Olive oil, or any vegetable oil for that matter, is not considered safe to apply before tanning. Despite this, it can help you achieve a tan in a much shorter amount of time, but the risk of burning is also higher.
Read on to find out exactly why this is and also to discover some other ways olive oil is beneficial for the skin when the sun isn’t involved.
Is Olive Oil Good for Tanning?
No oil for tanning is considered safe because tanning as a whole is not but technically yes olive oil does make you tan faster.
When UV rays hit our skin they create free radicals, which affect how our DNA replicates and can cause precancerous cells or mutations that can become cancerous.
Wearing olive oil in the sun does not help prevent that from happening. Although, it can help you tan more quickly as it helps attract more UV rays to the skin.
When the sun isn’t involved, olive oil has a lot of benefits for your skin on its own. According to this study, published on Wiley, olive oil could help prevent pressure ulcers. Moreover, the polyunsaturated fats make your skin look and feel softer and smoother.
Does Olive Oil Make You Tan Faster?
Since olive oil attracts UV rays, it does make you tan faster than you normally would whether you were wearing sunscreen or not. That also means the chance of sunburn is higher as well.
You can expect to notice your skin tanning within 30 minutes, in fact, you should even begin to visually see your skin begin to redden at this time which is a sign that you’re starting to burn and you need to get out of the sun.
It is worth mentioning that olive oil can clog up pores, particularly on the face, so keep this in mind especially if you suffer from frequent breakouts of acne.
Does Olive Oil Make Skin Darker?
Olive oil doesn’t really enhance your tan or make it darker or last longer in any way; its only use would be achieving a tan by staying in the sun for a very short time.
Having said that, using olive oil after sun exposure has far more benefits.
Olive Oil After Sun Exposure
Olive oil contains fatty acids and antioxidants which can help combat sunburn, redness, dryness, and irritation.
It is very likely for your skin to get dry after tanning because a lot of moisture is lost, so a bit of olive oil would provide some hydration and eliminate the possibility of flaky, dry, and irritated skin.
Although there isn’t any evidence to prove that olive oil can neutralize free radicals, it may prevent any further damage after sun exposure.
This study, published on Oxford Academic, indicates that olive oil applied after sun exposure significantly reduced skin tumor growth in mice.
Is Coconut Oil or Olive Oil Better for Tanning?
It has been shown that coconut oil can reduce inflammation when applied to the skin, however, this vegetable oil is still not recommended for tanning as it does not have any SPF.
According to this study, published on National Center for Biotechnology Information, nonvolatile oils are between 2 and 4 when it comes to SPF values, and volatile oils fall between 1 and 7. Among the oils that were studied, olive oil had the highest SPF value.
This does not mean that olive oil can be used as sunscreen though, and sunscreen should still be worn while tanning. For more on using coconut oil read here – can you tan with coconut oil. Also in addition to coconut oil you may also consider to make your own at home tanning oil using different oils like avocado oil, walnut oil etc.
Can I Mix Olive Oil with Sunscreen?
It’s not usually a good idea to mix olive oil and sunscreen, especially if it’s a chemical-based one.
This is because chemical-based sunscreens contain active ingredients such as avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate and octocrylene, which fully absorb into your skin in order to be effective.
Olive oil would act as a barrier on your skin, preventing those chemicals from working properly and so it would be best to apply your sunscreen beforehand, let it properly absorb first, then apply olive oil.
Even when using mineral sunscreen, there is no evidence to support that it’s safe to combine the two together, but it would be safer to apply it on top of the olive oil instead. Once again sparing some time in between for absorption.
The reason this would work better is due to ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which rest on top of your skin instead.