I prefer to eat my sunscreen rather than slather it on my skin…
I do occasionally use my homemade sunscreen if I’m going to be out in the sun for a long time without shade or layer, but in general, I prefer to get the free Vitamin D from its original source via moderate sun exposure.
When I’m going to be at the beach (can I just live there, please?) or somewhere where I can alternate between sun exposure or the shade of an umbrella and a good book, I prefer to just use natural oils that nourish and slightly protect my skin without blocking Vitamin D (like many sunscreens do).
I’ve used a variation of this homemade tanning oil for years and when a friend recently asked about a natural tanning oil, I figured it was time to share the recipe.
Sun Protective Oils…
Though many of my recipes are solid (like lotion bars) or body-butters, this one is a liquid oil, which makes it easier to use when on the go. If you prefer a more solid recipe, you can absolutely make this with unrefined coconut oil that hardens at 76 degrees and store in a small jar.
This tanning oil recipe uses oils that are naturally sun-protective:
- Raspberry Seed Oil (SPF 25+)
- Carrot Seed Oil (SPF 35+)
- Avocado Oil (SPF 15)
- Olive Oil (SPF 8)
- Optional: Lavender Essential Oil
- Optional: Sandalwood Essential Oil
Some of these oils are more sun protective than others, and you can adapt the proportions based on your preference and how much sun protection you want. It is important to note that these are all low-SPF and not a substitute for regular sunscreen.
I also added bronze mica powder for a subtle bronze glow, but you can omit this if you don’t have it or don’t want to use it.
Since Olive and Avocado oils have a lower SPF, they are great for someone with naturally dark skin who is looking for a little protection. In fact, olive oil has been used traditionally in Mediterranean countries as a natural skin protectant in the sun, creating a gorgeous dark tan.
Those (like me) who aren’t naturally olive skinned may want to at least start with more of the higher SPF oils like Raspberry Seed and Carrot Seed.
Since this is not a sunscreen, but a mild sun-protectant recipe, it is important to test with small amounts of time in the sun to find what works best for your body and skin type. I’m sharing what worked best for me, but tweak to fit your skin type and desired result.
Natural Tanning Oil Ingredients (my version)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons avocado oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Raspberry Seed Oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Carrot Seed Oil
- 10 drops sandalwood essential oil
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 1 tsp bronze mica powder
DIY Tanning Oil Instructions
Mix all oils and mica powder (if using) and store in a dark-colored glass container. If you decide to substitute coconut oil for the olive oil, store in a jar instead, as it won’t work with a pump.
I use this as needed for mild sun exposure and it has helped me tan naturally without burning.
Of course, all of the usual disclaimers apply- sunburn is never healthy and should absolutely be avoided. You should not spend long periods of time in the sun, especially if you have very sensitive skin and if you are unable to tan, this recipe will not magically help you tan. I’m NOT advocating regular tanning in an electric bed, and only use this for moderate and natural sun exposure. Check with a dermatologist if you are unsure about any of these ingredients or want to know if this recipe is specifically good for your skin.
Do you use tanning oil? Ready to try a natural version?