Can you get a tan with sunscreen?
Yes, and that’s why we’re going to review the best tanning oil with SPF.
It’s the smart way to get dark. It limits your exposure to harmful UV radiation.
Also, tanning oil seals in moisture and provides antioxidants to keep the skin healthy. Then, it bronzes faster.
Let’s talk about the different tanning oils with sunscreen to help you choose the one that’s right for you.
What tanning oil gets you the darkest?
People used to use baby oil for tanning outdoors. It’s mineral oil, which intensifies the sun’s rays. But modern tanning products use plant oils because they are friendlier to the skin.
Out of all the plant oils, carrot and coconut are favorite choices for tanning. Carrot has beta carotene, which stimulates melanin, or pigment, in the skin (1).
Meanwhile, coconut oil is rich in nutrients that prevent wrinkles and discoloration. That’s crucial as sun exposure can break down the skin and cause premature aging.
Tanning oil may also contain tyrosine, an amino acid that converts to melanin. It’s a tanning accelerator that makes the skin darken more quickly.
You might think that tanning oil with a low SPF is better for tanning faster, but it isn’t unless you already have dark skin.
Those with pale skin will benefit from SPF 30 because it prevents sunburn. A sunburn is evidence of damage. It may develop into a tan eventually, but it may also peel off instead (2).
Which SPF is best for tanning?
When you tan outdoors, it’s essential to guard against burning. The dose of UV radiation is unpredictable. Therefore, use tanning oil with sunscreen to protect yourself.
An SPF rating of 30 means that your skin shouldn’t burn for 30 times longer than it usually would without protection. Of course, you’ll still need to reapply the tanning oil if you go swimming or sweat a lot (3).
SPF 30 allows about 3% of the UV rays to penetrate the skin. SPF 50 allows 2%. Even SPF 100 allows a small number of UV rays through.
How do manufacturers determine the SPF of tanning oil? They apply it to the untanned skin of volunteers and use UV lamps to see how long it takes for the skin to turn red. (This is not a job that I want.)
But did you know that SPF only applies to UVB radiation? That’s what causes sunburn and skin cancer. Meanwhile, UVA leads to tanning, which is why it’s used in most tanning beds. But excessive amounts of UVA can cause wrinkles, age spots, and some forms of skin cancer. Unfortunately, there’s no standard for measuring UVA protection yet.
But you can make sure you get all the defense you need against skin damage. When you choose tanning oil, get one that says “broad-spectrum” because it defends against excess UVB and UVA.
How to use tanning oil for sunbathing
When you soak up the sun with tanning oil, don’t stay out too long the first few times. If you have pale skin, lay out for 15 minutes or less. If your skin starts to go red, go indoors immediately.
Skip a couple of days between tanning sessions so that your skin can recover and darken naturally.
Also, when you apply the tanning oil, shake it first. Then use plenty so that you get enough protection and moisture for your skin.
If the bottle’s expiration date has passed, it’s time to get new tanning oil.
Best Tanning Oil with SPF in 2021
Now, let’s review the best tanning products with SPF.
Lancaster Sun Beauty Satin Sheen Oil Fast Tan Optimizer SPF 30
The best tanning oil for pale skin is made by Lancaster Sun. It’s a company that started in Monaco over 50 years ago. They’ve anticipated tanning trends throughout the decades.
This tanning oil adheres to the idea of “less exposure, more tan.” It provides protection against premature aging and sunburn while maximizing time in the sun. It’s a favorite choice of vacationers throughout Europe.
It doesn’t just contain SPF, but also tan boosters that stimulate pigment development. It brings out a rich, natural color with these tan activators.
Moreover, it guards against harsh UVA, UVB, and even infrared light. That’s how it encourages a flawless tan while still guarding against wrinkles and age spots.
Lancaster Sun Beauty Dry Oil Fast Tan Optimizer SPF 50
Here’s another of the best tanning oils for fair skin. It features the same Full Light Technology that prevents harm from UVA, UVB, infrared, and visible light.
