The Ultimate Guide To Making Your Own Tanning Oil


Last Updated: 12th October 2016

The secret to sexy summer skin is to have some colour. Tanning oil is one way to improve the chances of getting a tan, as long as you use it safely. The problem is those store bought options are full of chemicals. You just have no idea what they’re really doing to your skin, and they’re not exactly healthy for your wallet.

It’s time to make your own tanning oil from home. You can do this with a few simple ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your cupboard. Here’s your guide to creating the perfect tanning oil for your needs.

The Toxins Hiding in Your Tanning Oil

If you currently use a tanning oil from a shop, take a look at the ingredients. Like sunscreens, you’ll probably find that most of the ingredients are ones that you can’t even produce. They don’t even look like words! If you can’t produce them, how do you know they’re any good for your skin?

Chances are they really aren’t that good. Many of the traditional tanning oils are full of toxins that will cause harm to your skin, especially when in contact with UV rays from the sun. Some of the toxins will even sound beneficial until you find out how they’re made.

One of those toxins that sound good is mineral oil. Rather than being full of good minerals that will help to boost your skin’s health, it’s full of petroleum. You know based on what petrol does to the environment that it isn’t exactly a good ingredient. It’s also a carcinogen, increasing your risk of cancer. Do you really want to use that when you’re sitting out to get a tan?

The oil is also a pain for pore clogging and leads to bacteria growing within the pores. You’ll end up with more blackheads and pimples because of the use of the product.

But aren’t their benefits to using mineral oil? Doesn’t the oil create a barrier? While that’s true, it’s not completely a good thing. The mineral oil can create a barrier to reduce the dryness in the skin, but you’re sacrificing the ability for your pores to breathe. You’re making it easier for bacteria to grow in your pores.

By making your own, you can get away from this particular toxin, but there are others, too.

Most shop-bought tanning oils will use preservatives in the ingredients. You want to avoid food without preservatives, right? Well, the stuff you put on your skin should be artificial preservative-free, too! In fact, the tanning oil can be worse. Your skin will absorb the likes of parabens and BHT.

The preservatives are used to—as the word suggests—preserve your oils. The BHT slows down the spoiling process. That sounds great until you find out that it can also slow cancer and build within your body tissue. You’re opening yourself up to various problems in the future, all because of this one ingredient.

Another preservative used is one that contains formaldehyde. You know from hearing that word that it isn’t going to be good for you. Are you starting to ask yourself why you’ve used these oils before without quite checking up on them?

Finally, the oils are full of colours and fragrances; these are all going to be artificial. That tropical smell is definitely not created by adding coconut and pineapple juices to your oil. We don’t fully know what artificial colours and fragrances do to the body, and definitely not what they can do to the skin in the long term.

Just take this time to look at the labels on your traditional tanning oil. What words don’t you understand? Which ones sound like they could be dangerous to the health? Do a quick search to find out the truths and then follow this guide to making your own natural tanning oil.

Oil as the Basic Ingredient

It may sound obvious, but oil is the basic ingredient of tanning oil. The clue really is in the name. The good news is that there are plenty of natural oils out there that will help, and many of them contain an SPF factor naturally. That means you’ll help your skin get a golden look while protecting it from some damage to the skin.

To add the basis to your oil, think about the type of skin you have. Those with fair, easy to burn skin will need an oil with a strong SPF factor, such as raspberry seed or carrot seed oil. These have SPF 25 and 35 respectively. If your skin is very easy to burn, you want at least SPF 30. You don’t just need to get this from your oils, though!

Avocado oil has an SPF of 15in it, with olive oil and coconut oil on the lower end of the scale of 8 and 4 respectively. Sesame seed oil also has an SPF of 4.

All these oils are great bases for your tanning oil needs. As well as thinking about the type of skin you have, you’ll also need to think about the smells that you want. Coconut oil is the one that will give you the closest tropical smell. Of course, you can always add other natural ingredients to create that perfect scent.

As well as the SPF, there are also other benefits of the different oils available. Here’s a brief look to help you get the best care for your skin.

Coconut Oil: This is the best option for those with sensitive skin, despite the lower SPF. You can always add another oil with a higher SPF to add extra protection. It is full of fatty acids to offer all the benefits of omega 3 and good fats in the skin.

Avocado Oil: Those who suffer from dry skin conditions will benefit the most from this oil. It’s naturally full of fatty acids and vitamins to heal and soothe.

Olive Oil: Full of vitamin E, this oil has antioxidant properties that help to protect the skin from sun damage. It also offers extra benefits to fighting the effects of the sun when the UV rays do get through, reducing your risk of cancer and sunburn. You’ll get the golden tan and the moisturised, soft skin at the same time. You can even use other ingredients to help darken your tan.

