Looking for the best tanning oil for that healthy summer glow? The long winter months tend to leave our skin looking a little dull and pale. As such, many turn to sun tanning to achieve that widely sought sun-kissed skin. For those with little patience or can’t stay in the sun a bit longer, you can turn to tanning oils to help you get the perfect tan faster.
Not all tanning oils are created equal. So we’ve scoured the market for the best ones that cater to different skin types and skin needs. Whether you’re sunbathing by the beautiful shorelines of the best California beaches or just hanging by the poolside, here’s our pick for the best tanning oils.
1. Best Overall: Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil
For years, the Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil has been a favorite among sunbathers and for good reason. Formulated with coconut oil and cocoa butter, it not only gives you the perfect golden tan, but also moisturizes your skin. Its formula is infused with antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E, which will keep your skin soft and luminous while you soak up the sun while lounging on your favorite beach blanket. Meanwhile, the delicious coconut scent will send you directly to a tropical island paradise.
The best part? It’s one of the most affordable tanning products out there! For less than $20, you get two bottles of the best tanning oil in the market! Just note that it doesn’t come with SPF protection. As such, you will need to lather on some sunscreen before applying it on your skin. Another thing to know about this product is that it leaves a warming sensation on first application. However, it goes away fairly quickly.
- Enriched with moisturizing ingredients
- Provides a dark golden tan in a short timespan
- Refreshing scent that isn’t overpowering
- No sun protection
2. Best Reef-Friendly: Sun Bum SPF 15 Moisturizing Tanning Oil
A lot of tanning products contain ingredients that can cause damage to corals and other aquatic life. Oxybenzone, octinoxate, and parabens are just some of the chemicals that can be harmful to the marine ecosystems. If you don’t want fish or coral reefs to suffer while you get that perfect golden tan, you’ll want a reef-safe oil.
This Sun Bum tanning oil doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients. Its organic ingredients consisting of aloe vera, green tea butter, argan, coconut, and avocado oils will moisturize and nourish your skin while tanning. It likewise protects your skin from the sun damage thanks to its broad spectrum SPF 15.
People with sensitive skin may want to patch test the product first before applying it all over the body. This is to avoid any potential allergic reactions, such as redness or rashes. Another downside of this product is the bottle itself. The spritzer is poorly made and stops working after just a few uses. If you plan on bringing it with you on your next beach vacation, perhaps place it in a Ziploc bag or plastic as it could leak in your travel bag.
- Environmentally friendly
- SPF 15
- Spray nozzle breaks easily
- Not ideal for sensitive skin
3. Best Budget-Friendly: Australian Gold Dark Tanning Exotic Oil
Australian Gold’s Dark Tanning Exotic Oil promises beautifully tanned and nourished skin for less than $10. Thanks to its blend of carrot oil, sunflower seed oil, and olive oil, your skin will tan better and faster under the sun. It’s packed with powerful antioxidants like Kakadu Plum extract, vitamin C, tea tree oil, that keeps your skin looking healthy and radiant. Not to mention, the aloe vera leaves your skin feeling soft and supple! Another great thing about this tan oil is its lightweight formula that won’t leave you feeling greasy. Its delectable notes of coconut, orange, and vanilla are also a fantastic added bonus!
You will need to apply sunscreen before using it, since it doesn’t contain SPF. You also need to reapply the tanning oil after swimming in water.
- Lightweight, non-greasy formula
- Amazing scent
- Not water-resistant
4.Best for Pale Skin: Maui Babe Original Browning Lotion
While the Maui Babe Original Browning Lotion isn’t technically a tanning oil, we just couldn’t leave it out of the list. After all, it is the best outdoor tanning lotion for people with pale and fair skin. Straight from one of the best Hawaiian islands, it’s enriched with ingredients that provide you a beautiful natural-looking golden glow. Its formula contains a combination of mineral oil, Kona Coffee Plant Extract, and vitamins A, C, and E. All of which helps you achieve that golden caramel tan quicker, even if you don’t tan easily. This cruelty-free product comes with a unique fragrance that smells like coffee, with a hint of coconut.
Although it features both aloe vera and Kukui nut oil, both of which soothes sunburns, it doesn’t come with SPF. Moreover, despite being a sun tan lotion, it leaves an oily and greasy feeling to the skin. When you apply this lotion, you may want to avoid swimming, too. It easily washes away once you come in contact with water.
- Unique scent
- Gives a natural-looking tan
- Not water-resistant
- No SPF
- Leaves a greasy texture on skin
5. Best for Dark Skin: St. Tropez Self Tan Dark Bronzing Mousse
Contrary to popular belief, tanning products are not just for people with fair complexions. Dark and black-skinned people can get a sun-kissed glow too! And the best tanning oil for people with dark skin is certainly the St. Tropez Self Tan Dark Bronzing Mousse.