At the same time, it has a Tan Activator Complex to speed up natural melanin production. You’ll get bronzed faster with less time in the sun.
Reviewers say it absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave the skin oily.
Supergoop! Glow Oil SPF 50
If you prefer fragrance-free products, this one has no odor. It combines chemical sunscreen filters with vitamin-rich exotic oils that nourish and protect.
But to be fair, it’s not exactly tanning oil. It’s more of a sunscreen and moisturizer for very pale skin. After it absorbs, it doesn’t feel greasy.
It’s reef-friendly to protect corals and wildlife in the ocean, lakes, and rivers. Plus, it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
KINeSYS SPF 50 Spray Sunscreen
If you have sensitive, fair skin, yet you still want to try to tan, here’s your best bet. It’s a fragrance-free sunscreen that you can use on your body and face.
It’s sport-performance quality and never greasy. In fact, it’s oil-free and won’t clog pores. It doesn’t contain parabens, gluten, dyes, animal derivatives, or oxybenzone, either. It’s not surprising that dermatologists recommend it.
Each bottle is good for about 700 sprays. The liquid is very lightweight, and it dries to a matte finish.
Keep in mind that SPF 50 still allows some UV radiation to penetrate. Therefore, it will enable you to tan slowly.
Sun Bum Lip Balm, SPF 30
While we’re on the topic of sensitive skin, please remember to use lip balm. Sunburned lips are absolutely no fun.
This 3-pack contains watermelon, banana, and coconut flavors. All of them are fortified with vitamin E and hypoallergenic.
L’Oreal Paris Sublime Sun Oil Spray SPF 15
L’Oreal’s tanning oil has a dry finish. It leaves the skin glowing without a greasy residue.
It’s best for medium to dark skin tones, and it doesn’t leave a white film. It encourages a natural tan while guarding against burning.
Users say the subtle scent is pleasant.
Moroccanoil Sun Oil SPF 15
Moroccanoil’s spray has a delicious fragrance called Monoi – a blend of coconut and Tahitian gardenia.
It offers broad-spectrum defense against UV rays that’s ideal for light to medium skin tones.
The formula is infused with argan oil and antioxidants that prevent the rapid aging of the skin. The texture is lightweight and fast-absorbing, with no tacky residue.
Plan on reapplying every couple of hours or after swimming or sweating. It’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
Bronzo Sensuale SPF 15 Deep Golden Tanning Organic Carrot Oil
Bronzo Sensuale makes the best natural tanning oil. It offers three levels of defense: SPF 15, 8, or 4. The first is best for light to medium skin, and the latter two for medium to dark tones.
Take a deep breath – the shimmery liquid has an aromatic fragrance that relieves stress. It leaves the skin radiant and glowing even before you bronze.
While you lay out, organic carrot oil accelerates the tanning process. Meanwhile, organic shea butter, aloe, and hemp soothe and nourish the skin.
Sun Bum Moisturizing Tanning Oil, SPF 15
Here’s a dark tanning oil that’s paraben-free and reef-safe. It’s hypoallergenic and gluten-free, too.
After you rub it in, it makes the skin feel like silk. It perfumes it with a tasty tropical fragrance.
The formula features exotic marula and argan oil, plus green tea butter and aloe. It activates melanin in the skin for a faster tan.
Australian Gold Spray Gel with Instant Bronzer SPF 15
But what if you’re so pale that you’re embarrassed to wear a swimsuit and go out in public? I know exactly how this feels, which is why I’m recommending this tanning product with bronzer.
It’s a gel with caramel for an instant sun-kissed glow. Sure, the color will wash off if you get wet, but you’ll look fabulous in the meantime. It won’t irritate your skin or smell funny, either. But it will protect you against the sun for up to 80 minutes in the water.
