Everyone wants to achieve the glowing look of sun-kissed skin. But getting the perfect bronze glow can be challenging. In this guide, we’ve reviewed the best oils for tanning that can help you nourish and protect your skin. We’ll explain how to choose the best product for you and recommend the best options for SPF protection, reef-safe use, and more.
Keep reading for our top picks and tips to select the best tanning oils.
Tanning Oils: Guide & FAQ
Here are a few essential things to keep in mind when shopping for tanning oil.
How to Choose the Best Tanning Oil
When selecting the best tanning oil, consider the time of day you plan to spend out in the sun.
The sun is strongest in the afternoon, and you should use sunscreen in addition to tanning oil during this time. It is usually safer to tan in the early morning hours if you plan on using only oil.
There are several different types of tanning products. These include oils, serum, and lotions.
Oils sit on the skin and get absorbed quickly. They result in a nice tan, but can stain your clothing if not absorbed properly.
Oil sold in spray bottles is best for applying quickly and evenly, especially on the beach.
You should also consider the amount of time you plan to spend in the sun. Different tanning oils remain effective for different periods.
If you plan on spending long hours under the sun, you need an oil that stays on the skin longer with a higher SPF.
Ingredients are also essential when selecting a tanning oil. The best oils include natural ingredients. These could consist of shea butter, aloe vera, or coconut oil.
Artificial ingredients can cause skin irritation and damage.
Your skin type and conditions can also impact which tanning oil you should choose. If you have dry skin, you should select an oil with moisturizing properties. Fair-skinned people will need a tanning oil with a higher SPF.
You should always check the SPF, or Skin Protection Factor, of any tanning products you use. Tanning oils give you a tan, not protect your skin. Some products have 0 SPF.
If you burn easily, you may need a tanning oil with additional SPF.
Tips For Using Tanning Oil Correctly
1. Use a tanning oil that has SPF 15 or higher
Tanning oil attracts more UV rays for accelerated tanning. But more UV means your skin needs more protection.
Options with very high SPF may prevent tanning. But an SPF 15 product will prevent sunburns while the oil encourages tanning.
If you choose a tanning oil with zero SPF, apply sunscreen before you apply the oil.
Apply tanning oil by pouring it on to your hands and evenly spreading it across your body. Even application everywhere is critical. Missed spots can give your skin a blotchy look after tanning.
Spray tanning oils make even applications easier. But you still need to spread the product and rub it into your skin to encourage absorption.
If you want to maximize the effectiveness of your tanning oil, you should reapply every 2 hours.
Sweating a lot or swimming in the water can make frequent application necessary. However, reapplying every 3 to 5 hours is adequate if you don’t want to tan too quickly.
2. Moderate your use of tanning oil
Using too much can contribute to acne and skin burns.
Exfoliating your skin before applying oil will also help prevent these conditions and promote evenness when you tan.
3. Less is more
A little goes a long way with oil, and it is straightforward to spread.
Precautions When Using Tanning Oil
Tanning is relaxing, and everyone loves a nice bronze look. But unfortunately, tanning can also be dangerous.
The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation. These UV rays are the leading cause of skin cancer. Exposure can also damage eyes, increasing the risk of cataracts and eye cancers.
Skin cells release melanin to create a tan. Melanin production happens in response to UV rays as a method of protection. The melanin also makes vitamin D, which is an essential nutrient. Plus, tanning can also cause the release of feel-good endorphins in the brain.
However, problems occur when UV rays reach your skin’s lower layers after too much sun exposure, resulting in sunburn. UV rays can go through your skin and cause cells to die, damage, or develop cancer.
Tanning oil speeds up the tanning process by attracting these rays, so it is vital to protect your skin when using these products. You want to receive enough exposure to tan without causing a burn.
SPF measures how well a lotion protects you from the sun. Mineral sunscreens work by reflecting the UV radiation off of your skin and preventing penetration.
Some tanning oils include minerals that provide SPF protection.
