Coconut Oil For Tanning: Does Coconut Oil Help You Tan?

Tanning at the Beach
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Given our modern focus on natural products, the spotlight is shining on coconut oil. A few years ago the light was much larger, and coconut oil was suggested for all sorts of crazy uses. Some of that has calmed down now, and coconut oil is no longer promoted as a miracle cure-all. Good!

That said, coconut oil does have some very helpful uses beyond cooking.

One of the biggest ones is using coconut oil for tanning.

Does Coconut Oil Help You Tan?

Yes, coconut oil can definitely help you get a darker tan!

But before you grab your jar of virgin coconut oil, slather it all over your body, and run outdoors to get burned to a crisp, let’s go over the details. Let’s also get to know the steps of how to use coconut oil for tanning.

Later on, we’ll also share some alternatives you can use if you don’t want to deal with pure coconut oil.


Does Coconut Oil Help You Tan?

Coconut Oil Tan

Using pure coconut oil alone for tanning is highly risky because there is little to no UV protection. Coconut oil cannot protect your skin alone. And as everyone knows, prolonged exposure to UV rays, either from natural or artificial sources, is a major risk factor for developing skin cancer.

That said, you can use coconut oil for tanning outside. However, you need to use it in conjunction with your favorite sunscreen.

Is It Safe To Tan With Coconut Oil Layered Over Sunscreen?

Many dermatologists would say that no tanning is safe, regardless of the amount of sunscreen you use, what you put on your skin, etc. But is driving a car safe, really? How about crossing the street? How about sitting on the couch watching Netflix and eating takeout?

There are risks to everything we do, and even not doing anything has risks. Adults should choose the risks they take after understanding them.

How To Use Coconut Oil For Tanning

How to Use Coconut Oil for Tanning

Applying coconut oil may provide added moisture your skin needs, and the sunscreen used properly can help protect you from harmful UV rays as you develop your color and capture those benefits of tanning outdoors.

Here is how to do that.

1. Choose A Coconut Oil

Not all coconut oils are equal. There are lots of coconut oils out and they can be classified in multiple ways. There are organic, non-organic, refined, unrefined, virgin, or extra virgin types. They can also differ in the way they are extracted like cold-pressed, expeller-pressed, and centrifuge extracted.

For skincare purposes, choose organic, unrefined coconut oil like the one from Vita Coco. These are the ones that contain the nutrients that your skin needs. They are usually labeled as virgin, raw, or cold-pressed.

If you are not a fan of the coconut oil scent, you can choose organic refined coconut oil. These are still great moisturizers but their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may be diminished due to the baking and bleaching process.

You can try ones from La Tourangelle Organic.

Some people can be sensitive to unrefined and refined coconut oil. It can cause them to develop or worsen their acne. In this case, try a non-comedogenic oil like the one from Baebody Naturals.

2. Exfoliate Your Skin

Just like any other tanning session, you need to prepare your body before you go for a tan, whether you do it under the sun or not. Exfoliate the skin with a gentle exfoliating scrub or a loofah brush. This helps remove the dead skin cells and produce a more radiant appearance. Exfoliation helps prep the skin for tanning.

3. Prepare Your Coconut Oil

If coconut oil is above 76′ F, it will take a liquid form. Below 76′, it will remain solid. Depending on the temperature in your house or where you store your coconut oil, you’ll have one or the other.

But to apply your oil, you need it to be in liquid form. If you’ve got solid coconut oil, you’ll need to melt it to liquid format so you can easily spread it all over your body. This also makes it easier to mix with the sunscreen of your choice.

To do this, all you need is a bowl of hot water. Place the jar in this bowl and wait for about 15 minutes. once most of the coconut oil has melted, you can proceed to the next step.

4. Create Your Coconut Oil and Sunscreen Solution

Mix the liquified coconut oil with an equal amount of sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen, ideally mineral-based for safety, at least SPF30. This Elta one is an excellent choice.

Place both sunscreen and coconut oil on your palms and mix them.

For those who don’t want to bother melting the coconut oil, you can skip that step and just mix the solid coconut oil in your hand with the sunscreen. But it will take longer, and you risk a less even, streaky tan.

