Top 5 of the Best Competition Tanning Products We Recommend

By Tara | Updated: 01/04/2023

If you’re into competitive body building then you might’ve used cans of spray tan or tubs of tanning creams to make every contour of your physique pop. Although you can always use regular tanning products for fitness contests, it’s best to use competition tanning products so your golden glow stays put despite the sweat and humidity. 

The Best Competition Tanning Products

1. Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator

First off, a tan accelerator lotion is not your average tanning product. It is designed to stimulate the production of melanin, the pigment that gives the skin a darker tone. Compared to instant tan lotions, tan accelerators go on without streaks and the tan will last much longer too.

The Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator earned the highest raves in competition tanning because it gives a deep, golden tan that glows. The Australian Gold brand happens to be one of the most recognized tanning brands in the world so you can expect amazing results with this product.

This tanning accelerator is formulated with botanical essences and oils to give the skin a sun kissed tan that doesn’t rub off nor fade quickly. It has vitamins A and E that leave the skin silky soft and rich oils to banish roughness, flakiness, and dryness. Although the formula is quite rich, the texture is light and sinks quickly into the skin. It doesn’t leave a greasy residue and is suitable for people with sensitive skin.

This product is perfect for light-skinned users who want a dark, golden tan with no hint of orange color. It works quickly and easily, it will only take a couple of sessions to get a deep, dark tan. The shade is not for the faint of heart and the tan gets darker each day. 

2. Pro Tan Overnight Competition Color Base Coat

The Pro Tan Overnight Competition Color Base Coat is the perfect self-tanning formula to get for a deep, muscle-defining tan that fades evenly. As you know, Pro Tan is known for selling a range of products for fitness contests and this particular self-tanner is one of the best competition tanning products in the business. This self-tanner goes on streak-free and it gives you a rich, deep color in just a single application. 

Of course, you can reapply several times to get the perfect muscle tan. For naturally pale users, I suggest reapplying the Pro Tan Overnight Competition Color Base Coat once. To achieve a golden contest tan, reapply twice in a day. Don’t apply thrice in one day because the results would look unnatural. 

The Pro Tan Overnight Competition Colour Base Coat has a non-greasy, light texture that applies evenly. It’s not too emollient that it’s hard to spread. It dries quickly too! This tanning lotion doesn’t streak and it doesn’t contain any sunscreen. That means you can still tan while spending time outdoors or in a sun bed. 

I love how the colour fades like a natural tan, it doesn’t fade into an odd shade of light orange. The tan fades after 5 to 7 days, which is longer than some tanning products. Applying any type of tanning products can be messy but with the Pro Tan Overnight Competition Color Base Coat, there is less mess to clean up. It does, however, stain the palm but this can be avoided with a little lemon juice and sugar scrub.

3. Sun Laboratories Tan Overnight Self-Tanning Lotion

The Sun Laboratories Overnight Self-Tanning lotion is often used by bodybuilders for fitness competitions, bikini contests, you name it, but it can be used to give you a sun-kissed glow, just like a regular tanning lotion like, say, St Tropez. 

When used as regular tanning lotion, the Sun Labs Tan Overnight Self-Tanning Lotion will darken your skin by two shades or so. But if you reapply, you’ll turn into a bronzed goddess (or god) in no time at all! The colour develops almost instantly so it’s easy to see if you missed a spot while you apply. When you take a shower, the guide colour will wash off subtly and the colour will deepen after. 

The colour may look scary during the application but once the product settles into the skin, you will get a rich, golden bronze. It’s not going to turn your skin orange if that’s what you’re worried about but apply sparingly to get the exact darkness that you like. 

As for the texture, here’s the thing: the lotion is quite thick. Some users prefer a thinner texture but I think the emollient cream made the lotion easier to spread. And it does produce smooth, realistic, streak-free results that last for 3 days or so. 

The only thing that I am having trouble with the Sun Labs Tan Overnight Self-Tanning Lotion is the strong scent. It has a distinct, almost chemical smell that I dislike. Sure, the scent disappears after a shower but it can be quite overpowering if you have a sensitive nose. 

