DIY Tanning Lotions & Oils Recipes

Have you ever been walking through the beauty aisle at your local store or tanning salon and been a little shocked at how much a good bottle of tanning lotion is? I mean, seriously now, do these lotions have gold in them or something?

Don’t get me wrong. I like a nice bottle of tanning lotion as much as the next gal, but for crying out loud, $25 for a bottle of tanning lotion that costs, literally, pennies to make?

I use a few recipes that I got from Tanoholic.Com. These homemade recipes are SO GOOD, I just had to share.

These homemade lotions actually work FAR better than any store bought brand. I kid you not ladies!

Why Should You Take the Time to Make Your Own Tanning Lotion?

First off, you always want to consider your health. Everything you put on your skin is absorbed directly into your blood stream. So if you wouldn’t consider eating it, why would you put it on your skin??

The truth here is that too many of commercially made lotions contain tons of chemicals and ugly ingredients that you wouldn’t want to use on your skin.

I’m talking ingredients such as:

  • Parabens (which are known to cause cancer)
  • Formaldehyde (besides being a carcinogen, don’t they embalm people with that YUCK!)
  • GMO corn oil (uh- no thanks)
  • DHA (linked to damage to our DNA)
  • Phthalates (known to cause respiratory issues and interrupt our hormones)
  • Amyl Acetate (used for dry cleaning clothes)
  • Isopropyl Myristate  (binds to nitrates in the body, which are carcinogens)
  • Octyl Stearate (a known comedogenic, which means it blocks the pores)
  • Mineral Oil or other types of Petroleum Products

PETROLEUM based ingredients? PETROLEUM?  WTH?! I’m a woman, not a car!

These are all good reasons to avoid buying those commercially made tanning lotions.

Did you know that you can make your own tanning lotion at home? No kidding!

You can whip up a container in about 20 minutes. You will know exactly what is in it and it will all be super good for your skin.

Start saving those old containers of lotion so you can put your own lotion in the same bottle. All your friends will think you must be rich when they see 4 or 5 bottles lined up on your bathroom counter!

The Benefits of Homemade Self Tanning Lotion

Well, the obvious first benefit is avoiding all those ugly ingredients I listed above! Other benefits are:

  • You will know exactly what ingredients are in your lotion and, therefore, are going into your body!
  • They are far more inexpensive than store bought versions
  • The ingredients will be absolutely safe
  • There will be no side effects or allergic reactions


While all of the ingredients in the following recipes are harmless to 99.9% of people, you might be the rare exception.

Take note if you have ever had an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients listed here or if you notice any swelling, hives, or redness when you are using your lotion. If you have any reaction, rinse it off immediately and see a doctor super pronto!

Tips BEFORE Using Your Homemade Tanning Lotion

  • Shave the night before to prevent burns or irritation

  • If you wax, wait two days before applying your lotion

  • Exfoliate and shower an hour or so before you use your lotion

  • Avoid using nylon scrubbers or loofah’s as they can lead to streaking

  • Use cotton washcloths when you exfoliate

  • Use a good sugar scrub, such as Tree Hut (Check price on Amazon) or other quality brands

  • Do not apply makeup or other types of lotion after showering

  • If you have very dry skin and really need lotion

    Apply a very thin layer of a water-based lotion only, such as Dermalogica Calm Water Gel (Check price on Amazon), then wait at least 2 hours before applying your tanning lotion.

Tanoholic’s Super Easy Basic Method for DIY Tanning Lotion

There are several ways you can make your own lotion, but let’s start with the most basic of all recipes. This would be a white lotion based self-tanning lotion.

Ingredients You Will Need:

  1. Unscented basic white lotion (Such as Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion, Check price on Amazon)
  2. 100% Pure cocoa powder (Such as Pure Natural Cacao Powder, Check price on Amazon)

DO NOT use hot chocolate mix or other types of cocoa powder!

You must use 100% pure cocoa powder! Any brand is OK, just be sure the label says 100% pure!


