The search for natural sun protection products increases every year, which is great news. Today, we have many natural oils that offer a rather good UV protection. If you’re thinking of using Coconut oil for tanning, you’re on the right path. This article will help you understand how to do it properly.
You’ll also find information and details about:
- Answers to questions that most people want to know before using Coconut oil as tanning oil.
- Find out what type of Coconut oil is best for tanning and how to choose the best quality.
- Good practices and tips for easy and safe sunbathing while using the oil.
- Blend recipes with Coconut oil to protect your skin during and after sun exposure.
Q and A about the Use of Coconut Oil for Tanning (Benefits and Effects)
In moderate amounts, sunbathing is a very relaxing and beneficial activity. Usually, it is done during summer, when vacations and leaves are very popular. Aside from being relaxing, moderate sun exposure stimulates the production of vitamin D.
This vitamin is very important for the processing of magnesium and calcium. They are two important minerals for bone strength.
In an ideal world, you’d prepare your body for tanning slowly and gradually. Skin acts as a barrier between harmful UV rays and sensitive organs. Gradual sun exposure helps the skin produce enough melanin and filters to protect itself from the sun.
That’s why spring is a transition season. It is then when the skin slowly gets used to the sun. That’s also when it starts building its defense mechanism, which is the production of melanin.
Melanin is the pigment that gives the skin and eyes their colors. Melanin absorbs the UV rays and prevents them from damaging the cells.
But we don’t live in an ideal world, and there’s not enough time to take it slow to prepare the skin for more sun. We usually find ourselves right in the middle of the summer. It’s when people usually have a few spare days or weeks to soak up as much sun as possible.
As fun as it may be, sitting in the sun all day long is not a good idea.
You can still act responsibly though and use natural sun protection factor. A few good practices will also ensure a long-lasting, healthy tan.
Using Coconut oil for tanning is the first step. But let’s see what it is about this oil that makes it good and what can it do for you.
1. What is Coconut oil?
Coconut oil is a vegetable oil, also known as carrier oil. It is obtained from the fleshy part of the coconut and it’s full of essential fatty acids. It also contains polyphenols and vitamins (E and K).
Coconut is a fatty oil that spreads and absorbs really well when applied to the skin. The fatty acids it contains are essential to the skin. They are essential because the body doesn’t produce them on its own.
2. What makes Coconut oil good as tanning oil? What are its benefits?
Coconut produces a long-lasting and uniform protective film on the skin. This film acts as sunscreen. It is also a great emollient that nourishes and protects against the drying effects of the sun or wind.
The skin needs to be hydrated during sun exposures. The sun dries it out by evaporating the water found in the tissue.
Using Coconut oil for tanning traps the water inside the skin and prevents it from evaporating. Thus, the oil maintains the skin hydrated and elastic. It also feeds it essential nutrients to be able to protect itself from the UV rays.
The best part is that you can use Coconut oil for sunburns as well. In case you do get too much sun, the oil can soothe and help the skin regenerate faster.
You should apply this oil after sunbathing, as well as during and before. That will prevent moisture loss and help the tissue repair itself.
Coconut oil can also:
- Protect from skin conditions and infections.
- Give your body a summery glow, especially after getting a few darker shades.
- Make the skin’s texture feel a lot smoother.
- Prevent keratosis pilaris.
- Help reflect sun rays off your skin, so Coconut oil can be used as a mild sunscreen.
- Nourish the skin on a deep level.
- Protect from sunburns caused by moderate sun exposures.
Sunbathing with Coconut oil can be fun and very pleasant. The oil has a mild exotic fragrance that makes you think of palms and coconuts, and turquoise waters with fine sand beaches.
It is because the nut grows in such places, that it is so good for sun protection. Coconuts have their own defense mechanism that consists of protective fatty acids and other molecules.
That mechanism protects it from the constant scorch of sun, just like the oil does for the human skin.
Luckily, it’s not only good for tanning, but it is also recommended to use Coconut oil for sunburn or other milder burns.
Coconut oil contains alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). This vitamin can protect the cell membranes from damage caused by strong light. It is an antioxidant that has been proven to reduce sun damage to the skin.
It is also effective in reducing the depth of wrinkles and improving the skin texture. The skin becomes smoother and softer after applying the oil. Be careful though, as Coconut oil is comedogenic.
