How To Use Coconut Oil For Tanning

Get that sunkissed glow with the nourishment and goodness of this versatile oil.

Medically reviewed by Dr. CP ThajudheenDr. CP Thajudheen, MD
By Esha SaxenaEsha Saxena  • 

If you are someone who wishes to have a body that looks like you just returned from a summer beach vacation, then this article is for you. Anyone who wants to have a tanned body without artificial tanners can use coconut oil for tanning.

Coconut oil helps you get a perfect tan and maintains your skin’s hydration levels during sunbathing. So, how do you use it for tanning? Is it safe to use coconut oil for tanning? How does it work? This article discusses everything you need to know about tanning with coconut oil. Keep reading to learn more.

Does Coconut Oil Help You Tan?

Woman applying coconut oil for skin

Image: Shutterstock

Tanning with oils helps attract and focus the UV rays on the skin. It may also help increase the rate of tanning. While coconut oil does not provide sufficient SPF protection, it can certainly be used as an alternative to synthetic tanning lotions and oils.

Dr. Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist, says, “Coconut oil can help with tanning, and it helps if you want to keep your tanning “organic” and “natural.” However, coconut oil cannot protect you from sunburn and other harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays.”

The composition and ingredients in coconut oil as sunscreen can benefit your skin in countless ways. Here’s precisely how it helps you tan efficiently:

1. Coconut Oil Speeds Up The Absorption Of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for both your body and skin. While coconut oil blocks UV rays by 75%, thanks to its SPF of 4, it also allows your skin to absorb the goodness of vitamin D rapidly.

2. Coconut Oil Nourishes And Protects Your Skin

Woman applying coconut oil for skin

Image: Shutterstock

During a tanning session, your skin is exposed to strong sunlight and harmful UV rays. Coconut oil helps cut down skin damage with the help of the stable saturated fats in it that form a protective layer on your skin (1). These saturated fats and vitamins provide nourishing care to your skin and help reduce the loss of moisture. Additionally, coconut oil helps replenish the natural shine of your skin.

3. Coconut Oil Has Antibacterial And Antifungal Properties

Coconut oil in a glass bowl and glass bottle

Image: Shutterstock

Since your skin remains exposed to the sun for hours while tanning, it is an open invitation for microbes, bacteria, and fungus of all types that may cause infections. Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), capric acid, myristic acid, and lauric acid that lend it antifungal and antimicrobial properties and guard your skin against infections (2).

4. Coconut Oil Reduces Skin Inflammation

In case of possible inflammation resulting from the scorching sun, dust, or other environmental factors, coconut oil soothes your skin and helps prevent flare-ups. Its anti-inflammatory properties also prevent your skin from peeling or cracking.

Lastly, coconut oil is free of all the harmful chemicals and irritants that make the use of artificial products less preferable.

Using coconut oil for a radiant, natural, sun-kissed glow is simple. For best results, use virgin coconut oil as it offers more benefits than refined coconut oil.

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can distinguish virgin and unrefined coconut oil from refined oil by its taste and aroma. Refined coconut oil has a neutral taste and smell whereas raw virgin coconut has a rich and beautiful flavor and an aroma of coconuts.

Check out the step-by-step guide on how to use coconut oil for tanning in the next section.

How To Use Coconut Oil For Tanning – Step-By-Step Tutorial

How to use coconut oil for tanning

Image: Shutterstock

Step 1: Massage some coconut oil all over your body. Make sure you cover every bit of exposed skin to moisturize and tan evenly. If you are heading to the beach or the pool, you can take it with you in a pump bottle.

Step 2: Remember to wear your sunglasses and hat. Your eyes and the skin around it are extremely delicate and need UV protection. Also, avoid falling asleep outdoors with your sunglasses as it can create some unsightly tan lines on your face.

Step 3: Go bask in the sun. However, do not stay in direct sunlight for longer than 20 minutes at a time. The effects can vary from person to person, depending on your skin type. Stick to 15-20 minutes a day to get a bronze tan and soak up adequate amounts of vitamin D. Dr. Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist, says “Twenty minutes under the sun with coconut oil on your skin can help you achieve a natural tan. But make sure not to stay too long under the sun.”

The Dangers of UV Exposure

The dangers of UV exposure

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Spending a lot of time in the sun, especially without sun protection, can not only damage your skin but can also cause premature aging and lead to skin cancer. Coconut oil as tanning oil works best for women.

So, the question is, is there such a thing as a safe suntan?

The answer is, yes. Although it does not come without risks, the best way to get a healthy tan is to not overexpose your skin to UV rays. It is advisable to tan gradually by dividing your time under the sun evenly to reduce sunburn.

Tan in small doses and choose wisely what time you decide to go for a suntan. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says UV strength is greatest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during sunny summer days (3).

protip_icon Quick Tip
Apply sunscreen generously to the parts of your body that will be exposed to the sun. A sunscreen with SPF 30 is strong enough to offer protection against UV damage and yet not strong enough to prevent a tan. So, you can still get tanned while staying protected against the harmful effects of the UV rays.

Despite the fact that coconut oil is beneficial for your skin in many ways, it is not a good idea for everyone to use it for tanning. Depending on your skin type and the way your skin reacts to the sun, coconut oil may have different effects on different people. For instance, if your skin is on the oilier side, coconut oil is a risky deal for you as it may result in acne breakouts.

Infographic: Why Is Coconut Oil Good For Tanning?

As you come down to the end of this article, we’d like to take you through memory lane to remind you why coconut oil is good for tanning. Take a sneak peak at all of its amazing beauty and skin care benefits. And, keep reading to also get a refresher on the right steps to use coconut oil.

Check out the below infographic to know more!

why is coconut oil good for tanning (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

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Download Infographic in PDF version

People looking to get tanned without using artificial tanners can use coconut oil for tanning. Studies suggest that using coconut oil may quickly absorb vitamin D from the sun and protect the skin from inflammation while also acting as a moisturizer. Its high vitamin and healthy fat content makes it suitable for hydrating dry skin and protecting the skin from skin infections. You can apply some coconut oil over your body and sit under the sun for 20 minutes to get a natural tan. Be careful not to sit under the sun for too long as coconut oil does not offer enough protection against UV rays.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is coconut oil a natural sunscreen?

No. Natural oils like coconut oil cannot be used as standalone sunscreen. It does not offer the SPF needed to keep your skin safe from UV rays. Coconut oil for tan removal is a safe way for Skin. According to Dr. Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist, “It can help to mix sunscreen and coconut oils to keep your skin hydrated and protected under the sun.”

Is olive oil or coconut oil better for tanning?

Olive oil and coconut oil are both excellent for tanning. But olive oil will give you a better tropical glow than coconut oil because it attracts UV rays to the skin quickly. Also, the presence of fats may help shield the skin and prevent the formation of pressure ulcers.

Is coconut oil or baby oil better for tanning?

Using baby oil for tanning is not safe because it allows UV rays to pass through your skin layers. Coconut oil is preferable to baby oil.

Does coconut oil lighten or darken the skin?

Coconut oil can help lighten the skin. Also , when used along with lemon juice, it further enhances the skin lightening process.

Key Takeaways

  • Coconut oil helps you get the perfect natural tan without artificial tanners.
  • It allows your skin to absorb vitamin D faster.
  • It reduces moisture loss from your skin.
  • It helps guard your skin against infections with its antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
  • Coconut oil may result in acne breakouts if you have oily skin.
  • Applying coconut oil evenly to your skin, followed by sitting under the sun for 20 minutes, can give you an even, naturally tanned look.


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