Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may earn a small commission for qualifying purchases.
The days get longer, the sun feels warmer, and all you want to do is lay out in the sun to improve your tan. But to get the best tan, just lying there isn’t enough. You need to know what you can do to your skin to get the best glow, while still staying protected. That’s where tanning oil comes in.
The problem is that shop-bought tanning oils tend to contain loads of substances that can be bad for you, and often you can’t pronounce half of the ingredients. For this reason, so many people are turning to making their own tanning oils now.
We’ve got some of our favorite recipes down below, tailored for different skin types. But before that, we’re going to talk you through the different oils and their benefits, so that you can pick the right recipe for you.
You might imagine that making your own tanning oil would be too difficult because of all the ingredients it must contain. And if you’ve been looking at the backs of shop-bought tanning oils, you would be right. Where would you get your own supply of BHT or formaldehyde?
But making your own tanning oils is a great choice precisely because it doesn’t contain any of those ingredients. For the recipes we’ve got for you, all the ingredients should be easily acquired, as well as of course being all-natural.
As you might expect, the main ingredient for tanning oils is… oil. Obviously you’ve got to be careful, because if you just go out in the sun wearing cooking oil, it’s likely that you’ll burn to a crisp. That’s why we’ve got these guidelines, so you can see the drawbacks and benefits of each one and make an informed decision, in order to create the tanning oil that works best for your skin.
We’re going to kick off our list of oil choices with the most popular tanning oil base these days- coconut oil. Coconut oil has seen a huge increase in popularity in recent years, seen as a healthier option than many other cooking oils, while also providing a subtle taste that enriches meals (although it isn’t as subtle as many of the more traditional choices).
Coconut oil is also very fatty. While in food that helps with the cooking process, as a tanning oil it provides a lot of good fats for the skin, including omega 3 . This makes it a good choice for people with sensitive skin, and helps it to provide a good barrier on the skin in the face of harmful substances.
However, you need to be really, really careful about using coconut oil as the base of your tanning oil. It only contains SPF 4. This means that it really won’t offer you much protection against the sun. So you should only use predominantly coconut oil in your tanning lotions if it is a less sunny day, if you won’t be out for too long and if you don’t have fair skin.
Otherwise you could cause a lot of damage to your skin, plus you’ll probably look burned and then peel, rather than achieve that healthy golden glow.
So we all know sesame oil is a great choice for South-Asian cooking, but it is also used by many for creating a home-made tanning oil. It is thick and gooey, which can help to make your tanning oil last for longer, plus it has a lovely rich scent.
It is also very readily available, and a cheaper option than many other oils. The problem is that this is another choice of only SPF 4. As with the coconut oil, this means that it shouldn’t be used alone as the base oil, but it can be used to thicken the tanning oil you are creating to make it a bit richer.
The most readily available oil for most people will be olive oil. It might sound strange to lather your body in the same oil that is used to cook food and make it crispy, especially when heading out into the heat. In a way, you are right.
You should still be very careful when using olive oil in a tanning oil recipe. Although it carries more protection than the two oils previously mentioned, it still only has SPF 8. This will not be enough to protect you from the sun, and therefore should only be used in small quantities, when mixed with other, more protective oils.
As with many of the other oils, olive oil does contain some more beneficial properties as well. For starters, it is full of vitamin E. This is a vital vitamin for strengthening your immune system, as well as to help keep your eyes and skin healthy.
It is also beneficial against the bad effects of UV rays. However, as it is only SPF 8, it won’t work as a protective barrier against sunburn or sun damage, so do be careful with your use of it.
Next up we’ve got avocado oil. As with coconut oil, this is another fattier option for your tanning oil. This makes it an excellent choice for people who suffer from dry skin conditions, as the acids and vitamins will help to heal and soothe the skin.
As it is thicker, it will also help to create a creamier, denser tanning oil, which can help to provide a thicker base against the skin. Avocado oil is also a better option than the other oils we’ve seen so far in terms of the protection it provides against the sun.
With SPF 15, avocado oil still won’t be sufficient for anyone out in the sun on a hotter day or for a long time, nor will it be the right choice for people with fair skin. However, it will definitely provide a lot more protection than the other oils we have looked at so far.
Here we’ve got an oil that you may never have thought of- hazelnut oil. With a deliciously nutty scent that will go well in any tanning oil, hazelnut oil is another great choice for containing lots of vitamin E. It is another fattier oil, which makes it ideal for making the skin softer, and it is also a good choice for lathering on, so that it can sink in nicely.
As with the avocado oil, it has SPF 15, so it isn’t really enough for lying out in the hot sun all day, but it would make it a great oil for a less hot day, or for when out and about.
Be warned that it is a little more expensive than some of our options, so it is a better choice for those who are making their own tanning oil in order to be more ethical or organic, rather than for those hoping to save a few pennies.
Now we’ll take a look at a couple of lesser known tanning oil options, with our first option being wheat germ oil. This oil is very nutrient-dense, as it is extracted from the germ of the wheat kernel (note that we are talking about a germ, i.e. the reproductive part of cereal, rather than germs, as in the disease-causing microorganisms).