This means it should not be applied on the complexion, especially if it’s oily or mixed. Being comedogenic means the oil can block pores and cause acne.
Because it contains vitamin E, the use of Coconut oil for tanning can also increase hydration in the superficial layer of the skin. Alpha-tocopherol can prevent premature aging. It reduces the enzyme (collagenase) that destroys the collagen in the skin.
The oil’s high content of Lauric acid makes it a great anti-inflammatory. This property is especially useful for burns and irritations.
3. How safe are sunscreens? Is Coconut oil good as sunscreen?
Scientific evidence supports the benefits of sunscreens and sun blocks. They can minimize the damage to the skin caused by UV light, on short and long term. Using Coconut oil for tanning or as sunscreen can reduce the risk of skin cancer. That makes it a must in any summer skin care regimen.
4. Does the oil contain any SPF? Does Coconut oil help you tan?
Herbal oils have been tested for their sun protection in vitro. Essential oils have an SPF ranging between 1 and 7, while carrier oils range between 2 and 8. The SPF of Coconut oil is somewhere around 8.
This SPF factor means that the skin on which Coconut has been applied can tolerate the UV exposure up to 8 times. For example, maybe your skin takes 15 minutes to become red (without sunblock). Applying Coconut will allow you to sit in the sun 8 (SPF) X 15 minutes = 120 minutes until you redden.
The oil will have to be applied every 2 hours if you stay longer than that (which is not recommended).
The sweat and water can weaken the protective film of the natural sunscreen. In other words, Coconut oil can help you tan evenly and safely, as long as it’s done in small sessions.
Generally speaking, it’s very dangerous to sunbathe for hours and hours.
No matter how white or tanned you are, your Coconut oil for tanning will always offer a sun protection factor (SPF) of 8. The oil of Coconut can block out about 20% of UV rays.
No sunblock or sunscreen lotion can fully protect from UV rays. The highest SPF (75) can offer a protection of about 98%.
If done properly and in moderate amounts, sunbathing is good for the health and physical aspect. Depending on skin type, you may be able to stay longer in the sun.
The fairer the skin, the slower you’d have to take it with sun exposure. 20 – 30 minutes per tanning session, each day should help you get an even and beautiful tan. That usually happens without drying out the skin, making it peel, burn, etc.
The same thing applies to indoor tanning. This means that you could use Coconut oil for tanning beds, only for moderate exposures (10 – 15 minutes).
Too much tanning bed, just like too much sun exposure, can cause serious damage to the skin, including skin cancer. A 2010 study showed that frequent use of tanning bed can actually triple the risk of developing skin cancer (melanoma).
5. Why use Coconut oil for tanning instead of commercial lotions?
Commercial sun tan lotions contain many chemicals like alcohols, solvents and parabens. They’re all meant to protect from the sunlight, but they can also affect the skin. These chemicals can irritate and weaken the skin’s defense mechanism.
That in turn, will make it more prone to sunburns or infections. Some chemicals can also react badly under sunlight and break down. If that happens, the product fails to provide the protection you need.
One of the best alternatives is using Coconut oil as sunscreen. It is 100% pure and natural, without parabens, alcohols, solvents and other chemicals. It does more than simply reflecting UV rays off your skin for a limited period of time.
Coconut oil for tanning can also nourish and hydrate the skin. It can maintain it so during sun exposure and fight free radicals. It has antioxidant properties that scavenge for free radicals and prevent the DNA damage done by sunlight.
Coconut oil has many benefits for the skin, and you can read more about them here.
6. What happens when the skin gets tanned?
Tanning is a very complex process that involves many chemical reactions. These chain reactions are triggered by sun exposure. Basically, it involves the production of melanin, which is the pigment that gives the skin and eyes their color.
Melanin is stored in the epidermis, in cells called melanocytes. The melanin stored there spreads to neighboring cells during the tanning process (melanogenesis).
There are 3 types of radiation rays: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC rays are the most dangerous but luckily, the ozone layer stops its effects.
UVA is the type of radiation that penetrates very deep in the skin. It can cause DNA mutations and premature aging. They darken the existing melanin and give you a darker shade immediately.
This causes oxidative stress and the melanin thus produced, doesn’t offer sun protection. The tan doesn’t last long either.
UVB rays increase the melanin production. This translates into delayed tanning that shows after 3 or 4 days. This type of tan is the one you want as it can last for a few good weeks or months.
