The 13 Best Tanning Oils + How To Use Them Properly

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If you’re looking for the best way to get an evenly bronzed goddess glow, tanning oil is your BFF. 

We’re not talking about baby oil, which was always on hand at the beach or pool back in the day. No one should slather copious amounts of Johnson & Johnson’s to cook themselves and end up with sun poisoning anymore, that was so ‘80s.

Now we have better (not to mention safer) tanning oils on the market that can accelerate the process of getting your glorious glow on and you don’t have to spend all day in the sun to achieve the tan of your dreams!

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“Getting that golden sun-kissed glow is a trend nowadays. In Europe and the United States, about 37-49% and 17-29% of people, respectively, engage in deliberate tanning,” according to StyleCraze.

Tanning is attributed to some health benefits as well, including improved appearance, enhanced mood, and increased vitamin D levels. And in other sun-kissed news, the Indoor Tanning Association claims that “Catching some rays may lengthen your life.”

So we get all these benefits along with a great tan? Sign us up, immediately!

What is Tanning Oil And How Does It Work?

According to StyleCraze, here is how tanning oils work:

  • Tanning oil attracts and focuses the sun’s rays onto the skin to give it a deep, dark tan by intensifying the UV rays, therefore speeding up the process. The rays penetrate the skin and increase the ability of the melanocytes to produce melanin.

  • Tanning oils also use bronzers to speed up the tanning process. “A standard bronzer used in a tanning oil is dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a colorless natural sugar, which, along with the natural amino acids, reacts chemically on the outer layer of your skin. It gives a natural bronzing effect on your skin, which wears off as the affected skin cell layer naturally dies and peels off.”

  • Another added benefit of using tanning oils is that they are loaded with moisturizing ingredients. Sitting in the sun can dehydrate your skin, but some tanning oils contain vitamin E and glycerin that maintain the skin’s moisture balance.

The Different Types of Tanning Oil

There are several types of tanning oil and they differ due to their ingredients. Tanning oils generally contain aloe vera, shea butter, coconut oil, argan oil, fruit extracts, coffee extracts, and other naturally-derived ingredients.

The four main types are Coconut Oil, Argan Oil, Almond Oil, and Mineral Oil. Picking one that is right for you comes down to the ingredients you prefer and how much (or little) SPF they contain.

How to Choose the Best Tanning Oil for You

When it comes to finding the best tanning oil, there are a few factors to consider. First, what is your desired level of protection from the sun? If you are looking to get a deep tan, you will want an oil with a low SPF. However, if you are looking to just get a little bit of color, you will want an oil with a higher SPF. 

You should always check the labels to see if the oil is waterproof. You don’t want to be reapplying it every time you get out of the water. If you are fair-skinned, choose an oil with a high SPF to help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Lastly, look for an oil that is non-greasy and won’t clog your pores.

Remember that different people have different skin types, so what works for one person might not work for another.

StyleCraze says to consider these things when choosing a tanning oil:

  • Check For Common Tanning Oil Ingredients: The best tanning oils are formulated with naturally-derived ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter, coconut oil, and vitamins A, C, and E. These ingredients ensure skin protection and prevent any kind of irritation or redness.

  • Check For Any Skin Conditions: People with sensitive skin must be careful while choosing their oils. Those with eczema should choose an oil that has hydrating and moisturizing benefits, while those who tend to develop allergic reactions should use oil formulated with natural ingredients.

  • Consider Your Skin Type: Tanning oils are usually formulated considering a specific skin type. People with dry skin can use tanning oils as they absorb well into the skin and keep it hydrated and moisturized. Those with oily skin can go for a suntan lotion as it does not make the skin as greasy.

“Lighter/fairer skin tones usually burn faster and take longer to tan. A long-lasting tanning oil with a high SPF will work better in this case. On the other hand, people with darker skin can rely on lower-SPF tanning oils for faster and better results. Darker skin tones have a lower risk of sunburn,” says StyleCraze.

How to Use Tanning Oil

Before applying a tanning oil, make sure your skin is clean and be sure to exfoliate – this gets rid of dead skin cells, leaving you with a smooth canvas for your optimum bronzing goals. 

Make sure you read the directions carefully and then read them again for good measure. Don’t oversaturate your skin – less is more with tanning oils. After applying evenly to your body, don’t forget to vigorously wash the palms of your hands! 

The next step is an easy one – go catch some rays! When you’re done in the sun, you can apply tanning oil after a shower for overnight use as the ingredients are ideal for moisturizing and hydration. 

Without further ado, we present our curated list of the 13 best tanning oils on the market, so you can find the perfect one for your needs!

The Best Tanning Oils

Best All Natural: Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil

Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil


Best For Fast Results: Australian Gold Cheeky Brown Tanning Oil

Australian Gold Cheeky Brown Tanning Oil


Best Water-Resistant: Banana Boat Deep Tanning Oil

Banana Boat Deep Tanning Oil


Best Silky Texture: Hampton Sun SPF 4 Oil

Hampton Sun SPF 4 Oil


Best Buildable Tan: Bondi Sands Self Tanning Dry Oil

Bondi Sands Self Tanning Dry Oil


Best SPF Protection: Cocosolis Choco Sun Tan & Body Oil

Cocosolis Choco Sun Tan & Body Oil


Best Hypoallergenic Formula: Sun Bum Tanning Oil SPF 15

Sun Bum Tanning Oil SPF 15

SHOP ON ULTA – $17.99

Best For Aging Skin: Eda Taspinar Bronzing Bomb

Eda Taspinar Bronzing Bomb


Best Moisturizing Formula: Carroten Intensive Tanning Oil

Carroten Intensive Tanning Oil


Best Non-Greasy Texture: Aloe Gator Dark Tanning Oil

Aloe Gator Dark Tanning Oil


Best Long-Lasting Effect: Arizona Sun Tanning Oil

Arizona Sun Tanning Oil


Best Smelling: BaliBody Watermelon Tanning Oil

BaliBody Watermelon Tanning Oil

SHOP ON ULTA – $22.95

Best Lightweight: Absolutely Natural Platinum Tanning Oil

Absolutely Natural Platinum Tanning Oil



Which one is your go-to for a gorgeous glow? Tell us in the comments!

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