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Summer is finally here and so is tanning season. We don’t know about you, but we’ve been getting plenty of time in the sunshine this year – after all, it seems like summer passes so quickly!
If you’re like us and you want to make the most out of your afternoons at the beach or on the trails, you might wonder if tanning oils can help the process.
After all, they’re popular for a reason – right?
About Tanning Oil
There are dozens of tanning oils to choose from and plenty are healthy for your skin. By understanding tanning oils and how they work, you can purchase one that will help you tan more quickly without damaging your skin. We’ll talk about the precautions you should take when you use tanning oils and when they’re the most effective.
Ultimately, tanning oils can be a tremendous benefit if you want to add a little color to your skin, but it’s important to know what you’re buying first to guarantee you find a quality product.
Let’s go over the characteristics you should look for in quality tanning oils when it’s the most appropriate time to use tanning oils, and how you can use them safely to make your skin look shimmery and sunkissed.
Why Should I Use Tanning Oil?
People use tanning oils for various reasons – it’s a multi-purpose product that offers numerous benefits.
Common reasons you may use tanning oil include:
- Hydrating and moisturizing your skin
- Extending your tan
- Tanning more evenly
If you buy the right tanning oil, it should moisturize your skin. We’ll talk about it more below, but if you choose tanning oils with the right ingredients, it can have a majorly positive impact on your skin.
For example, some tanning oils contain coconut oil, famous for giving skin a healthy, hydrated appearance. Other may contain hemp oil, well-known for strengthening skin and increasing its elasticity.
How Does Tanning Oil Work?
Our bodies produce a compound called melanin that gives skin a darker appearance. When the sun’s UV rays come in contact with these compounds in our skin, it causes a change of color. When we tan, it’s our bodies adapting to changes in our environment for improved survival.
With the right tanning oils, we can enhance this process and make it happen more quickly. Some compounds encourage the skin to absorb more UV rays, encouraging the production of melanin.
Tanning oils can cause your skin to age prematurely, especially if you don’t use products with nourishing ingredients. Certain ingredients will reduce the effects of aging from tanning and maintain your youthful appearance over time. But be aware that products with harsh chemicals may encourage dryer, less elastic skin that’s prone to wrinkles.
Can You Use Tanning Oils in Tanning Beds?
Unfortunately, no – you cannot use tanning oils in tanning beds. If you do most of your tanning at the salon, skip the tanning oils during your next visit. They can damage the tanning equipment and cost thousands of dollars in repairs.
Tanning oils are only appropriate for outdoor sessions. If you’re using them in tanning beds, you could be liable for damage if they cause an issue.
What to Look For in a Tanning Oil
When you buy a new bottle of tanning oil, there are a few key characteristics to look for to guarantee you’re buying a quality product. If you find oils with these ingredients, they’re less likely to cause premature aging and diminish your skin’s resilience to wrinkles.
There are a few things you should think about when you choose your next tanning oil to make sure you find a product that delivers noticeable results:
To really evaluate a tanning oil based on your needs, you want to understand the different ingredients you’ll find in tanning oils. Depending on a product’s ingredients, it may perform one way or another.
- Hemp oil – Helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and prevents signs of aging from developing.
- Coconut oil – Hydrates skin, helps treat acne, and protects the skin from harmful bacteria.
- Olive oil – Smooths and softens skin, full of antioxidants that work to fight environmental skin damage.
- Argan oil – Moisturize your skin, softens dry patches, and reduces acne.
- Jojoba oil – Contains anti-inflammatory properties, reduces redness caused by drying, ease the effects of eczema and rosacea, and helps in skin repair and damage control.
Does your tanning oil keep your skin moist? It’s important for your tanning products to hydrate your skin while they work to minimize damage over time. If they don’t hydrate your skin, they could dry out your dermis and decrease your skin’s elasticity. Certain ingredients will promote hydration more than others, which we’ll cover below.
If you’re like most people, you’re picking up a tanning oil to speed up the process. After all, who wants to wait longer than necessary for beautiful, sun-kissed skin? Some ingredients won’t promote faster tanning as well as others – you’ll want to find one that helps your body absorb more UV light to encourage melanin production.
