Does Baby Oil Help You Tan?

Does Baby Oil Help You Tan
There are a lot of people that use baby oil to tan. But how much does it help you tan? Let’s find out its effectiveness and if baby oil is good for tanning or not!

You may have seen on your day at the beach people applying oil on their bodies and laying down to get a tan. Sometimes the bottle might look like a tanning oil that people use to help their tan. Other times, you might have noticed a familiar bottle that they are using: baby oil! It is an oil that is made up of minerals derived from petroleum that helps to moisturize the skin. A lot of people have been tanning with baby oil and swear by its results. But does baby oil help you tan?

The simple answer is yes; baby oil does actually help you tan. Just like tanning products that you use to specifically tan, baby oil also has some components to it that help to tan. But the simple answer is not so simple when you look at the bigger picture! There are problems with tanning with baby oil that you might have not known about that can actually pose a danger to you! So let’s explore all things baby oil and its relation to tanning and how you could both benefit and be in danger if you were to use baby oil to tan!

Tanning with Baby Oil – What Really Happens

Tanning with baby oil what really happens

Let’s start with a quick recap of how tanning works. The Sun releases ultraviolet or UV rays which then get absorbed by the skin. This causes certain cells called melanocytes located in the skin and stimulates it to produce melanin, which is the dark pigment that you get on your body that becomes your tan. Baby oil is just like most other oil which gets absorbed into the skin, around the same place the melanocytes are located. The ingredient that primarily makes up baby oil are mineral oils, which have other things added to them like vitamin E, aloe, and fragrance.

With that out of the way, let’s explore why baby oil helps you tan. The thing is, most of the oil is absorbed into the epidermis of the skin while a little bit of it stays on top of your skin. That is where the magic happens. The minerals present in baby oil actually help to attract UV rays from the sun. It doesn’t necessarily draw in more UV rays from the sun, but it helps the absorption of UV rays which causes the tanning itself!

So with the melanin-producing cells being close to where the baby oil is absorbed, the intensity of UV rays is higher, stimulating the cells to produce more melanin. With more melanin being produced at a faster rate, your skin will naturally darken quicker as well, producing the tan that you are looking for! This is why some people are so eager to tan with baby oil because they are able to get the tan faster. But there are obvious problems to this that I will get to in a bit.

Benefits of Tanning with Baby Oil

So with all that said about baby oil and tanning, let’s see what are the benefits that you are able to get with tanning with baby oil! Do remember that while there are these benefits, tanning in general is very dangerous.

Benefits of tanning with baby oil

Faster tan

As I have mentioned before, baby oil helps absorb more UV rays which produce more melanin on your skin. This means that if you are someone who is naturally fair-skinned can theoretically get a faster tan! Think of it like this; if you needed 30 minutes to produce a light tan on your skin, baby oil could help shorten the time and achieve a faster tan.

Deeper tan

Not only are you able to get a faster tan, but the tan that you get will be deeper as well! With the pigment-producing cells being more active, more melanin is being produced. And the more melanin that is produced, the richer and deeper the tan you will have on your skin.


The reason that it is called baby oil is because it is safe to be used on the sensitive skin of babies. This poses a great benefit for those that have hypersensitive skin that might not be able to use other tanning oils because they might cause breakouts on their skin. That is why the hypoallergenic factor of baby oil is what makes it so good for most skin types if not all skin types when it comes to tanning!

Fast absorbing

The melanocytes are located in the deepest layer of the epidermis of the skin. Most tanning oils sit on top of the epidermis and take a while to fully absorb into the skin where these special cells are located. But with baby oil, it is fast absorbing so you can start tanning within a few minutes of applying the oil on your body!

Cloth safe

You might find it really bothersome that some tanning oil has a staining effect on your clothes, which makes it really hard to wear clothes over the oil. But because baby oil is fast absorbing, most of the oil is readily absorbed into the skin and you don’t have to worry but about your clothes being stained too deeply. Yes, it can still stain your clothes, but not as much as other oils that sit on top of your skin.

Dangers of Tanning with Baby Oil

Even with such wonderful benefits that baby oil provides for tanning, there are glaring issues with baby oil that makes it dangerous to tan with it! The main reason for this is that baby oil alone does not have any sun protection ingredients in it! With no SPF or sun protection factor to baby oil, here are the dangers that you are at risk of when you are tanning with baby oil.

Dangers of tanning with baby oil

Skin damage

One of the most immediate results that you will get with tanning with baby oil if you are not careful is that you might face skin damage! This is mainly in the form of sunburn where the radiations from the sun damage the skin and cause it to hurt. With baby oil, the UV radiation is more intense and chances are your skin will be damaged faster than without it!

Uneven tanning

While baby oil may provide even tanning, if you have not applied it properly or evenly enough, you might get more tanned in some places than others! This can result in patchy tans which do not look good at all and will look unappealing to both you and others. Not to mention that places where the tan is deeper, will take longer to fade, which makes the tan look more uneven as time goes on.

Pigment change

While tanning provides the brown pigments that you want, it might cause other pigment changes as well! Changes such as sunspots that are darker than the tan can remain even after the tan fades! These permanent changes to your skin are dangerous because they might develop to form unwanted marks on your skin that cause problems in the future.


UV rays, specifically UVB, are able to cause something known as photoaging. This is where you will start to have age spots and premature wrinkles forming on your skin. With baby oil, these can become even more prevalent due to more absorption of UVB rays. And from this, you might get even more dangerous things happening to your body!

