ensure that a tan lasts longer.
  • Aloe vera. Incredibly good for the skin, this useful plant can be applied to the whole body to moisturise the skin and improve a tan no end.

3. How can I tan faster naturally?

Remember that, however desperate you are for a sun kissed body, that you should always take precautions in the sun, and use a sun cream of at least SPF 30 to protect yourself against the harmful parts of the sun’s rays. That being said, there are a few things you can do to improve your tan naturally, even while being sensible and wearing a good sunscreen.

Eating foods rich in beta carotene will help your tan no end. Carrots, sweet potatoes, kale and spinach can help improve not only the health of your entire body, but also increase your chances of a natural tan.

Exfoliate. Keeping your skin free from old dead skin cells will give the skin a chance to absorb the sun, or the tanning bed, or the tanning solution. Don’t forget to moisturise after tanning!

This is another thing that will help your tan settle deeper into your skin, and will give your skin a boost of moisture too. Certain fruits can improve your tanning – grapes, cherries, guava, pomegranate, watermelon – these foods are rich in Lycopene, which can help protect the skin against any harmful UV rays.

Another great excuse to eat chocolate is that dark chocolate contains antioxidants that can protect the skin against free radicals – essential when you have been tanning, either in the sun or in a tanning bed.

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