  1. Start off by mixing ½ cup (about 4 ounces) of your unscented white lotion in a bowl with about 1/3 of a cup of cocoa powder.
  2. Using a fork, mix well, crushing any lumps of cocoa. You can then use a spatula to smooth the mixture out even more.
  3. Once the lotion is completely smooth, with no lumps, decide if you want a darker lotionKeep in mind that the lotion will look a bit darker in the bowl than on your skin.
  4. If you want a darker lotion, add about 1 tablespoon of cocoa to the mix at a time.
  5. Continue to add cocoa to the lotion until you reach your desired shade.
  6. Smooth the lotion over your body evenly.

This recipe will only last until your next shower! Don’t go swimming while wearing this as it will wash off!

This is great when you want to look tan for social events but don’t have time to develop a normal tan.

See this entire process in action here:

Tips for Storing and Using Your Tanning Lotion

  • Store your lotion in empty jars with pump type tops.
  • The lotion might look very dark in the bowl, but your body will not absorb nearly as much as you think it will.
  • If you worry about becoming “too” dark, use the standard recipe, and then layer the lotion every few hours until you reach your desired color.
  • Apply every day for a deep, yet gradual tan you will love.
  • If you are going out in the sun, don’t forget to use a sunscreen to protect your skin.
  • If you have more lotion than bottles, you can store it in any glass or plastic jar with a tight fitting lid and transfer it to your pump top bottle later.



Tanoholic’s Basic Tanning Oil Recipe

If you prefer an oil to a lotion, no one here will blame you. Tanning oils have very little streak problems and you need far less oil to cover your body than lotion. Better yet, you can spray an oil onto your body right after you shower and rub it in! Then you simply rinse down the shower.

Tanning oils mean no mess, no waiting for an hour for your skin to absorb the lotion, you just spray and wait.

Oh yes, the wait – you will have to wait a bit for the oil to absorb into your skin, but it will literally be only 5 to 7 minutes. Find an old towel that you don’t care about and rub your skin gently to help dry you off faster.

This recipe makes about 1 gallon, which should last you at least 6 weeks. Let’s get down to business, shall we?

Ingredients You Will Need:

  1. 3 Quarts (about ¾ of a gallon) of water
  2. Half a pound (which is 8 ounces) of unpeeled, organic fresh carrots (tops removed)
  3. 2.5 Cups of dark brown sugar
  4. ¼ Cup of coconut oil such as Vita Coco Organic Virgin (check price on Amazon)


  1. Rinse your carrots and cut them into thin slices
  2. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil and add the carrots, coconut oil, and brown sugar. Stir to mix
  3. Reduce heat and let simmer, uncovered, for about 3 hours
  4. Turn off the flame and allow to cool to room temperature
  5. Using a mesh strainer, strain out the carrots
  6. Pour into spray bottles such as Harris Professional (check price on Amazon). You can also store this in larger bottles until needed, and then transfer the oil to your smaller spray bottle

To Use:

  • Spray evenly over your body (usually right after showering is the best time)
  • Rub it in a little bit to help it dry quickly (but not too hard!)
  • Use an old towel as some of your tanning oil might rub off if it hasn’t completely dried
  • Apply daily until you reach the color you like, then just once a week to maintain that color
Just because you look tan doesn’t mean you ARE tan. You can still burn very easily! Wear sunscreen when you spend time in the sun!

Tanoholic’s Super Speedy Tanning Oil

If you want to look tan BEFORE you actually get tan, you are REALLY going to want to try this recipe first!

Like the basic recipe, this one uses coconut oil because it is a super accelerator when it comes to tanning. It’s like a magnifying glass in the sun. This will draw more of the sun’s UV tanning rays, which forces your body to turn that golden brown color everyone wants!

**WARNING #2**

More UV rays will lead to a faster tan, but it will also lead to faster burns! Please limit your tanning time, even with this terrific outdoor tanning oil. DO NOT LET YOURSELF BURN! This leads to skin damage and premature aging.

