How To Make Your Own Homemade Tanning Lotion For Sun And Salon Tanning

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Homemade tanning lotionHow would you like a homemade tanning lotion for the sun or salon that doesn’t cost too much, yet is still as effective as any product you could buy?

Yeah yeah I know Summer is over for the most of us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep your color through the colder months! Plus for us northern hemisphere girls, taking a weeks vacation down to the Caribbean is almost a must every year right?

If you ain’t the type to go for a spray tan or sunless lotion for whatever reason, than your only choice is to hit up the salon(always in moderation of course!)

The homemade tanning lotion I’m about to show you is the exact same one I use whenever I’m in the sun or at a salon. I think it’s even MORE effective than any product you could buy in stores.

The best thing is, it’s so EASY to make!

Here’s What You Need

You may already have some of these products at home, so make sure you hunt around a little before heading out to the store.

One other thing before I start…

It may seem like making this lotion is expensive at first because you have to buy the ingredients. However once you have everything, it will literally last you for like a YEAR!

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is an amazing tanning accelerator. How it works is pretty simple. Try to think of it like a magnifying glass on your skin. This magnification draws in even more UV rays, which then help to produce the melanin necessary for a tan to appear.

It also helps to retain moisture. This is so important as without added moisture, our skin will dry up and expire a lot faster. This then leads to flaking and with it goes the color you just added during your tan.

Basically it helps keep your tan for longer.


The main purpose of lanolin is to act as an emollient. This is something that is able to lock in moisture and it’s vital if we want to achieve a long lasting tan.

It’s also great for those with sensitive skin as it’s a hypoallergenic, meaning that it won’t cause any irritation whatsoever.

Black Tea(3 bags)

Like all of these ingredients, black tea plays two roles:

  1. It will act as a natural dye, adding some color to your skin.
  2. It contains a ton of antioxidants that will fight off any toxins that may arise during the sensitive time right after tanning.

If you thought the ingredients list was simple, making this homemade tanning lotion is even easier!

How To Make This Homemade Tanning Lotion

You definitely don’t have to be a rocket scientist to make this remedy. Just follow the simple steps below and you’ll be ready to apply your lotion in no time…

black tea for tanningStep One – Make Some Tea!

Take 3/4 cup of water, boil it and pour into a mug with your 3 black tea bags. Place it off to the side to allow it to brew for a couple of minutes.

Step Two: Start Your Blenders!

Take a 1/4 cup of coconut oil, 1/4 cup of lanolin and 1/4 cup of tea and pour them all into your blender. Start it up and as you’re blending, slowly pour in the remaining 1/2 cup of tea.

Mix until the lotion start to look nice and even.

At last you’re ready to apply!

My Recommendations

This homemade tanning lotion is seriously going to accelerate the process. If you’re a little on the pale side, I recommend starting off with no more than 5 minutes in a tanning bed or 10 minutes of direct sunlight(pay attention to where you are, ie. the sun is extremely powerful in the Caribbean!)

Also this stuff can get messy! The black tea combined with the coconut oil is a nightmare when it comes to staining clothes. At the same time you don’t want to wash it off right away. Doing this will remove any nutrients before they have a chance to absorb properly into your skin. You want to give it at least 2 hours to soak in.

If you’re heading to the salon, always take an old change of clothes and DON”T WEAR WHITE!

Where To Get These Ingredients

I have to admit, I’m kinda lazy when it comes to buying ingredients for home remedies. I literally do all my shopping for things like this on Amazon and below there’s links to the products I bought (now 6 months ago) to make this lotion -

Nature’s Way Coconut Oil – $9.99 on Amazon

Now Foods Pure Lanolin – $4.89 on Amazon

The black tea you can just grab next time you’re at the grocery store :-)

Now I Want To Hear From You Ladies

Did you decide to give this homemade tanning lotion a try? If so, post your comments in the box provided below or share your ideas with us on Facebook or Twitter AND if you haven’t already, don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter below for more tanning tips!

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  • Homemade recipes for sun and sunless tanning lotions.
  • After-suns
  • Tanning accelerators
  • Pre-tanning scrubs
  • And WAAAAY more!

All you need to do is pick up a copy of my Amazon Kindle book – Getting Baked: Home Remedies For Tanningfor ONLY $3.99!

Just click the order button and download your copy instantly from Amazon. And if for some reason you’re not a fan of my writing skills (rude!), you can always ask for a refund, no questions asked.