5. Apply Mixture To The Whole Body

Starting from your feet, spread the mixture to your body. Continue mixing and spreading as you go up toward your neck. You can also use this mixture for the face or use another product specifically for the face. Some prefer a specific facial sunscreen.

After you’re done applying the mixture, let your body absorb it. Depending on the sunscreen you use, you can go out immediately or wait for 15 minutes before exposing your body to the sun.

Make sure you reapply the mixture or just the sunscreen if you’re going to be out in the sun for a long time. Don’t be stupid, and take your time tanning, to build your base tan evenly.

 Don’t be stupid, and take your time tanning, to build your base tan evenly.

Coconut Oil After Tanning

Once you’re done tanning for the day, have showered, and are out of the sun, it’s a great idea to apply another layer of coconut oil to hydrate and moisturize your skin. This isn’t going to amplify your tan or anything, but it will make your skin feel great, and will help prolong your tan.

Benefits of Using Coconut Oil On Your Skin

1. It Hydrates And Moisturizes

Coconut oil is composed of saturated fatty acids, unsaturated fatty acids, and vitamins. The fatty acids are great for the skin because it keeps the skin healthier and more hydrated. The moisturizing properties of coconut oil make it an ideal ingredient for beauty and skin products.

And it’s everywhere, in tons of cosmetics. We’re sure you already know that!

We all know that moisturized skin tans better than dry skin. So it’s a great idea to use moisturizing products and natural oils such as coconut oil, even before you decide to get a tan. If your skin is hydrated, your tan will be more even, and potentially will last longer.

2. It Has Anti-Microbial And Anti-Inflammatory Capability

Apart from moisturizing, it also has antimicrobial properties due to fatty acids like Lauric acid and Capric acid. Both of them help reduce different microorganisms that can cause, acne, folliculitis, and other skin infections.

Coconut oil also has anti-inflammatory properties, that can help relieve various skin disorders like eczema.

3. Coconut Oil and UV Protection – Is It Safe To Use Coconut Oil for Tanning

Contrary to what some believe, coconut oil does not have a strong enough UV blocking capacity to provide significant UV protection for the skin. This means tanning with only coconut oil on the skin will still result in sunburns.

Like other tanning oils, coconut oil creates a layer on top of the skin. This layer speeds up tanning because it makes the UV rays, both UVA and UVB, easily reach the melanocytes to produce melanin.

This means that although you tan faster, you will also burn faster too. And sunburns are not good.

Coconut oil alone will not protect you from the sun, and should not be used by itself. And as mentioned above, tanning has risks.

Coconut oil alone will not protect you from the sun, and should not be used by itself.

The maximum amount of time you can stay exposed to the sun unprotected depends on your skin type. The Fitzpatrick Scale is a good guide, and ranges from skin type I to VI.

Check the UV Index Forecast in your area, and if you’re going to be out in the sun for any significant period of time when the UV Index is 3 or above, you should be using sunscreen.

Coconuts on Beach

What Kind Of Coconut Oil For Tanning?

You can use any kind of product containing coconut oil for your time in the sun, but you have to make sure it has sunscreen. If not, you have to top it with sunscreen or you’ll put yourself in danger of sunburn and skin cancer.

While you can manually mix coconut oil products and sunscreen, there are not many products in the market that have done this for you.

These tanning coconut oil products include ingredients that provide various levels of sun protection. Always check the label and see if they contain sunscreen.

Does Coconut Oil Remove Tan?

There are people using coconut oil to help get a tan, and there are also those who attempt to use coconut oil to remove their tan. But while coconut oil can nourish your skin, it cannot remove a tan.

A tan that is a result of increased melanin due to UV exposure, and cannot be removed by simply slathering coconut oil or anything else.

The melanin is at the bottom of the epidermis (the first layer of skin) and you can’t get that off. It will still be present as long as you expose yourself to the UV rays. It is there to protect your body, so only when it’s not needed anymore (i.e. you’re out of the sun for a period of time) that your body won’t release much of it.

