You’ve heard about people using coconut oil or baby oil for tanning. We prefer coconut oil because baby oil is made from mineral oil distilled from petroleum. After seeing lots of questions on this topic, we wrote a straightforward guide on how to use coconut oil for tanning. We hope you find the answers you need here.
Does coconut oil make you tan more?
Will coconut oil actually help you tan? Yes, but there are tanning accelerators that work faster because they stimulate melanin production. Still, coconut oil is natural, inexpensive, and packed with nutrients for the skin.
Raw coconut oil is rich in fatty acids that keep the skin moisturized. That’s good because hydrated skin tans more quickly than dry skin.
Next, coconut oil provides SPF 4 – a tiny but not insignificant amount of sunscreen, filtering up to 20% of harmful rays (1). At the same time, the oil helps the body absorb vitamin D from the sun.
Last, tanning with coconut oil isn’t wasteful because you can use the leftover for cooking, conditioning the hair, and so much more.
Nutiva Organic Cold-Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil
When you compare it to the price tag on tanning lotion, organic coconut oil is downright cheap. This brand is unrefined and unbleached and has the typical coconut scent.
Normally, the oil is solid and whitish until it hits 78°F when it turns into oil. If you scoop some into the palm of your hand it liquefies within seconds. It doesn’t hurt it to switch back and forth between states, but like all natural oils, it’s not a bad idea to store it in a cool, dark place. It doesn’t have to be in the refrigerator.
This manufacturer obtains organically-grown coconuts raised in Southeast Asia according to USDA guidelines. They are not genetically altered and come from sustainable sources like organic farms.
Next, the nuts are cold-pressed to extract the oil. The process does not use high heat or chemicals like hexane. The result is coconut cooking oil with 50% lauric acid and 63% medium-chain triglycerides. You can put it in your coffee, do oil-pulling with it, condition your hair and body, and sauté and bake with it. It also tastes good on popcorn.
Lastly, the oil comes packaged in a recyclable food-safe plastic jar. We recommend protecting it from contamination by using a clean utensil instead of fingers to scoop out what you need.
You can use it for outdoor tanning but not indoor tanning because the oil may damage the acrylic in the tanning bed.
How long does it take to tan with coconut oil?
How long should you tan with coconut oil? The answer depends on how dark your skin is.
First, if you are naturally pale with freckles or red hair, for the love of sunshine please don’t try tanning with coconut oil. Use self-tanner to avoid sunburn and worse down the road.
But if your skin normally darkens from sun exposure, you’re all set to give tanning with coconut oil a try. If you’re light-colored, start with baby steps and go early or late in the day.
For example, slather on the coconut oil – be generous with it – and lay out before 11 AM for 15 to 20 minutes. Another good timeslot is after 4 PM. The idea is to tan without burning and soak up the vitamin D. Remember to turn over halfway through the time.
Don’t expect to wake up bronzed the next day unless you tan easily. Wait for 24 to 48 hours for the melanin to do its job and darken your skin, then repeat your tanning session.
Again, wait till the next day and look in the mirror. Did you do a “tanning with coconut oil before and after” selfie? Now you can compare and see the difference. Not bad for about 40 minutes of laying out!
However, if you want to go darker, try a coconut oil tan accelerator like the one below.
Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Black Label
Unlike the original Coconut Kisses lotion, Black Label includes DHA, a sunless tanning ingredient. That’s why it will make you tan even if your skin never sees the sun.
We included this tanning lotion because it contains coconut oil as well as cocoa butter and coconut milk. Moreover, the formula features melanin stimulators like the Quad Tyrosine Blend and Melactiva. These encourage pigment production at the source to help you tan deeper and faster.
While coconut oil may help keep tattoos from fading, this lotion also has tattoo ink protection plus a rich selection of moisturizers to leave the skin smooth, soft, and smelling tropical.
Can you use coconut oil for tanning outside?
Many people around the world use coconut oil for tanning outdoors. The trick is to tan in short sessions of 15 to 20 minutes. If you have darker skin and plan to be outside longer, reapply coconut oil every 20 to 30 minutes.
If that sounds like it’s going to be really greasy, try fractionated coconut oil. It’s fast-absorbing and lightweight.
Handcraft Fractionated Coconut Oil
Here’s fractionated coconut oil – a colorless, unscented liquid in a pump bottle. People use it for diluting essential oils, conditioning the hair and skin, DIY skincare products, and massages.
How is it different from virgin coconut oil? It’s processed a bit more as the different types of fats are separated, leaving two medium-chain fatty acids behind. It doesn’t go solid below room temperature and it’s very stable and resistant to spoilage.
Furthermore, because it’s lightweight and less greasy, it’s safer for oily skin. It doesn’t take long to absorb. We suggest using this coconut oil after tanning, too, to soothe the skin and keep it hydrated.
Happily, it’s made in the USA and additive-free.
Does coconut oil make you darker?
Coconut oil will probably make you darker than tanning with no moisturizer whatsoever. But an outdoor tanning lotion with coconut oil will do a better job. Check out the one below.
Maui Babe Browning Lotion with Coconut Oil
The original Maui Babe lotion contains mineral oil. This alternative version features coconut oil and it’s a pleasure to use. It doesn’t feel as greasy and even smells like coconut and cappuccino.