This oil has vitamins A, B, D and E, as well as lots of antioxidants. This makes it a great choice for keeping your skin healthy and supple, as well as protected. It has an SPF of 20, so it is starting to protect your skin well enough to be used in the sunshine, but it should still be re-applied regularly and used cautiously.
If you haven’t used oils such as this before, it is probably wise to apply a little to a small patch of skin and wait a couple of hours before applying more, just to check for any irritation that may be caused.
Raspberry oil is not very well-known at all, but it is full of vitamins and goodness. Like olive oil, it contains vitamin E, but it has much better sun protection, with at least SPF 25. Some studies suggest that it could even have up to SPF 50.
This makes it a far better option for actually using in the sun compared to the other oils we’ve mentioned so far, although its true protective qualities still require more research.
Raspberry oil also has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as ellagic acid, which helps to reduce the destruction of collagen. With these properties, as well as containing lots of fatty acids, it’s easy to see why raspberry seed oil is such a popular choice for home-made tanning oils.
Carrot seed oil first made a name for itself in aromatherapy practices. It has a warm, earthy scent and is believed to help reduce stress and anxiety. However, it also contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as strong antibacterial properties.
It is important to highlight that it is strongly believed to help with various skin problems, making it a good choice for people with sensitive skin. Of all the oils that we have looked at, carrot seed oil offers the strongest sun protection, with SPF 35.
Although it is still lacking sufficient research to back up a decision to use it instead of sun cream, it certainly seems to be the strongest option for people with fair skin to be able to enjoy the sun.
Finally, we would like to give an honourable mention to both aloe vera and green tea extract. Although neither is an actual oil, they are both full of antioxidants.
They won’t help in terms of preventing sun damage, but they are excellent for soothing and healing sun-damaged skin. They also help to balance out dry or oily skin, which helps your body with having naturally smooth and soft skin.
So now that we’ve taken you through the different oils, we are going to go through three different tanning oil recipes, which each serve for a different skin type.
Using the knowledge about the effects of the various oils, you should be in a much better place to pick the best recipe for your skin, and after reading these, you might even be able to come up with your own recipe too.
So for many people, tanning oil for fairer skin may well sound like something of an oxymoron. While tanning may be the dream for many, burning is so often the reality. It leaves little room for taking risks.
So we would suggest that anyone who wants to use a tanning oil but is more prone to burning, that maybe you start by using a regular sunscreen as well as the tanning oil to start with, then gradually see how it goes.
Beyond being painful and not necessarily the prettiest look, it is also so bad for your skin. So take your time with any new skin product for use in the sun and hopefully you can get that tan eventually.
Having said that, we believe that this tanning oil is a better option for anyone with fairer skin. It contains oils with a higher SPF, while also smelling lovely and fresh. Don’t skip the raspberry seed or carrot seed oil though. Despite being harder to track down, they are vital for improved skin protection.
For this recipe, you want to start by mixing together the olive oil, avocado oil, raspberry seed oil and the carrot seed oil. Make sure that they are thoroughly mixed so that the color and texture are uniform. Once they are well mixed, add in the few drops of sandalwood essential oil. This is used primarily for the scent, so you don’t want it to get drowned out by the other scents.
When you picture yourself on a tropical holiday, we are pretty sure that along with the sun beating down on the white sands and turquoise sea, there will also be a fair few coconut trees sprinkled around. There is nothing more tropical than the smell of coconut, and that’s why it’s such a staple ingredient for our tropical tanning oil.
This one is better suited for people with darker skin that is less sensitive to the sun and looking for that golden glow. It will also help to soothe any dryness on the skin, with its thicker oils that can be lathered on.
Before starting on this recipe, you will need to heat the coconut oil, so that it is in liquid form rather than solidified. After that you can mix in the walnut, avocado and sesame oils. Mix them well together, then add in the drops of coconut essential oil and vanilla essential oil.
Again give them a thorough mix through. This oil should then be poured into a glass container that is completely airtight, otherwise it will go off. In the summer, it is best to keep it in the shade too. Following these instructions, the tanning oil should last a full month.
And let’s face it, you’ll easily get through it in the warmer months when you’re out tanning every chance you get.
People with dry skin know that summer is often exactly what you need after the long, harsh winter months. Gone is the skin that seems to dry up with the first step out of doors. Instead, this is a time for replenishment and softening.
For that reason, we know that it is best to use the thicker, creamier oils to help to repair your skin, as well as keeping it protected.
As with the other tanning oils so far, it is best to mix the base oils together first, before adding the essential oils. The calendula and patchouli will provide a flowery scent that is a million miles away from the pharmaceutical, scent-free pastes that are required through the cold winter months.
It is again best to store this tanning oil in an air-tight container, so that it can last better. However, as it doesn’t contain coconut oil, it won’t have the same problems with solidifying that the previous recipe has.
So now that we’ve taken you through the properties of the different oils that you can use for tanning, as well as the best recipes for the different skin types, you should be very well placed to make your own tanning oil, rather than buying it off the shelf. Just remember to stay protected from the sun and take care of your skin.
Join Our Newsletter For The Latest Updates!