Myths and Facts of Tanning Oils

With dozens of tanning oils available in the marketplace, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by shelf upon shelf full of bottles. Separating the myths and facts of tanning oils can help you to decide which type is best for you. Generally composed of sunflower oil and coconut oil, tanning oils may boast several other ingredients including cocoa butter, eucalyptus oil, vitamin E and green tea extracts.

Natural tanning in an outside environment is accomplished by allowing the sun to stimulate the production of melanin in the skin. Melanin is what gives skin its color, and increased levels of melanin darken the skin. Tanning oils often include ingredients meant to speed the process of stimulating melanin production, which essentially means they allow you to tan faster.

Myth #1: Tanning Oil Doesn’t Include Sunscreen

While some tanning oils do not contain any sunscreen ingredients, many do indeed provide a small amount of SPF in the product. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is a measure of how much a product will protect skin from the rays of the sun. The SPF rating in most tanning oils is low (around 4 SPF), but the indication a tanning oil contains SPF should be readily apparent on the front of the bottle.

Myth #2: Tyrosine Speeds the Process

Although there have been claims by some manufacturers that an ingredient called Tyrosine (an amino acid) can help to speed the process of tanning when you use tanning oil, this claim has not been proven in clinical tests. Proponents of Tyrosine suggest that the ingredient can be absorbed by the skin and will cause increased melanin production.

Myth #3: “Natural” Means Organic or Biodegradable

While it is popular in modern advertising to include the word “Natural” as a part of a marketing pitch, this word does not necessarily mean all the ingredients are indeed natural or organic. Components such as benzyl alcohol, butylated hydroxytoluene and oxybenzone are often seen on the ingredient lists of tanning oils which bear the word “Natural,” but it is best to be aware that the word is often overused and inaccurate in the marketing for tanning oils.

FACT #1: Tanning Oils Are a Moisturizer

Skin is a porous surface and under the light of the sun, your skin can become dry and cracked. The largest ingredients in tanning oil are often the oils which help to moisturize the skin, which can dry out during the tanning process. Ingredients such as Jojoba oil, aloe and various plant extracts are usually the ingredients included for moisturizing the skin and keeping it from becoming too dry.

Fact #2: You Can Create Your Own Tanning Oil

If the difficult-to-pronounce ingredients on the back of a bottle of tanning oil make you squirm, you can make equally effective tanning oil in your own home. With a few simple ingredients such as oil and carrot juice, creating tanning oil at home is a simple process and many recipes exist.

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