58 comments… add one

  • I bought everything tonight at the health food store Lanolin $4.98..Coconut Oil $6.99 and 60% off so for less than $15.00 (I have tea already).. Mixed it up smells wonderful…seems a little runny but is firming up as it sets…I will start my tanning tomorrow…. (I have a base tan started but not dark) …my plan is to tan 1 week 20 minutes a day, wait 2 1/2 hours then shower… I will post through the week then final results next week!!!….. However have to mention after making this batch it looks and smells really close to a name brand I used with great results …Im excited!!! Time to get my tan on!!!

  • Ahhh that’s awesome Brenda! Definitely keep me in the loop with how it turns out :-)

  • Ok lotion sat up nicely its a nice creamy lotion I used the lotion tanned 20 minutes then of course got a phone call so lotion was on for close to 3 hours but my skin feels so good it’s almost amazing…washing off was a little difficult but added a squirt of dawn dish soap to my body wash and off it came.. I usually always have to use lotion after tanning then showering cause the key to a good tan is moisturize, moisturize…but my skin feels good…the only thing I see so far is you should check with your tanning place before using because it does leave the bed oily and some places won’t allow oil I have my own bed and had to clean with dawn dish soap so check before using…well so far I’m liking it but I will update more when the color kicks in…but so far I got a good feeling!!!

  • Holla!!! That’s what I like to hear! Looking forward to hearing your results :-)

  • Tan is a beautiful brown not splotchy, not fake looking I was concerned the tea would simply stain my skin but I have has no color lightening after showering!!…I have a few more days I committed myself for 1 week but I am sold already.. I have been asked what lotion I am using when I tell them I made it they all have that same look i had when I first read this… but I have passed my friend and her $75 lotion she is now switching…if you were or are skeptical try it…I have a favorite high name lotion I use on a regular basis at $90 a bottle I spent less than $20 including gas and still have enough for several batches and the only difference I see is the $90 lotion seemed to fade slightly after showering and this don’t AND I believe this is more of a nice brown even tan..I’m Hooked!! I’ll finish my experiment with pleasure cause every tan now is just better and better!!!

  • Woah! Brenda! That is so great to hear!! I bet your girlfriend is now kicking herself, eh?

    I’m so beyond thrilled at the results you have achieved! *high five*

    Keep it up girl, you’re a regular DIY’in goddess now :-)

  • Ok final comment I have tanned daily using my new homemade FAVORITE lotion… I have been asked by so many people what I am using when I tell them I get that “yeah right” look.. I highly recommend mixing this lotion up and giving it a try! My skin feels great my tan is even and super dark no its not a stain the easiest way to see if your tanned or stained use nair on your legs you will know instantly if you spent $100 to stain yourself (I’ve been there done that) all my friends are now using this lotion I am saving so much money I love it!!!…downfalls and they come with everything… Check with your salon they may not allow it cause it does leave the bed oily…bed owners I mixed a little dawn dish soap and water it comes right off. I also added a little to my body wash to help getting it off however a lot soaks into your skin but I did noticed the longer I use the lotion the less that absorbs this is due to your skin is nicely moisturized I have even had to use less lotion throughout the day and I am a lotion aholic!!…bottom line I love it and would highly recommend it..I have the deepest darkest brown tan….Thank You for posting this recipe you are the Tan Lotion Queen!!!!…Happy Tanning Everyone!!!

  • Ahhhhh this is SO awesome Brenda! Thank you for the best series of comments and for keeping me posted on your progress! I’m soooo happy it all worked out so well for you…and that you’re spreading the word to your girlfriends :-)

    You rock!

  • Sheri Kinnison April 7, 2013 10:31 am

    okay so im convinced as long as the weather holds up here im gonna try it lol

  • Awesome! Let me know how it goes :)

  • Wow, Brenda’s got me all excited to try this out haha! I’ll definitely look into it when I get home for the summer! :) Thanks for the tutorial!

  • That’s what I like to hear! Make sure you keep us in the loop if you do test it out :-)

  • Any way to make it smell better!? Lol guess Im spoiled. I made up the recipe yesterday and love the texture. Bout to go lay out for a half hour and see how it starts working. The smell is my only drawback so far.

  • Why don’t you try adding a nice essential oil like coconut or vanilla or rose?

  • This sounds great and I love all of Brenda’s feedback!! I am MOST DEFINITELY going to try this! Thank you thank you thank you!! Quick question though: any suggestions for someone who’s crunched for time? I am tanning at my gym during my work lunch hour right after I work out and I am concerned with the tea staining my clothes as you mentioned. With the commercial tanning lotions I’ve been jumping in the shower right after I tan because of the smell (awful!) so I admit my moisturizing has not been up to par either. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give!

