Can you use olive oil to tan?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you use olive oil to tan?”, and what to expect when you use olive oil for tanning?

Can you use olive oil to tan?

No, you can not use olive oil to tan. Let alone olive oil, you cannot use any oil for tanning because tanning is not considered a safe practice. Exposing the skin directly to the UV rays of the sun leads to the formation of free radicals. 

These free radicals are highly unstable due to the presence of an uneven amount of electrons. They react easily with other molecules, causing oxidation and other harmful chemical reactions in your body.

The free radicals cause DNA mutations and lay the foundation for the precancerous cells. According to the Skin Care Foundation, tanning outdoors or tanning in bed increases the risk of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

You might have heard that the polyunsaturated fats in olive oil can fight the harmful effects of the free radicals. But there is no scientific truth behind this theory.

Does olive oil help you tan?

Tanning is sun damage simplified, no matter how it is carried out. Tanning can lead to sunburn, peeling, dry and leathery skin, sunspots, heat rash, hyperpigmentation, and an increased risk of skin cancer.

Tanning hastens the aging process. The application of olive oil on the skin, like any other oil, tends to make the tanning process quicker. 

But olive oil tends to clog your pores due to its viscosity and leave a nasty smell behind. No matter what type of oil you use, you are inviting the UV rays to damage your skin. 

Skin benefits of olive oil sans sun

Apart from speeding tanning, olive oil provides enormous benefits to your skin in the absence of sunlight. For example, olive oil prevents pressure ulcers, gives you soft and smooth skin with a flawless sheen that is ascribed to its polyunsaturated fat content.

What to expect when you use olive oil for tanning?

Using olive oil for tanning is a risky business. Olive oil leads to a quick sunburn in some people with more sensitive skin. Therefore, if you notice redness on your skin, get in the shade and wipe the oil from your skin. 

Can you combine olive oil with sunscreen?

You should always wear sunscreen when you go out on the skin. Experts recommend using at least an SPF 30 sunscreen to protect your skin against sun damage.

All the chemical-based sunscreens contain at least one of these active ingredients; avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene.

These active ingredients need to fully penetrate your skin for them to work efficiently. If you wear sunscreen over olive oil, the sunscreen will not be effectively absorbed into your skin.

Your best bet is to mix a mineral sunscreen with olive oil but the effectiveness of this hack is not backed by any scientific evidence. You can also use a mixture of your moisturizer and olive oil before you wear the sunscreen.

The active ingredients present in mineral sunscreens are zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Both of these minerals physically block the UV rays of the sun.

Can you use olive oil for sun aftercare?

Since olive oil is a rich source of antioxidants and fatty acids, it may be helpful in the sun aftercare. For example, it can help soothe skin redness, sunburn, calm irritation, and help get rid of the dryness.

Studies have shown that the application of olive oil after tanning helps reduce skin tumor growth. However, more scientific research is needed to prove the effectiveness of olive oil in reversing sun damage.

Olive oil vs coconut oil 

Coconut oil lacks the SPF to protect your skin against sun damage. Therefore, coconut oil is not recommended by experts. But it has a similar texture to the olive oil that may speed up the tanning process and prevent inflammation.

Olive oil vs baby oil 

Baby oil, like any other oil, speeds up the tanning process. But it also tends to clog your pores. Baby oil is not a wise option for tanning because it lacks SPF and does not provide any sun protection.

Recipes for DIY self-tanner

You can mix olive oil with other ingredients to enhance its ability to protect against sun damage. These ingredients are rich in powerful antioxidants and include coffee grounds, avocado oil, raspberry seed oil, lemon juice, iodine and carrot juice, etc.

Carrot juice, iodine, and olive oil solution


  • 5 drops of iodine
  • 1 tsp. carrot juice
  • 5 oz. olive oil


  1. Mix everything to make a lotion.
  2. Massage it into your skin and let it penetrate.


In this article, we answered the question “Can you use olive oil to tan?”, and what to expect when you use olive oil for tanning?


Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.