Are you looking for an easy recipe to make your own homemade tanning lotion to get that nice and sexy dark, golden tan?
If you stumble on this post, you probably are…
If you don’t have time to buy a bottle of tanning lotion or if you don’t want to spend a fortune on it, we have the perfect solution for you that will be effective and save you a few bucks.
You don’t want to expose your skin to the harmful UV sun rays ? Or you need a tan accelerator lotion or an outdoor homemade tanning lotion to use in the sun or at a salon with tanning bed ?
We will show you in both case an effective and cost effective solution.
The best part ? The different kinds of homemade tanning lotion we are going to show you are super easy to make. They won’t require much effort, we pinky promise 🙂
So if you are ready, let’s dive in.
Sunless homemade self-tanner : 2 natural recipes
Sunless tanning lotions also known as fake tanning lotions are very popular.
They don’t need any UV exposure, which is known to cause irreversible damage to your skin, leading to premature aging : wrinkles, dark spots, let alone, skin cancer.
So, this is by far the best and safest way to get a « tan » if you want to keep your skin young and fresh as long as possible…
The other advantage of making your own self tanner is : unlike commercial sunless products with a chemical called dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is a bit smelly and can cause irritation for some of you who are allergic to it, your lotion won’t contain any DHA and you know exactly what is in it.
We will give you 2 natural recipes : a cocoa based lotion and a tea based lotion.
Cocoa tanning lotion
Let’s start with our cocoa based self tanner. This is by far the most simple recipe. You only need 2 ingredients : a white lotion and 100% pure cocoa powder.
- White lotion
- 100% pure cocoa powder
You can actually use almost any lotion, it can be your favorite hydrating lotion, just try to use a white one so to be able to check the end color you want to reach.
We also prefer unscented lotions as cocoa powder fragrance might not blend well with other scents. I guess a lotion with a floral fragrance mixed with cocoa powder would not be very pleasant in terms of scent. But it is only a matter of taste. (My lotion have a nice apple scent, and I love the cocoa – apple combo scent)
Keep in mind you will have to apply this lotion on your skin, so you ‘d better make sure you can stand the resulting fragrance. Anyway, as you can imagine the scent won’t affect your tanning result, so use whatever you have at your disposal…
Make sure your cocoa powder is 100% pure which should be clearly indicated on the label. I buy my cacao powder on amazon here ( it makes wonderful chocolate milkshake, I even add some in my smoothie 😉
Don’t leave your cocoa lotion on the kitchen table, someone could definitely be tempted to eat it, the cocoa scent is really tricky 🙂
- Blend 1/3 cup of cocoa powder with 1/2 cup of your lotion base with a fork or a spoon.
- Mix well until any lumps are gone
- Add more cocoa powder if you want a darker color shade and don’t worry, the lotion appears darker than it will on your skin. When you are done, that’s it, you have your homemade tanning lotion.
- Apply the lotion on your body
- Let your skin absorb it, reapply if you look for a darher shade and allow the product to dry before getting dressed
- Apply everyday till the desired color shade.
This homemade suntan lotion will, over time, give your skin a light « chocolate » 😉 tone without the dreaded orange undertones but keep in mind, the color will be pretty mild though and won’t last as much as with traditional products with DHA (dihydroxyacetone) as cocoa powder will only « stain « lightly your skin.
Of course, it is a temporary tan so if you don’t reapply the lotion, your fake tan will fade with your daily shower.
Before applying your lotion and to optimize your tan, exfoliate your skin in the shower with your favorite scrub to remove any dead skin cells or dry patches, around your knees, ankles, elbows… ( For those who also asked, you can even use your microdermabrasion machine if you want for top notch exfoliation, but in that case, we recommend you to exfoliate and wait at least one day before applying your tanner to let you skin regenerate. Check our guide to choose the best home microdermabrasion machine here.)
After your shower, pat your skin dry and apply your tanning lotion to any areas of your body that you would like to bronze such as your legs, arms.
Allow the product to dry for about 5 minutes minimum before getting dressed or reapplying a second coat depending on the level of color you would like to achieve.
Once again, don’t be fooled by the lotion color which is way darker than what you will get on your skin.
Stay away from your dog or cat or children or husband or wife because they will probably find you too yummy with this nice and intense cocoa fragrance haha
Tea tanning lotion
Our second recipe will ask you a little more effort but it is really worth it. It is also our favorite homemade tanning lotion recipe.
- 4 black tea bags (lipton black tea is perfectly fine)
- white lotion
It is important to use black tea (not green tea) to get a nice dark natural looking tan on your skin.
Like the cocoa tanning lotion recipe, use your favorite lotion. Ideally it should be white and unscented.
- Make some tea : take a big cup of water, boil it and pour into a mug with your 4 black tea bags. Let it rest to brew for a couple of minutes to get a dark tea solution.
- Let it cool before blending
- Blend enough lotion and tea to get your desired color. The amounts to use are up to you. Keep in mind that the more tea you add, the darker your tan will develop. The ratio I like to use is 1 cup of lotion with ½ cup of black tea. Mix well.
- Apply the lotion on your body (after exfoliating your skin to get better results)
- Let your skin absorb it, reapply another layer if you want a darker shade and allow your skin to dry before getting dressed
- Apply this lotion everyday till the desired color shade.
