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Sunless Tanning Recipes

dangers of tanning and diy sunless tanning recipes

dangers of tanning

These days, everybody seems like they're going for that "sun-kissed glow" - but many of those not lucky enough to live in sunny, tropical areas often resort to tanning beds to get that darker complexion. This is dangerous, and tanning beds literally fry you with damaging UV rays that can lead to skin cancer. Read on to learn more about the dangers of tanning as well as the bright side - that there are safe DIY sunless tanning recipes that won't harm your skin!

History of Tanning

When did tanning become a thing? In the 19th century, fair skin was associated with wealth, hinting at a life spent inside and away from the labors of the sun. Even back in the Greek and Roman eras, people used poisonous whiteners to increase the paleness of their skin. However, by the late 1800s, it was determined that exposure to the sun was crucial for proper bone development. But it wasn’t until the 1923 in Great Britain when Coco Chanel took a Mediterranean cruise and got a little too much sun that people started to take notice of the sun kissed glow. The idea of tanning certainly grew as Westerners defined their idea of beauty.

Vogue described the ‘sunburn movement’ in 1929 as an entirely new industry had developed which included cosmetics, swimsuits and clothing specifically designed to show off that golden glowing skin. And in spite of Coppertone’s release of sunblock in the 1940s, there was still relatively little knowledge of what damage was to come. Men and women were using baby oil on their beach vacations to maximize the sun’s rays instead of the protection they needed. And of course that exposure to the sun only increased with the invention of the bikini in 1946.

Popularity grew into the 1960s along with color television and commercial air travel. Sunbathing became somewhat glamourous and methods of sunless tanning were introduced in the 1970s and quickly became commonplace in the US. Sunbeds were introduced as a means to acquiring that perfect bronze glow and was supported through the 1980s and 90s. By 2000, getting a tan on vacation was the most important reason for actually taking a holiday.

Tanning Today

So at one time in history, fair skin had been a marker of privilege, but now the crowds tanning on beachhoney hue of tanned skin symbolized your freedom to have the time and money to vacation. Introduce women like Halle Berry, Jessica Alba and Beyoncé at the forefront of 21st century beauty and a glowing complexion seems to be what everyone is looking for. However there were fears associated with what this additional sun exposure would do. Those fears were confirmed by an increase in malignant melanoma. It was found to have quadrupled over 30 years and was most common in individuals between the ages of 15 and 34. Using tanning devices before age 30 was determined to increase the chance of developing melanoma by 75%.

The alternatives, such as spray tans, were introduced in 1998 and were gaining ground, but still not as readily available or affordable as tanning beds or the all-natural, good old fashioned sun. And with 90% of all skin cancers linked to UV radiation from the sun, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, so increased aging indicators. Wrinkles, brown spots and scarring were the results of hours spent in the sun. So why do people continue to expose themselves to the damaging UV rays? It may seem easy to some to indulge in things that could be potentially detrimental to our health in the name of glamour, fashion and fun.

Dangers of Tanning

Keep in mind these facts before stepping inside a tanning bed:

  • Vitamin D is necessary, but it can be found in a healthy diet of foods in addition to a vitamin supplement, so the sun isn’t the ONLY way to get Vitamin D. Try consulting with your healthcare professional instead of the tanning bed.
  • One blistering sunburn has been shown to increase your chances of developing melanoma later in life by 50%. 
  • Even the occasional use of tanning beds triples your chances of developing melanoma, meaning there is a correlation. The more hours spent tanning, the higher the risk.
  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in adults 25-29 and is the leading cause of death related to cancer in women 25-30 and the second leading cause of death for women 30-35 years of age.
  • Like many other dangerous patterns, tanning is addictive. Researchers have explored the addictive nature of tanning which shows an increase in the level of endorphins released. This type of reaction can lead to addictive behaviors.


The bottom line is exposure to UV rays via tanning, in a tanning bed or in the sun isn’t recommended. We are here to offer a better option. If you’re looking for a year round tan, consider acquiring your sun kissed glow at home using these DIY recipes.

