Why You Should Ditch The Baby Oil For Sunscreen

by Shannon Postrion

I admit it: I've used baby oil in order to speed up the process of my tan.

Within my friend group, I naturally have the darkest skin and I rarely burn. Whether we are spending a day at the beach or on the boat, my friends always bring multiple bottles of sunscreen for different parts of their bodies.

Then, there’s me: I lather my entire body with oil throughout the day. If I burn, my usual response is, “Oh, it will go away by tomorrow.” And it usually does, leaving me with a darker canvas.

I understand how tanning can become an addiction because, honestly, who wouldn’t want bronzed skin that lasts -- at least, prior to hearing the health risks involved?

Let’s start out with the obvious difference between sunscreen and baby oil.

Sunscreen is used to protect the skin against the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. When the skin burns, this increases a person’s chance of the skin aging, wrinkles and getting skin cancer.

There are two types of UV rays. UVA rays penetrate the deeper parts of the skin and are associated with the damage of the appearance of the skin. UVB rays have been associated with skin cancer.

Baby oil is used to moisturize the skin. Baby oil is typically mineral oil combined with moisturizers used make the skin soft. This should be an immediate red flag, but it's a factor often ignored.

People choose to tan with baby oil because it does have its perks. The oil acts as a reflector, which directly attracts the sunlight while intensifying the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.

The baby oil allows the rays to penetrate deeper parts of the skin, which quickly creates a darker skin tone. Since the oil reflects light, it is also distributed across the skin pretty evenly, producing a generally uniform tan.

While using baby oil may sound like the best way to create that long-lasting tan, it definitely isn’t healthy. Since the use of baby oil speeds up the process of tanning, this can result in sunburn.

Skin cells can be damaged faster than the darker skin can become visible, and people often stay in the sun longer than they should. Instead of getting that bronzed goddess look, they end up resembling a ripe tomato.

Sometimes, people who burn with baby oil have more intense and uncomfortable wounds. Scars from baby oil burns can take days and up to weeks to heal.

All people should use sunscreen when they are outside. It's recommended you use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 to protect the skin.

Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before going outside and then reapplied every two hours.

Baby oils typically don’t contain sunscreen. Therefore, they offer no protection against the sun.

But, there is an alternative way to use baby oil. If you apply sunscreen before putting on baby oil, or blend the baby oil with sunscreen, you have a better chance of protecting yourself.

There are also tanning oil products available that contain sunscreen, which make them safer than baby oil.

While it’s difficult to break bad habits, it’s important to be conscious of the harmful effects baby-oil tanning can have on your skin.

If you still strive to get that sun-kissed skin, use alternative ways or products that will assure the protection of your skin.

Remember: It's important to keep your skin healthy now. Your future self will thank you for it.