Should You Use Baby Oil For Tanning? All You Need To Know!

Written by Arshiya Syeda

Do you want to get tanned? There are a number of products on the market that claim to give you a healthy, glowing tan. But most of them are expensive, and using such tanning lotions is quite an ordeal.

An alternative? Some believe it is baby oil. Despite the availability of special tanning lotions and spas, baby oil continues to be a preferred choice for tanning. But is it safe? Or does it pose any major risks? Here, we discuss baby oil and its role in skin tanning. Read on. 

What Is Baby Oil?

Baby oil is a skin care product intended for use on infants. It moisturizes their skin and prevents any bacterial infections. Most baby oils contain mineral oils, vitamin E, and aloe. They also are very less likely to cause any skin irritation as they are specifically meant for use on the sensitive skin of babies.

But does baby oil really help you get tanned? Let us find out in the next section.

Does Baby Oil Help You Tan?

While research is limited, applying some baby oil to your skin might help you tan easily. The oil does not keep the sun’s rays from penetrating your skin.

Some also believe that combining baby oil and iodine may help with tanning. Iodine is thought to work similar to baby oil. Using an iodine and baby oil tanning mixture is also thought to cause nausea and vomiting. However, using baby oil and iodine for tanning may increase the risk of skin cancer.

Using baby oil for tanning has its own set of benefits. We will explore them in the next section.

Benefits Of Using Baby Oil For Tanning

  • Offers Quick Results: Baby oil usually contains no additional blends. Hence, it can work fast and offer you quick results.
  • Gives A Deep Tan: Baby oil seeps into your skin and offers a deep, rich tan. You only may need a few sessions with baby oil.  
  • Causes No Allergies: Baby oil contains no harsh chemicals as it is made exclusively for babies. It is very unlikely to cause any allergies.
  • It Is Non-Sticky: Most tanning lotions can be very sticky to touch. But baby oil easily seeps into your skin and leaves no sticky feeling.
  • Is Safe For Clothes: Baby oil leaves no pesky stains on your clothes. Most tanning lotions tend to stain your clothes.

You may be quite excited to use baby oil for tanning. But you also must know how safe it is for use on the skin.

Is It Safe To Use Baby Oil For Tanning?

No, it is not. The use of baby oil for sun tanning became popular in the late ’70s when the idea of sun damage was not clear. Today, we know enough about skin damage due to sun exposure and UVA/UVB rays.

Using baby oil for tanning may cause skin malignancies due to UV radiation. Rather than deflect the sun rays, baby oil may instead allow them to pass unhindered to the deeper skin layers.

Hence, using baby oil to tan your skin is not safe. It poses several risks. We have discussed them briefly in the next section.

What Are The Risks Of Tanning With Baby Oil?

Trying to achieve a tan with baby oil can potentially harm your skin. Here’s how:

  • Exposing your skin to the sun after using baby oil increases the risk of sunburn. It also may lead to further peeling and scarring of skin. You may even end up with patchy spots on your skin.
  • The sunburns may also increase the risk of skin cancer.
  • Exposing your skin to the sun for longer periods may make it wrinkled and saggy. Photoaging may not become apparent on your skin immediately after tanning with baby oil. But you will start observing its effects with time.
  • Excess exposure to UV radiation may also damage the skin cells and lead to tumors and other abnormal growths on skin.

Using baby oil for tanning does pose certain risks. But what if you can still use it and reduce the risks?

How Do You Use Baby Oil To Tan Your Skin?

You may try adding SPF to baby oil before using it on your skin. This might offer some protection against sun damage. Adding sunscreen to baby oil may also help moisturize the skin. However, research is very limited in this regard. Consult your dermatologist before using baby oil for tanning.


The idea of using baby oil for tanning originated in the late ‘70s. Women would use baby oil for tanning their skin as it was an inexpensive alternative to tanning lotions.

However, there has been a lack of awareness about the damage this practice can cause. While using baby oil for tanning is easy and less expensive, it also may increase the risk of skin cancer and other serious skin issues.

Using SPF with baby oil seems to be a safer option. That said, we recommend you consult your dermatologist before you use baby oil for tanning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use baby oil in a tanning bed?

No. Baby oil contains mineral oil, which may cause skin damage when used inside a tanning bed.


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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).