Sesame Oil: This thick gooey oil is one that you won’t need too much of, meaning your tanning oil goes a long way. It’s a great addition to other oils but does have a low SPF. It’s a lower cost option compared to many of the others.

Aloe Vera and Green Tea Extract: Okay, so this isn’t quite an oil, but either one will help you create a tanning oil. Green tea and aloe vera are full of antioxidants, which help to prevent sunburn side effects and fight off cancer. You’ll offer your skin a protective layer that won’t block your pores. The ingredients can also help to soothe damaged skin and promote healing. If you have dry or oily skin, you can also balance out the body responses to promote naturally soft and smooth skin.

Now you’ve got the basics, here are a few tanning oil recipes to try at home.

A word of caution before you do move onto the recipes. Always take things slow to get a natural, sun-kissed look. While the oils can help to boost your glow and offer some protection from the UV rays, the best way to protect your skin is to avoid prolonged exposure every day. This is especially the case if you haven’t seen the sun properly for a few months (because of that horrible winter)!

Avoid the hottest parts of the day, and don’t sit out for hours at a time. In many cases, 15-30 minutes will give your skin all the sun benefits it needs for vitamin D absorption and colour gaining.

A Dark, Tropical Tanning Oil

Coconut oil is one of the best for the tropical scent, as we’ve mentioned. Opting for unrefined virgin oil is always going to be the best for your skin and body.

For a darker tan, look at this tropical oil:

  • A cup of coconut oil
  • 8 tsp of walnut oil, avocado oil and sesame oil
  • A few drops of coconut essential oil and vanilla essential oils

Altogether, the ingredients will protect your skin, soothe dryness, and help to create a natural, sunkissed glow. You’ll also get a beautiful smell, making everyone ask where you got your perfume from!

You’ll need to heat the coconut oil to turn it into a liquid before you mix in the other oils. Make sure they all mix together well before you then pour into a glass container.

Ensure this contain is completely airtight. Otherwise they will soil. You only need to pull the container out whenever you want to use them. During the summer with regular use, the mixture should last at least a month if stored out of direct sunlight.

Tanning Oil for Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, this is one of the tanning oils that you really need to try. It’s full of ingredients that are perfect for boosting the natural oils and promoting their natural production.

The ingredients are:

The patchouli will give you a floral smell for the rest of the day, making you feel fresh and ready for anything.

Unlike coconut oil, none of these will solidify at certain temperatures. You can just pour them all together and make sure they fully combine. Make the patchouli the last thing you add, once everything else is fully mixed.

Store in an air-tight container, like the other oil, to help it last.

Tanning Oils for Fairer Skinned People

When you have fairer skin, you want a tanning oil with a higher SPF rating. This offers some extra protection to avoid burning and other skin damage. Using these ingredients will help with this:

Mix the main oils together before you add the sandalwood in. The benefit to this oil is that you’re adding numerous options that have higher SPFs, especially carrot and raspberry seed oils. You will still get a sunkissed look, despite the higher factor. All that does it protect your skin from extra harm.

Tanning Oil to Neutralise the UV Radiation

UV radiation is a common concern for many people. It seems like skin cancer is on the rise, and part of that is the sun’s fault (as well as using some of the preservatives and harmful toxins mentioned above). You can use this tanning oil to help neutralise the effects of the sun to protect against radiation.

  • A cup of coconut oil
  • Two cups of brewed green tea
  • 8 tsp walnut oil

Combine the two oils first and then add your green tea slowly. The green tea is where the UV balance comes from, due to the antioxidants. These fight against the free radicals in your body while giving the immune system a boost to protect against some of the harm. Altogether, the oils will also moisturise the skin and help balance the natural oil production.

Now it’s time to make your tanning oils. Once you get to understand how all the oils work together and find ones that offer your skin the benefits that you need, you can start making your own recipes. There are just so many options out there, depending on what you want.

Remember there are many essential oils for the different scents and other benefits. Try them out with your oils to create the smell that you’d prefer. Are you after that tropical look or do you want something that will replace your perfume for the summer? Does indoor tanning lotion work? Find out here.

Using your very own tanning oil keeps you worry-free of any harmful side effects drugstore products can cause. By knowing the ingredients used in your tanning oil, you are sure to enjoy improving the color the sun can give as it kisses your skin. The natural ingredients can even help improve you skin while getting your desired tone.


For more info on tanning lotions, self-tanning, and tanning oils check out these articles:
What Is The Best Self-Tanner
A 5-Step Guide To Creating A Naturally, Healthy Tan
Best Sunless Tanning Lotion
Everything You Need to Know about Tanning Lotions

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