Skincare & Health

The 6 Best Tanning Oils (Summer 2020)

Looking to bronze up for summer?

Here are the 6 best tanning oils to get you looking like a sun kissed beach local in no time while still keeping your skin healthy.

The 6 Best Tanning Oils (Summer 2019)

We put a buyer’s guide below to help you choose the right tanning oil. We cover things like:

  • What ingredients are important to look for?
  • What skin type do I have?
  • How do I apply tanning oil?
Natural Tropical Sands Biodegradable Waterproof
Sun Bum Moisturizing Tanning Protecting
Sun Bum Moisturizing Tanning Protecting

Sun Bum Moisturizing Tanning Oil

Sun Bum Tanning Oil with SPF 15

Sun Bum Tanning Oil not only smells and applies great, but it’s also excellent for your skin.  There are some great ingredients in this option that are healthy for your skin.  SPF is present as well, but for a good reason.  This oil is great for being on the beach all day.

It will intensify the rays, but the SPF will keep the harmful UVB rays out.  Other ingredients like marula and argan oil are jam packed with antioxidants so even if you stay in the sun too long your skin is still getting the nutrients that it needs to start repairing itself quickly, or keep from damaging in the first place from exposure.

Sun Bum Tanning Oil Notable Ingredients
  • Argan Oil
  • Aloe Vera Extract
  • Avocado Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Green Tea Extract
  • Marula Oil

Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil

Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil No SPF

Who hasn’t used Hawaiian Tropic products?  Their Dark Oil has been a favorite at the beach for decades.

The original blend has no SPF, but does a fantastic job of keeping your skin moisturized while you’re in the sun and after you’re done.  We wouldn’t recommend using this as a daily moisturizer because there are lighter options out there, but it would certainly do an excellent job if you didn’t have any others on hand.

What sets apart Hawaiian Tropic from others are the fruit extracts they put in their products.  Yes, it makes them smell nice but papaya extract in their products helps keep your pores clean while guava extract is packed with vitamins A, C, and E to help fight free radicals.

If you want their other option with SPF in it you can find it here:

Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil Spray Bottle SPF 6

Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil Notable Ingredients
  • Coconut Oil
  • Aloe Vera Extract
  • Lanolin
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Papaya Fruit Extract

Banana Boat Deep Tanning Oil

Banana Boat Deep Tanning Oil Spray Bottle

Banana Boat Deep Tanning Oil has that sweet banana scent to it that reminds you of the beach.  The spray bottle makes it easy to apply, and the ingredients are healthy for your skin.

One of the most important ingredients to banana boat’s products is banana fruit extract.

Banana fruit extract is very high in potassium and vitamin A which is great for dry or even slightly sunburned skin.

Banana Boat Deep Tanning Oil Notable Ingredients
  • Coconut Oil
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Sunflower Seed Oil
  • Aloe Vera Extract
  • Corn Oil

Mexitan Tropical Sands Tanning Oil

Tropical Sands Dark Tanning Oil

Mexitan Tropical Sands is a great if you want only all-natural ingredients.  That’s something they are proud of, and the all-natural ingredients give you a good looking healthy glow in the sun.

The formula itself has been around for 18+ years.  That should tell you something.

Many people who have used this claim they tan better than any other oil they’ve tried.  We’re thinking it’s not only the ingredients, but the formula itself that makes this product so great.

Tropical Sands Tanning Oil Notable Ingredients
  • Sunflower Seed Oil
  • Green Tea Leaf Extract
  • Coconut Oil
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Almond Oil
  • Lanolin
  • Vitamin E
  • Eucalyptus Lead Oil
  • Vitamin C

Panama Jack Tanning Oil

Panama Jack Tanning Oil With SPF 4

Panama Jack Tanning Oil has many exotic oils within the formula to keep your skin looking healthy after you’re done in the sun.

One of the important ingredients to mention in the formula is the (olive) fruit extract which is great for all its antioxidant properties.  The formula also hits the SPF scale at a 4 to make sure you’re keeping the harmful rays away.

Panama Jack Tanning Oil Notable Ingredients
  • Aloe Vera extract
  • Peanut Oil
  • Lemon Peel Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Olive Fruit Oil
  • Almond Oil
  • Cocoa Butter

The Best Tanning Oil Buyer’s Guide

Please be sure to take care of your skin in the sun as best you can.

