What Does Tanning Oil Do and How to Use It

using tanning oil

Tanning oils have become a go-to for most tanning enthusiasts, though some people aren’t familiar with them and how they actually work.

A tanning oil works by attracting the rays of the sun to your skin. When you receive more intense radiation from the sunlight, it can penetrate deeper into your skin and reach the last layer of skin. It triggers melanocytes to produce melanin to give you a deeper and darker tan.

Are you also wondering how to use tanning oil or how it works in depth? Read on to find a complete guide on tanning oils. 

What Does Tanning Oil Do?

It is natural to wonder what does tanning oil actually does, especially if you aren’t familiar with it. Manufacturers specially formulate the tanning oil to aid the tanning process. Unlike tanning lotions that intensify the results, tanning oils help you achieve the results more consistently.

Tanning oil offers a wide range of properties which enables them to offer significant results to the user. The properties are:

·       Antioxidants

·       Anti-aging

·       UV protection

·       Repair skin damage

·       Moisturization

·       Skin vitalization

·       Instant tan

How Does Tanning Oil Work?

When you are trying to get a natural tan by lounging outside in the sun, using tanning oil is recommended by many experts. But does tanning oil work? Yes, it can work.

Although your skin is receiving ample UV radiation from the sun if you are outside, tanning oils help attract and focus this radiation onto your skin.

Applying a layer of tanning oil can intensify the rays which penetrate deeper into your skin. Upon reaching your skin, the UV radiation interacts with the cells present there, known as melanocytes, and triggers the production of the chemical melanin.  

Melanin is responsible for the darkening of your skin and the tan. The more the presence of melanin in your skin, the darker your skin will be.  

Tanning oils also contain two essential ingredients, which play a crucial role in how tanning oil works. They are:


Tanning oils often contain bronzers to help accelerate the process. The most common bronzer is DHA or Dihydroxyacetone, which is a chemical that interacts with the top layer of your skin.

It binds with the amino acids present in the dead cells of the top layer of skin to give you a tanned look. This reaction produces a bronzing effect that will wear off once the dead skin cells peel off. 


Another active ingredient present in tanning oil is moisturizer. The process of tanning can be harsh on your skin, which can often cause dryness. The presence of moisturizing agents like Vitamin E and glycerin can offer nourishment and make your skin soft and supple.   

How to Use Tanning Oil?

If you are planning to tan outside in the sun, you can use tanning oil to get a dark tan quickly. Take the tanning oil and pour a generous amount into your hands. Spread the oil in your palms and gently apply it all over your skin that you want to tan to create an even layer.

When you are applying the oil on sensitive areas like your face, make sure you apply it even more gently. You can apply it all over your body to get an even and smooth tanned look. Making tanning oils at home is also a great option if you don’t like the products available in the market.

If you wish to achieve an instant tan, you can re-apply the oil after every 2 hours. However, if you have sensitive skin that is prone to burning, you must re-apply it after 3 to 5 hours to ensure you don’t get sunburnt.

In case you are wondering what works best for you, you can try tanning oil vs no tanning oil test to know if you should use the oil or not. 

Related Questions:

Is Tanning Oil Bad for You?

No, tanning oil is not bad for you and your skin. They help you achieve a smooth and dark tan safely, provided you take other precautions. Make sure you aren’t allergic to the ingredients of the tanning oil. 

How Quickly Does Tanning Oil Work?

Tanning oil starts working as soon as you apply it to your skin. However, the time you need to get a tan depends on your skin type, skin tone, the intensity of sunlight, and how long you decide to sit in the rays of the sun.

While some people can develop a tan within 30 minutes, others might have to tan for 3-4 hours to achieve the required shade. 

Should You Put Tanning Oil on Your Face?

While it is advised not to put tanning oil on your face because of the skin being more sensitive, you can do that in case the particular oil is safe for use on the face. You must carefully check the ingredients and the guidelines of the tanning oil you are using to ascertain whether you can apply it to your face or not.

If you decide to put the oil on your face, do it very gently so that you don’t hamper your delicate skin. 

Scroll to Top