DIY Sandalwood Tanning Oil

DIY Sandalwood Tanning Oil

Heading to the beach, pool, or lake this summer? What would a day by the water be without a little color? The goal is not to turn into a lobster; rather, it should be to get a subtle kiss from the sun in the form of a tan.

Spending a lot of time in the sun can be dangerous if you don’t take the proper measures to protect your skin. You can continue to apply sunscreen (preferably a safe mineral version) and spend trade off between sun exposure and time in the shade. Should you want to absorb some free vitamin D and tan, you may want to use a tanning oil

How Does Tanning Oil Work?

Essentially, a tanning oil helps to accelerate the process of tanning when you are out in the sun. Tanning oils attract more UV rays to help you achieve a deeper tan by allowing your skin to absorb them at an increased rate. When you apply a thin layer of tanning oil to the skin, you lower the skin’s refractive index. The result is a nice looking tan, but how healthy is this process for your skin? 

Most tanning oils lack SPF protection, even if you use natural oils, including coconut oil, sunflower oil, or olive oil. Most tanning oils have 15 SPF or less, but that is not enough to protect your skin from UV rays. Without proper SPF protection, the skin is not protected from sun exposure. Tanning is inherently “not great” for your skin, but you can tan smartly. If you want to tan, try to use an SPF of at least 30 and reapply every couple hours. Don’t forget to find shade so you aren’t in the sun for too long. 

A quick note: tanning is ultimately caused by an increase of melanin pigment formation. That only results from damage to the skin from harmful UV rays. Just keep that in mind when you decide to tan. 

Sun Protective Natural Ingredients

It is very important to understand that natural oils do not offer the same sun protection as natural oils. A 2021 study found that raspberry seed oil sits around 2.6 SPF, while carrot seed, coconut and wheat germ oils range from 0 to 2.8 SPF. A previous study from 2010 looked at the SPF of carrier oils and essential oils. Carrier oils ranged from 2 to 8 SPF, while essential oils ranged from 1 to 7 SPF. Olive oil and peppermint essential oil scored the highest. The only downside is that the study wasn’t conducted on human skin.

Even though the DIY tanning oil recipe in this article is not the same as regular sunscreen, it is healthier than a store bought tanning oil. This tanning oil contains olive oil, which has oleic acid and supports clearer skin. It also helps repair sun damage and may soothe dry skin. Plus, olive oil has high levels of squalene, which protects skin cells from aging. 

This tanning oil also contains avocado oil, which helps increase collagen production. Avocado oil is also rich in UV-protectant carotenoids, which offer mild protection from sun damage. Carrot seed oil offers vitamin A and vitamin E protection, which help fight off UV rays. Finally, raspberry seed oil is rich in antioxidants and doesn’t leave a greasy film after application. 

DIY Tanning Oil


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red raspberry seed oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon carrot seed oil
  • 10 drops sandalwood essential oil (optional)
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon bronze mica powder (optional)


  • Add all of the ingredients, including the optional ones if using, to an amber glass bottle and shake well to combine. If you have a bottle with a pump or pop top, that is ideal. 
  • Use as needed for mild sun exposure to help get a golden tan without burning the skin. 
  • As a reminder, this is not a replacement for sunscreen and should not be used as such.

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