2014 Suntan Oil Guide | Natural + Organic Tanning Oils

Safer Suntan Oils Natural + Organic Tanning Oil

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…

Edible Oils

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! 

Have you tried any of these suntan oils yet? If not, what natural or organic tanning products do you use?

Source, Source, Source 

FTC Disclosure | Products provided. May contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own.
FDA Disclaimer | Statements not evaluated by FDA. Products not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

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  • Reply
    August 13, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    I use MAUI BABE… It. Is. Amazing. I cannot get any color on my belly or legs unless I’m wearing it. Seriously the best stuff ever. Can be ordered from their website, or I buy it from Target. :)

    • Reply
      August 14, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      Hi Treasure! :) Yes, I also used to be a die-hard Maui Babe girl myself, but I don’t use it any more because it has mineral oil {petroleum byproduct} + potassium iodide {can cause potential thyroid issues if you have an underlying condition} in it. It’s a shame though, because I loved it! <3

  • Reply
    June 18, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    I’m loving the Mexitan dark tanning oil, thank-you so much for the recommendation! Just curious if you can recommend an organic, all natural spray tanning product? Every time I get a spray tan I get red, severely itchy bumps everywhere. Not a good look! lol Thanks so much.

    • Reply
      June 22, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      Hey Amy! Oh YAY! So happy you like it! :) I wrote a post on Safer Sunless Tanner Recommendations awhile back, but none are in spray form though, + I talk about why. OMG, I can totally relate to the red, itchy, bumpy rash! A couple of years ago I applied sunless tanner right before leaving for vacation because I didn’t want to look pale. After going in the sun for just a short time the first day, I had exactly what you were talking about. Awful. Scouring the internet like a crazy person – I learned that it was most likely a reaction from the combo of the DHA in the self-tanner + the sun’s UV rays – creating free-radical damage on my skin! So, I no longer use it when I know I’m going to be in the sun, + I haven’t had any issues since. Hope this helps! XO <3

  • Reply
    October 11, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    Great info! I’m sending this to some of my friends and family. They think I’m crazy when I mention what you mentioned.

    • Reply
      November 30, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      Haha! Thanks! 👙🌴☀️🍹

  • Reply
    skin twinkle
    May 14, 2018 at 12:18 am

    good article Danielle, thanks for your suggesiton.

  • Reply
    Daizi Heng
    October 22, 2018 at 9:47 am

    I used Dr. Mercola Natural Tanning Oil on my last vacation to Hawaii, and let me tell you I was actually blown away of how well it worked with my skin. So thank you for your recommendation :)

    • Reply
      October 24, 2018 at 4:44 pm

      YAY! That’s awesome! So happy to hear that! 😉

  • Reply
    Mckenzie Burrill
    January 9, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    What are your thoughts in the Bali Body watermelon tanning oil? I’ve read the ingredients list and it looks ok. I just ordered some.

    • Reply
      January 16, 2019 at 6:14 pm

      Everything looks ok to me – other than the “Watermelon Fragrance”. It does say it’s naturally derived, but I’m just not sure exactly what’s in it. Doesn’t look bad though! 😉

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