7 Things to Know When Tanning with Baby Oil

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You probably have heard contradictory opinions about tanning with baby oil, but which side is right? Can baby oil give your skin a glowing tan, or should you avoid it at all costs? Let’s find our answer through this article!

7 Things to Know When Tanning with Baby Oil

What exactly is baby oil?

The uses of baby oil have always been so obvious that we no longer stop and think about what it actually is. Its primary purpose is to nurture the sensitive skin of babies, but what makes it different from the moisturizers for adults? Why do some people call it the best moisturizer when the others practically beg you to steer clear of it?

In any stores selling home goods, cosmetics, or medicines, you are likely to find an aisle for baby cares and many baby oils. Most commercial products contain 98% mineral oil and 2% fragrance.

Mineral oil

Mineral oil is colorless and odorless, produced by the process of refining and purifying petroleum. The main function of mineral oil in cosmetics is reducing water loss and keeping the skin moisturized without clogging the pores. (1)

The key to the usefulness of mineral oil is inertness, which means no chemical reaction will happen when it encounters other substances. It will stay as a flimsy layer of protection on your skin surface, retaining the natural moisture.

The controversy

Besides all those attractive features, mineral oil didn’t succeed in stealing all the hearts. A lot of users trust it, yet the number of people avoiding it is not little at all.

We suppose not everyone likes the idea of applying a petroleum-based product to their face, plus the manufacturing is not gentle on the environment either. Mineral oil is said to irritate skin and worsen acne problems even if it is not exactly toxic.

What determines whether mineral oil is good for your skin or not is your health conditions and your willingness to take the risk. A dermatologist would be perfect if you are looking for professional advice!

Is Tanning with Baby Oil Safe?

In short, no, it is not safe to tan with baby oil. It can be a UV reflector and absorb more sun, resulting in a darker shade. but it cannot protect you from negative effects such as sunburn and rash.

What about wearing baby oil over sunscreen? It is not recommended, for these two products are very different. While you can get some nice tans by mixing them, there are less harmful alternatives you can try.

The Benefits of Tanning with Baby Oil

There must be some reasons why tanning with baby oil becomes acceptable for many folks, and here they come!

A deep tan

We have to put this on top of the list because it is pretty much everyone’s reason for choosing baby oil. Compared to other alternatives, baby oil attracts and absorbs the UV rays better, which means your tanning session will be significantly shorter.

Clean clothes

There are always warnings about tanning lotions staining clothes – although a proper washing session will remove them eventually, they are still very stubborn. It wouldn’t be the case if you use baby oil.

Furthermore, you won’t feel sticky when using baby oil. It feels smooth instead of heavy and uncomfortable, and it won’t irritate the skin cells even if you keep it on for a long time.


For people who have sensitive skin, a hypo-allergic moisturizer containing baby oil is superior. It will retain the water content in your skin without triggering any allergy reactions. Meanwhile, tanning lotions and oils tend to have fragrances and chemicals that are not good for allergies.

The Risks of Tanning with Baby Oil

The controversy happens due to the risks you have to take when using baby oil to tan, and knowing the red flags is extremely important too.

7 Things to Know When Tanning with Baby Oil

Risks of skin cancer

Overexposure to UV rays is among the most common causes of skin cancer. Without protection, UVA and UVB rays will eventually destroy the DNA in the skin cells and lead to cancer. And unfortunately, baby oil doesn’t give you this protection.

Severe damage

Less perilous than cancer but still not to be taken lightly, the UV radiation can overstimulate the production of melanin and end up with uneven pigments, sun spots, moles. The damage can even be permanent.


As baby oil draws more sun to you without giving it any protection, the risk of sunburns will also increase, and we are talking about premature aging, eye damage, and cancer risks. They are much more complicated and difficult to treat than regular sunburn.

Alternatives for Baby Oil

The benefits provided by baby oil can’t outshine the risks it poses, and your dermatologist or doctor will not encourage you as long as a safer method exists.

Tanning Towels

Despite being a new addition to the sunless tanning methods, it has been receiving love from buyers. You will get a convenient package carrying a wipe dipped in high-quality tanning solutions. This special form allows us to reach the most difficult spots like knees and armpits.

Tanning Lotions with Sunscreen

You will have a bronzer with protective properties against UV damage – killing two birds with one stone. After applying the lotion, you will feel confident going out and getting those tans at ease. Worries will leave wrinkles on your face, and we don’t want them!


Should you feel ready for a challenge, give the spray tanning a shot! The DHA in it can darken your skin tone without difficulties, but beware of how easy it can smear all over your clothes.

Self-tanners & fake tans

You will find an overwhelming number of these products on the market, and they can help you tan even when indoor. Oh, the baby oil we are discussing is excellent in removing the fake tans!

Virgin Coconut Oil

Aside from the pleasant scent and moisture content, virgin coconut oil is also amazing for tanners. However, it doesn’t protect you from UV rays, hence mixing it with a tanning lotion of broad-spectrum is the way to go.


Can baby oil burn skin?

Baby oil attracts an overdose of sun rays and thus causes sunburn, but the oil itself doesn’t burn skin upon contact.

Since the components of baby oil are similar to cooking oils, you should never heat them in advance. When getting too hot, baby oil is a dangerous force to reckon with.

Does baby oil darken skin?

As a mere moisturizer, it does not affect your skin tone. However, if mixed with iodine and rubbed on the skin in a massage pattern, it might turn your tan darker instantly.

We haven’t found conclusive studies on the damage of iodine on human skin hence it is better if you consult a doctor and use this method sparingly. In any case, stop using the product and take action immediately.

See more:Tanning Bed Rash & How to Treat Rashes

Does baby oil help with sunburns?

No oil product actually heals sunburns. The inertness of mineral oil will prevent the heat from getting out of the pores and slow down the recovery. If you need to soothe sunburns quickly, try cold compresses and products with aloe vera!

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You can say tanning with baby oil is one of the fastest methods for a fantastic tan, but all that glitters might not be gold. There are various issues you need to deal with if you want to develop healthy tanned skin. Would you follow our suggested tips or give the alternatives a chance? Leave a comment below and share your experience with us!

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