This tanning process offers a natural sun protection with a factor of 3. True tanning needs UVB exposure that can be obtained from sun or sunlamps (tanning beds).
Sunburns happen when the skin is exposed to powerful sun without having time to protect itself with enough melanin. You can use Coconut oil for sunburns safely, to soothe and calm down the affected skin.
It will also protect it from infections and help it regenerate and strengthen its defense layer. Make sure you only use virgin Coconut oil for tanning for best results. I will tell you more about how to spot a quality oil in a few paragraphs.
7. Can melanin be activated without sun?
There’s an entire chain reaction that stimulates the production of melanin. It all triggers with sun exposure. But some vitamins and enzymes can build a healthy reserve for the melanin production to happen faster. Melanin is stored in melanocytes (skin cells).
Many sources claim that Coconut oil can be used as tan accelerator. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any scientific data to support this effect yet. Coconut can’t stimulate the melanin production in the absence of UV rays.
Some pigments like beta-carotene can accumulate in the epidermis (superficial skin layer). They will then give the skin a yellower shade. They don’t actually stimulate the melanin production.
You can check out this study that shows how eating more carotene-rich vegetables can slightly change the skin color.
Other vitamins like the B complex, C and D can increase the production of melanin, once triggered by UV light.
8. What is the importance of using a natural SPF?
Sun protection is mandatory and necessary every day of the year. Sun rays reflect well in water and snow, or when it’s cloudy. This means that regardless of the season, you must always apply sunscreen before going out.
Natural tanning protection is best because it can help the skin maintain hydrated and nourished. It also prevents premature aging and skin cancer.
9. How much Coconut oil should one use for safe sun protection?
Here’s how to apply Coconut oil for tanning and protection correctly. The oil needs to be applied on all uncovered areas 15 minutes before going out. This includes the ears, lips, neck and face, toes and fingers, and of course the arms and legs.
Specialists recommend a generous coat of SPF lotion. That is 1 Oz (30ml) of sunscreen lotion, or the equivalent of a full shot glass. Take this measurement as guideline and apply it all over the exposed skin.
You can imagine that during sunbathing, the quantity will be a lot more for the whole body.
10. How to use/apply Coconut oil for tanning?
The oil can be applied pure and undiluted, directly to the skin before, during and after sun exposure. You can go to the beach this summer with only one product to meet all your skin’s needs.
You can apply Coconut oil before bed, every night and day to protect your skin and maintain it hydrated. That will also keep it elastic and firm for a very long time, being able to delay the aging process with many years.
Under certain circumstances, the oil can also be mixed with certain essential oils. For instance, for sunburns and scars, you can use Immortelle or Helichrysum essential oil.
- For calming irritation and redness, Lavender essential oil is a good choice.
- Carrot seed essential oil is one very good essence to use to aid the tanning process.
Your blends will all be natural and non-toxic, helping the skin to get a beautiful and even tan.
Coconut Oil Sunscreen Lotion Recipes, Tips and Good Practices
A responsible way of getting a beautiful tan is to expose your skin gradually for a few hours a day. There are certain hours between which no person should sun bathe.
That’s when the radiation is very powerful. That is also where the highest risk of skin cancer lies. Usually, morning and evening hours are the best to get a tan.
The following blend recipes with Coconut oil will help you get a complete protection. Just remember that the oil has a modest sun protection factor though. That means you should not stand in scorching sun wearing only Coconut oil. If you absolutely must, you should then go for an SPF of at least 30.
Coconut Oil Tanning Lotion Recipe
- Coconut oil: 1 Oz. (30 ml)
- Sesame oil: ½ Oz (15 ml)
- Avocado oil: ½ Oz (15 ml)
- Helichrysum essential oil: 10 drops
- Carrot Seed essential oil: 20 drops
Blend all these oils together and shake well before each application. Keep them stored in a dark container, with a pump.
Keep the blend in a cool, dark place (buried in the sand, for example), or in the fridge while not using it. The general SPF of this blend will be around 8, because Coconut oil has the highest protection factor.
Even though Sesame oil has a lower SPF than Coconut, it was found to block out 30% of UV rays. It is also very rich in vitamin E.
Avocado oil is a great protective and anti-inflammatory. It also works great with Coconut oil for tanning. The 2 essential oils will help protect against free radicals and regenerate the skin, preventing burning or scars.