Tanning isn’t a one-size-fits-all activity. Each individual is unique and the right tanning product for everyone is different. What works for one person – for example, a person with alabaster skin – may not help someone with olive undertones. Do research about which products are right for which skin types – it’s important to choose one that’s made for you.
As with any beauty or health care product, it’s important to understand the dangers of using tanning oils, if you’re planning to buy some for your next beach getaway. Many oils offer a natural SPF built-in, while many brands offer an added sunscreen to help protect your skin while tanning. If that’s something you’re interested in, definitely be sure to check out those that include SPF.
Quality & Value
Tanning oils can be expensive, depending on their ingredients. Unfortunately, a lot of brands mark up their prices without offering more value. You may find similar ingredients in a $100 bottle of tanning oil as you’ll find in a $20 bottle – do research about your options beforehand so you don’t overspend (or buy something that doesn’t work).
Make sure you avoid products with synthetic chemicals and moisturizers instead of real oils. Synthetics can dry out your skin and promote early aging, causing irreversible effects.
Best Tanning Oils For 2020
Below, we’ll take a look at some of our favorite tanning oils to use in 2020. We’ll talk about why we like them and what they’re best for – after all, everyone’s needs are different. We aren’t sorting these in any particular order – that is to say, our #1 product listing isn’t necessarily the best on this least – we like each of these equally, for their own unique characteristics.
To help you choose a tanning oil for your next beach vacation, we compared a few of our favorites to see which ones offer the best performance. Let’s see which tanning oils are best for which types of people and why you should consider some formulas over others.
Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil
Who’s it for: Someone looking for an inexpensive tanning oil that is well rated.
Depending on where you shop, tanning oils can be very expensive. We’re talking hundreds of dollars, depending on their ingredients and the manufacturer. That’s not the case with Hawaiian Tropic’s Dark Tanning oil. In fact, this product is proof you don’t need to overspend on tanning oil for a great product! It’s affordable for anyone’s budget and it’s one of the best on our list.
You get 8oz of product for the price tag and it goes a long way. It contains a heavenly-smelling blend of coconut oil, mango, papaya, passionflower, and guava to create an unmistakable pleasant odor. These scents work together with enriching cocoa butter to leave skin feeling soft and looking shiny after a day in the sun.
As for effectiveness, this product delivers everything you expect from a quality tanning oil and more. We recommend it for existing tans but it can help you get some base coloring, too. This product does not contain sunblock so it will speed up your tanning process quickly. This makes it less suitable if you don’t have a base tan. Without sunblock, it’s easy to overexpose your skin to the sun’s UV rays with tanning oil.
If you’re ready to hit the beach with non-SPF tanning oil, Hawaiian Tropic’s the one for you! It’s one of the best quality oils you’ll find on the market for hydration and enhanced tanning. If you’re new to tanning and you want to try an oil without investing a lot of money, or you’re on a budget, start here – you won’t be disappointed.
Sun Bum Moisturizing Tanning Oil SPF 15
Who’s it for: Someone looking for a tanning oil with a higher SPF.
Okay – it sounds counter-intuitive. After all, why do you want sunblock in your tanning oil? It sounds weird, but buying tanning oil with sunblock can be a great way for people with fair skin to tan.
Usually, people with light, fair skin are more susceptible to the sun’s rays than people with a more abundant presence of melanin. If you’re one of these individuals, you’re risking sunburn and permanent damage if you don’t use the right tanning products. Some tanning oils will be too effective for people with fair skin. These individuals don’t need to hasten their tan but instead, manage it.
If you’re one of these people, a tanning oil with SPF – like the Sun Bum Moisturizing Tanning Oil – can make your experience safer and more enjoyable. This 9oz bottle features SPF 15 sunblock that will protect you from the sun’s harmful rays while promoting a more even tan.
The ingredients include a blend of oils including coconut oil, argan oil, marula oil, and avocado oil. It also contains aloe vera and green tea extract to promote healthier, more hydrated skin. Oh, did we mention it’s dermatologist-tested? As if you needed another reason to give this popular oil a try.
