How to Make Your Own Homemade Self-Tanning Lotion

The sun and tanning beds can cause irreversible damage to your skin and sunless tanning products can have a horrible smell and include toxic chemicals. If you want to save money and avoid commercial sunless tanning products, I suggest you learn how to make your own sunless tanning products.

You can make them at a fraction of the cost of their store-bought counterparts. Plus, You will know exactly what is going into them and what you’re putting on your precious skin. There are many different options and variations to sunless tanning lotion recipes.

The best part about making your own lotion is that:

  • the weird orange color that sometimes comes from store-bought products will be avoided.
  • It’s easy to customize the exact color you want by changing the recipe up just a little.
  • it is less expensive than its store-bought counterpart.
  • the recipes contain no harsh chemicals.

To get the best results from these homemade self-tanners, make sure to check out our advice on applying sunless tanners.

Cocoa Powder Sunless Tanning Lotion:

This is the simplest sunless tanning lotion to make. It only requires two ingredients: unscented white lotion and 100% pure cocoa powder. Any type of cocoa powder available can be added as long as it says 100% pure on the label.


  • Unscented white lotion.
  • 100% pure cocoa powder.


  1. Start out by combining 1/2 cup of unscented white lotion in a bowl with 1/3 cup of pure cocoa powder.
  2. Mix with a fork. Make sure to break up any clumps and blend well.
  3. Adjust the recipe to match your desired color. The lotion will appear darker in the bowl than it will on your skin. Keep adding a little bit of cocoa powder at a time until you reach your desired shade.
  4. Smooth the tanning lotion over your entire body evenly.
  5. Apply daily for a gradual deep tan.


  • Store homemade lotion in a Tupperware container or in an empty jar that once held lotion.
  • Choose a moisturizing lotion for added benefits.
  • Exfoliate before application.
  • The lotion will look with a darker shade while preparation, but it won’t be that way on your skin. If you’re afraid to make it too dark, use the standard 1/2 cup lotion and 1/3 cup cocoa and keep adding layers until it is in the same shade you want.
  • You will be able to see the color as you apply it.

Carrot-Based Homemade Sunless Tanning Oil:

In my opinion, sunless tanning oils are better than lotions, because there is less chance of streaks.  In addition, less oil is needed to cover your entire body and it’s quick to spray and rub after your shower. This recipe makes about one gallon of sunless tanning oil.


  • 3/4 gallon of water (3 quarts).
  • 1 pound of fresh carrots (unpeeled).
  • 2 cups of brown sugar.


  1. Rinse the carrots and cut them into thin slices.
  2. Bring the water to a boil.
  3. Add the sliced carrots and brown sugar.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for three hours.
  5. Turn off the stove and let the sunless tanning oil cool.
  6. Pour the oil through a strainer to separate the clumps from the liquid.
  7. Pour the self-tanner into a spray bottle. You can get these for a dollar at Dollar Tree.
  8. Apply once every week to maintain color.


  • If you keen on getting the most bang for your buck, get all of the liquid out of your carrots as you strain them by applying a little pressure.
  • Make sure there are no carrot residues in your tanning solution, or they will clog your spray bottle, and the oil will not come out properly.

Coffee or Tea Homemade Sunless Tanning Lotion:

For this tanning lotion, choose to either use coffee or tea. It’s common knowledge that these drinks can stain your teeth, leaving an undesired effect; they can also “stain” your skin, leaving you with a beautiful tan color. No matter which one you chose, make sure you use the caffeinated type, not the decaf. The caffeine can actually help firm up and tighten the skin to diminish the appearance of wrinkles and even cellulite. This just happens to be my favorite homemade tanning lotion.

  • Either coffee grounds or tea bags (caffeinated).
  • Unscented white lotion.
  1. Brew coffee or tea like you normally would. When using coffee, prepare enough grounds for an entire pot but only one cup of water and when using tea, apply enough tea bags (typically three to four) to make a gallon but only one cup of water as well. This is typically three to four family-sized tea bags.
  2. Mix enough lotion and coffee/tea to get your desired color. The more coffee or tea you add, the darker your tan will develop.
  3. Put the resulting mixture in a spray bottle and apply it.


  • Make sure to shake well before each use.
  • Use weekly or bi-weekly for best results.
  • I personally prefer using tea bags as there is less chance of getting little pieces in the spray, and I don’t really like the smell of coffee.
  • If you like it as it is, don’t add the lotion: the tea/coffee liquid works just fine on its own.

Homemade Outdoor Tanning Oil:

If you don’t want a sunless tan, you can always make your own outdoor tanning oil. All you need is some olive oil and iodine. Just mix a couple of drops of iodine with a cup of olive oil, and you are ready to go. Put it in a spray bottle for easier use. Apply, and get your tan on!