Skin care is one of the most common types of cancer, and can always be prevented if you keep it ‘front of mind’ when going outside.

Finding which one is best for YOU depends on a few things like..

  • How long will you be spending time in the sun?
  • What time of the day?
  • What type of skin do you have?
  • What color is your skin?
  • Do you have any skin conditions?

What Is Tanning Oil?

Tanning oil is different than sunscreen, sunblock, and self-tanners.

After application the active ingredients allow the blood to flow more and speed up melanin production.

Melanin – a natural pigment that is found in most organisms (yes, animals have them too) that are activated when exposed to sunlight.

When melanin production speeds up you get sun-kissed faster.

Tanning oils also allow the ultraviolet light (UV light) to refract and intensify the rays to your skin as well.

Don’t mistake tanning oils with tanning lotions though.

Typically, tanning lotions are self-tanners which means you don’t need any sun exposure to get tan.

Also, not to be confused with sunscreen.

Some of the options available today contain sunscreen, but are lower on the SPF scale (besides Sun Bum).

Combining a tanning oil with a separate sunscreen is a different story however.

When you apply sunscreen, you are obviously protecting your skin, and applying tanning oil allows your skin to be more receptive to the sun’s UV rays.

We found this process of applying both to be counterintuitive.

If you’re looking to intensify the sun’s affect to your skin then you’re wasting your time with putting sunscreen on underneath.

What Is Tanning Oil Made Of?

Here are some of the most common ingredients found in tanning oils, and specifically what their purpose is.

Common Tanning Oil Ingredients
  • Almond Oil – Almond oil is rich in antioxidants and helps ward off free radicals which can harm your skin in the long run.  It’s also great at keeping your skin moist and improving complexion and skin tone.
  • Aloe Vera Gel – Natural moisturizer that is rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E.  Great for prolonged exposure after getting too much vitamin D (the sun), and rich in acemannan (a complex carbohydrate) that allows nutrients to reach cells while at the same time relieves them of toxins that are present.
  • Argan Oil – An oil extracted from the kernels of the argan tree (native to Morocco) that keeps your skin soft and moisturized with naturally present fatty acids and Vitamin E.
  • Avocado Oil – Rich in antioxidant properties and a natural healing agent for the skin, avocado oil is extremely beneficial to cells that are being attacked by others (free radicals).  Compared to other oils, avocado oil allows the skin to stay hydrated for longer periods of time.
  • Coconut Oil – When you’re out in the sun your skin starts to become drier.  Coconut oil helps you reduce the water loss if your skin is drying out from too much sun.  It’s a naturally good moisturizer, and has a natural sun protection factor (SPF) of 4.
  • Cocoa Butter – Cocoa butter is a vegetable fat that is extracted from cocoa beans.  It’s mostly found in chocolate, but when you aren’t consuming cocoa butter, it’s excellent for your skin.  Lots of antioxidants present here, but also protects from environmental effects (the sun).
  • Corn Oil – Corn oil is rich in linoleic acid which strengthens your skin’s natural defenses and allow promotes circulation.  This is an important ingredient to have within tanning oil as circulation promotes more melanin production to make you tanner.
  • Eucalyptus Oil – If you have any cuts or sores and you’re going out to tan don’t be afraid to rub the tanning oil into your wound.  Eucalyptus oil has great healing properties.  Combined with some of the other ingredients in the tanning oil it can only speed up the healing process.
  • Green Tea Leaf Extract– Natural in rich antioxidants to help protect the skin while also giving your skin a healthy ‘glow’ to it.
  • Kukui Nut Oil – Kukui nut oil is a natural moisturizer that isn’t commonly known, but has been used in Hawaii for many centuries.  The oil comes from the kukui nut tree (or candlenut tree), and contains healing properties for wounds and natural antioxidants.
  • Lanolin – Lanolin is an ingredient that is found within the wool of sheep.  It keeps their wool water resistant and deodorized during cold seasons.  Lanolin is a great ingredient to have within tanning oils and provides the skin with a softer, smoother feeling when you’re in the sun all day.  You can find Lanolin in other products like Carmex Lip Balm.
  • Lemon Peel Oil – Lemon Peel Oil can be found in different tanning oils that have a floral or fruity scent to them.  Limonene, the ingredient found in lemon peel oil softens the skin and gives you a healthy looking ‘glow’.
  • Marula Oil – Oil extracted from the nuts of the marula tree, this oil is like argan oil.  Even though it’s not as popular there are more antioxidants within marula oil than argan oil.
  • Mineral Oil – Mineral oil can be found in many lotions, creams, and really anything cosmetic nowadays.  It’s a debated topic that mineral oil can be harmful to your skin, but so can being in the sun for too long and not protecting it.  The mineral oil that is present in the high quality tanning oils today are typically more for the consistency of the liquid than actual beneficial properties of the actual tanning oil.  The only thing to keep in mind when thinking about mineral oil is the fact that it’s considered comedogenic – meaning it clogs your pores.  If that’s something you’re worried about then please find a tanning oil without it. We list ingredients with each of the tanning oils above.
  • Peanut Oil – Natural moisturizing oil that is extracted from – you guessed it – peanuts.  Keeps your skin from feeling tight, irritated and itchy which are all 3 things that can occur from prolonged sun exposure.
  • Sunflower Seed Oil – Fights off free radicals on your skin, like Heliocare pills.
  • Vitamin A, C, E – You can read over these in our post over the best aloe vera gel here.