Bronzo Sensualé SPF 4 Sunscreen Organic Deep Tanning Hemp Seed Oil
Who’s it for: Someone looking for a tanning oil made with organic ingredients.
It’s important to be considerate of the skincare products you’re putting on your skin, after all, your skin can actually absorb it into your bloodstream. Fortunately, some products are made for those of us who are particularly leery of harsh chemicals. One such product is the Bronzo Sensualé Organic Deep Tanning Hemp Seed Oil.
Why do we love this product?
As the name suggests, its made with hemp seed oil. Hemp seed oil is multi-faceted, offering a wide variety of benefits like anti-aging properties, hydration, and protection. It will absorb into the skin completely, leaving behind nothing but a soft, smooth sheen.
Bronzo Sensualé offers their organic hemp seen oil with four different levels of sun protection, No SPF, 4, 8, and 15 SPF. So whether you’re a person who burns easily or someone who’s been tanning for years without SPF, you’ll find the perfect Bronzo Sensualé tanning oil for your needs.
This product is also 100% vegan making it a great choice for environmentally-conscious shoppers! What’s not to love?
Art Naturals Protective Body Tanning Oil
Who’s it for: Someone who wants extra anti-aging protection while they tan.
Many tanning oils feature ingredients that hydrate your skin and help give it a beautiful glow. But there’s one additional feature that you may appreciate, anti-aging extracts. As we mentioned earlier, sun tanning can prematurely age your skin.
Art Naturals infused this tanning oil with jojoba oil, chamomile, and anti-aging algae extracts, which can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also includes coconut oil to fight dry skin and keep you feeling moisturized all day.
This product will help you nurture a deep, beautiful tan while moisturizing your skin. It won’t stain your clothing and it will leave your skin feeling soft and refreshed. There’s a lot to love about this tanning oil, maybe that’s why it’s so highly rated!
Tropical Sands All Natural Dark Tanning Oil
Who’s it for: Someone with sensitive skin or with allergies.
If you have sensitive skin, you need to pay special attention to which tanning oils you use – especially if you have allergies. Fortunately, some products are hypoallergenic and great for sensitive skin – including the Tropical Sands All Natural Dark Tanning Oil.
This tanning oil is one of our favorite, all-natural oils because it works for pretty much every person, with every skin type.
Best of all, this product is super awesome for you and the environment. You’ll feel good about using chemical-free tanning oil, knowing that it’s eco-friendly, safe for the coral reef and the local marine life, and 100% biodegradable.
Maui Island Secret Browning Formula
Who’s it for: Someone who wants to get a really dark tan!
If you want to take your tan to the next level, we highly recommend the Maui Island Secret Browning Formula. It’s infused with kukui nut oil, passionflower, macadamia nut, Maui coffee, and green tea, which combine to create a tanning oil blend that leaves a subtle glow on your skin after you’re finished tanning.
This is one of the most popular tanning oils on our list. It has a cult following among its fans, those who have been using and loving Maui Island for years. One reviewer said it really was the “best-kept secret”, while another said that they bought their first bottle in Maui in 2009, and have been using it ever since!
Be aware – this product does not contain SPF. It’s very effective at speeding up your tan and if you’re not conscious about how much time you spend in the sun, you could absorb more UV rays than you’re comfortable with. If you have a fair complexion or sensitive skin consider using this in combination with a little sunscreen.
Isabella’s Clearly Gold Best Natural Bronzing Tanning Oil
Who’s it for: Someone who wants to avoid applying harsh chemicals onto their skin.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, buying chemical-free tanning oil is important when you can. Some chemicals can encourage premature aging from tanning, dry out your skin, and decrease elasticity. As a result, you’ll be more prone to wrinkles, sagging skin, and other epidural conditions.
You might be thinking, “that’s great, but isn’t it expensive to buy chemical-free tanning oils?” Actually, it doesn’t have to be expensive. You may pay more per ounce but with higher-priced products, a little goes a long way. With Isabella’s Clearly Gold Sun Tanning Oil, a few drops are all you need for a beautifully-enhanced, sun-kissed glow.
These oils absorb into your skin quickly and minimize residual greasiness after tanning. Easy absorption also protects your clothes from coming into contact with excess product, staining the fabric.