On the other hand, a tan due to spray tans and sunless tanning only affects the outermost layer of the skin. This is easier to remove fake tan because the dead cells affected can be exfoliated easily.

In this scenario, you can use a coconut oil scrub, which is a mixture of coconut oil and sugar, salt, or coffee grounds.

Alternative Products To Coconut Oil & Sunscreen Mixture

Due to the known benefits of coconut oil, a lot of products now include it in their list of ingredients. No need to heat, mix, or deal with cooking-grade coconut oil here.

Some of these are self-tanners, and others are tanning oils. Some include sunscreen, and some don’t. If they don’t have sunscreen, you’ll need to apply a separate sunblock.

Essano Gradual Tan

Essano Gradual Tan

This sunless gradual tanner gives you a tan without needing UV exposure. Build up to your color preference by using it regularly. It contains luscious ingredients like evening primrose oil, cocoa butter, and of course, coconut oil to keep the skin moisturized.

It is also non-comedogenic and dermatologically tested for all skin types. However, it does not include sunscreen.

Fake Bake Flawless

Fake Bake Flawless

Like the first one, this is also is a self-tanning product but it is in the form of a serum. It is lightweight and carefully formulated not only for the body but also for the face. Natural coconut oil is used as an anti-aging ingredient because of its capability to deeply moisturize and nourish the skin.

It also contains hyaluronic acid for even more moisturizing capability.

This does not include sunscreen.

Fake Bake Flawless Coconut Sunless Tanning Serum with Hyaluronic Acid Lightweight Illuminating Face & Body Gradual Self Tanner - Hydrating & Rejuvenating Skin Care for Women & Men - 5 oz
  • CLEAN BEAUTY SOLUTION - Our tanners are...

Black Coconut Tanning Lotion

Black Coconut Tanning Lotion

If you want to achieve an instant tan, this bronzer tanning lotion is suitable for you. It contains DHA and bronzers so you can instantly tan while your tan develops. It has coconut oil to help achieve an even tone and to make the skin silky smooth.

It also contains cocoa butter as well as orange and mango extracts to help prevent aging while tanning.

No sunblock is present in this stuff, so you’ll need to apply your own.

Reef Tan Oil

Reef Tan Oil

The first three products mentioned can give you a tan without sun exposure but if you prefer a more natural tan from the sun, then you should get the Reef Dry Sun Tan Oil.

It has an SPF of 30 so you can be sure that you are well protected from harmful UV rays that burn your skin. It contains a mixture of almond oil, sesame oil, and coconut oil, which all make the skin look youthful and glowing.

Reef Dark Sun Tan Oil Coconut 125ml (SPF30+)
  • ALMOND OIL Your skin’s daily vitamins...
  • SESAME OIL Rich in essential...
  • COCONUT OIL An antioxidant combined with...

COCOOIL Tanning oil

COCOOIL Tanning Oil

This tanning oil offers minimal UV protection with its SPF 6. This is a little better than what a base-tan provides, but is not enough protection for long-term sun exposure.

That means this oil has to be reapplied frequently and right after swimming.

It uses cold-pressed organic coconut oil to counter the sun’s drying effect on the skin. It combines natural botanicals, beeswax, and coconut oil for an all-natural and hydrating tanning oil.

COCOOIL Tanning Oil SPF 6 | Organic Coconut Oil, Natural Botanical Oils, Cruelty Free | 6.7 Fl Oz
  • TANNING OIL WITH SPF 6: Formulated with...
  • HOW TO APPLY: Apply generous amounts of...
  • PROTECTS AND NOURISHES: Add to your...

Final Thoughts

There is no denying that coconut oil can help you tan and has numerous benefits for the skin. But that does not mean it can do everything! It doesn’t work as sunblock, and you should not use it by itself for safe tanning.

But it can be combined with different ingredients and products to create an effective tanning product that will make the skin look golden bronze and beautiful!

Its moisturizing property is very important in achieving an even tan. It’s no surprise that lots of tan-related products have it in their ingredient list. Coconut oil can really help your tanning process, and leave you with supple, luscious skin. Just be smart and combine it with appropriate sunscreen!

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).