There’s plenty to love about this product. First, it’s developed with advanced color-changing technology that adapts to individual skin tones. Thus, you don’t have to worry about your tan turning more orange-y than bronzy. Instead, you’ll get the perfect natural-looking deep tan that matches your skin, as if you just came back from a vacation from the best Caribbean beaches. What’s more, its streak-free and lightweight formula means you don’t have to worry about patchiness and product transfer.
The problem we have with this product is how it fades rather quickly than other tanning products. Depending on your skin care routine, you can even see a significant fade in less than 24 hours. In addition, despite it not being patchy upon application, it fades unevenly.
- Automatically adjusts to match your skin tone
- Fades quickly and unevenly
6. Best Non-Greasy: Bondi Sands Liquid Gold Self Tanning Dry Oil
What’s not to love about the Bondi Sands Liquid Gold Self Tanning Dry Oil? Hailing from the Land Down Under, it’s a self tanner that absorbs into the skin in seconds! Its non-greasy formula is infused with both coconut and argan oil, which will keep your skin hydrated and smooth. Unlike other spray tans, you don’t have to shower it off. You can also go about your day after applying it without having to worry about getting any streaks on your outfit.
The spray nozzle also means mess-free application. Though you will still need to use a mitt or a glove to avoid staining your hands. Furthermore, it takes some time to see results, over six hours, but you can flaunt your bronzy glow for up to seven days before it starts to fade. And while it provides a nice initial color payoff, it isn’t a buildable tanning product. Adding another layer in hopes of a deeper tan will result in a more orange hue to the skin.
- Don’t need to shower after use
- Color does not transfer
- Non-greasy formula
- Color isn’t buildable
- Long developing time
7. Best Tanning Oil Spray: Banana Boat Deep Tanning Dry Oil
Tanning oils in spray bottles are relatively easier to use and apply more evenly, making them a splendid choice for beginners. If you prefer a tanning oil with a spray pump, Banana Boat’s deep tanning oil spray is the one for you.
Infused with coconut oil and argan oil, it not only speeds up your tanning time but keeps your skin silky-smooth, as well. It contains broad spectrum SPF 15 that protects you from harmful UVA and UVB sun rays. Furthermore, this Banana Boat tanning oil is water resistant up to 80 minutes, so you don’t have to worry about needing to reapply it constantly while swimming in the crystal waters of the best lakes in Texas.
Although, people with oily skin may want to steer clear of this product. And since it does leave your skin feeling a bit greasy, you may want to spray in controlled amounts.
- Water resistant up to 80 minutes
- Easy to apply evenly
- SPF 15
- Leaves a sticky and greasy feeling on the skin
8. Best For Tanning Beds: COCOSOLIS Choco Suntan & Body Oil
While tanning oils are great for outdoor tanning, you can’t use them in tanning beds due to their mineral content. But don’t worry, there are plenty of options for the fantastic tanning lotions for tanning beds. Among them, our top pick is the one from Cocosolis.
Enriched with coconut oil, cocoa butter, avocado oil, and vitamin E, it promises a deep smooth tan while keeping your skin deeply hydrated. These organic cold-pressed oils and natural vitamins make it a great choice for people with sensitive skin types, as well. Its delicate chocolate aroma that comes from cocoa butter gives out a healthy wonderful scent acting as nourishing food for the skin.
On the flip side, the packaging of this sun tanning lotion could use some improvement. The pump seems flimsy and will likely break overtime. If you live in a colder region, expect the oil to solidify, since it contains a high percentage of coconut oil. You need to melt the product first in a steam bath for at least ten minutes before you can use it.
- Great scent
- Can be used for outdoor and indoor tanning
- Packaging needs improvement
- Product solidifies in colder temperatures
9. Best with SPF: Pacifica Sea & C Glow Bronzing Body Oil SPF 20
Skincare and sun care meet in this tanning oil with SPF from Pacifica. It’s no secret that too much sun exposure can be harmful to the skin. As such, you need a tanning oil with broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. The Pacifica Sea & C Glow Bronzing Body Oil offers just that and more. It protects your skin from harmful UV rays while you get your tan on.
Formulated for all skin types, its mineral blend leaves your skin with a light bronzy glow the moment you slather it on. For the environmentally conscious out there, you’ll be glad to know that it’s vegan and cruelty free, as well! A downside to this tanning oil, though, is that it leaves your skin feeling sticky or tacky. However, if you’re a fan of citrus scents, you’ll definitely love this one.