Skin cancer

Even without baby oil, this is the main reason why tanning is so dangerous! One of the main causes of skin cancer is UV radiation and how it affects the skin. If this were to happen to normal sun exposure, imagine how much worse it can be when tanning with baby oil! And if you were to repeatedly tan with baby oil, the chances of getting skin cancer only increase!

Therefore, the dangers of tanning with baby oil far outweigh the benefits that it is able to provide!

Effectiveness of Mixing Baby Oil with Sunscreen

Effectiveness of mixing baby oil with sunscreen

You might think of mixing baby oil with other products that can potentially help you tan while also keeping you safe from the sun like sunscreen. But there is a big catch to this. Sunscreen is the best way to keep yourself protected from the sun. What it does is reflect or absorb most if not all UV rays from the sun before it is able to reach your skin.

That being said, there are some major problems when it comes to mixing it with baby oil. Putting baby oil over sunscreen means that you are getting no benefit from the baby oil for tanning or the sun protection that the sunscreen is able to provide.

Most sunscreens are like a lotion; it gets absorbed into the skin and leaves behind active sunblocking ingredients like zinc oxide or avobenzone on the surface of the skin. These are what provide protection for the skin against the sun. Now imagine you put baby oil over it. You are mixing all these helpful sunscreens with the oil and causing their effectiveness to completely bottom out and not be helpful at all!

So you might think that sunscreen together with baby oil means that you can tan safely under the sun but what you are doing is giving yourself a false sense of security. Neither are you helping your tan nor are you protected from the sun.

Result: Do not mix sunscreen and baby oil together!

5 Safer Alternatives for Tanning

Because tanning under the sun is very dangerous, there are other much safer ways that you can tan without even interacting with UV radiation at all! So here are some of the safer alternatives to tanning where you wouldn’t need baby oil at all!

Safer alternatives for tanning
  1. Tanning lotion: this contains ingredients that can help stimulate melanin production in your body to give a lovely sun-kissed tan without any sun!
  2. Spray tans: this is a tan that you get where sprayed with an ingredient called DHA that helps to produce the tan that you are looking for, usually in salons.
  3. Tanning oil: what’s great about tanning oils is that some of them have SPF in them so you can safely tan outside in the sun and don’t need baby oil.
  4. Tanning drops: a lovely little drop that you apply on yourself by mixing with a bit of moisturizing lotion to give you a light tan on your face and body.
  5. Tanning towel: tanning wipes or tanning towels have self-tanners already in them; you will just have to rub the towel on yourself, leave it to dry, and get that lovely summer tan that you are looking for!

While I could have mentioned tanning beds, they use concentrated UV rays to help give a tan. This might be safer than tanning under the sun because you are spending considerably less time in a tanning bed but UV rays still pose a danger to your skin even in one of these. So my personal advice would be to completely avoid these beds and instead use the much safer alternatives!

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Baby Oil and Iodine Tanning: Exploring the Myth

I can’t believe I have to say this but there is a ton of misleading information about tanning and one that confuses me the most is tanning with a mixture of iodine and baby oil! Now iodine is very helpful when it comes to disinfecting areas of the body but people think that it can help you tan because it leaves a stain that looks very similar to a tan.

Iodine alone doesn’t have the properties to be spread on the skin so people are mixing it with baby oil to help put it on their skin. Don’t do this! Iodine has a very pungent smell that will induce a vomiting tendency and cause nausea in you! It doesn’t even leave behind a good tan either because it will go away after a day! I saw enough of it online to make the disclaimer to not mix baby oil with iodine to tan your body, it is not worth it!


1. How long will a tan stay on your body?

It will be dependent on how deep the tan is and what type of tan you have gotten. Most tans will last around 7 weeks and can be extended up to 10 days.

2. Can baby oil help remove tan?

Yes, it can! If you want to remove a fake tan from your body, baby oil is great. Put it on your tan and massage it well, leaving it there for about an hour and then wash it off with an exfoliating scrub or mitt.

3. Is coconut oil better than baby oil for tanning?

While coconut oil might be better for tanning, it does not have any SPF in it to provide protection so you should not use coconut oil for tanning!

4. Why do I not tan faster?

It is mainly dependent on the melanin level in your skin. The higher the melanin in your body, the faster you are able to tan.

5. Can I use baby oil after tanning?

Yes, you can! It can be beneficial for your skin because baby oil is able to provide moisture for your skin that you might have lost from tanning under the sun.

Final Thoughts

So to answer the question of baby oil and tanning: yes, it will help give a quick and deep tan, but you are faced with the consequences of skin damage, wrinkle formation, and increased chances of sunburn and skin cancer from just one tanning session with baby oil! The simple answer is simple because you only look at it from one perspective and not the whole picture. That is why I will always suggest going for safer tanning alternatives to keep your skin and body safe, healthy, and away from the dangers of the sun. Remember to wear sunscreen whenever you are out and about to give yourself the protection that you need from the sun!

Key Points

  • Baby oil is able to absorb UV rays causing it to be more intense. It also gets absorbed in the area where the melanin-producing cells which is why you tan faster with it.
  • From tanning faster, getting a deeper tan, and being safe for most skin types, baby oil can bring a number of benefits when it comes to tanning.
  • However, there are too many dangers to tanning with baby oil, particularly because baby oil increases the amount of UV rays in your skin causing more harm to it.
  • As a result, you should not tan with baby oil!
  • Putting baby oil over sunscreen is not good because you are ruining the sunscreen’s ability to protect you and get no benefit from the baby oil.
  • There are much safer alternatives to tanning that do not require baby oil like tanning lotions, drops, towels, and spray tan!
  • Do not mix iodine and baby oil for tanning. It is not good for your health, nor will it be able to give you a good tan either.

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