Never use a tanning oil without SPF or additional sunscreen.
However, some of the ingredients in sunscreens can have damaging effects on the environment. Chemicals in these formulas can wash off swimmers in the ocean and enter coral reefs, leading to coral bleaching.
If you are heading to the beach for some tanning time, be sure to use reef-safe sunscreen and tanning oil.
Best Tanning Oils: Our Top 7 Picks
Not sure where you should start your search for the best oils for tanning? Check out our favorite options below!
1. Best Overall: Cocosolis Sun Tan & Body Oil
- Organic ingredients reduce the chance of skin irritation and allergies
- Suitable for tanning on the beach or in tanning beds
- Rich chocolate fragrance and luxurious feel
- Essential vitamins and minerals that nourish the skin
- Moisturizing effect from coconut oil, cocoa butter, avocado oil, and almond oil
The Cocolsolis Sun Tan & Body Oil stands out from other tanning oils using organic ingredients that may naturally increase tanning speed.
Natural ingredients make it a great choice if you have sensitive skin as they likely will not irritate with prolonged use. Because of the moisturizing effect of natural oils, it is especially suitable for people who suffer from dry skin.
It will not irritate sensitive areas like your face. Using one product over your entire body can help ensure evenness.
You can also use this tanning oil in and out of the sun. It is suitable for tanning beds.
Although it does not have a bronze shimmer effect, it has the best fragrance of any oil on this list. Users enjoy the smell of rich chocolate while they wear this product.
This product is SPF 5. If you burn easily, you should use sunscreen with it. But it has an excellent reputation for working effectively to produce a beautiful dark tan.
2. Most Popular: Australian Gold Bronzing Intensifier Spray
- Features Color Boost Maximizer formula designed to enhance natural melanin production
- Essential oils and vitamins hydrate the skin
- Provides instant bronzers ideal for people with darker skin
- Aloe soothes skin before and after sun exposure
- Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes
Australian Gold Bronzing Intensifier is an incredibly popular dry oil tanning spray. People who want a quick bronzed look will appreciate the glowing effect of caramel, carrot oil, and walnut shell.
The formula includes tea tree oil, a powerful antioxidant. This ingredient cleanses and smooths the skin.
Aloe vera further enhances this tanning oil’s moisturizing ability and makes it ideal for use before and after sun exposure. Eighty minutes of water resistance also helps make this oil the best choice for a beach day.
This tanning oil does not include any SPF, so you should think about using sunscreen with it. It is also better suited for darker complexions because of its dark bronzing effect.
3. Best Budget Option: Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen Protective Tanning Oil
- Natural blend of island botanicals and antioxidants nourish skin
- Broadspectrum sunscreens included with SPF 15
- Lightweight feel does not make your skin feel greasy
- Affordable price for high-quality tanning oil
- Suitable to enhance tans on any skin shade
Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen Protective Tanning Oil is an excellent oil for tanning that can help people of any skin color achieve a sun-kissed glow.
This formula includes sunscreens to protect skin from harmful UV radiation with 15 SPF while still encouraging tanning. Added cocoa butter and aloe vera also help soothe skin that may be irritated from sun exposure.
This formula does not create an instant bronze that is exceptionally dark. Fair-skinned people can take advantage of the benefits of this formula without worrying about excessive tanning effects.
This tanning oil is the best option for buyers on a budget and can help enhance a tan for an affordable price. However, some users complain that the fragrance resembles chemicals more than other competitors.
4. Most Environmentally Friendly: Sun Bum Moisturizing Tanning Oil
- Reef safe formula does not include parabens or oxybenzone
- Hypoallergenic formula minimizes potential for skin irritation
- Included UVA and UVB protection of 15 SPF
- 80 minutes of water resistance
- Completely vegan and free from harmful ingredients
Sun Bum Moisturizing Tanning Oil is an excellent oil that protects your skin and the environment.
This dark tanning oil helps create a healthy bronze while protecting from harmful UV rays that can cause skin cancer. The formula is also water-resistant and ideal for spending the day playing in the ocean at the beach.
