Summer is almost upon us, and with that comes a sleuth of new ideas on how to get the best tan possible.
Carrot oil is the internet's latest solution to a golden glow, sporting credentials that claim to moisturise, protect, and darken our complexions under the sun's strong rays.
The reality, however, is much more complicated than it sounds. Not all carrot oils are made alike and, most importantly, not all will guarantee you that sun-kissed shade you're seeking.
So, what's the deal? Is carrot oil good for tanning? Does carrot oil darken skin in the way the interest claims it to? We'll be targeting all your frequently asked questions right here.
What's the difference between carrot oil and carrot seed oil?
Firstly, it's important to distinguish the differences between carrot oil and carrot seed oil. Carrot seed oil is an essential oil extracted from, as the name suggests, the seeds of carrots (Daucus carota).
Like all essential oils, carrot seed is extremely potent and should never be applied to the skin undiluted. It's also a good idea to perform a patch test before using carrot seed oil anywhere on your body.
Carrot oil, on the other hand, is usually a much gentler homemade remedy, made by combining carrot extract (or crushed-up carrots, in most cases) with a plant-based carrier oil.
Both oils have very different benefits for our skin but should not ever be viewed as interchangeable, especially where tanning is concerned.
What does carrot oil do to the skin?
Carrot seed essential oil is a powerful antioxidant, used extensively in skincare and haircare products to help protect us from environmental damage - including damage from UV rays.
It's also highly antimicrobial and filled with impactful vitamins, making it ideal for applying to the skin as an all-natural cleanser. Some sources even suggest it may have anti-aging effects. Learn more about the benefits of carrot seed essential oil.
Carrot oil contains similar benefits to its essential oil counterpart, largely thanks to the carrier oils that are used to make it. Certain carrier oils like sweet almond or jojoba contain deeply moisturising and nourishing properties that are ideal for skin health.
The addition of carrot extract to these carrier oils can boost their vitamin A content and strengthen complexions even further, plus bolster their great antioxidant properties too.
Does carrot oil help you tan?
When it comes to tanning, understanding the distinction between carrot oil and carrot seed oil is crucial. First of all, carrot seed essential oil sadly won't help your tan.
While it has its own benefits for our complexions, carrot seed oil has no known SPF content and therefore should not be used purely for the benefit of tanning. You can add a drop or two to your existing moisturiser for some additional benefits, though.
Carrot oil, on the other hand, can be used for tanning purposes, but only alongside commercial sun protectants. Any potential SPF content in carrot oil will come from added carrier oils like jojoba, and even then, the levels will be very low.
Most of the tanning impact from carrot oil will also be a result of its natural colour, which will leave a slight bronze on the skin with frequent application.
But, unlike commercial tanning products, there's actual no proof that carrot oil can attract the sun's UVA rays to your skin. Even still, it's become a favourite amongst tanning enthusiasts for the glow it can create.
Can you use carrot oil on sunbeds?
So okay, we know that carrot seed essential oil is a big no-no for sun protection, but can you use carrot oil on a sunbed? Is carrot oil good for sunbeds at all?
Sadly, the answer is no, or at least not by itself. Since carrot oil doesn't contain the right amount of SPF to keep your skin guarded, it shouldn't ever be used on sunbeds as a UV ray protector.
Technically speaking, you can still apply carrot oil prior to a sunbed session for the sake of boosting your tan, just so long as you're using SPF too. Even then, there's no such thing as safe tanning, so the process will always come with risks.
Carrot seed essential oil should never be used as a tanning agent or UV protector as it has no known SPF.
How to make carrot oil
There are lots of commercial carrot oils available on the market, but the ingredients will often be so simple that you're better off making your own right at home.
Creating a DIY carrot oil will also allow you to see exactly what's going into your tanning oil, making it easier to determine what it's safe for. That being said, it does take a while to make properly, so try and prepare your oil a few weeks in advance of any holidays.
Here's how to make it.
You will need:
- 4 big carrots (preferably organic)
- A container of your choice - glass jars are usually best
- Sweet almond oil
- 1-2 drops of carrot seed essential oil (optional)
- Peel and thinly slice your two large carrots.
- Let the pieces dry out completely for 24 hours. For best results, leave them in the open air.
- Put the slices into your chosen container and fill the container with sweet almond oil. You can also use sunflower oil or olive oil if you prefer. Make sure to leave a bit of room near the top of the container.
- Let the mixture soak in the container for 3 weeks. Store in a cool, dry place away from heat and light.
- Stir occasionally to ensure the extracts are combining properly.
- After three weeks, peel and slice two new large carrots. Add these to your container.
- Let the mixture sit for another 3 weeks.
- Once the mixture is ready, filter it out. if you choose to, add a drop or two of carrot seed essential oil here.
- You're ready to use your carrot oil!
How to use carrot oil for tanning
Please remember that carrot oil should only be used as a tan accelerator, not a sun protectant. Before heading out to the beach or the sunbeds, always apply an SPF product to your skin first.
With that out of the way, here are some top tips on how to make the most of your carrot oil for tanning:
- For the best results, start using your carrot oil as soon as you can. The longer you use the oil for, the more likely you are to get sun-kissed results by the end of the summer.
- Apply your carrot oil twice daily to your whole body throughout the summer or holiday period - once in the morning and once in the evening. Make sure you're also applying it to those trickier locations like your feet.
- If you want an extra boost for potential tanning possibilities, try adding some carrot oil to your daily moisturiser too.
The debate surrounding whether or not carrot oil works as a tanning agent will likely rage on for a while, but that doesn't mean there's any harm in trying it. So long, of course, as you're using it with SPF too.
Carrot seed essential oil, on the other hand, won't do much for your tan, but will certainly help keep your skin healthy throughout the summer months. Enjoy the sun!