Does Coconut Oil Help You Tan? Get Natural, Luminous Skin!

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Take a look at the ingredients of the products you use every day. There is a huge chance that one of them is coconut oil. It’s a versatile oil that has a variety of properties that benefits the body.

With our modern trends of using more natural products, the spotlight is has been 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 tanning. Does Coconut Oil Help You Tan? It certainly can!

But before you grab your jar of pure 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.

How to Use Coconut Oil for Tanning

Effects Of Coconut Oil On Skin

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 like coconut oil even before you decide to get a tan. With hydrated skin, the tan looks more even and can be last longer.

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.

Coconut Oil and UV Protection

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 alone.

The maximum amount of time you can stay under the sun unprotected depends on your skin type. It ranges from skin type I to VI. Be sure to 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 coconut oil for tanning outside, 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 sunburns 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 people who are using coconut oil to remove their tan. Like coconut oil for tanning, pure coconut oil cannot instantly remove your tan.

A tan that is a result of increased melanin due to UV exposure cannot be removed by simply slathering coconut oil. The melanin would 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 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.

Does Coconut Oil Help You Tan? How?

Coconut Oil Tan

Using pure coconut oil alone for tanning is highly risky because there is little UV protection. Prolonged exposure to UV rays, either from natural or artificial sources, is a major risk factor in 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.

The coconut oil can help provide added moisture your skin needs and the sunscreen 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.

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 from the way they are extracted like cold-pressed, expeller-pressed, and centrifuge extracted.

We can stay here all day long and discuss the different kinds in detail. But who wants that boring stuff? The most important thing is to know which is the best to use for the skin.

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, a non-comedogenic oil like the one from Baebody Naturals.

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. You need to exfoliate the skin with a gentle exfoliating scrub or a loofah brush.

This helps remove the dead skin cells for a more radiant appearance and helps prep the skin for tanning.

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 get 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.

Create Your Coconut Oil 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 the 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 be a bit less even.

Apply Mixture To The Whole Body

Starting from your feet, spread the mixture to your body. Continue mixing and spreading as you go up towards 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.

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 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 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.

Essano Coconut Oil Gradual Tan, 200ml (6.6oz)
Essano Coconut Oil Gradual Tan, 200ml (6.6oz)
Gradual Tanning Body Lotion with Coconut Oil, Evening Primrose Oil and Cocoa Butter; For all skin types

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.

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.

COCOOIL Tanning oil

COCOOIL Tanning Oil

This tanning oil offers minimal UV protection with their 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.


There is no denying that coconut oil 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 tanning.

Nevertheless, it can still be combined with different ingredients and products to create an effective tanning product that will make the skin look golden bronze, 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

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