Tanning oil is not sunscreen (even if it contains SPF), and it does not offer sun protection! Tanning lotion is just as bad! I know most of you are sarcastically thinking “you’re kidding” but I am convinced a lot of people think an SPF 4 tanning oil is actually good for their skin. Last week I spent a few hours at a hotel pool here in Vegas, and it was 90 degrees out so I was applying globs of sunscreen every hour because I am overly zealous about sun protection. Even though I love pools so much, I strongly limit my time in the sun since no sunscreen offers 100% protection:(
With all the warnings and info about skin cancer and wrinkles, you would think that most people use sunscreen, at least when they are deliberately in the hot sun, but that is so not true! Most of the people I saw that were using sort of sun product item had the dark brown bottles of tanning oil, not sunscreen. If only there was a tanning tax on the sun – okay I know I’m crazy.
So what is tanning oil? It’s basically the exact opposite of sunscreen. Tanning oil contains ingredients like mineral oil and coconut oil that make your skin shiny in order to magnify the sun’s burning/tanning ability. Some tanning oils and tanning lotions come without SPF, but a lot of them contain a low SPF 4 or 8. Hawaiian Tropic and Banana Boat are some of the most popular drugstore brands that make SPF tanning oils (which is an oxymoron). When you slather on a slippery, shiny oil, you’re going to burn faster, so the minimal SPF 4 is barely offering you any sun protection. What really bothers me is that by offering an SPF, Banana Boat can claim they are “helping to prevent sunburn.” Sure. That’s like my friend who doesn’t think his smoking is that bad because he smokes “natural cigarettes.”
I know most people understand that tanning oils promote skin cancer and wrinkles, but when I was a teenager, I really had no idea. Because the tanning products had the SPF, I thought it was sort of good for my skin, and I thought it meant I could get tan but protect myself at the same time – the best of both worlds. Unfortunately now I know nothing could be further from the truth, but it took me 20 years to figure it out. It’s amazing how much smarter you suddenly become when premature wrinkles show up in your early 20s! I’m not the only one that is misinformed because after reading reviews of these tanning oils online, I realize people wrongly believe these products are helping them safely tan (which is impossible because tanning is always unsafe). So don’t be fooled - it may be sold in the same aisle as sunscreen, but tanning oil is not your friend!
If it has the word Tanning or Oil in the product name, don’t use it when you go in the sun. I noticed Banana Boat also makes a “protective” tanning oil with an SPF 15. That sounds like it’s good for your skin, but there’s no way around it – putting tanning oil on your skin (even with an SPF 15) is damaging when you’re exposed to UV rays from the sun or a tanning bed. Baby oil is another product that you don’t want to slather on before hitting the beach! There’s nothing wrong with using these products as a nice coconut scented skin moisturizer – as long as you don’t mind mineral oil, the products themselves are usually fine for skin.
Stick with sun products that are called Sunscreen or Sunblock – and especially use a high SPF sunscreen if you are going to be in the sun for a while. If you want to be happy like the girls in the picture, wear sunscreen! If you use tanning oils or skip the sunscreen, you will regret it later – guaranteed! And that’s the end of my tanning oil rant!