Pale-skinned people love this outdoor tanning lotion because it can be worn over sunscreen and it still builds a beautiful tan.
The trick to getting the most out of it is to shake the bottle for five seconds before dispensing it and remembering to reapply it and your sunscreen if you stay out for longer.
It’s a simple formula based on homemade tanning lotion used in the islands. It includes aloe, coconut oil, Kona coffee, Kukui nut, sunflower, and macadamia nut oils, and potassium iodide. The color temporarily bronzes the skin to hide that winter pale flesh until it’s tan.
What are the benefits of using coconut oil on the skin?
Did you know that you can use coconut oil as deodorant in a pinch? That’s because it’s antifungal and antibacterial. It reduces odors by battling the bacteria that cause them and helps prevent athlete’s foot, too.
Also, coconut oil is anti-inflammatory, helping the skin recover from mild sunburn, bites, and minor injuries.
It filters out a little bit of harmful UV rays and helps repair the skin with fatty acids and vitamins.
When is coconut oil bad for you?
Coconut is a nut so if you have nut allergies, be cautious about using coconut oil on your skin. Also, coconut oil might trigger acne if you have oily skin.
Please understand that coconut oil is not a safe replacement for sunscreen. It provides very minimal protection. Because it makes your skin shiny and moisturized, you might not realize you’re burning until it’s too late.
How to tan safely with coconut oil
If you want to tan with coconut oil, combine it with sunscreen. Yes, you can tan while wearing sunscreen – people do it all the time whether they mean to or not. Even SPF50 and SPF100 don’t filter out 100% of the UV radiation. A coconut tanning oil with SPF15 prevents about 93% of UV rays from reaching the skin.
Sun Bum SPF 15 Moisturizing Tanning Oil
Using sunscreen with coconut oil is safer than tanning with coconut oil only, but you still need to stick to brief sessions. The Skin Cancer Society and dermatologists recommend SPF30 or greater – but they also don’t recommend tanning at all.
Each time you burn, it’s not just painful. Your skin is damaged and may end up with wrinkles, dark spots, and a crepey texture in the future. It’s more likely to develop skin cancer as well.
Protect yourself with sunscreen while outdoors. This delicious tanning oil is a pleasure to use as it smells like summer and feels so nice on the skin.
It softens and nourishes with coconut, avocado, marula, and argan oil. It also has aloe and green tea butter to keep the skin young and firm.
The formula is paraben-free and features broad-spectrum protection from a blend of chemical filters that won’t leave a white residue.
Can you tan with coconut oil over sunscreen?
Yes, your skin will darken even if you use sunscreen if you’re out in the sun enough time. Coconut oil over sunscreen works best if you give the sunscreen time to absorb.
Put on the sunscreen first and use plenty of it. It should take about a shot glass-full to cover the whole body. Make sure it’s fully absorbed and dry before you put on coconut oil.
Remember to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours or after swimming or sweating.
Alba Botanica Sunscreen Clear Spray SPF 50, Coconut
This is an excellent sunscreen for tanning with coconut oil. It’s silky, transparent, and lightweight, plus it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends it because it provides broad-spectrum protection against sunburn and premature aging.
Because it’s a spray, it makes it easy to reach your back. Once it absorbs, it doesn’t feel sticky or greasy.
Although it doesn’t contain coconut oil, it has coconut fruit extract, shea butter, and avocado oil to keep the skin healthy and hydrated. The formula is vegetarian and gluten-free with no artificial fragrance or parabens. It also avoids octinoxate and oxybenzone, chemical sunscreens that could harm wildlife in waterways or cause allergic reactions in humans.
Which is the best coconut oil for tanning?
As we reach the end of the article, have you decided which coconut oil you want to use for tanning? In summary, we suggest organic Nutiva oil if you want fresh, pure coconut oil with maximum benefits for your skin and health. It can be used for tanning, moisturizing the body, keeping body odor under control, conditioning hair, removing makeup, cooking, and more.
If you have oily skin, try the fractionated coconut oil from Handcraft. It comes in a convenient pump-top bottle. The lightweight texture is perfect for massages, conditioning the hair, moisturizing without feeling greasy, and making essential oils safe for the skin.
If you like the idea of tanning with coconut oil, but are worried about burning, try Sun Bum’s SPF 15 coconut tanning oil. Also, the Maui Babe lotion with coconut oil can be used over sunscreen.
Lastly, if you’d rather get tan without nasty side effects from too much UV, try the Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses tanning lotion with DHA as it will give you a sun-kissed glow within hours. Then, when you go outdoors, put on the Alba Botanica sunscreen with coconut first and enjoy the sunshine.
|Tanning products mentioned in this article||Highlights|
|Nutiva Organic Cold-Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil||
|Ed Hardy Coconut Kisses Black Label||
|Handcraft Fractionated Coconut Oil||
|Maui Babe Browning Lotion with Coconut Oil||
|Sun Bum SPF 15 Moisturizing Tanning Oil||
|Alba Botanica Sunscreen Clear Spray SPF 50, Coconut||
1. https://www.byrdie.com/coconut-oil-for-tanning-4844648 Coconut oil for tanning, by Beth Krietsch, updated September 21, 2020, medically reviewed by Rachel Nazarian, MD, FAAD, Board-Certified Dermatologist