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How to make suntan lotion out of iodine & baby oil

Before commercial suntan lotions were widely available, our mothers and grandmothers used a very simple and inexpensive method for achieving that "sun-kissed healthy glow." They would combine baby oil and iodine to tan their skin. Unfortunately, little was known about skin damage from ultraviolet solar rays during their era. Here is their technique, updated for today's safety concerns. You should see results in 2 or 3 days if your skin is very fair, and just 1 or 2 days if you have a richer skin tone.

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  1. Open the plastic bottle and set aside the squeeze cap. Measure 1/4 cup portion of the sunscreen with your measuring cup. Pour it into your plastic bottle.

  2. Rinse the measuring cup and dry it well. Measure 1/2 cup of iodine into the measuring cup. Pour the iodine into the plastic bottle with the sunscreen.

  3. Rinse and dry the cup again. Measure 1/2 cup of baby oil into the measuring cup. Add the baby oil to the plastic bottle that now contains the iodine and sunscreen.

  4. Replace the squeeze cap. Shake the bottle vigorously for 60 seconds to combine all ingredients.

  5. Apply your new homemade suntan lotion with sunscreen to your body as you would any other retail brand. Lie in the sun to activate the suntan lotion and begin the tanning process.

  6. Tip

    You may add more sunscreen lotion if your skin tends to burn easily, but try not to use more than the amount equivalent to each of the other components (1/2 cup). If you must use more, increase the amount of iodine and baby oil as well in order to maintain the effectiveness of this product.


    Do not use this method if you are allergic to iodine or any other ingredient listed.

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Things You'll Need

  • Sunscreen lotion (SPF 15 or higher)
  • Measuring cup
  • Plastic bottle with a "squeeze-top" cap
  • Iodine
  • Baby oil

About the Author

Genae Valecia Hinesman, former banking executive, entrepreneur and fashion model, began writing professionally in 2002. She is a Cum Laude graduate of the University of Southern California where she studied business, finance and exercise physiology. Her articles featured in Living Healthy: 360, Life 123, the American Chronicle and Yahoo Voices.

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