What Can Be Used As Tanning Oil?

Updated July 19, 2017

Are you packing your bags for a beach getaway? Are you ready to get a dark, golden tan? Tanning oil is essential to getting great colour outside. But if you don't have time to buy a bottle of it before your trip, other products and homemade recipes are perfect substitutes for the coconut-scented liquid.


The purpose of tanning oil is not only to moisturise your skin, but also to soak up the sun's rays. Dry skin will tan, but more slowly. Most tanning oils are made so they won't stain clothing or irritate average skin types.


Do the names Australian Gold and Hawaiian Tropic ring a bell? If so, it's because these brands are among many popular kinds of tanning oil. They are available with or without SPF levels, and usually contain grape seed, coconut and sesame oil. If you are allergic to any of these ingredients, you can use hypo-allergenic oils.


Coconut oil can be very efficient as a substitute tanning oil. It is a natural, organic ingredient that can be used on your skin as a moisturiser. Coconut oil includes herbal extracts, vitamins, essential oils and butter.

You also can make homemade tanning oil with olive oil. Add several drops of tincture of iodine to help with bronzing colour and add a few drops of carrot juice for a darker tan. Shake the mixture before applying.

Finally, here's a natural way to make a great-smelling homemade tanning oil. Mix 118ml each of water, Brier Rose water, sunflower seed oil and primrose oil with 3 drops each of alfalfa leaf, barley grass, carrot, soybean and sunflower seed extracts and 2 drops each of Brier Rose hip, lavender and lemon grass and store it in a cool, dark place. Shake the mixture before use.


Tanning oil will give you darker skin more quickly. Even with tanning oil, though, it takes longer for fair-skinned people to reach a darker colour.


Doctors and dermatologists will tell you tanned skin is damaged skin. Be careful when you're lying on the beach or at poolside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m Tanning oil will help prevent burning, but overexposure to the sun can still cause burns if an SPF sunscreen is not applied before applying tanning oil. Add lavender to any homemade oil recipe to maximise your protection against the sun's harsh rays.

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About the Author

Heidi Maines has a master's degree from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She has published in the "Journal of Dermatology for Physician Assistants" and interned as a sports copy editor at "The Syracuse Post-Standard." Maines worked as a copywriter for an online publishing company called Virtucom Group, and was promoted to assistant editor, her current position.