Hey people, guess what? It’s almost May! I absolutely love May. In the month of May we will see the donning of shorts, skirts, and sleeveless shirts. Skin begins to emerge from the long hibernation indoors that is winter. If you are anything like me, you emerge fully vampire-esk. Pasty pale legs, skin like Snow White. But I adore the weather in May, especially when there are warm, sunny days that I could be basking outside in the grass. I like getting sun, but I don’t like having to lay out for hours to get sun-kissed. Plus the more sun exposure, the worse the damage. Therefore, in today’s post we will be covering how to make a DIY tanning lotion using natural, non-toxic ingredients. Then you can accelerate your golden glow and lovingly take care of your skin simultaneously.
I know plenty of people who once the weather warms up, they hop on over to their local tanning salon and bake in the UV beds. I have in the past used said methods, but it is far from loving to myself and I swore it off. Another, more safe method would be bronzers or tanning lotions, lotions that protect the skin while also enhancing color. In my case, I wanted some SPF protection to reduce the damage to the skin when outside. Skin cancer is no joke and UV exposure accounts for 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers and 85% of melanoma cancers (1). Limiting exposure to sun and wearing protection, including sunscreen, hats, and clothing, can help reduce sun damage.
The whole goal behind making a DIY tanning lotion is to help reduce the amount of time spent in the sun. This is done by accelerating bronzing, thus needing less time to get the tan you may want. Also, by providing aid and moisturizer to combat UV damage and promote skin repair, it provides an additional much needed effect. There are many benefits to wearing lotion when getting sun outdoors and even more benefits when using safe, natural ingredients.
Ingredients and Their Benefits in Natural Tanning Lotion:
- Zinc Oxide– this ingredient provides SPF protection that is considered safe and effective (6)
- Shea Butter– provides natural UV protection, excellent moisturizer and skin smoother (4)
- Aloe Vera– soothes dry skin
- Coconut Oil– works as an excellent emollient, also provides anti-bacterial effects (5)
- Coffee Extract– caffeine in coffee provides UVB protection (2), it also adds darker color to skin
- Cocoa Powder– neutralizes free-radicals, adds bronze color upon application (3)
Lotion: you’ve got to emulsify it!
I have to admit, lotion has been my most difficult DIY project yet. I have tried and failed a couple of times before I was able to successfully develop this recipe. The key to a successful lotion is emulsification. Emulsification happens when a liquid (water) successfully blends with fat (oil) while both still maintain their original characteristics (7). In the case of lotions, we get the moisture of the fat or oil but with the dilution of the water, which makes it, well, more wet. I tried a few times to emulsify a couple of different recipes, once using jojoba oil and beeswax, once using just beeswax, both times I didn’t quite have it right.
In this recipe, the key I found was vegetable emulsifying wax. These little pellets are made of refined vegetable oil and basically act as a glue to bind water and oil together to create a more gel or lotion like consistency. It doesn’t take a lot, about 3-6% ratio to water, so a little more than a tablespoon was enough. I also added some beeswax which also acts as an emulsifier and thickens the final product, with some added nutrients such as Vitamin A.
An important piece of emulsifying is to ensure the oils and the waters are similar temperatures. And to mix them together while they are still hot. As you mix, it cools down, and which the consistent whipping and mixing, the vegetable emulsifier and beeswax do their thing. The final product was great! It was smooth, creamy, and absorbed in the skin quickly and easily, no grease left behind. My only additional note was that there was a bit of residue left behind, like very mildly sticky. It didn’t bother me or anything, just to be noted as a side effect.
DIY Natural Tanning Lotion
loosely adapted from Whispering Earth
- 1/2 cup Aloe Vera Gel
- 1/2 cup distilled or filtered water
- 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 4 tsp Vegetable Emulsifying Wax
- 1 Tbsp Shea Butter
- 2 tsp beeswax
- 2 tsp Coffee Extract
- 2 tsp Cocoa Powder
- 2 tsp Zinc oxide
- Essential Oils (6 drops grapefruit, 5 drops cedarwood, and 3 drops vanilla)
- On the stove, in a double-broiler or in a bowl on top of a small pot of water, melt the oils and waxes. Like a bain marie, in a separate pot of water, heat the water, aloe vera gel, and coffee extract in a glass measuring cup, partially submerged in hot water.
- Once all liquids have been brought to a similar temperature (very warm, not boiling), remove from heat and begin to slowly pour the water into the bowl of melted oils and waxes. Stir non-stop until all of the liquids are combined.
- Once combined, before it starts cooling, use an emulsifying hand mixer to blend and whip the lotion as it cools, for about 5 minutes. Once mostly cooled, add the zinc oxide, cocoa powder, and essential oils and continue blending with hand mixer until smooth and creamy.
- Spoon lotion into jars, storing in the fridge to preserve for up to 2 months, or store in cabinet at room temperature for up for 4 weeks.
Yield: A decadent and scrumptious three 4 ounce containers (plus a little extra), or one 14 oz pump lotion bottle
When it’s time to go out for some lounging in the sun, apply the lotion before you head outdoors. For best results, apply to clean, exfoliated skin. This DIY tanning lotion should last for about 30-45 minutes of approximately SPF 15, reapply after that as needed. Note: This smells like candy! With the coffee extract and cocoa powder as a base, the sweet vanilla and punchy citrus make this smell like a lemon cake with buttercream frosting. Divine.