The gel is non-greasy even though it’s based on sunflower seed and olive fruit oils with cocoa seed butter. It’s fortified with tea tree oil and vitamin C to keep the skin fresh and ward off acne.
Like other products from this company, it smells like an orange-vanilla creamsicle with coconut.
Coppertone Tanning Dry Oil SPF 15
Which is the best drugstore tanning oil? It’s a close competition between Coppertone, Banana Boat, and Hawaiian Tropic.
Coppertone’s tanning oil has a classic tropical fragrance. It’s a continuous spray that you can apply at any angle, even upside down.
It’s not greasy after it absorbs, but it does contain mineral oil. On the positive side, this intensifies melanin production.
Furthermore, it provides solar protection in water for up to 80 minutes.
Choose from SPF 15 or SPF 30, depending on your needs.
Banana Boat Protective Tanning Oil Spray – SPF 15
Next, we have Banana Boat’s continuous spray sunscreen. It won’t harm corals in case you make it to the beach to go swimming.
Compared to Coppertone’s product, it may be more effective for tanning and kinder to the skin. Instead of mineral oil, it features natural argan, coconut, and banana oils. Plus, there’s carrot extract and antioxidants to speed up tanning and prevent peeling.
Like its competitor, it’s water-resistant.
Banana Boat UltraMist Protective Dry Oil Spray SPF 15
Banana Boat also offers a pump spray instead of an aerosol. You can choose what level of SPF you prefer. Each version is good for swimming or sweating for up to 80 minutes before you need to reapply.
Like the continuous spray, it has argan and coconut oils to keep the skin soft and hydrated. It also defends against long-turned skin damage with AvoTriplex technology.
Hawaiian Tropic Protective Tanning Dry Oil Spray – SPF 15
Hawaiian Tropic’s tanning oil also comes in pump bottles with either high or low SPF.
It moisturizes with botanical extracts, cocoa butter, and aloe vera. The texture is pleasantly lightweight yet a bit greasy. It has a coconut fragrance.
Panama Jack Sunscreen Tanning Oil – SPF 4
Some say that the best tanning oil to get dark fast is made by Panama Jack. You can get it in this pump spray or with SPF 8 in a continuous spray.
This minimal level sunscreen is suitable for medium to dark skin tones only.
The formula is kind to sensitive skin and eyes as it’s made without gluten, parabens, oxybenzone, octinoxate, and retinyl palmitate. It has an appealing tropical scent but leaves the skin too shiny for some people.
Hampton Sun SPF 4 Oil
Here’s tanning oil with about the same level of protection that a base tan would provide. Therefore, only use it for short periods outdoors.
The silky liquid absorbs well without leaving a greasy feeling. It’s rich in nutrients and vitamins from walnut oil, aloe, and other botanicals. These offer a defense against premature aging.
It has a light fragrance.
Natalia Paris Carrot Tanning Oil – SPF 4
This tanning oil is based on carrots because beta-carotene is proven to develop a golden tan faster.
It’s ideal if you need to tan difficult spots like legs. But it provides very little sunscreen, so take it easy and don’t stay out too long.
The formula has no parabens and one caveat. The manufacturer recommends avoiding the consumption of liquor and citrus fruits while sunbathing.
When you use tanning oil with SPF, you can enjoy the sun for longer and tan more safely.
Just because it’s “oil” doesn’t mean that it’s greasy. Many are dry oils that absorb quickly without leaving a residue.
If you just discovered your new favorite tanning product, we’d love to hear about your experience with it. Drop us a line in the comments below.
1. https://www.leaf.tv/articles/what-oil-can-be-used-as-a-tan-accelerator/ by Britt Barclay, accessed October 27, 2020
2. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-tan-faster by Grace Gallagher, published on January 2, 2020, accessed October 27, 2020
3. https://www.science.org.au/curious/people-medicine/what-does-spf-rating-really-mean accessed October 27, 2020