4. Jan Tana: The Color Collection Competition Tan

Yet another product that’s a staple in fitness competitions, the Jan Tana Color Collection Competition Tan gives immediate bronzy tan that magnifies muscle hardness and definition. This fast-drying lotion is non-greasy and washes off easily in the shower. It’s formulated with collagen and skin-friendly nutrients to hydrate and condition the skin.

If you are pale, it will take several coats to get a fake tan for bodybuilding competitions but if you have a medium skin tone, I suggest building the product carefully. The effect gets dark really fast if you’ve re-applied far too many times. I like that this self-tanning lotion doesn’t stain the hands and the color washes off at the end of the day. Clearly, this isn’t the product for you if you want or need a self-tanner that lasts for a few days. 

Some users say that the lotion is tricky to apply but as long as you use the sponge applicator, you won’t have any problem with the application. You really have to spread and blend the lotion well until the product is well-absorbed by the skin to avoid blotchiness. Although the formula is light, it’s slightly irritating to the eyes so keep the stuff away from your peepers during application. 

5. Dream Tan Instant Skin Color Red Bronze

When you don’t have the time to get a great tan for fitness competitions, trust Dream Tan Instant Color to give you the colour, shine, and luster you need to look good onstage and off. Dream Tan is a cream-based tanning product that comes in two shades, Red/ Bronze, and Brown/ Bronze. 

I love how hydrating the formula is and how it spreads easily all over, really makes application so quick and easy. It doesn’t take a lot of time to create a gorgeous fake tan for bodybuilding because it works almost instantly. Applying this product is similar to applying body lotion, no need to use a foam applicator at all. 

The application will only take about 15 to 30 minutes although the brand suggests giving yourself an hour to really get a nice color going. Coverage is great, you get full body coverage in a single application and the product is buildable. 

The formula is surprisingly mild, it’s FDA approved for use on the face and around the eyes. Although there is no need to use oil because the finish is lustrous, you can apply a light coat of mineral oil to pump up the shine. But apply the oil in a gentle tapping motion instead of rubbing it all over. The color washes off easily with soap and water. It’s not a dye so it won’t stain your skin. 

Tanning Tips for Fitness Competitions

If you’ve applied regular self-tanners before then the application for competition tanning products is the same. That means you have to prep your skin before the application. Exfoliate your whole body so the tanning lotion won’t cling to dead skin cells and give you blotchy results. 

Do all your shaving and waxing before tanning your skin. Wait for 3 to 4 days before applying the spray tanning solution after waxing just to make sure that your skin is free from wax and have recovered fully from waxing. If your skin is parched, drink lots of water to hydrate the skin and use an emollient sunless tanning product. 

Always start on a clean slate, that means no makeup, no deodorant, no lotion of any kind before applying a tanning solution. Don’t wear anything that will give you tan lines. 

Take your time, work the product on your skin carefully so you get a defined, sculpted look. Don’t douse yourself with self-tanners because your skin would look muddy, discolored, or abnormally dark on stage. 

Pay close attention to your underarms and gluteal region, make sure that the color is nice and even. These areas must be highlighted with the right color. Don’t over-apply the tanning solution otherwise, the tan would look cakey or clumpy in these areas.

Sweat is the enemy! Apply your self-tanner in a well-ventilated area to avoid blotchiness, streaks, and generally uneven results due to perspiration.


If you are a pro bodybuilder then you need the best competition tanning products to highlight your hard work under the stage lights. Choose a colour that will define and draw attention to your form.

While there are so many self-tanners out there, it’s so important to look for products with formulas that are 1) mild on your skin type and 2) gives you the results you need. We’ve reviewed some of the best competition tanning products so you don’t have to search high and low for self-tanners that will agree with your skin. Of course, it pays to prep your skin well beforehand so you get flawless results!

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Tara Lusk is the founder and creator of Beauty Space
Tara Lusk is a Sydney-based beauty enthusiast and the founder of Beauty Space. She launched the blog in 2018 to showcase the best beauty and skincare brands emerging from Australia, while also providing insider tips and tricks for hair and skincare. With a focus on tried-and-true products, Tara puts the latest cult products to the test to separate hype from substance.

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