Hey there, Sunshine! So, since I know most of us will tan anyway, I figured I’d create a list of the best bets for avoiding the fake + fruity, petrochemical crap. Keep in mind though, that these suntan oils do not contain any SPF, + will not prevent sunburn. So, if you’re in the market for sun protection, check out my list of safer sunscreens here.
To Tan or Not to Tan
The tan-sanity all began back in the 20’s, when Coco-Channel got a smidge too much sun on a luxe, vacay in the French Riviera, + despite rising Cancer rates – we’ve been hooked, like crack addicts ever since! Let’s face it – we all want that gorgeous, healthy glow! When we’re tan, we think we look better + feel better. But, looking healthy + actually being healthy – are two totally different things. That’s where we run into problems with fake-baking – we create the illusion of health, with nothing to back it up!
Cancer + Vitamin D
These days, there’s no denying there’s just as much of a sunscreen craze (which can be toxic all on it’s own), as there is a tanning trend! In fact, in Jersey, I think it’s actually at an all-time high! So, you can have too much of a good thing, no matter how you look at it! Too much sun can cause Skin Cancer + signs of premature aging, but not enough, can cause Vitamin D deficiency (common in Breast Cancer patients) + a whole host of other health issues that you really don’t want to deal with. It’s a delicate balance Dolls!
The bottom line is that you don’t have to slather sunscreen it on 24/7 + live like a vampire if you don’t spend a whole lot of time outside. The few minutes you take running errands, getting in + out of your car, etc. probably won’t kill you. The sun is not the devil… as long as you respect it! In fact, it actually has a ton of health benefits! Ever notice how when we spend a lot of time outdoors or on the beach our skin is better, our hair has beautiful natural highlights, we sleep better + we feel more relaxed, etc.? There’s a reason why!
Heliotherapy + Tanning Salons
I remember the tanning salon I worked at in college, had signs posted in all the rooms about the many benefits of heliotherapy (aka, light therapy). At the time, I had no idea what that meant or how much toxic radiation I was getting, but I remember going tanning in the winter + feeling better, and my acne clearing up when I went, so, there must have been some truth to it! In fact, Hippocrates was actually a huge advocate for using the sun’s healing properties for an array of health issues, including: skin conditions like Psoriasis, Eczema, Acne vulgarism, Atopic Dermatitis, Wound Healing, Cancer, Depression, Seasonal Depression + Sleep Disorders, etc.
Now, if you still insist on going to tanning salons, you can use most of the oils below in the beds, just double-check with the company first to be sure. I also highly recommend reading some of Dr. Mercola’s work on the subject for an interesting perspective – although I’m not sure if I agree with him or not. In my opinion, natural sunlight is waaaay better for you than artificial sunlight. You just need to be easy with it.
Safer Sunning Tips
- To build up a base tan, go out early in the morning when the sun’s not as harsh, on a regular basis, so you don’t burn.
- To get the most Vitamin D, tan regularly + expose at least 40% of your body – not just your hands + face!
- Get at least 20 minutes of sun without sunscreen daily. Darker skin tones may need more time.
- Use your skin as a guide + cover up or apply sunscreen as soon as your skin turns the slightest shade of pink.
Toxic Tanning Oil Ingredients
I’d love to tell you that I have a ton of clean tanning oil recommendations that you can go grab off a store shelf near you, but I can’t. To be honest, I’m really surprised by this as, for the most part – it’s such a simple product that really doesn’t need a lot of ingredients or junk to extend the shelf-life. Especially if they’re all oils.
If you look at Skin Deep’s Tanning Oil products, you’ll see that there are currently only 1-2 products that score under “3”. While Skin Deep’s not the be-all end-all, it’s pretty rare to see an entire category where hardly anything’s under a “3”.
So, it’s safe to say I’m disappointed in the fact that I literally can’t recommend anything I’ve seen in my local health food or chain stores. They pretty much all contain more than one of the no-no’s on my list of Pretty Toxic Ingredients to Avoid. Here are a few of the most common ingredients to avoid in tanning oils…
- Petrochemicals like Mineral Oil
- Preservatives like BHT + Parabens
- Fragrance or Parfum
- Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A Acetate)
While I’m not too sure I believe the hype about these oils having enough of a natural SPF to replace a sunscreen on their own, you can always use coconut oil, or just about any other organic food-grade oil in place of the ones that are marketed specifically as “tanning oils”.
Ever tried to bring a jar of coconut oil to the beach just to get water or sand in it though? I have. Or… have you ever poured it into a squeeze bottle only for it to be too solid to use, or for it to leak all over your bag. Ugh! Done that too. So, I wanted to give you a list of ready-made, safe tanning products that might be easier to bring to the pool or beach.
On that note, here are some more conveniently packaged, ready-to-go oils that are actually healthy for you + your skin!
Slather on these super-healthy suntan oils…
- Bodyceuticals Organic Coconut + Aloe Body + Tan Oil My current fave! A luscious, pure + nutrient-rich moisturizer for knockout, sexy skin! This amazing body oil smells like fresh coconuts + is rich in antioxidants + essential fatty acids that nourish the skin. Use for daily moisturizing or over sunscreen while you tan. Organic aloe vera provides extra skin-soothing benefits during + after sun exposure. All natural. Vegan, 100% Organic ingredients, 90% Certified.
- Organic Fiji Pineapple Coconut Organic Cold Pressed Coconut Oil for Face, Body + Hair Haven’t tried it yet, but really want to! I long for tropical-scented tanning products! Cold pressed, no harsh Ingredients, no parabens + no GMOs. Organic Fiji claims you’ll never find a moisturizer more effective than certified organic virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil in it’s purest form is one of the most natural ways to moisturize + treat dry, irritated skin + can even be used as an intensive treatment for damaged hair. Rich in vitamins + anti-oxidants, this coconut oil is a true gift from nature.
- Mexitan Tropical Sands Dark Tanning Oil One of the first natural one’s I tried when making the switch. Nice coconutty scent, but I wish it were a little stronger! 100% natural, no chemicals, no emulsifiers, no fragrances, no preservatives + made with Green Tea to reduce sunburn risk. This perfect blend of oils is an old secret recipe of the natives of Acapulco. Waterproof great for outdoor + indoor tanning! Doesn’t contain mineral oil so it won’t harm tanning bed equipment. It’s also biodegradable + eco-friendly, so it can be used in eco-nature parks.
- By Valenti Cocco Organic Tanning Oil Haven’t tried it yet, but love that it’s certified organic! Yay for that! Cocco is pure nature in a bottle, made with organically grown Extra Virgin Coconut Oil + Vitamin E for a rich, dark tan + healthy glowing skin. The company claims it has a FAB, natural coconut scent derived from extra virgin coconut oil + that it can be applied on your body, face + hair, or for a tanning + after tanning oil! it’s also able to be used for both, indoor + outdoor tanning. Free of artificial fragrances, artificial ingredients, + petrochemicals. Made with 100% organically grown ingredients, Vegan, Gluten Free, 100% biodegradable, coral reef safe, water-resistant + eco-friendly.
- Mercola Tanning Oil Haven’t tried it yet, but ingredients are the same as Mexitan’s! With a perfect blend of nine all-natural ingredients, each serves its own special purpose in nourishing, protecting + moisturizing your skin, while promoting a dark, rich tan. Proudly made in the USA
- Real Tan 100% Organic Browning Oil Haven’t tried it yet, but really want to! *Not currently available in the US yet, but you can buy it online (what a tease, I know!).
* Both the Mextian + Mercola oils contain lanolin – an animal derived ingredient I’m not a fan of, but the products work well + the ingredients are great other than that!