The Best DIY Tanning Oil for Dry Skin!


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If you’re looking for a body oil that contains all natural ingredients and can be used to not only soften skin but enhance your tanning process and give you a darker tan, this post is for you! My recipe for DIY tanning oil contains a beautiful blend of natural plant based oils and essential oils that is perfect when soaking up the summer sun! This is an easy recipe you can make in seconds and use immediately!


As I was getting my 20 minutes of sunlight the other day, I literally was blinded by my white, dry legs. Beach babe not present here!  It dawned on me that using a body oil while in the sun would be an effective way to hydrate and nourish the skin. Heat will open the pores and help moisture penetrate deeper-think about how a hot oil treatment works for the hair-the hair relies on the heat to open the hair cuticle so the oil can penetrate and replenish. The skin acts in a similar way. 

The sun is out, birds are chirping and the HEAT is high!  I’m ready to get some sun exposure!! But first, making my own tanning oil is an absolute must!  Today, I’m going to share my simple, go-to recipe that will help soften and moisturize dry skin while soaking up the sun this summer!

What is a Tanning Oil?

A tanning oil is a product that has a liquid consistency and is often made up of ingredients that sit on top of the skin, giving the skin an oily look. Tanning oils help achieve a dark tan because oil attracts the sun to the skin and increases the UV rays absorption into the skin. Not all skin types should use a tanning oil and those who do should use this product with caution. 

By slathering on any type of oil, whether it be homemade or store-bought, you are taking a risk of getting sun burnt. It is important to pay attention to what time of day you are using a tanning oil as well as your personal skin type. It is also a good idea to hold off on tanning oils until you have achieved a solid base tan. 

The Benefits of Sunlight & Vitamin D:

Daily, I try to spend small amounts of time outside. This helps keep vitamin D levels at an optimum level. Vitamin D is so incredibly important to overall good health. Our body natural makes vitamin D when we expose it to sunlight. You can also get vitamin D from certain foods and a vitamin D supplement but the most effective way to raise your vitamin D levels is by getting in the sunlight. Vitamin D is vital for boosting the immune system and fighting diseases, infections and viruses. 

A vitamin D deficiency can cause depression. That’s why so many people get the “winter blues” and feel immediately better once the temperatures rise and they can reap the benefits of direct sunlight. 

Vitamin D has also been linked with an enhanced protection against heart disease, cancer and diabetes. It’s been shown to help thyroid function as well.

Vitamin D has also been found to help with skin health. It can help control skin inflammation and facilitates cell renewal, repair and metabolism. 

According to THIS study, 40-80% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. 

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Arthritis
  • Immune disorders
  • ​Asthma
  • Chronic Pain
  • Skin issues like psoriasis
  • Developmental problems in children

As you can see, it’s so important to get vitamin D! The best way to get your vitamin D levels up is direct exposure to the sun. Using a SPF will block your body’s ability to make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Spending a small amount of time in the sun daily and spf free is vitally important! Turns out, small increments of time in the sun daily is the best and safest way to get a golden tan! Add a natural tanning oil and you’re really upping your skin’s health! 

Why Should You Make a DIY Tanning Oil:

  • Using a tanning oil will give a more even tan. It reflects and distributes the sunlight across all oiled areas.
  • By using an oil, you will attract the sun to your skin and tan quickly.  The flip side of that coin is that you will also burn more quickly!! A tanning oil can help you spend less time in the sun yet still achieve a golden glow. 
  • Organic oils are so nourishing and replenishing to the skin.
  • Regular tanning oils contain harsh chemicals like fragrance, benzophenone-3 and paraffinum liquidum. Paraffinum liquidum is actually mineral oil. Mineral oil is a prominent ingredient in many tanning oils as well as baby oil and it has been shown to clog pores, is petroleum based and is not environmentally friendly. Th list of ingredients for a product like Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil is a mile long and most of them are pronounceable. 
  • Making a DIY tanning oil is one of the easiest skincare DIY recipes you can make. It’s as simple as mixing ingredients in a bottle, closing the lid and giving it a good shake!
  • Using a tanning oil will help improve the skin’s elasticity. 

The Best Oils For Tanning:

While carrier oils are the perfect natural moisturizer, believe it or not there are carrier oils that actually have a natural SPF!  It is controversial whether these natural SPFs are actually effective. I thought I’d list the oils that boast an SPF in case you are interested. 

In this DIY recipe, I have chosen oils that contain SPF, however, you can use oils you have on hand because while it feels like a little layer of protection to use oils with SPF, when soaking up the sun for vitamin D reasons, we really don’t need the SPF, plus there isn’t a lot of evidence that supports these oils provide enough SPF to give enough protection we can count on for prolonged sun exposure. 