This Coconut oil tanning lotion can be used before and during sun exposure.
After Sun Exposure Soothing Coconut Oil Recipe
- Coconut oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
- Aloe Vera gel: 1 Oz (30ml)
- Lavender essential oil: 25 drops
- Peppermint essential oil: 10 drops
Shake the blend well before application. Use on all the skin after sun exposure and a mild shower to cool off and soothe the skin. The blend will have a minimum of 5 SPF and a maximum of 8 SPF. This blend is great to use after sun exposure and before going out to dinner, when the radiation is weaker.
Self-Tanning Lotion Recipe with Coconut Oil
- Coconut oil: 6 tablespoons
- Cocoa butter: 6 tablespoons
- Ylang Ylang essential oil: 10 drops
- Optional: cocoa powder
Melt the cocoa butter (on a double boiler) and add in the essential oil and Coconut oil as sun block. You can add more color with cocoa powder.
Scrub the skin gently and then apply this self-tanning lotion with circular movements. The scrub will ensure an even color and skin tone and allow the ingredients to fixate deeper in the skin.
This self-tanning lotion with Coconut oil is 100% natural and can be used all year round. The essential oil can be replaced with anything you like. Ylang Ylang has antioxidant and regenerative properties. Its role here is to soothe and relax your mind and body (aromatherapy).
What is the Best Coconut Oil for Safe Tanning?
The oil you use must be a very good quality one. The best one is virgin Coconut oil for tanning and protection. That means it shouldn’t be refined or fractionated. Some fatty acids or other nutrients were removed to give the latter products their texture, color and scent.
Natural Coconut oil is solid at room temperature (25 C). In summer though, it becomes liquid and very easy to spread. While solid, it is also easy to use as it melts right away when it touches the fingers.
On its label or product description, the oil must contain:
- Its Latin name: Cocos Nucifera.
- Extraction method: cold-pressed.
- Country of origin
- Whether it’s certified or not.
Let nothing stop you from asking the seller more details and information about the oil. They should post the GC-MS data for their products even without request.
If you want to use Coconut milk for tanning, that is ok. But only as a compress as it will not penetrate as deep as the oil. It doesn’t contain what the oil contains, being water-based.
In other words, comparing Coconut oil vs. Coconut milk is not a good idea as they are different products. Coconut oil is better for tanning!
Good Practices and Tips for Tanning with Coconut Oil
Good practices and habits are usually what make the difference between great and not so great results. Sun exposure is not something to be taken lightly, no matter how much you love your tan.
Everything should be done with measure, to guard your health as well as your skin’s tone.
- Apply Coconut oil as sunscreen every day of the year. Apply it 15 minutes before going out.
- Make sure you coat the exposed skin with 1 Oz of Coconut oil.
- A commercial sunscreen should last up to 3 years, if all the norms and regulations are respected. Coconut oil has a shelf life of at least one year, regardless of the storage conditions. In optimal storage conditions (dark, cool and dry places), the oil can very well last even 3 or 4 years. It is also easy to notice when it goes bad (rancid) because it will smell funny.
- Take vitamin D supplements to sustain the melanin production. The use of sunscreens may decrease the natural production of vitamin D that takes place during sun exposure.
- You can also take beta-carotene to fixate the tan better and prevent sunburns.
- Other good vitamins with antioxidant properties are the B complex and C.
- In case of sunburn, cool the skin with cold water and then apply Coconut oil on the sunburn. That’ll ease the discomfort and dryness of the skin.
- Drink plenty of water, especially during sun exposure. The sun exhausts water resources from the body quite fast.
- Wear hats and light clothing to protect from direct sunlight.
- The best tanning sessions with Coconut oil alone, or any sunscreen for that matter, should be done in the morning and evenings. Avoid peak hours between 11am – 4pm.
- Don’t combine commercial sun block lotions with Coconut oil. Their sun protection effect can thus be cancelled.
As far as safe tanning goes, the best methods are those that involve gradual sun exposure. Natural sun protection is also available and effective while sunbathing with measure.
A few hours a day, using Coconut oil for tanning as natural sunscreen can help you get an even skin tone.
Have you ever tried this oil as sun tan lotion? How was the tan afterward? I’m very curious to know what your experience with Coconut oil has been, as are others, I’m sure. So don’t be shy and use the comments section to share.