- Provides great sun protection
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Made for all skin types
- Leaves the skin feeling sticky
10. Best Water-Resistant: Carroten Intensive Tanning Oil
A definite must-have toiletry for frequent travelers is a water-resistant tanning oil to take wherever you go. Getting out of the water to reapply tanning oil every so often can get tedious and irksome. Therefore, you will want one that can handle long exposure to water or sweat, yet still be effective. The Carroten Intensive Tanning Oil’s water resistant feature helps you get that even sun-kissed color while in the water.
Additionally, it contains carrot and coconut oils, which gives you that deep golden tan faster than other tanning products available. However, it does come with a few drawbacks, such as its lack of sun protection and the fact that it can stain clothing.
- Water resistant
- Develops a tanner faster
- Stains clothing
- No SPF
11. Best Luxury: Josie Maran Argan Liquid Gold Self Tanning Body Oil
If you are a novice when it comes to self tanners, your best bet is this one from Josie Maran. Admittedly, it’s on the pricey side compared to other options out there, but rest assured, it’s worth it. Made with naturally derived dihydroxyacetone (DHA), it’s the best tanning oil for people with sensitive skin who want to skip exposure to UV rays. Meanwhile, it’s a blend of pure argan oil, coconut water, and aloe vera juice, all of which offers intense nourishment to keep your skin smooth and moisturized. It leaves a semi-matte finish giving your skin that healthy and natural velvet look.
Additionally, the oil is incredibly easy-to-apply! It even comes with a mitt, so you don’t have to worry about any streaks or stained hands. You may want to avoid wearing white clothing for a day or two after applying it, though. It transfers to clothes, even after fully drying.
- Packed with moisturizing ingredients
- Stains clothing
12. Best Value: Panama Jack Tanning Oil
Get the best bang for the buck when you purchase a pack of 12 of the Panama Jack tanning oil. Each bottle contains a blend of fruit and nut extracts that will amplify your tan. Its moisturizing formula is reef-friendly and cruelty-free, so you achieve a deep luxurious tan while also helping save the environment and animals. Furthermore, its delicious, summery scent instantly transports you to the sandy beaches of Puerto Escondido in Mexico. While it contains SPF 4, it doesn’t really offer much sun protection. As such, you will still need to apply a separate broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15.
- Moisturizing formula
- Tropical scent
- Environmentally friendly
- Low SPF
13. Best Self-Tanner: Body Drench Quick Tan Self Tan Dry Oil
If you’re looking to avoid the sun all together, opt for self tanners. The best self tanner is a great way to get that fresh-from-vacation glow without spending hours in the sun. This one from Body Drench is a dry oil that delivers radiant skin in just two to three hours. It also adds an instant shimmer to your skin upon application.
Just note that it could take a while to get used to this product. The consistency is rather runny and hard to use if it’s your first time self-tanning. You may want to use a mitt or gloves when applying it to avoid any messes. Moreover, it doesn’t fully dry, leaving a tacky finish.
- Develops in three hours
- Adds instant shimmer to skin
- Application can be messy
- Runny consistency
14. Best Moisturizing: Bali Body Natural Tanning And Body Oil
Formulated with grapeseed, coconut, olive, jojoba oils, this Bali Body tanning oil moisturizes and nourishes your skin as you bask under the sun. The combination of these natural ingredients can also help treat dry skin and eczema. Its lightweight formula is great for people with oily skin, as well! You get all of these benefits while also developing a natural-looking tan faster. What’s more, it’s 100% vegan friendly, too! Be aware that while it contains some SPF protection, it’s hardly enough to protect you from sunburn. Another thing to note is the bottle’s size, you get little product for the price.
- Great for all skin types
- Vegan friendly
- Pricey for its small size
15. Best Shimmer: Sol De Janeiro Bum Bum Sol Oil
Want glowing, bronzy skin instantly? If that’s the case, the Sol De Janeiro tanning oil is the one for you. This lightweight and hydrating body oil comes with hints of gold shimmer to it. It will leave you glowing, day or night! Its blend of Cupuacu butter, acai oil, and coconut oil ensures that your skin is moisturized, conditioned, and softened. The oil comes with SPF 30, which is considerably higher than other tanning products. On top of that, its remarkable scent will make you feel like you’re on the shores of the best tropical beaches!
The steep price tag coupled by its small size may cause you to think twice about buying it. But it’s definitely a worthy investment if you want the ultimate tan with a luminescent body glow.
- Gives skin an instant soft glow
- High SPF
- Pricey for its size
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Tanning Oil
Skin Type and Conditions
When choosing the best tanning oil, it is important to consider your skin type. Those with dry skin should look for tanning oils with plenty of hydrating and moisturizing benefits. People with oil skin will want one with a quick-drying and non-greasy formula. On the other hand, people with sensitive skin should look for hypoallergenic products that are free of any fragrances and parabens. Moreover, those suffering with skin conditions, such as eczema or rosacea, should opt for tanning products with plenty of soothing natural ingredients. This includes the likes of aloe vera, green tea, and tea tree oil, to name a few.
