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Best Overall: Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil at Amazon
"Ideal for enhancing existing tans."
Best Non-Greasy: Australian Gold Exotic Oily Spray at Amazon
"Easily absorbed, leaving behind a non-greasy formula."
Best with High SPF: Sun Bum Moisturizing Tanning Oil at Amazon
"Has an SPF of 15 – a high number for a tanning oil."
Best Water-Resistant: Sol De Janeiro Bum Bum Sol Oil at Sephora
"Its water-resistant formula offers protection of up to 80 minutes."
Best Hypoallergenic: B.tan Tanned AF Body Tanning Oil at Walmart
"It's 100 percent vegan, paraben-free, and has no scent – ideal for those with sensitive skin."
Best Natural: Art Naturals Soleil Tanning Oil at Art Naturals
"Contains a mixture of natural botanical oils such as jojoba, rice bran, and Kukui nut."
Best for Fair Skin: Maui Babe Browning Lotion at Amazon
"Results in a natural-looking, fast dark tan."
Best Shimmer: Caribbean Cool Natural Bronzer at Amazon
"Leaves a subtle shimmery glow on the skin."
Best Drugstore: Banana Boat Ultra Mist Deep Tanning Dry Oil at Target
"This wallet-friendly spray can be more evenly applied than lasting oils."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil
While some tanning oils can get fairly expensive (particularly organic oils), the Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil provides a golden tan at an affordable price. The eight-ounce bottle of oil contains a variety of natural scents such as coconut oil, passion flower, papaya, mango, and guava fragrances for a pleasant odor, as well as cocoa butter and aloe to soften the skin. This tanning oil is ideal for enhancing existing tans, however, it does not contain sunblock, so be cautious with staying in the sun for longer periods of time. Buyers appreciated that the oil left skin soft without remaining greasy, and the fact that it was a budget-friendly purchase.
Best Non-Greasy: Australian Gold Exotic Oily Spray
Made from sunflower seed oil, olive oil, tea tree oil, and other ingredients, the Australian Gold Exotic Oily Spray is easily absorbed, leaving behind a non-greasy formula. The reasonably-priced tanning oil comes in an eight-ounce spray bottle and features a color-enhancing formula to add a touch of instant bronzer for even more glow. There is no mineral oil in this tanning oil to clog pores, however, it is not entirely chemical-free. Additional sunscreen is recommended since it does not contain any SPF protection. Reviewers loved the glow they received from the oil, as well as the scent and that it left behind no sticky residue.
Best with High SPF: Sun Bum Moisturizing Tanning Oil
For an oil that yields a golden tan while still keeping harmful rays from your skin, opt for the Sun Bum Moisturizing Tanning Oil. The nine-ounce bottle has an SPF of 15 – a high number for a tanning oil (although it is a relatively low amount when compared to sunblock). This Sun Bum tanning oil is made of organic coconut, argan, marula, and avocado, as well as moisturizing ingredients such as aloe vera, green tea butter, and Kona coffee plant extract – creating a pleasant scent. The oil is sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes and does not contain paraben, however, it does contain mineral oil and other chemicals.
Best Water-Resistant: Sol De Janeiro Bum Bum Sol Oil
The Bum Bum Sol Oil by Sol De Janeiro may be on the pricier side, but its water-resistant formula (with protection up to 80 minutes) means you can reapply it less often than other formulas. While lightweight and non-greasy, this tanning oil is infused with hydrating ingredients, including antioxidant-rich Açaí oil and Cupuaçu butter that results in softer skin. It contains SPF 30 to help protect your skin against the sun, and can also be used at night to give your skin an extra boost of luminance. The scent features notes of salted caramel, pistachio, and jasmine.
Best Hypoallergenic: B.tan Tanned AF Body Tanning Oil
Those with sensitive skin should consider a hypoallergenic tanning cream such as B.Tan's Body Tanning Oil. This lotion contains seven different oils to help you get darker skin. It also features coconut oil, avocado oil, argan oil, and grapeseed oil to help lock in moisture and smooth the skin while you sit outside. This formula quickly absorbs into the skin and works to accelerate your tan, so you don't need to spend as much time directly under the sun. It's 100 percent vegan, paraben-free, and has no scent – ideal for those with sensitive skin. Keep in mind that this tanning lotion does not contain SPF.
Best Natural: Art Naturals Soleil Tanning Oil
Art Naturals Soleil Tanning Oil is a great chemical-free option if you're looking to give your skin a healthy glow without harming the environment. It contains natural botanical oils such as jojoba, Kukui nut, rice bran, avocado, and coconut oil (for UV protection) that can help soften the skin. The chemical free-oil is best used when put on freshly cleansed skin and won't leave residue on your clothing. Buyers said that they love using this product for tanning, but also reapply it after they've come out of the sun to provide extra hydration to newly bronzed skin.
Best for Fair Skin: Maui Babe Browning Lotion
Suitable for all skin types and tones, the Maui Babe Browning Lotion even works well for sensitive and fair skin. The 8-ounce browning lotion was made using a secret Hawaiian formula with natural ingredients including aloe, Kona coffee plant extract, and more. The results: a natural-looking, fast dark tan. The Maui-imported lotion is especially loved by reviewers who normally don't tan easily.
Best Shimmer: Caribbean Cool Natural Bronzer
If you’re seeking a tan that leaves you shining, the Caribbean Cool Natural Bronzer is an excellent choice. The oil is infused with a small amount of “glitter,” leaving a subtle shimmery glow on the skin. Made with Jamaican black castor oil, it can also help to unblock clogged pores while detoxifying and removing excess oil from the skin. Other ingredients include coconut milk, argan oil to soften the skin, as well as hemp seed oil to prevent dryness. The tanning oil creates a dark golden tan and won’t stain clothing. Be aware that it does not contain any type of sunscreen (SPF), so you may want to consider applying sunblock for longer exposure to the sun.
Best Drugstore: Banana Boat Ultra Mist Deep Tanning Dry Oil
Tanning oils that come in spray bottles tend to be more evenly applied than lasting oils. The Banana Boat Ultra Mist Deep Tanning Dry Oil is a wallet-friendly option that sprays on dry with an SPF of 4 or 8. It has a pleasant fragrance of coconut and grapeseed oil, is lightweight, and can be applied at any angle – making it easy to cover all areas. Banana Boat's tanning spray is water-resistant too, so you can take a quick dip in the ocean if you get too hot in the sun. However, after several trips, it should be reapplied. Unlike other sprays, it leaves your skin soft but moist (instead of a dry, crisp feel) and doesn't discolor clothing or fabrics.
What to Look for in Tanning Oil
SPF A lot of tanning oils don’t come with SPF protection in the formulations, but that doesn’t mean you have to go without. Some come with the most basic levels of sun protection—we’re talking SPF 5 here—while others get up as high as SPF 15, which, yes, is high for a tanning oil. Think about your skin’s needs—and remember that adequate protection should always take priority.
Cost Depending on how much you plan to use tanning oil—whether you’re hoping for a pre-vacation glow or it factors heavily into your summer beauty routine—you’ll want to do a quick cost-per-use evaluation. After all, tanning oil—like most other beauty products—will expire after a time, so don’t spend a ton of money on something you might not use more than two or three times a year.
Waterproofness If you’re just hanging out on the beach or poolside with little mind to take a dip in the water, there’s not a lot of need for a super-waterproof sunscreen. However, if you’re going to be hopping between boat and lake or lounger and waves, you’ll want to look for one that does a little more in terms of staying on.