  • Hmmm how long do you have on your lunch hour to do the tea tanning? Maybe you could just do 1 coat every day that way you’ll be completely dry but if you do it every day you will be building on your tan each day. Would that work for you?

    And girlfriend, you need to moisturize! lol ;)

  • Does anyone have any suggestions of something to use besides tea? I know it won’t work as well.

  • Hmmmm maybe you could try coffee??? I’m not sure if it works but you could try it…

    Why dont’ you want to use tea?

  • It’s a religious belief. I don’t know about external use, but we are advised not to drink tea or coffee in the LDS church. I do however love the idea of using lanolin to help the tan “stick”. I’ve heard you can use cocoa powder to stain the skin (at least until the next shower) and I’m wondering now if using the lanolin would help it last a little longer… Maybe I’ll try it and let everyone know how it goes.

  • Ohhhh okay, I get it. Yeah, definitely give cocoa powder a try and let us know how it goes!

  • Sunkissed: As ever, and for certain, do what you feel led to do.

    THAT SAID: It’s the tannic acid in the tea that helps one’s skin take a tan and ease any burn that might occur. Decaffeinated tea should do the same job without subjecting you to the stimulant effect of caffeine, so long as you let the stuff brew a good long while.
    (For that matter, if you have oak trees in the area that haven’t been treated with pesticides, you could probably chop fresh oak leaves and steep them in boiling water for similar effect. The reason acorns are bitter and nothing grows under an oak is the strong concentration of tannins in the plant. I make no guarantees about smell or colour, mind, but it will hypothetically serve.)

  • Read D&C and decide for yourself. I was raised where tea was only used externally. IE for bruises. Like alcohol is used for cleaning. D&C states not to drink tea, but i was always told it was ok to use outside of the body.

  • im LDS and I often use tea solely for external purposes like for treating sunburn. it should be fine, but definitely follow the spirits guide if you feel otherwise :)

  • Can you use in tanning beds? Anyone tried it?

  • You should be able to but I just wouldn’t bake in there for too long. Maybe test it with short spurts of tanning bed exposure :)

  • I use mine in the tanning bed I have continued to use it but just to maintane my tan because I am so dark I love it. As far as cocoa or coffee goes I would use instant coffee mix with hot water to dissolve but still run it through a strainer the coffee works just as well. I also have a friend that can’t use tea for religious reason so we substituted coffe not much difference. Cocoa on the other hand will stain your skin it actually leaves you blotchy and very fake. I have everyone I know using this lotion!!…V you are awesome for posting this I will never use anything else plus really not much need for lotio I don’t get the dryness of my skin and sure that is due to the lanolin. Again Happy Tanning Everyone!!!!

  • Aw thanks Brenda! And thanks for adding your input on the tweaks :-)

  • I am very pale….like super duper white….going to Hawaii at the end of the month, will i Tan properly with this lotion or is it more of a self tan (no sun) lotion itself.
    My question really is: Can i use this lotion without the black tea? I want to be able to SUN tan not self tan.

    Hope that made sense.

  • You can tan with it but I don’t want to promise you anything and then have it not work out so maybe try a different tanning lotion if you are looking to sun tan :)

  • I’m super excited that i found this just one thing i dont have any lanolin at home and its a 30mile drive to a store. so is there anything else i can use?

  • Hmmmm I’m not too sure what would be a good substitue for Lanolin to be honest as we’ve only ever used Lanolin.

    Sorry I can’t help you out on that one!

  • I have tanned for years with high dollar lotions filled with ingredients that I have no idea what they are. I wanted to find something all natural so I went on a quest and spent numerous hours reading labels and comparing products and could not find any products with 100% natural ingredients. I was also leery of making my own. I decided to give it a try. I was really wondering about the black tea as I did not want any artificial coloring. So I made the lotion and used it at the tanning bed worrying that it would hurt the bed and leave a mess. But guess what? It did not. I took a paper towel with me and wiped the bed just to be sure and I do that each time for my own satisfaction. I used my homemade lotion for 3 weeks and am tan and bronze. Just to compare I used my high dollar lotion a couple days ago and could not believe how much better my homemade lotion bronzed my skin and moisturized. I will never again give into the pressure of high dollar poison on my skin. Is you have been contemplating making your own go for it!

