Homemade Self Tanning Lotions – 4 DIY Ideas!


Self tanning AKA sunless tanning has been on the rise lately and for obvious reason – it’s the safest way to get that oh so coveted summer glow! There are a few options when it comes to sunless tanning. You can opt for a spray tanning session at your local tanning salon, purchase your own spray tanning machine and do it yourself, or invest in a sunless tanning lotion.

All three of those methods can give you what you are looking for but they can also be quite pricey – especially the first two! So let’s explore another option…

Why not make your own self tanning lotions?

Yes, you can make your own homemade self tanning lotions and not only is it amazingly cost effective but it’s super easy (if you can bake a cake, you can bake your skin….or rather give the appearance of a sun kissed glow)! Even if the price isn’t a deal breaker for you, there are other positives to look at when making your own self tanning lotion.

Most self tanning products are packed with chemicals that most people’s bodies are unfamiliar with. For those with sensitive skin, this can cause unwanted rashes and breakouts. When you make your own sunless tanning lotion, you greatly decrease the chance of this happening by knowing exactly what you are putting on your skin. Another positive is the majority of ingredients needed, many people already have at home!

So if this sounds like something that interests you, read on for 4 great DIY self tanner ideas!

4 Best Homemade Self Tanning Lotions

DIY Tea Self Tanning Lotion

DIY homemade self tanning lotions

Photo by Ozzy Delaney

Okay, we are going to kick this off with one of my favorite beverages: Tea. While it may seem meek, the tea leaf, and the tea that is eventually produced after steeping, has a plethora of benefits when applied topically. Tea has been used throughout the world for hundreds of years to treat skin irritations and blemishes. Recent studies have also shown that application of tea may help alleviate acne as well as provide some level of anti-inflammatory response in the skin. The additional reason we are excited to make use of Tea in our home tanning lotion is that Tea has been shown to lead to hyper pigmentation (science speak for Tanning)! You can find an endless variety of Tea at any grocery store; for this recipe we will be making use of Black Tea…kinda makes sense if you think about the color we are going for right 😉 In addition to the tea, we are going to use simple, pure, unscented white lotion. You should be able to pick this up at any major drug store. The lotion will provide an added benefit of providing moisture to the skin. There are numerous varieties of these lotions available, but we like to pick one that contains only natural ingredients (though that is up to you). If you are feeling up for it, grab your ingredients, meet us in the kitchen, and let’s get going on this simple DIY sunless tanner!


  • White Lotion (unscented)
  • 4 Black Tea Bags (family-sized)


  1. Brew some tea: Brew 4 black tea bags like you normally would but only using 1 cup of water. You can either boil the water, put in in a mug and add the tea bags or use a standard brewing machine. Be sure to let it rest for a few minutes in order to get a dark tea solution.
  2. Mix the black tea solution with the white lotion until you reach your desired color (Be sure to mix well!). Remember, the more tea you add to the lotion, the darker your tan will be. A standard ratio to go by is 1 cup of lotion with 1/2 cup of black tea.
  3. Apply the lotion on your body. (Exfoliating your skin beforehand is recommended for best results)
  4. Let your skin absorb the lotion. You can apply more layers after each layer dries, depending on how dark of a tan you desire.
  5. Use weekly or biweekly for the best results.

Check out myawesomebeauty.com and bellatory.com for a more in depth review as well as some tips and tricks!

DIY Carrot Based Self Tanning Lotion

DIY homemade self tanning lotions

Photo by Jeremy Keith

Ehhh, what’s up Doc?

We are going to fill you in on another great recipe for a sunless skin tanner using carrots as the base ingredient. Carrots contain Vitamin A and beta-carotene which are natural anti-oxidants. This prevents the generation of free radicals (taken internally), but also provides beneficial properties when applied to the skin. In addition, this recipe adds in brown sugar which is used in many homemade “skin scrubs” to increase collagen production and reduce the signs of wrinkles. You can substitute regular sugar or even honey if you do not have any brown sugar laying around; however, regular white, granular sugar is much more course than brown sugar which may not be ideal for facial applications. Regular ol’ water is the only other ingredient you need for this DIY, so if you are ready, let’s go ahead and get to it!


  • Approximately ¾ gallon of water
  • 1 pound of fresh carrots (peeled or unpeeled shouldn’t really matter)
  • 2 cups of brown sugar
  • Spray bottle (Don’t use a bottle that was previously used for cleaners…Duh!!!)