How to Apply Tanning Oil

Here’s the best way that we found to apply tanning oil.

  • Step 1: Make sure you shave your bikini line, and moisturize. Shaving will allow you to apply the tanning oil more evenly, and moisturizing will prevent razor bumps.
  • Step 2: Try and find a shady spot to do this in.  If you can’t it’s not a huge issue.
  • Step 3: Make sure that your body is free of sweat and sand.  If you’re not use a beach towel to dust off the sand and wipe off the sweat.  If you can’t get completely dry that’s okay.  Our goal is to get most of the sand and the sweat off your skin for the tanning oil.
  • Step 4: Pour a small amount of tanning oil into the palm of your hand, and rub both of your hands together.
  • Step 5: Start with your upper body, and work your way down to your legs.
  • Step 6: If more tanning oil is needed make sure you repeat steps 3 and 4 until your whole body is entirely covered.  For your face it’s entirely optional.  Some would recommend to NOT put tanning oil on your face, but the ingredients in the ones we listed above all have great antioxidant properties.  Look for non-comedogenic tanning oils if you’re worried about your pores getting clogged.
  • Step 7: Let the tanning oil soak into your skin for a good 10 minutes or so before stepping back out into the sun.  This will also allow it to dry a little more and the sand will stick less to it.
  • Step 8: Tan each side of your body for 10-15 minutes.  After you’re done we recommend washing off the tanning oil and reapplying a good sunscreen that will protect you from UV rays and has moisturizing properties that your skin will need after tanning with the tanning oil.

What Skin Type Do You Have?

best tanning oil skin types

What skin type you have directly affects how long you can stay outside before seeing the effects of sunburn or skin damage.  You can even get a sunburn on a cloudy day – even if you have dark skin tone.

If you have fair skin, and burn easy (Type 1) then using a good tanning oil probably isn’t in your best interest.  But if you’re more of a type 3 or 4 then it could be beneficial if you’re looking to get a good tan because you don’t burn as easily.

Keep this in mind not only for using tanning oil, but also using sunscreen when you’re at the beach.  Even though there isn’t a significant difference in actual protection between SPF 15, 30, 50, 70, and 100 if you’re more on the pale side using a stronger SPF (50+) can mean the difference in you getting a burn or walking away slightly pink to tan.

And if your skin is deep brown to black you can get by with a lower SPF because your naturally dark skin acts as a barrier to UV light (to an extent).   Tanning oil may not be a good option for you if you have darker skin and you’re looking to deepen the color as well.

By using a tanning oil and reflecting all that sun you can work on evening it out.

Tanning Oil Recap

The 2 most important things to consider for choosing the tanning oil is your skin type, and the ingredients within the tanning oil itself.  Make sure you choose one that agrees with your skin color, and your skin type (oily, non-oily, dry, irritates easily etc.).

Make sure you apply before sun exposure and remember that tanning oils are not meant to replace your sunscreen application when you’re out in the sun.

If you only stick to short periods of time with tanning oil to intensify the rays and reapply sunscreen you’ll have great looking skin for many years to come if you take care of it.