DIY Sunless Tanning Recipes

Check out this video from HelloMaphie to learn how to make your own inexpensive self-tanner, or try one of the recipes below. Get that tan without sacrificing your skin!

Cocoa Powder Sunless Tanning Lotion

  • Unscented white lotion
  • 100% pure cocoa powder


  1. Combine ½ cup unscented white lotion in a bowl with 1/3 cup pure cocoa powder.
  2. Mix with a fork to break up any clumps, continue to blend well.
  3. Adjust the recipe for your desired color. The darker the lotion appears in the bowl, the darker it will be on your skin. Slowly add cocoa powder until you reach the shade of your preference.
  4. Smooth tanning lotion all over your entire body, evenly.
  5. Once lotion is dry and absorbed into your skin, you can apply a second layer for more instantaneous results.
  6. Use daily to gradually increase the tan.

Keep in mind: Store sunless tanning lotion in plastic container or empty jar with a lid. Select an unscented lotion with extra moisturizers for dual purposes. Gently exfoliating before application will give the color a more even tone. The lotion looks darker in the container than it will appear on your skin. May also be applied with wearing rubber gloves on your hands to avoid staining.

Carrot Sunless Tanning Oil

  • ¾ gallon of water
  • 1 pound of fresh, unpeeled carrots
  • 2 cups brown sugar


  1. Rinse the carrots and cut them into slices.
  2. Bring water to boil on the stove.
  3. Add carrots and brown sugar.
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 hours.
  5. Remove from heat and let sunless tanning oil cool.
  6. Pour the oil through a strainer to remove any clumps from the liquid.
  7. Pour the self-tanner in a spray bottle.
  8. Spray entire body and rub in for a smoother, more even color.
  9. Apply spray once a week to maintain color.

Keep in mind: Apply a little pressure to carrots when straining them for added moisture. Rid the solution of all carrots so they don’t clog your spray bottle.

Coffee/Tea Homemade Tanning Lotion

  • Unscented white lotion
  • Coffee grounds or caffeinated tea bags

tea for sunless tanning


  1. Brew coffee or tea as you normally would.
  2. Mix enough lotion and coffee/tea to reach your desired color.
  3. The more coffee/tea, the darker the color.

If interested, you can apply coffee or tea liquid directly without using lotion.

Vanilla Tea Homemade Self – Tanner

  • 8 bags of organic black tea
  • 16 oz. filtered water
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla


  1. Bring water and vanilla to boil on the stove
  2. Pour boiling liquid over tea bags and let sit for no less than 8 minutes
  3. Remove tea bags and allow liquid plenty of time to cool. This may take up to 30 minutes or more.
  4. Put liquid in a spray bottle.
  5. Spray your skin evenly and rub in with a gloved hand to avoid blotches.

Keep in mind: If you let it dry completely between layers, you can continue to apply the mixture until you see the desired color.

Tea and Cocoa Butter Tanning Lotion

  • 4 black tea bags
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup cocoa butter
  • 1/3 cup raw cocoa powder


  1. Steep tea in boiled water for no less than 20 minutes.
  2. The longer the tea is steeped, the darker it will be.
  3. Warm up cocoa butter and pour into blender.
  4. Add in cocoa powder mixture to coca butter and blend well, for at least 1 minute.
  5. Apply tanning lotion to your skin carefully avoiding rubbing too much on elbows and knees.

Keep in mind: You will not see results right away, but in as little as 1 to 3 hours.
Multiple applications will darken the skin tone, but be careful to not overdo it.

Henna Powder Sunless Tanning Lotion

  • 3 tablespoons of organic copper henna powder
  • 6 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 6 tea bags steeped in half mug of hot water


  1. Pour boiling water over tea bags and henna powder in small bowl.
  2. Allow to sit until cool – completely.
  3. Pour melted coconut oil into the bowl and mix.
  4. Rub all over your skin and massage it in for approximately 10 minutes until smooth, even color emerges.

