Best Homemade Tanning Oil Recipes for Sexier Summer Skin 2018


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Updated February 2018

With summer in full swing, getting that coveted sun-kissed glow is more than likely on your list of things to do. Instead of using those nasty, chemical-based suntan oils that are readily available everywhere this time of year, why not try making your own homemade tanning oil? Getting that beautiful bronze that screams summer doesn’t have to come with health risks. We’ve put together a list of 5 easy-to-follow homemade tanning oil recipes for you to try!

There are plenty of all-natural ways to make your own tanning oil, so there’s no reason why you can’t look like you live at the beach.

If you’re short on time and looking for a product that’s already created, you can find the best natural tanning oil to purchase on our page: The 6 Best Natural Tanning Oils.

The Problem with Traditional Tanning Oils

Skip ahead to the DIY recipes here if you want.

Just like traditional sunscreens, most of the tanning oils you’ll find readily available this time of year are full of ingredients you more than likely can’t pronounce. Most of the leading brands out there contain a slew of harmful ingredients that have no business coming in contact with your skin.

When we take a look at some of the ingredients used in popular tanning oils, you’ll have a better idea of why you’ll never want to use these products again.

Toxic Ingredients Hiding in Your Tanning Oil

  • Mineral Oil

Mineral oil sounds like something that should be great for your skin. How bad could minerals really be for you anyway? But the mineral oil used in tanning oils is not as natural as you might think. It’s derived from petroleum and is actually a known carcinogen. Definitely not something you want to put on your skin!

Mineral oil is also comedogenic, which means it does wonders for clogging up your pores. Your skin can’t breathe through mineral oil and it can often lead to blemishes like pimples and blackheads. It actually creates a barrier over the skin, which is one of the reasons why it’s been used in lotions and tanning oils for so long. Creating a barrier stops additional water loss, which helps keep moisture in the skin to “reduce” dryness.

Looking at the label on your tanning oil and don’t see mineral oil? Don’t be fooled. It’s labeled under many different names including:

    • Paraffin Oil
    • Liquid Paraffin
    • Liquidum Paraffinum
    • Paraffin Wax
    • Propylene Glycol
  • Baby Oil
  • Preservatives

You try to avoid foods with artificial preservatives in them and your tanning oil should be no different. Just like with most beauty products you’ll find on the market, your tanning oil is full of preservatives like BHT and parabens, things you definitely don’t want on your skin.

BHT (butyl hydroxytoluene) is added to food and cosmetics to preserve and slow down the rate in which they spoil. It’s also used in embalming fluid. Sounds awesome, right? It’s been shown to increase the risk of cancer, slow down DNA synthesis, and can accumulate in your body tissue.

Another nasty preservative commonly found in tanning oils is sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate, one that is reportedly “natural” and has been used to replace parabens in many different products. Don’t be fooled, however, as this is far from natural. It actually contains formaldehyde and could possibly break down as this toxic substance gets in the body once it penetrates the skin.

  • Artificial Colors and Fragrances

You don’t for a minute believe that the tropical smell of most tanning oils is natural do you? There is an abundance of artificial fragrances that are used to please the senses and their use in tanning oils is definitely no exception. The use of artificial colors is not spared by tanning oil companies either. Take a look at your labels. Is there a FD&C or a D&C followed by a number listed in the ingredients? If so, you’re definitely putting yourself in harm’s way.

Getting a Natural Glow

Although the tanning oils you’re use to are full of ingredients you don’t want anywhere near your body, there’s no reason you can’t get a natural glow. Making your own tanning oil with a few simple ingredients is easy and will give you the golden skin you desire without a list of harmful side effects.

The following oils can all be used as ingredients, with each containing a natural SPF:

These can all be used in homemade tanning oils depending on the sun protection you’re looking for.

5 DIY Tanning Oil Recipes

It’s time you toss the tanning oils of days past and look to some of the following recipes to get that coveted summer tan.

1. Tropical Dark Tanning Oil



Bring coconut oil to liquid form. Add walnut, avocado, and sesame oils and mix well. Add coconut essential oil and vanilla essential oil for a scent that will make you feel like you’re in the tropics. You can store it in an airtight glass container that is dark in color.

If you’ve got leftover coconut oil, remember that it’s great for a number of other things. Here’s how to use coconut oil against acne scars and to beautify your hair and skin.

2. Lavender Tanning Oil



Mix oils together and add lavender essential oil. You can store it in a dark, airtight container.

3. Patchouli Tanning Oil



Mix all oils together until well combined and add patchouli oil. Store in a dark, air-tight container. This homemade tanning oil is a must for those who are prone to dry skin.

4. Protective Sandalwood Tanning Oil



Combine all oils and then add sandalwood essential oil. The high concentration of olive oil will add a natural SPF for those with fairer skin who need more protection from the sun. Store this tanning oil in a dark, airtight container.

5. Green Tea Tanning Oil



Combine oils and slowly add green tea. The green tea works as a powerful antioxidant that will neutralize UV radiation and is also great for skin. Store this tanning oil in a dark, airtight container.

Important Things to Remember

If you want to tan (and who doesn’t), the best way to get the color you desire is to do it gradually. If you’ve been inside all winter and your skin is looking a little pasty, take things slow! Try spending 20 minutes in the sun at a time at the beginning to prevent any serious sunburn. Gradually work your way into spending longer periods of time outdoors.  



  1. Just wondering in relation to the natural tanning oil recipes above, is the resultant SPF value of the finished product oil the individual oil SPFs added together? E.g.Will a tanning oil that contains coconut oil (SPF 4) and oilve oil (SPF 8) result in a SPF of 12?
    Thank you

  2. Hi Lucy- good question! While the oils do work synergistically, the resultant SPF is probably lower than you’d get from just adding the two SPFs- it would be more a like weighted average, particularly because it’s going to be difficult to have a perfect combination of both oils between your skin and the sun on any given point on your body at all times.


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