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How to Use Tanning Oil the RIGHT WAY: A Complete Guide

How to Use Tanning Oil

Now that summer’s coming around the corner, we’re all thinking of how to get that perfect, healthy-looking, even golden glow.

However, some of us aren’t blessed with naturally honey-toned skin, and a flawless tan and does require some hard work.

Tanning oil is one of the best products that can help you achieve a smooth, patch-free tanning experience. Here’s how to use them!

Table of Contents

Applying Tanning Oil

If you already know how to start tanning yourself, then applying tanning oil should be an easy process.

We’ll go over a few steps showing you how to use tanning oil to help you achieve glowing skin as quickly, safely, and smoothly as possible!

Step 1: Exfoliate Your Skin

Step 1

One thing you MUST do is exfoliate your skin.

Use a good quality scrub or dry body brush to get your skin smooth and prepared for the tanning oil.

This way, you get rid of any dry skin or dry patches that may affect the application of the tanning oil and disrupt the tanning process.

Step 2: ALWAYS Apply Your Sunscreen

Step 2

This is a CRUCIAL step in the tanning process. The most important part of all tanning methods is keeping yourself safe.

Too much UV exposure from the sun could seriously damage your skin and even cause cancer. So it’s always better to err on the cautious side and ensure you have adequate sun protection.

BEFORE applying the tanning oil, use a good quality sunscreen for tanning. The SPF number will depend on you and what your skin needs.

Every person tans at a different rate and some get sunburn more easily than others. Knowing your skin and understanding how fast it will darken is important to keep you safe.

Apply a fair amount of sunblock all over your body or wherever you plan on tanning and wait for it to dry before going in with the oil.

Step 3: Choose Your Preferred Tanning Oil

Step 3

You’ve got your skin exfoliated and protected. Great! Now, it’s time to choose the best product to get a tan the way you want.

Go to your local store and see if there are tanning oils and tanning oil products on the market that have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) number.

While that may sound counterproductive because SPF is meant to block the ultraviolet rays that cause your skin to tan, choose these tanning oil products.

Again, safety is key and an SPF 15 in tanning oils is high enough to protect your body but low enough to make sure the tanning oil still works.

Also, be sure to get a gentle formula if you have sensitive skin. Make sure it contains no allergens or irritants.

Step 4: Start Applying the Tanning Oil

Step 4

Now that your skin is properly prepped to tan, you’re ready to put on tanning oil!

Remember a little goes a long way.

  • Apply a dime-size amount of oil to your hands.
  • Rub them into the palms of your hands and spread the oil evenly on your body.
  • Apply the tanning oil and more as needed. Make sure that all parts of your body you plan to tan are properly covered.
  • Making sure the oil evenly covers your body will get you more even coloring.

If there are areas that have more or less tanning oils then the color will come off patchy. And you don’t want bad tanning effects, right?

Step 5: Lay Out in the Sun

Step 5

Here’s where we get to the actual tanning part of the tanning process.

You can choose to lay on the beach or by a poolside, but go somewhere where you have a fair amount of space to lay down and get your whole body under the sun.

Don’t let anyone ruin your precious tanning time!

Use a Towel

Lay out a towel first before lying down.

The oil could make it difficult to lay down easily because your body is slippery or if you’re on the beach you could get sand all over you.

And also, just for the sake of comfort, lay down a towel. You can read a book, listen to calming music, or whatever you choose to do to pass the time.

Remember to Time Yourself

If you give your front 15 minutes of sun and UV exposure then the back should get the same amount as well. Unless… you want to look like Ross after his unfortunate tanning experience.

If your main goal is to tan, then set aside a couple of minutes to do that. DO NOT swim or play around because it could wash off the oil and cause uneven tanning.

You could do the other activities before or after you choose to lay under the sun.

We suggest you read our article about how long you should get a tan, just to be sure.

Step 6: Moisturize and Use Sunscreen

Step 6

The final step to getting your perfectly tanned skin is to moisturize!

Laying under the sun and exposing your body to UV rays for an extended period of time is going to cause the skin to dry out.

We are aiming for healthy and well-protected tanned skin. Giving that moisture back to your skin will allow it to recover faster and keep it from cracking and peeling from the dryness.

Plus, as already mentioned, just be sure you’ve applied some sunscreen before even laying out in the sun.

How Does Tanning Oil Work?

How Does It Work

After all this, you may be wondering how does tanning oil work?  Do the ingredients in this beauty oil speed up the darkening of my skin?

Tanning oils speed up the melanin production process in the body. Your skin naturally produces melanin to protect itself from ultraviolet sun rays so that you don’t burn upon immediate exposure to the sun.

It is a naturally occurring pigment that makes the skin darker and differs per person. Tanning oils intensify this process by concentrating the sun rays on the skin.



Now, all there’s left to do is go to the store, get your tanning oils, lay out, and tan!

Just be sure to remember to wear sunscreen before you let your skin under the sun for much-needed sun protection. A good moisturizer should also come in handy to keep your skin supple and hydrated. 

So, go on and enjoy your new golden and bronzed look! You can also read through our article on why your legs won’t tan for more tanning tips.


August 31, 2021 – Improved article formatting, reviewed and updated overall content

July 14, 2021 – Reviewed and updated article links

Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.