Complexion and Time Spent in the Sun
Your complexion plays a huge role in the time you need to spend under the sun to get your desired tan. Extremely fair skin takes longer to tan and is more susceptible to sunburn. So it would be best to pick an outdoor tanning oil with SPF. Medium and dark complexions have higher melanin levels, thus tanning more rapidly and deeply, with little chances of burning. Nevertheless, these skin tones are not immune to the other risks of long-term sun exposure, such as rapid aging and skin cancer. For those concerned about these risks, consider self-tanners or sunless tanners, since they don’t require any sun exposure for your skin to develop color.
The ingredients of a tanning oil reflect its quality. Choose one formulated with high-quality and natural ingredients that will nourish, moisturize, and protect your skin while promoting the perfect sun-kissed skin. Some of the common ingredients to look out for include aloe vera, argan oil, cocoa butter, and coconut oil. Other notable oils to consider are olive and avocado. Olive oil contains high levels of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that not only contains anti-aging properties but heals and protects your skin against sun damage. Similarly, avocado oil contains UV filters, which add another layer of sun protection.
In addition, it’s best to look for cruelty-free products with no harmful chemicals, synthetic fragrances, and preservatives added. More and more companies are now releasing reef-friendly products that won’t negatively affect marine life. This is great for those who are always looking to make small positive steps for the environment.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Does Tanning Oil Do?
How does tanning oil work, anyway? Simply, tanning oil speeds up the process of tanning by attracting more ultraviolet sun rays. It allows UV rays to penetrate more deeply into the skin. The UV rays then stimulate your melanocytes cells, which boost the production of melanin — your skin’s natural pigment.
Is Tanning Oil Bad for You?
Tanning oils work by attracting UV rays, thus speeding up the tanning process. Too much sun exposure can lead to sunburns, premature aging, and other signs of sun damage, including uneven skin texture, age and liver spots, and even skin cancer. With that said, tanning oils and tanning in general are not necessarily bad for you — just as long as you lather up your skin with SPF first. You will need a good tanning oil with broad spectrum SPF 15 or higher to protect your skin while you’re tanning. To further help reduce the hazardous effects of sun exposure, don’t forget to reapply SPF throughout the day.
Does Tanning Oil or Lotion Work Better?
Both tanning oils and lotions help intensify results of tanning. The primary difference between the two is their consistency. Sun tanning lotions are thicker and creamier in texture, while oils are thinner and tend to leave a greasy feeling on the skin. When deciding between the two, it’s best to consider your skin type and complexion. Typically, people with dry skin will benefit more from the hydrating benefits of oils that will leave their skin appearing more supple and shiny. Meanwhile, people with oily skin tend to opt for lotions since they don’t make the skin greasy. Although, nowadays, you can find a number of the best tanning oils boasting quick-drying and non-greasy formulas.
Can You Tan With Sunscreen On?
Yes, you can and in fact, you should always tan with sunscreen on. Many believe that sunscreens defeat the purpose of tanning oils. After all, they reduce the impact of UV exposure our skin needs to tan. However, while sunscreen prevents sunburns, it doesn’t necessarily stop the production of melanin.
Does Baby Oil Help You Tan?
As the name suggests, baby oil is an oil meant for the tender skin of babies. But can you use baby oil for tanning? Before the boom of modern tanning products, many turned to baby oil to achieve a deeper tan faster. However, since it doesn’t contain any form of sun protection, using baby oil alone can lead to skin damage caused by too much UV exposure. You will still need to apply sunscreen when tanning with baby oil. It’s better off to just skip it and use tanning products with SPF instead.
Does Coconut Oil Help You Tan?
In addition to its antifungal and antibacterial properties, coconut oil has abundant benefits to the skin from moisturizing the skin to reducing inflammation. But can you use coconut oil for tanning? Yes, in fact, many of the best tanning oils out there even include coconut oil since it contains plenty of hydrating and anti-inflammatory properties. It even has some SPF. However, the amount of it is insufficient to truly block out the sun’s UV rays. Therefore, if you want to use coconut oil for tanning, you will need to use a separate sunscreen to prevent sunburns and other types of skin damage.
The Best Tanning Oil for You
Getting a healthy tan has never been easier thanks to the best tanning oil! Each brand has their own variation and version of tanning products, but the best ones will give you a natural-looking tan, while also keeping your skin healthy and moisturized. If your goal this summer is a rich luminous complexion, try out these standout tanning oils! Just remember to wear sunscreen to prevent any form of sun damage to the skin.