Does Baby Oil Help You Tan? Should You Use Baby Oil For Tanning?

Sunning on Beach
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Baby oil is a popular choice for a simple tanning accelerator because it is known to be able to give you a quick, dark tan. However, while it has some perks, it also has some serious health concerns.

Does baby oil help you tan?

Yes, it will certainly intensify your tan and make you darker in the sun. Potentially it could lead to sunburn.

Should you usebaby oil for tanning?

That’s a more difficult question. Most dermatologists would say you should avoid tanning altogether, baby oil or no baby oil.

In this article, we’ll look at what baby oil is and how it intensifies your tan. We’ll take a look at whether baby oil is safe to use and alternatives that are better and safer.


What is Baby Oil?

Baby oil is a liquid intended to be used on infants to help with preventing bacterial growth on their skin. It is very gentle on the skin. Baby oil contains only a few ingredients such as mineral oil, Vitamin E, and sometimes Aloe.

Because the oil is meant for infants, the ingredients are extremely mild. So it can be applied to on anyone, even those with extremely sensitive skin.

Does Baby Oil Help You Tan?

Baby Oil for Tanning

Yes, baby oil can help you tan.

Applying baby oil to your skin does help you darken while laying out in the sun. Baby oil attracts UV rays which work to quickly tan your skin. It produces a faster tan compared to other tanning methods and results in a deeper color.

Because the ingredients in baby oil soak deeply into your skin, you’ll find that you get a darker tan that lasts longer. This is because it seeps into all the layers of your skin rather than just the top layer as with most tanning lotions.

Apply some baby oil on your body, and get some good old sun. The UV rays penetrate your skin and you end up with a golden tan and darker skin.

What’s not to like?

Well, there are a couple of issues….

Tanning with Baby Oil

Tanning with baby oil is very simple. All you need to do is apply the baby oil to the areas of your body you’d like to tan. After doing so, sit out in the sun for a few minutes each tanning session. Ideally, you would do this tanning in the morning before the UV index is too high.

If you decide to use baby oil for tanning, remember to apply sunscreen at least every 2 hours to help protect your skin from sun damage, and cover up when the sun is at its peak.

If you decide to use baby oil for tanning, remember to apply sunscreen at least every 2 hours to help protect your skin from sun damage, and cover up when the sun is at its peak.

You might have to do this step even more frequently if you have sensitive or fair skin, or if you go in the water.

The Pros of Using Baby Oil for Tanning

There are plenty of benefits that come with using baby oil for tanning.

It Works Quickly

As mentioned above, laying out with baby oil in the sun works very quickly to give you a tan. It’s easy to overdo it with baby oil, so be careful, and at the very least, be sure to mix it with sunscreen.

It Gives You a Deep Tan

Another benefit many people like about baby oil is that it can help give you a deep tan. Baby oil tends to mix into the skin and give a very even tan, which can be quite nice. After a few uses, you’ll find that it also gives you an impressive tan quicker compared to some other tanning options.

It’s Hypoallergenic

Baby oil doesn’t have many ingredients, so it is usually quite skin-friendly, especially for those with sensitivities to fragrances, perfumes, and the like. Most pre-mixed tanning lotions have scents and chemical stabilizers added, which can cause skin rash issues. Baby oils won’t have any of that in the ingredients list.

It’s Not Sticky

Some tanning lotions and oils can be very sticky when you apply them. This can make them uncomfortable to wear, particularly on a sandy beach, and could even cause skin irritation. Baby oil soaks into your skin to help hydrate it without irritating it.

Doesn’t Ruin Clothes

Some tanning lotions and oils will result in a brown, ugly stain on any clothing you’re wearing. Sure, it usually comes out in the wash, but who wants to deal with that? Baby oil won’t ruin your clothes or otherwise stain them.

The Cons of Using Baby Oil for Tanning

While baby oil can help you tan faster and give you a deeper tan, it has some side effects you need to keep in mind. Because baby oil attracts a lot of UV rays, it can cause severe sunburn and skin damage. You need to be careful using it, just as you would any outdoor tanning lotion.

Be sure to apply sunscreen if you’re using baby oil for tanning. See our guide on how to tan outside for further details on sunscreen and tanning lotion strategies.

Studies have also shown that baby oil can heighten your risk of skin cancer, such as melanoma. Due to this, use caution when tanning with baby oil, and always make sure to wear sunscreen and other skin protection tools.

Is Baby Oil Safe To Use?

Even if you apply a layer of baby oil to your skin and then soak up some sun exposure, you’re still risking skin cancer, sunburns, wrinkles, and all the downsides of tanning. Sunscreen won’t protect you completely, and baby oil does the exact opposite of sunscreen. In some ways, they cancel each other out.

It’s the tanning process itself that is risky.

This is why dermatologists say that baby oil is not safe to use, and why you should stay out of the sun altogether.

However, that’s not the complete picture. It’s worth examining the benefits of sun exposure and tanning. The problem is that there are risks to everything we do, and pointing at one risk without context doesn’t really help.

Everyone needs to choose the risks they take in life, and a life with no risk at all isn’t really a life. Choose the risks you take wisely.

Use caution when tanning with baby oil, and always make sure to wear sunscreen and other skin protection tools.

Alternatives for Luscious, Tanned Skin

If you prefer to use something a little less risky, you could try these tanning alternatives.

1. Self Tanners and Fake Tans

There are tons of self-tanners, tanning waters, and other fake tan products on the market nowadays. Many of them are excellent.

See our review of Tan Physics Self Tanners, Loving Tan, and Mystic Tan Self Tan for info on two of the top product lines out there.

These work great, but you need to be prepared to apply them correctly. Ideally, you should get a tanning mitt. Keep it clean. Use care when applying self-tanner to your back.

We should also mention that you can use baby oil to remove fake tan!

2. Tanning Towels

If you want to tan without putting yourself in the sun, you could use tanning towels. All you need to do is remove the small towels from their packaging and rub them over your body. You then just need to wait a few minutes for the application to dry.

They will then leave behind a tan on your skin which can last anywhere from two to four hours.

3. Spray Tans

Another alternative to baby oil is spray tanning. Most spray tans contain the chemical DHA, which turns your skin a darker color. However, you typically need to go to a salon to get this done, and it gets pricy over time.

It might also look a little unnatural if you spray too much on, or if you use a lower-quality tanning solution (stick to Norvell).

4. Other Outdoor Tanning Lotions with SPF

A tanning lotion with sunscreen works as both a bronzer and lotion that protects your skin from harmful UV rays. This option varies in its SPF levels while also helping to give your skin a magnificent glow.

You can rub the lotion on and get out in the sun with some protection. But this option has the same downsides as baby oil: you’re still getting harmful UVA and UVB rays from tanning.

5. Tanning Drops

Tanning drops are typically mixed with your moisturizer or body lotion to provide a mild tan look to your face and upper body. They are a quick, safe, and easy way to get a little color.

But you’re not going to get a luxe glow out of tanning drops!

Final Thoughts

Baby oil can make your skin tan faster and acts as a reflector that causes UV rays to deeply penetrate your skin. It gives a rich tan, and can easily lead to burns.

But is it safe to use baby oil in the sun?

Most dermatologists discourage tanning altogether, and one in five Americans will end up with some type of skin cancer by age 70. It’s a real concern.

Even when mixed with sunscreen, baby oil can lead to overexposure to the sun and skin damage. Be careful, but live your life.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).