The oils I have chosen are for people with very dry skin. If you are looking for a lighter oil, you might choose hazelnut oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, jojoba oil or grapeseed oil. 

As far as essential oils go, I chose a mix of lavender oil, carrot seed oil and sandalwood oil. They each have SPF possibilities but you can choose your own favorite essential oils as long as you steer clear of citrus oils to avoid photosensitivity. 

Related Post: DIY Tanning Oil w/Bronzer

Oils with an SPF:

  • Red Raspberry Leaf=SPF 28-50
  • Carrot Seed Essential Oil=SPF 30-40
  • Sandalwood Essential Oil=SPF 30
  • Coconut Oil=SPF 2-8
  • Avocado Oil=SPF 4-15
  • Olive Oil=SPF 2-15
  • Lavender Essential Oil=SPF 6
  • Macadamia Nut Oil=SPF 6

What You’ll Need to Make DIY Tanning Oil:

*my picture shows a spray bottle but I have since found the sprayer can get clogged and spray unevenly so a pump bottle is the better choice.*


  • 1/4 cup Red Raspberry Seed Oil
  • 2 TBSP. Avocado Oil 
  • 2 TBSP Macadamia Nut Oil
  • 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil 
  • 5 drops Sandalwood Essential Oil 
  • 2 drops Carrot Seed Essential Oil 


  • 4 ounce glass pump bottle
  • Funnel


  1. Add all essential oils, macadamia nut oil and avocado oil into a 4 ounce glass pump bottle.
  2. Top off with red raspberry seed oil.
  3. Replace the pump.
  4. Shake well.


  • Shelf life: 6 months-1 year
  • Can be used as a body oil-no sun required!
  • This tanning oil is for dry skin and does not soak into the skin quickly which is perfect for laying out in the sun but if you would like to make a lighter, more absorbable version, replace avocado oil and macadamia nut oil with hazelnut oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, jojoba oil or grapeseed oil.
  • My essential oil selections are based on SPF. Essential oils are optional in this recipe. You can omit them or use whichever oils you prefer as long as they are not citrus oils.

Did you make this product?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Facebook

Precautionary Tips!

  • When using a new tanning oil whether it’s homemade or store bought, always test it out before spending large amounts of time in the sun. 
  • If you have a lighter skin tone or have fair skin, using a tanning oil is not recommended since it can accelerate the sun’s effect on your skin. It’s better to limit your time in the sun to the morning. If you end up getting too much sun, an after sun oil can be used after you are out of the sun. 
  • Because the oil will not soak in totally, your skin will be “shiny”.  This can actually attract the sun to your skin and make you burn or tan faster. 
  • I absolutely always protect my face from the sun.  Sun damage rears it’s UGLY head around your late 20’s-early 30’s depending on your skin type.  From that point on, sun damage is very easy to acquire.  Trust me on this one.  Hats and large sunglasses are a staple.
  • If you are going to be in the sun for more than 10-20 minutes you must re-apply your sunblock every 3 hours at least.  Read HERE for more info. on sunblocks and SPFs.
  • Natural oils oxidize (lose some of their medicinal properties) over time and when exposed to light.  Always store your oil in a dark glass bottle and I like to keep mine under my lawn chair or in the beach bag rather than in sunlight.
  • Except Red Raspberry Seed Oil, most plant oils protect only against UVB rays.  UVA rays are the ones that AGE you so do not use this oil to protect for long amounts of sun time.  
  • The shelf life of a sunscreen is about 6 mos. A tanning oil is about 1 year.  Be sure to never use the same sunblock for more than 2 summers! You run a great risk that the sunscreen no longer works. As for oils, they can go rancid over time, especially if they are exposed to too much light. Don’t worry though-rancid oils have a very distinct smell. You will know if your oil has gone bad. 
  • For best results, use high quality ingredients. I have linked what I recommend. Your DIY is only as effective as the quality of your ingredients!

If you do get a sunburn Aloe Vera gel with a few drops of lavender is very healing-I also have a sunburn relief spray recipe.   For healing the face, chest or shoulder, manuka honey is an excellent mask to heal and relieve.  Leave on as long as you like.  I’ve written an article all about the huge benefits of Manuka Honey if you’d like more information.

This homemade tanning oil recipe is perfect for achieving a natural glow. It can also be used as a body oil. It’s perfect for after the shower to lock in moisture. 

Be good to your skin, it’s your largest organ!!  LIMIT your time in the sun.  NEVER allow your skin to burn and be sure to replenish your skin with a natural moisturizer afterwards.

xx, Jenni



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