  1. Rinse the carrots using tepid tap water and cut the carrots into slices. You want to make the slices around ¼ of an inch (a little over ½ of a centimeter, for our “old-world” readers )
  2. In a large sauce pan, bring the water to a rolling boil.
  3. Once the water is boiling, mix in the brown sugar and carrots. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer.
  4. After approximately three hours, remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool. You want to be able to comfortably put your hand into the mixture.
  5. Pour the tanning solution through a strainer, catching the liquid in a mixing bowl (any container you want really…). You should notice that the solution is oil-like. You want to make sure you remove any clumps. Press on any remaining clumps as they sit in the strainer to remove any of the solution within them.
  6. Pour the tanning solution into the spray bottle and apply to the skin. Make sure to apply a small amount to an “unnoticeable” area first to make sure you like the look!
  7. The color should last for about a week, and you can apply again whenever you feel the need.

For a more in depth review, as well as tips and tricks, check out bellatory.com!

DIY Cocoa Powder Self Tanning Lotion

DIY homemade self tanning lotions

Photo by Flickr

Okay chocoholics, we’ve got an incredibly simple sunless self-tanning lotion for you to make. With only two ingredients, a child can make it! The first ingredient (the one that gives the color) is pure cocoa powder (Go ahead and have a glass of chocolate milk too…we won’t tell…). You definitely want to make sure it says 100% pure on the label. Cocoa beans (where the powder originates) have been used for centuries in Meso-America by the indigenous peoples to keep skin moist. We are going to combine the cocoa powder with pure white lotion that can be found at most major drug stores. This combination provides a great texture and a perfect way to darken up that skin without the UV exposure. Ready to give it a try?


  • 100% pure cocoa powder
  • Pure white lotion
  • A Container to store the mixture (Tupperware container or one of those TSA approved travel bottles works well for this).


  1. Take about ½ of a cup of the lotion and combine this with around ¾ of a cup of the cocoa powder.
  2. Mix the lotion and the cocoa powder thoroughly to ensure that all of the clumps are removed. A standard whisk or a fork work well for mixing the lotion.
  3. Add in more cocoa powder for a darker shade. You should add in just a little at a time, mix, and then determine if you need more.
  4. Once the mixture is smooth and the right color, just apply the lotion to the skin evenly. You can apply this lotion regularly for a gradual deeper color.
  5. That’s it!! How easy was that!

To check out a more in depth reviews as well as tips and tricks check out myawesomebeauty.com and bellatory.com!

DIY Streak Free Self Tanning Lotion

DIY homemade self tanning lotions

Photo by theivorytower

So, we have looked at a few of the simpler recipes, now let’s delve into a more complex recipe that is sure to leave you darker and rejuvenated. This recipe combines some of the ingredients of the others which pulls together all of the great properties we have already discussed. The first ingredient is Black Tea. You can buy regular Black Tea bags at pretty much any grocery store. Tea has been used by indigenous people around the world for centuries to help alleviate a variety of skin irritations and blemishes. For similar reasons, we can take advantage of this while adding color. Coconut oil is the next ingredient; if you have read anything about skin care, you already know the great effects coconut has on the skin. The moisturizing properties from coconut leave the skin feeling refreshed and provide natural exfoliation. Cocoa butter and cocoa powder are the last two ingredients and have similar properties that we have already discussed. Cocoa is another one of those long heralded ingredients that people have been using for centuries to relieve skin irritations and keep the skin moist. Moist skin is happy skin! If you are ready to have a go at a professional level DIY lotion, then put on your baking shoes!


  • At least 4 Black Tea Bags (more will just provide some added darkness)
  • About ¾ – 1 cup of water for steeping the tea.
  • ½ cup of coconut oil
  • ½ cup of cocoa butter
  • ¾-1 cup of cocoa powder


  1. Boil the water and steep your tea for approximately 20-30 minutes. The longer the tea is steeped, the darker the tea, and therefore, your tanner will be.
  2. Heat the cocoa butter in the microwave so that it is warm to the touch. We want to reduce the viscosity so that it is easier to mix with all of the other ingredients.
  3. Pour the cocoa butter into a mixing bowl and add the cocoa powder. Stir these two ingredients together with a whisk until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Add the coconut oil and approximately half of the tea to the bowl. Stir the mixture with a whisk until the solution is homogeneous. Add in the rest of the tea and stir again.
  5. At this point, you can test out the solution on an “unnoticeable” area on your skin. If you want a darker color you can add in a bit more cocoa powder, just remember to mix it in thoroughly to prevent the lotion looking “splotchy” when applied.
  6. Keep the lotion in a Tupperware container and apply evenly to your skin. The effects of this lotion take around an hour or two to develop so try to apply a little at a time. You can make additional applications for a deeper darker tan.

For a more in depth review of this DIY self tanner, check out thebeautybean.com!