Black tea works as a natural dye on your skin, giving you a sexy tanned look and also brings some antioxydants that will « protect » your skin against free radicals. ( Nice, isnt’ it ?)
To get an even richer color, you can even combine our 2 recipes by adding to this tea lotion, some cocoa powder to boost the color shade. As usual, add as much cocoa powder as you want until you get your desired shade.
In case you don’t know which recipe to use between cocoa and tea, we advise you to go with the tea based recipe as the color will hold much longer than with cocoa powder.
What if you could even make this tea based tanning lotion recipe even more simple ?
yeah, it is possible. In fact, you can even skip the lotion… I mean you don’t have to add the lotion, you can only use the tea solution on your skin, it will work perfectly fine.
So if we skip the lotion, make your cup of tea with your 4 black tea bags, pour the solution in a spray bottle and spray the zones you want to color.
Be careful with the spray method to avoid streaks and drips by rubbing in where necessary, that is why adding the lotion might be a more convenient method for some of you, let alone the nourishing and hydrating effect from the lotion.
Another option possible : If you don’t have any spray bottle, you can use a cotton ball, dip it into the tea and gently rub the solution into your skin.
If you don’t have any tea, you can also substitute tea by….Coffee. . It stains your skin as well but doesn’t hold as long as tea for me, and I don’t really like the smell of coffee. I am more a tea fan 🙂
If you don’t wan’t to stain your clothes, your carpet, remember to apply the lotion or the tea solution over a towel that you don’t intend to keep and do not wear clothes until your skin is dry. You should also avoid white, light colored clothes to be on the safe side.
Sun Homemade Tanning lotion for outdoor use or at the salon : 1 natural recipe
If you are definitely not a big fan of sunless tanning and absolutely prefer to sunbathe to get a natural tan, then here are a simple recipe that should make your day. It can also be used as a homemade tanning bed lotion (But please keep in mind they won’t protect you from harmful UV rays, so please be careful )
This sun homemade tanning lotion is a simple emulsion that is also very nourishing, and work wonders on chapped and dry skin…This is another favorite lotion for my elbows, feet and hands 😉 This recipe is also way cheaper than the store bought counterpart and definitely healthier for your skin.
- coconut oil
- black tea bags (3 – 4 tea bags)
Coconut oil is a must have product that you should absolutley have at home. It is a great tanning accelerator, rich in fatty acids that also offers natural SPF (about SPF 4).
It helps to focus UV rays on your skin like a magnification glass which helps to stimulate the melanin production for your tan to appear.
It also helps to hold moisture : drying out of the skin is one of the reason why you get sunburns, so by keeping your skin moist your risks of burning are much slimmer. And the scent…. Divine….. I am addicted….
Where do I get the coconut oil? I bought mine through Amazon here; it is one of the best coconut brands out there and also the most cost effective 🙂
Lanolin, here, mainly acts as a natural emulsifying agent that will help to bind water and oil together to create that nice emulsion.
The other advantage is that lanolin also acts as an emollient, it holds moisture like coconut oil and is often used for chapped skin. It is also a big must have.
Where do I get the lanolin? I also bought it on Amazon here, I use it for my hands mainly for winter, it is a must have as well.
So we have the oily part, the emulsifier, we need the water part. In fact, you can use what you want. We are going to use again some black tea to give your skin that extra color boost right from the start.
- Make some tea : take ¾ cup of water, boil it and pour into a container with 3-4 black tea bags. Let it rest to brew for a couple of minutes to get a dark tea solution. ( if you want to use aloe vera instead, simply take 3/4 cup of aloe vera)
- Mix ¼ cup of coconut oil, ¼ cup of lanolin and ¼ cup of black tea (still hot) with your blender or your mixer. Then once you get a nice emulsion, start pouring slowly the remaining ½ cup of tea. Mix it until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and you get a consistent lotion.
- You are ready to apply this lotion on your skin and get tanned.
- Reapply if necessary.
This lotion will definitely help you get tanned but we strongly recommend you to start your tanning sessions gradually to let your skin have time to trigger the melanin production, which is a way for the skin to protect itself.
As we told you for our previous recipes, keep in mind black tea can stain your clothes so be careful :).
You can also store any unused portion in a sealed container for up to seven days in your fridge. But we strongly recommend you to use it quickly as there are no preservatives in it.
If you happen to have some aloe vera gel, you could add some to this recipe to get a nice soothing action to decrease the risk of sunburn.
You could also add some spf lotion to the mix to increase your skin protection.
The reason why I prefer to mix the ingredients while the tea is still hot, it is because heat makes mixing the ingredients easier but I don’t want to heat all the ingredients to preserve their properties, so we take advantage of the heat from the black tea.
To get a nice hand cream or foot cream, simply substitute the tea solution by pure water, or aloe vera gel…. ( It works wonders )
So you know how to make your own self tanner with 3 different recipes to get a nice and sexy tan ( either sunless or with UV rays – natural or with tanning beds). If you decide to give it a try, feel free to let us know how it worked for you by leaving a small comment 😉 we’d love to hear from you…
Want other homemade recipes? Check our homemade body wraps DIY recipes