Keep in mind: The application can get messy, so consider using gloves or apply mixture while standing in the shower. Color lasts about a day, so apply daily for continued honey hue. If you desire the color to last longer, consider allowing it to dry completely before layering treatments.

Tips for Streak Free Tan

1. Exfoliate

Before applying any sunless tanner, be sure skin is smooth, clean and exfoliated of any dead skin cells. By exfoliating, you give your skin a new, fresh surface to work from and these sunless tanners will go on so much smoother with fewer dark spots or uneven tone. Try this exfoliating anti-aging clay mask.

2. Use a dry brush

Rub a washcloth in circular motions all over your body. Start with your feet and move upwards towards your abdomen. This method increases blood flow and helps to remove toxins from your body.

3. Try different recipes

Each skin tone is different and some people might respond better to a different set of ingredients. Layering the treatments helps to build the tan over time.

4. Apply SPF

Just because you have a sun kissed glow doesn’t mean your skin isn’t prone to burning. Before being in the sun, either apply sunscreen or a moisturizer with SPF 20 all over your entire body of exposed skin to ensure the greatest measure of protection against harmful UV rays. This way you can enjoy the healthy glow of a year round tan without the dangers lurking from tanning beds or too many hours in the sun, unprotected.

sunless tanning recipes

Additional Tips

  • Sunless tanner is a great alternative to the risky outcome of overexposure to the sun or tanning beds.
  • Tans are not permanent. Maintaining a year round tan requires consistent upkeep. 
  • It’s important to exfoliate your skin before applying sunless tanner to avoid color buildup around knees and ankles and for a more youthful appearance.
  • Don’t forget to plan accordingly. Some sunless tanners can take time to be absorbed and you don’t want to be leaving to go out with friend just minutes after application.


Whether you are an expert or trying sunless tanner for your first time, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:

Before Sunless Tanning

  • Don’t shave within 3 hours of applying sunless tanner, can cause uncomfortable burning
  • If you choose to wax, wax at least 1 to 2 days prior to application of sunless tanner
  • Shower 4-5 hours before the self-tanning treatment 
  • Exfoliate skin before applying sunless tanner
  • If you have dry skin, apply water based (as opposed to oil based) lotion to avoid streaking


During Sunless Tanning

  • Go lighter in areas that tend to appear darker or drier like knees, elbows, ankles and hands. 
  • Sunless tanner can be applied to your face, but be careful not to overdo it. 
  • Apply tanner evenly and quickly to assess overall color to determine whether or not you want to reapply to build color.
  • Wash your hands every few minutes during the application process to avoid your hands being stained. Or you can wear medical gloves and avoid stains or buildup around your fingernails.


After Sunless Tanning

  • Wait at least 8 hours after applying self-tanner before showering.
  • If your application is getting too dark, quickly hop in the shower for a chance to rinse and start over.
  • Don’t exercise or exert yourself in a way to acquire sweat, which causes the tanner to streak.
  • Be sure to moisturize 2- 3 times per days in order to maintain the sunless tan. 
  • Sunless tanners can often be sticky, wait at least 30 minutes and then lightly apply baby powder.


There are many dangers to the harmful UV rays caused by the sun. But the benefits of using DIY self-tanners make it a great way to try something new with your friends. DIY sunless tanning helps you:

  • Avoid the orangey color that can tend to accumulate.
  • It’s much less expensive than the sunless tanners you can purchase from your local drug store or cosmetics company/skincare line.
  • There are no harsh chemicals using ingredients often found around the house that are not artificially manufactured using synthetic materials and harsh machinery.
  • Customize the color to match the season, your ethnicity, or personal preferences.


Before you opt for exposing yourself to the harsh consequences of damaging UV rays, enjoy the beautiful honey hue of a sun kissed tan using products from around the house and customize it to your personal needs.

Want to keep up your tan this winter? Pin me for future reference!

safe diy sunless tanning recipes

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