Difference Between Tanning Oil, Tan Extender and a Gradual Tanner

There is a big difference between tanning oil, tan extender and a gradual tanner. Although all of the self-tanning products contain some amount of DHA as an active ingredient, the three give different results.

Tan extenders, gradual tanner and tanning oil, are used for different purposes. We have described the use of these products in detail.

Difference Between Tanning Oil, Tan Extender and a Gradual Tanner

Tan Extenders

Tan extenders only contain a drop of DHA and are used with a sunless tanner to extend the tan for a longer period. These extenders are not strong enough because they are created to avoid turning your tan orange or brassy.

When Should You Apply the Tan Extender?

You should use the tan extender before going to bed because there are fewer chances of getting sweated or wet at night.

Since you are already using a regular tan, if you apply an extender with too much DHA, it will be tough for your skin to handle. You should apply the tan extender only when you notice the colour has started to fade.

What Is the Role of the Tan Extender?

The task of the extender is to extend the tan for a longer period. Tan extender doesn’t turn your tan darker; however, it returns the colour of the sunless application. Since tan extender is a clear formula, the application doesn’t stain the bed sheets or clothes.

Gradual Tanners

DHA is found in huge quantities in a gradual tanner. You have to apply the gradual tanner once or twice a day based on your skin colour. You should not use a gradual tanner once you have applied a spray tan to turn your skin orange.

Apply gradual tanner on your entire body if you don’t want an uneven sun-kissed complexion. Gradual tanners have tinted formulas created for people who don’t have a tan and are looking to get a tan. It takes 2 to 3 days to get a tan gradually from a gradual tanner.

Tanning Oil

When you apply tanning oils, the ultraviolet rays do more damage to your skin. With more sun exposure, you intensify the process of getting the perfect tan. Thus, when you apply tanning oils, you have to increase the level of sun protection.

Importance of SPF When Applying Tanning Oil

You should choose tanning oils that come with high SPF levels. This will protect your skin from turning red or dry. Thus, if you can’t find tanning oil with SPF, you should consider using a sunscreen lotion alongside your tanning oil.

When Should You Apply the Tanning Oil?

If you want to quick up your tanning process, you can apply the oil every 2 hours, even if you sweat a lot. If you are out swimming or in water frequently, tanning oils must be applied. You should take tanning oil in the desired quantity and apply it evenly on the parts of your body you want to tan. While applying it to your face, be a little bit gentle.

Key Factors You Should Consider Before Buying a Tanner

Quality and Value

You should choose the product which provides the best result. Don’t choose the cheapest one which won’t add value to the skin colour.

Keeps Skin Moisturized

Tan extender moisturizer keeps your skin hydrated. Some tanning oils keep your skin moisturised even after you are getting sun exposure for a long time.

Easy Tan

Outdoor tanning oil can provide you with a perfect tan without any sun exposure. It can also cover the areas of your skin which have an uneven tan.

Protection from UV Rays

If you apply self-tanners which don’t protect you from UV rays, it can quicken the process of skin ageing.


In conclusion, self-tanners are available in the market in tanning oil, gradual tanners and tan extenders. All the products provide different results. You have to choose the product as per your skin tone.