  • Holla!!!! That’s what I like to hear Dee, thanks for sharing that :-)

  • I tried making your lotion, but it separates, is it supposed to do that? The tea is on the bottom and the lanolin and coconut oil is on top (those two at least mixed together). I used Earl Grey, because that’s what I had, but it said black tea on it… Also, the only blender I have is really really big so I mixed it by hand, maybe that’s why it’s separating? Also, it stinks. I’m going to try adding vanilla to it, but I don’t want to put it on and wear it for two hours as it is now. On the other hand, if it helps me even out this farmer’s tan before wearing a strapless brides maid’s dress it may be worth it…

  • hahaha yeah sorry about the smell…definitely try adding some essential oil into it. Vanilla would be a good choice or you could try coconut or even rose :)

    As for why it’s separating, I would think because you mixed it by hand is why it’s separating. You need to give it a pretty good mixing to have it stay together…could you give the blender a shot or are you not digging that idea?

  • I added some more coconut oil (about 1/4 c) and some essential oils. Mixed it all up really well, again by hand. It’s not separating and it smells much better. I think adding in more coconut oil helped as much as the essential oils, as far as the smell goes. It also has more of a lotion consistency now than it did before (even before it would have a chance to separate).

  • Holla! That’s what I like to hear :-)

    So you’re happy with it then?

  • oooh yeah it does not smell good lol…would be nice if the coconut oil overpowered the lanolin but that is not the case…..gonna be a hot one here in CT tomorrow so im off to the beach with my homemade lotion! Ill let u know how i make out! :)

  • Sweet looking forward to it :)

  • does this lotion need to be refrigerated? or will it keep at room temp

  • You should store it in a cool, dry place but it doesn’t have to be refrigerated :)

  • Do you have to use pure lanolin? And if so do you use the cream/wax or the oil? I couldnt find pure lanolin in any of my local department/drugstores so I got the Medela tender care lanolin (nipple cream) Would that work just as well?

  • I used the waxy kind but I’m not sure about the nipple cream…if you do give it a shot let us know how it works out :)

  • Does it matter if the Coconut oil is unrefined or refined?

  • Do you mean virgin vs. non-cold pressed? I would always stick with virgin if possible :)

  • Is there anything I can substitute for lanolin? I don’t have any on hand

  • Not that I know of…but maybe there is something out there that has the same consistency? Although I don’t know of any off hand. You should be able to find lanolin in your local pharmacy or even some grocery stores :)

  • Is there anyway I can replace coconut oil with olive oil? I love the way olive oil makes my skin feel because I use it on my face.

  • You could give it a shot and see how it turns out :-)

  • Since it’s 3:00 am here, I will definitely be back to purchase to your book! Anyone willing to be there when “the shit hits the fan” has my support too! PLEASE TELL ME, no there be “shit” flying??!!!
    I’ll be back later to purchase your book!


  • Okay, I don’t say this often, but I’m actually impressed. As a herbalist and food based therapist, I recently diagnosed myself with a vitamin D deficiency (through a blood test). The deficiency was quite severe and I decided to add sunbeds to my supplementation routine.

    I’ve been building it up a little bit and took my third in two weeks today. Because I didn’t want to use the chemical pre-tan stuff they have over there, I decided to make my own. I have my own brand of natural skin care products so I could see this recipe was pretty good.

    But I just came back after using it on the sunbed for the first time and as I said, I’m really impressed! Usually it’ll take pigmentation a couple of days to adjust and get more tanned, but I’m definately a lot more tanned than I was an hour ago!

    The first two times (with the commercial pre-tan) I didn’t really see any difference (which doesn’t bother me as it’s the vitamin D I’m after, not the tan), but now (with your recipe) I look very, very summery sunkissed. Chapeau!

    I’m not too sure about the shelf life of the product though. It’s a mix of water and oil and as such it should mould like crazy ;-) but we’ll see. Also It was a bit tough to rub it on evenly because of the sticky lanolin, but that’s nothing a drop of olive oil won’t fix.

  • Oh yeah… is there any way to purchase your tanning book other than through Amazon? It requires a creditcard which I don’t have so I can never purchase anything there (Amazon, really: PayPal, folks!)…

  • As of right now it’s only available through Amazon, but if that changes we’ll be sure to let you know! Cheers!

  • hi i was just wondering if the tea should be supper black after steeped? my lotion turned put really light. Wasn’t sure if its suppose to look like regular self dark self tanners or not..

  • It doesn’t need to be super dark, but definitely steeped as medium-dark. It definitely won’t go as dark as a store bought tanner, so don’t fret!

  • Has anyone tried this with Cocoa Butter instead of Lanolin? I am allergic to Lanolin, so looking for an alternative. Thanks!

  • Ok so is this a self tanning lotion? Because I just want to sun tan and I’m thirteen, so I’m just wondering

  • It is meant to be coupled with sun tanning or a tanning bed – but in moderation. If you want a good self tanning recipe try this out!


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