Carefully crafted in the United States, Isabella’s Clearly Gold Natural Bronzing Tanning Oil contains a blended mixture of grapeseed oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and carrots that promote softer skin. If you want your skin to look tanner and feel softer than ever, Isabella’s is a great option!
Australian Gold Bronzing Intensifier Dry Oil Spray
Who’s it for: Someone who hates feeling overly oily or greasy.
Let’s face it – no one likes the excess oil some tanning products leave on the skin.
After all, who wants to stain their clothes with grease from their day in the sun? We like a tanning oil that absorbs into the skin quickly, leaving behind little residue. During our trials, we found that the Australian Gold Tanning Spray is one of the best grease-free formulas!
It comes in an 8-ounce bottle that goes a long way. The ingredients feature a pleasantly-smelling blend of sunflower seed oil, tea tree oil, and olive oil.
While the formula isn’t entirely chemical-free, there’s no mineral oil in this product to clog your pores. Best of all, there’s a mild bronzing agent to give an instant glow while you’re encouraging natural melanin production.
Banana Boat Ultra Mist Deep Tanning Dry Oil
Who’s it for: Someone looking for a dry spray tanning oil that’s water-resistant.
If you’re really worried about leaving residual oils on your skin from tanning oil, using a spray product can help. Spray-on tanning oils don’t leave as much excess oil and products you apply out of a bottle. They go on evenly, absorbing quickly and drying without leaving a greasy layer.
We like the Banana Boat Ultra Mist Deep Tanning Dry Oil because it sprays on clear and dries quickly. It doesn’t leave an oily film on your skin – it dries almost instant and won’t leave stains on your clothes.
This formula is available in 4 and 8 SPF options, making it a great choice for people with fair skin who want a bit of sun protection to avoid sunburn. It’s also designed to be water and sweat-resistant. With proper wear, it’s designed to stay on your skin for at least 80 minutes before you need to reapply!
Bondi Sands Self Tanner Liquid Gold Sunless Tanning Oil
Who’s it for: Someone looking for a self-tanning oil instead of traditional tanning oil.
Sometimes the best tan doesn’t come from the sun at all – in fact, there are quite a few exceptional self-tanners on the market that add a natural glow to your skin. Self-tanners offer numerous benefits over traditional tanning oils. Using hydrating oils, they can moisturize your skin and give your skin a sunkissed look without risking damage from the sun’s rays.
If you’re looking for a quick solution, self-tanners are a good way to go. They won’t last as long as a real tan but there’s less risk of something going wrong. Be aware of self-tanners that even the best will transfer from your skin to fabric if you don’t apply it right. With self-tanners, especially the Bondi Sands Sunless Tanning Oil, a little goes a long way.
It looks natural and subtle, creating a realistically sun-kissed appearance. The “tan” will last for up to a week per application, so it’s a great last-minute solution for weekend plans.
Personally, we love this product because it doesn’t leave an orange hue to the skin that’s commonly associated with self-tanners. Nothing looks worse than an orange self-tanning product – that’s why we love this one.
If you’re against animal testing and you prefer to buy plant-based products, Alba Botanica Hawaiian Tanning Oil is a great option. It’s made with 100% vegetarian-friendly ingredients and doesn’t include fragrances or perfumes – this product is safe for most people to use and it includes 15 SPF, making it an all-around great product.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a tanning oil with a great smell we have to recommend Panama Jack’s Tanning Oil. This product smells exactly like a day at the beach, letting you immerse your senses while you soak up the sun.
Choosing the right tanning oil before your next vacation or day at the beach is important. After all, you don’t want to get a sunburn!
By following our tips and checking out the products above, you can improve your chances of getting a safe, natural tan without harming your skin or leaving an unappealing residue.
Ultimately, the right tanning oil for you depends on your preferences, your personal skin type, and your current level of tan-ness. If you already have a base tan, the best options for you may vary from someone with fair skin.
Through trial and error, you’ll find the right tanning oil for you. Start by choosing one fits your needs and adjusting your routine as necessary – it’s common to a find a more appropriate product as your tan develops over time.