Tanning Oil 101

Tanning OilTanning oils are products that support healthy tanning by moisturizing your skin and reflecting more UV light which, in turn, speeds up the tanning process and allows for a darker tan. But just like tanning lotions, tanning oils come in different types, and they may contain different kinds of ingredients ranging from glycerin to vitamin E, coconut oil, and fruit extracts. However, most tanning oils do not provide any protection against UV rays, which can make you susceptible to burning if your skin is naturally more vulnerable.

Classification of Tanning Oils

By Ingredients
Different types of tanning oils are formulated with different ingredients, which depend largely on their purpose (indoor or outdoor tanning). Some tanning oils have more potent moisturizing properties than others. Some include chemicals that also offer sun protection. Some contain “tingling” ingredients such as beta-carotene.

All-Natural Tanning Oils: These tanning oils have been formulated with natural ingredients only, ranging from herbs to essential oils, fruit extracts and vitamins. They usually contain mostly moisturizers that allow the skin to tan evenly and improve both the look and feel of the tan. At the same time, all-natural tanning oils supply the skin with nutrients that may prevent premature aging that is a common result of tanning. They are great for getting a base tan, but should be used with care due to the absence of a SPF.

“Tingling” Tanning Oils: Perfect for seasoned tanners who want to get a quick, perfect tan, tingling tanning oils are known to increase the production of melanin by promoting micro-circulation. Ingredients such as benzyl or methyl nicotinate increase blood flow and bring oxygen to the cells in your skin, which contributes to increasing the production of melanin – the pigment that gives your skin color. More melanin causes your skin to get darker, so you get an even tan that lasts for much longer. The nice thing about tingling tanning oils is that they promote natural tanning, and they allow you to get the perfect tan much faster. If your skin is usually more sensible and susceptible to sun burns, you may want to test these tanning oils on a small area to see whether they cause any side effects.

Tanning Oils with UV Protection: These products are formulated with other chemicals that add UV protection so you don’t get burns while you’re using tanning beds. A common ingredient of these oils is grape seed oil, which is known for its natural protective properties against sun. However, these tanning oils usually do not go above SPF-4, which is extremely low on the scale of protection. Avoid infusing tanning oils with sunscreen – even though the latter one is intended to avoid burning, its effects will be dramatically reduced when paired with tanning oil (whose obvious role is to promote tanning).

By Application
Original Tanning Oils: Tanning oils with an oily texture should be poured onto the skin and rubbed until absorbed. These are great if your skin is dry and needs to be hydrated, as the greasy texture of these tanning oils help retain moisture and prevent burning when using sun beds.

Spray-On Tanning Oils: As their name suggests, spray-on tanning oils can be sprayed on your skin and then rubbed until little residue is left. These products are suitable since they allow you to control the amount of oil that you’re putting onto the skin. They usually have a greasy texture that’s similar to original oils.

Dry Tanning Oils: Ideal for those who use tanning beds frequently and want to avoid leaving any residue behind, dry tanning oils are oil-based products that spray on the skin and get rubbed in without the slick feeling on the hands. They are especially good if your skin is naturally greasy, as it will help prevent clogging of your pores.

Differences between Tanning Oils and Lotions
When it comes to indoor tanning, most women prefer tanning lotions over oils due to their more potent results. Tanning oils are intended to support healthy tanning by providing moisture to the skin and increasing the amount of UV light that’s being reflected to create the illusion of darker skin, which makes them ideal for beginners. On the other hand, tanning lotions are usually suitable for seasoned tanners due to acting from deep within the skin. Bronzer lotions can change the cells of the skin and give immediate results, whilst “tingling” lotions promote oxygenation to increase the amount of melanin being produced by the skin (quite similar to tingling tanning oils, but they are usually more powerful).

Tanning oils can also work when used outdoors, unlike most tanning lotions, which work specifically for indoor use only. Due to their lack of UV protection, both tanning oils and lotions make your skin more prone to burns, but lotions can be infused with sunscreen prior to using tanning beds to prevent damage to the skin.

Another notable benefit of tanning oils over lotions is their build-in protection for tattoos. Since they do not act as tanning lotions do, tanning oils won’t make your tattoos fade away. Colors are usually quite different, although texture may be similar if the lotion is particularly greasy.

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