This recipe also uses something called lanolin. You can find this at any pharmacy or store or buy it from Amazon.

Lanolin is a natural compound that locks in skin moisture. This is an important step of you want to keep that tan going all winter long and not have dry, crinkly skin.

Also, lanolin is totally hypoallergenic, so if you have sensitive skin, this is also the recipe you should be using.

Ready? Let’s Get Going!

Ingredients You Will Need:

  1. A Blender
  2. 3 or 4 Black tea bags (brand or name doesn’t matter)
  3. ¼ Cup of lanolin
  4. ¼ Cup of coconut oil
  5. 1 Cup (8 ounces) of water


1. Boil the water and pour it into a mug (as if you were making tea)

2. Put your tea bags in the boiling water and set it aside

3. Take out your blender and put the coconut oil and lanolin in it

4. Take the tea bags out and squeeze them into the water to get all the color possible. Throw the tea bags out

4. If you have a plastic blender, make sure the tea is just warm!  If it’s too hot, it might melt the pitcher!

5. Pour half of the tea into the blender and set on medium setting

6. Slowly add the rest of the tea to your blender and mix for another few seconds

7. Pour into spray bottles! It’s that easy!

**Important Notes**

This mixture can be messy, which why we suggest using it in the shower. If you have white grout, however, you might want to use it outside.

It will turn your skin a beautiful brown, but it will also stain your clothes, towels, and anything else if it isn’t completely dry first!

Be very careful mixing it and pouring it so you don’t stain anything!

My Personal Favorite Self Tanning Recipe

There is no denying that the self tanning oil recipes above are super effective, but with my all white bathroom, I’m too worried that I will stain something and my landlord will go berserk. You know what I’m talking about I’m sure.

This lotion is simply amazing. You will look as though you have been hitting up the tanning bed all winter, when the truth is that you just used this one lotion

My favorite recipe uses coffee. You know that coffee stains your teeth, right? Well, it has the same effect on your skin.

The best thing, though, about this recipe is that the caffeine in coffee is well-known for firming and tightening the skin, as well as helping to reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Darker, tighter, no-orange-peel, luscious looking skin? SIGN ME UP!

This is so easy, you won’t believe it! Let’s get started!

You will need:


1. Plain, unscented white lotion (like the one we mentioned in the first recipe)

2. Super black coffee


1. Make the coffee in your coffee maker this way:

Use enough coffee grounds to make a full pot of coffee (whatever yours holds, such as 10 cups would take 10 teaspoons)
BUT only put about 9 ounces of water in the pot
This should give you one cup (8 ounces) of some seriously black coffee. Let the coffee cool down to room temperature before using.

2.  In a small bowl, mix about 4 ounces (half a cup) of white lotion and about half a cup of coffee for starters.

3. Mix with a fork and see if you like the color. Remember that the color in the bowl will look darker than when you put it on your skin so go for about 2 shades darker than you want.

4. If it’s too light, add about a tablespoon of coffee at a time until you get the right consistency.

5. If it’s too dark, add a tablespoon more of the white lotion.

6. Pour it into the container of your choice.

**Pro-Tips for Using This DIY Tanning Lotion

Shake well before each use
Use daily until you reach your desired color, then twice a week to maintain that color
Don’t forget to use sunscreen when you go in the sun

Grandma’s Natural Homemade Outdoor Tanning Oil

Don’t you just love your grandma? With decades of experience to back her up, she really knows what she’s talking about! (Well, most of the time anyway)

My grandmother told me this recipe when I was a pre-teen and I first started to yearn for that golden brown skin.

This is a natural recipe that isn’t a self tanner, but encourages your skin to turn brown faster. It has only 2 ingredients as well, so it’s super inexpensive to make.

The first ingredient is olive oil, which naturally has antioxidants which fight the damage from free radicals that we get whenever we are out in the sun.

The second ingredient is iodine. Yes, you read that right, Iodine. No, you won’t have fire engine red skin! Iodine actually protects your skin from the damaging UV rays of the sun.