Natural ingredients include aloe vera, green tea butter, argan, avocado oil, and coconut. These natural oils help nourish sensitive skin without irritating.
The hypoallergenic formula does not contain any oxybenzone that could harm reefs. This brand is also vegan and cruelty-free, making it a fantastic environmentally-friendly option.
5. Best For Sensitive Skin: Dr. Mercola Natural Tanning Oil
- Hypoallergenic and vegan formula
- Only nine ingredients formulated to protect and nourish your skin
- No fragrances or other chemicals that may irritate sensitive skin
- Backed by a full 90-day money-back guarantee
- Practical and affordable option for natural product
Dr. Mercola Natural Tanning Oil simplifies tanning oil formulas to offer a product ideal for sensitive skin individuals.
Other brands may contain toxic chemicals or artificial fragrances that can irritate the skin. But this formula uses only nine natural ingredients to provide a simple product. These ingredients include coconut oil, sunflower oil, cocoa butter, and eucalyptus.
It is hypoallergenic and does not contain any preservatives, parabens, or emulsifiers. However, it does not provide any UV protection and has an SPF of 0. If you plan on using this oil for tanning, consider using it with a sunscreen.
This product is the best choice for people with sensitive skin, seeking an all-natural solution. All products from this brand also include a 90-day money-back guarantee to assure satisfaction.
6. Effortless Application: Banana Boat Protective Dry Oil
- Mist spray application makes it easy to apply tanning oil evenly everywhere
- The lightweight formula does not leave a greasy feeling or streak marks
- Protective formula includes SPF 15 UVA and UVB protection
- Water-resistant when swimming or sweating
- Does not easily stain clothing
Banana Boat Protective Dry Oil is the best choice for people tired of tanning oils causing uneven lines and ruined clothes.
The unique dry oil applies as a mist, making even application easy. The bottle can even spray upside down, allowing you to reach your back without help. The lightweight spray will not make you feel greasy like other formulas. It dries quickly, which limits staining effects on clothing.
Beachgoers will appreciate the SPF protection and water resistance provided by this formula. It also comes in a three-pack, offering enough coverage for the entire family.
Ingredients include coconut, banana, and carrot extracts. These natural ingredients create a delicious natural scent. Grape seed oil also acts as an antioxidant to protect damaged skin.
7. Best Protective Formula: Sol De Janeiro Bum Bum Sol Oil
- 30 SPF provides excellent protection from UV radiation while tanning
- Nourishing body oil that results in an instant glow
- Moisturizes and smooths with Cupuacu Butter
- Scented with iconic perfume fragrance
- Acai Oil acts as an antioxidant
Bum Bum Sol Oil from Sol De Janeiro is an excellent choice for people who want an instant glow and greater sun protection.
A broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen provides more protection than any other product on this list. This product is an excellent choice for safety on the beach thanks to 80 minutes of water resistance.
Exotic ingredients include Cupuacu Butter, which locks in moisture and improves the elasticity of your skin. Coconut oil conditions your body, and acai oil acts as an antioxidant to help reverse skin damage.
A highlight of this formula is the included Brazillian perfume fragrance that users love. Although more expensive, many users believe the luxurious feel and lightweight finish of this tanning oil is exceptional.
If you are headed out into the sun to work on a tan, be sure to bring your tanning oil. Tanning oil can help enhance your bronze and limit the time you need to spend in the sun.
The best products use natural ingredients to nourish your skin without leaving a greasy residue. All-natural products like Dr. Mercola Natural Tanning Oil are a great choice to prevent skin irritations.
But be sure to select an option with SPF protection such as Sol De Janeiro Bum Bum Sol Oil. If you use tanning oils with zero SPF, just be sure to use sunscreen as well.
We believe Cocosolis Sun Tan & Body Oil is the best overall tanning oil on the market today, but selecting the best oil depends on how you tan. Pick your favorite from this list before you head outside to catch some rays.