DIY Sandalwood Tanning Oil

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DIY Sandalwood tanning oil
Wellness Mama » Blog » Beauty » DIY Sandalwood Tanning Oil

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:

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.
Homemade tanning oil with natural oils and bronzer

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

This nourishing and natural tanning oil is easy to make and smells amazing!

Tanning Oil Ingredients (my version)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBSP avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp raspberry seed oil
  • 1/2 tsp carrot seed oil
  • 10 drops sandalwood essential oil
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 1 tsp bronze mica powder

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?

This natural tanning oil uses oils with a natural SPF like olive, avocado, raspberry seed and carrot seed with natural bronzers.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


70 responses to “DIY Sandalwood Tanning Oil”

  1. Hannah Avatar

    If you want a tiny bit more SPF, could you add zinc oxide to this oil?

  2. Lauren Avatar

    How much time do you have to spend in the sun for it to work? Will it still work if there are days you don’t get outside?

  3. Tiffany Avatar

    Lavender causes phototoxicity (rashes on the skin when exposed to the sun). I probably wouldn’t recommend that for a sunscreen spray recipe.

  4. Lesa D Avatar
    Lesa D

    While I am with you on natural alternatives for everything, there is NO substantiating evidence that Red Raspberry or Carrot Seed Oil have ANY SPF properties. I implore you to cite your proof. Rather I would suggest you ask your users to use clear titanium or zinc oxide powders to give you more legitimate protection.

    1. linda Avatar

      Whilst there may indeed remain a dearth of research promoting Red Raspberry and Carrot Seed Oils, it does not after all benefit big pharma or industry to investigate anything it cannot patent and/or rake in a profit from, that against the use of titanium dioxide is growing. Bearing in mind that the ideas here are about finding ways of getting through life whilst causing the least harm to ourselves and/or the environment that supports us, I think I’ll stick with the seeds for now.

      I would imagine (I have a very good imagination) that you are already aware that sunscreen works by blocking the sun’s access to our skin thus minimises production of vitamin D and is the major factor responsible for the epidemic proportions of vitamin D deficiencies now being seen. What you might not be aware of is that natural SPF oils act as topical antioxidants so, whilst we get our full dose of sunshine vitamin, they work with our own biologies to quell the free radicle damage of uv rays – win-win, isn’t life wonderful.

  5. Beverly VanReenan Avatar
    Beverly VanReenan

    I was just looking for a natural tanning oil and this dropped into my inbox today. I had most of the ingredients on hand and added the missing ones to my early morning shopping list. Since the essential oils are for fragrance only, I substituted with orange and bergamot oils. What perfect timing and a great DIY for tanning oil. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  6. Yolanda Avatar

    So this Tanning oil does not help you get a tan right? Thanks

  7. Rhoya Avatar

    Hi Katie- how much of the bronze mica powder do you mix in with this? Thanks!

  8. Dana Taylor Avatar
    Dana Taylor

    So glad i found this site! Thank you so much! -Dana Taylor

  9. Hannah Avatar

    Thank you for this blog!! I really appreciate all you share. Your response to some of the critical comments were so gracious and kind..part of the reason I follow you. Thank you for sharing what you learn!!

  10. Christine Joseph-Davies Avatar
    Christine Joseph-Davies

    Hi Found your site by accident and love it! Thanks for all the info. …Have you ever made a lotion for tightening skin? My arms are getting flabby! Just wondering and hoping you have and can share?
    Many thanks.

  11. Diana Avatar

    Hi, I love your recipes and Thanks for sharing , Idont have rasberry seed oil so what is a good substitute and u would like a spf of about 30 what do you suggest? Thank you

  12. Kelsey Avatar

    Can I use fractionated coconut oil in place of olive oil? Can I swap the avocado oil with olive oil?

  13. celine Avatar


    I really like your website but tagging these oils with SPF factors that aren’t clinically proven is very misleading. I believe you should explain that those ingredients are very mild UV protectors, but tagging them ‘SPF#’ is simply erroneous information that jeopardizes the credibility of your recipes.
    Again, I really enjoy your website, but please make sure your info is as accurate as possible and backed up scientifically when possible !



    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      These ingredients are known to have a natural SPF but I agree that they are low SPF and not comparable to regular sunscreen. I’ve added a note to the post to make this more clear.

      1. celine Avatar

        awesome, thank you ! Also, I was wondering if you have a coupon code for Mountain Rose Herbs ? I plan to buy a bunch of things …

    2. linda Avatar

      I’m sorry but are we on the same page here? The one wherein Katie discusses making a sunscreen to *nourish and slightly protect* her own skin – one that isn’t going to block the sun she needs access to so she can still make vitamin D through her skin? Given the context, does ‘slightly’ not correlate to ‘mild’ the world over?
      The SPFs quoted have been proven in one way or another, for example Thus there is nothing any more misleading in the information above than there is in claims made for ‘clinically proven’ SPFs of chemically enhanced shop products, all of which have historically failed to stipulate the depth to which they need to be applied in order to achieve the so claimed SPF.
      Let’s face it, the panic evinced by bringing those high SPF creams onto the market and consequential erosion of the sensible habits of our forefathers has contributed to worldwide deficiencies in vitamin D and increases in skin cancers. Thank goodness natural products are not comparable to regular sunscreen, perhaps now we can get back to respecting our environment.
      Katie what possibly needed clarifying judging from comments, if anything at all, was that mixing SPF 35 oil and SPF 8 oil results in a lower final SPF not the higher 43 you’d get by adding the numbers together.

  14. Adeline Avatar

    Hi! Thank you for sharing this recipe!
    I just have one doubt!… I thought that it was the carrot infused oil (also called ‘macerate oil’) that was useful as a tanner… What is the difference with the carrot seed essential oil?!? In terms of properties I mean! Thanks

  15. joanna jones Avatar
    joanna jones

    I know you don’t advocate tanning beds BUT can you use this in a tanning bed? Do you have a tanning bed vs sun article or something I can read as well?

  16. Christine Avatar

    Hi Katie. Thank you so much for a recipe for a tanner, exactly what I was looking for to make with my other DIY products before our beach trip. I don’t have sandalwood though. Is there anything that I can sub for that or just omit it? Young Living Sandalwood is pricey! On the list one day. Thanks so much.

  17. Anna Avatar


    would be be a good idea to add a tablespoon of zinc oxide to increase SPF, or it would not work?


  18. Maggie Avatar

    As a question, how did you determine the ratio of the raspberry and carrot seed oils to add to the recipe? I wanted to know since that would determine how protective the oil ends up being. Thanks!

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