So you will need:

1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2. Iodine (you can buy it at any drug store)

Find a spray top container and use a funnel to avoid a mess. Ready?


1. Fill your container about ¾ full of olive oil

2. Start by adding about 6 drops of iodine.

3. Shake well, and then spray over your body


Shake well before each use
Apply it liberally and rub it in well
You might want to use this in the shower. Iodine won’t stain your tile or grout, and you can rinse away any excess easily if you overspray.
Unfortunately, this isn’t waterproof so take your bottle with you and reapply if you want to go swimming or if you will be exercising
This has only mild (SPF5) sunscreen, so limit your time in the sun

Let’s Talk Vitamin D for Just a Minute

Going back to junior high for a little refresher course in science, OK?

Your skin turns sunlight into vitamin D. Remember that? What your teacher probably didn’t tell is that vitamin D not only works together with calcium to make your bones strong, it is also a natural cancer fighter!

A lack of vitamin D has been linked to breast cancer, problems during pregnancy, premature labor, even gestational diabetes.

A lack of sun exposure is worse than too much sun exposure.

At the same time, you want to protect your skin so that you don’t damage it and get that cowgirl, leathery, crinkly looking skin later on in life.

This is why I am going to tell you about how you can make your own natural sunscreen that will not only protect your skin, but let you tan and get that important vitamin D, all at the same time.

Does this sound good to you?

Great!  Keep Reading!

DIY Completely Natural Sunscreen& Tanning Oil

You’ve read several times that you should still consider using a sunscreen to help protect your skin, right? What if you could tan while using a sunscreen at the same time?

This sweet little recipe will do exactly that! It takes a bit more time to put together, but is SO worth the extra effort.

Be sure that you are buying powdered zinc oxide and NOT liquid or crème. Be careful not to inhale the powder (wear a bandana or mask to be sure) and don’t let your little ones or pets near the powder either.

Recipe for Natural Sunscreen & Tanning Oil

What you will need:


Coconut oil (this has a natural sunscreen factor of 4)
Beeswax (unscented, uncolored)
Zinc Oxide powder (you can find it on Amazon)
Olive Oil (contains antioxidants to protect the skin)
Raspberry Seed Oil (has an SPF of about 28)
5 Ounces of water

Shea Butter (for softer skin)
Vitamin E oil (to protect the skin)
Lavender or other essential oil for a sweet smell

Get a wide mouthed jar (like a mason jar)
Put 4 tablespoons of coconut oil, 4 tablespoons of beeswax, and 8 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of raspberry seed oil. If you want to use Shea Butter, add two tablespoons, and simply cut open 4 vitamin E oil capsules and pour the oil into the jar. Add as many drops of whatever essential oil you want until it smells good!  (Don’t add the zinc oxide yet)
Put the water in a saucepan and heat it up just until it starts to boil
Put the jar inside the saucepan
Stir as the items start to melt
When everything has melted, remove the jar from the pan and add 2 tablespoons of the zinc oxide powder
Keep stirring to make sure everything mixes well
Once it has cooled to room temperature, you can move to another container or simply put the lid on the jar
Use as you would any other sunscreen product, slathering it on about 30 minutes before you head out into the sun
**Important Notes to This Recipe**

Remember to not inhale the zinc oxide. It’s good for your skin, but not your lungs!
This lotion has an SPF of about 30, so be aware of your time in the sun
If you want your natural sunscreen thicker, add a little extra beeswax
Lavender and coconut essential oils seem to come out with a stronger scent than others, but don’t be afraid to experiment
This is NOT waterproof, so reapply after swimming or showering
Store the extra in a cool place so it doesn’t melt

BEFORE: Tips for Using Any Homemade Tanning Lotion or Oil

Don’t forget to shave and exfoliate
Don’t forget to pay special attention to your feet, elbows, knees, and hands. Dry skin will not absorb as much of the lotion and cause patchy spots
Don’t use makeup or use other types of lotions before you apply your tanning lotion
Some of these lotions or oil might stain towels or clothing so use old towels and clothing until you are sure your skin is dry
DURING: Tips for Using Any Homemade Tanning Lotion or Oil

Don’t put a great deal of your homemade self tanning lotion on the dry parts of the body, such as elbows, knees, and heels. This will help to prevent streaks and make your tan look more natural.
If you use your tanning lotion on your face, it is better to apply two thin coats than one heavy coat.
Unless you are going to apply your tanning lotion in the nude, wear the same clothes every time you use it so you don’t get different “tan lines.”
A cheap rolling, handheld paintbrush will help you to do your entire body pretty quickly!
Wash your hands about every 5 minutes or wear plastic gloves until the end so your hands don’t absorb more than the rest of your skin.
Remember to apply your lotion to your armpits, and then wipe it off with a rag after about one minute. This will give you a more natural look.
Keep a cotton ball handy and rub the inside of your belly button when you are finished to avoid a super dark belly button.
AFTER: Tips for Using Any Homemade Tanning Lotion or Oil

You should be able to find raspberry seed oil at any health food store, but if not, you can always buy it on Amazon.
Wait at least 8 hours before you shower again. This gives your homemade self tanning lotion time to work and be completely absorbed.
If you notice that your skin is a bit too dark for your liking, you can take a shower after 4 or 5 hours to make it lighter.
Don’t do anything that would cause you to sweat a great deal. Running sweat can cause streaks!
After 8 hours, you can apply a good moisturizer. This is really important, especially if you have been tanning outdoors! Moisturize your skin at least twice a day! Use a water based lotion if possible.
If your DIY tanning lotion leaves you feeling uncomfortably sticky, sprinkle some corn starch where it bothers you. Don’t rub it in; just sprinkle it on the parts of your skin where it feels sticky.
After your skin reaches the desired color you find that some small parts (such as elbows) are darker than the rest, use a cotton ball dipped in hydrogen peroxide and gently dab at those areas to make them lighter. Rinse with some clear water afterwards.
**Special Pro-Tip Regarding Raspberry Seed Oil**

Raspberry seed oil is SO good for your skin, that you can use it without worry to keep all of your skin smooth and healthy. Remove the zinc oxide from the recipe above and you have the perfect body lotion to use after your shower or after you tan!

I even use a few drops directly on my face each night as a moisturizer.

In case you didn’t know, raspberry seed oil:

Super high in antioxidants, which nourish the skin while protecting it from the damage that UV rays can cause
It is also high in essential fatty acids, which improves skin texture and elasticity
It’s a super anti-inflammatory that helps your skin repair itself
Raspberry Seed Oil has been used for hundreds, if not thousands, of years by women all over the world to keep their skin soft and supple

***Don’t Have Time? ***

I hear you! Sometimes, you really want to make these items at home, but you’re just too pressed for time.

If that’s the case, can I recommend some commercially made, all natural sunscreens that you can buy that are organic and safe?

Badger Organic SPF 35 – perfect for sports lovers
Badger Organic Baby Sunscreen – for the little one in your life
Badger Organic Kids Tangerine & Vanilla Sunscreen (this smells so good!)
Badger Lavender Sunscreen SF 30- for you and the adults in your family
You can find all of the above at Amazon at really reasonable prices.

Now Let Me Hear from You Ladies!

Did you try any of these homemade self-tanning lotions or oils? Did you love them? Were you shocked by the results?

I’ve loved using the recipes I found on Tanaholic! I love making my own products and not having to worry about those toxic ingredients that are frequently found in other products.

Having beautiful, healthy looking skin is important to me, but so is my health! I wanted to share my experiences with all of you. I hope you found my article helpful and informative.

If you loved the way these recipes gave you beautiful brown skin, please share this post! I would love to hear your experiences and see some of your own before and after pictures! Even a short video would be great!

Feel free to share this post and your own experiences, along with photos or videos, on your Facebook or Instagram account.



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