Baby Oil And Iodine Is It Safe?

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The short answer is no because iodine and baby oil as a tanning mixture are very harmful to the skin. The blend of baby oil and iodine was used to achieve a summer tan for years. Yes, it can give you a nice-looking tan but, it attracts UV rays a lot more and, they penetrate deeper into the skin and cause damage. This practice stems back to the 40s and 50s, when tanned skin was a desirable trait among the ladies of that era. Because being tanned meant that you were healthier, more energetic, wealthier and, you went on vacations to beaches and were on boats constantly.

Every year around 38 million young Americans wear a swimsuit and head outside to beaches to get a tan. This obsession with a sun-kissed healthy glow is more common among women.

And this is not only something that exclusively happens in summers. 59% of college students have made use of indoor tanning beds and, there is a huge growing market for self-tanning products all the time, be it summer, fall, or winter.

Can you use baby oil and iodine for tanning?

Is using an iodine and baby oil blend good for tanning? Can you tan using this mix without any damage to your skin? Questions like these keep running through your head if you want to use baby oil and iodine for a quick tan.

Let’s engage in some fact-checking to see if using this concoction for your tanning session is worth it.

This popular blend came into use in the early 1940s and has been in use since then. Let me tell you what else happened during the 1940s.

It was a time when airbags didn’t exist, people rode cars without seat belts, before nutrition labeling was a thing, and most importantly, people weren’t aware of how harmful ultraviolet radiation is to the skin. These things were considered normal back then but, now we know how important they are to our safety and health.

The blend of baby oil and iodine does give you a deep and long-lasting tan which explains why women used it so much in the 40s and 50s. But this tan comes with a price tag, and it causes huge amounts of damage to the skin.

The damage occurs because baby oil acts exactly opposite to how a sunblock would. It allows deeper and quicker penetration of UV radiation than if your skin was bare and exposed to the sun.

The dark color of your skin is essentially the upper layer of the skin getting burned. The oil also moisturizes the skin and acts like a reflector that concentrates the UV radiation that falls on the skin.

So, can we say that this method is successful in providing tan skin with a sun-kissed hue? Sure it is. But there are safer alternatives nowadays with much better results.

How is baby oil and iodine mixture harmful to your skin?

We all are aware of how important sun protection is. Spending a lot of time exposed to the sun can cause a lot of damage and, it is bad for your skin as it causes premature aging, sun damage, wrinkles, and even skin cancer.

Therefore, the best you can do for your skin is limit time spent outdoors, wear sunscreen and a hat while you step out. Applying baby oil and iodine mixture can make your skin worse.

Here are some pretty persuasive reasons to ditch baby oil and iodine for tanning.

Skin damage and pigment changes

A picture of a woman comparing the skin damage and pigment changes.

Baby oil and iodine with UV exposure will increase your pigment-producing cells or melanocytes. The pigment production of these cells is not always uniform. The skin can be patchy, uneven and can cause sunspots, darkening of moles on the skin, and may worsen skin conditions like melasma.

Increased risk of skin cancer

Baby oil and iodine cause skin to burn faster and easily. Because it attracts UV rays and, the radiation goes deep into the skin. The carcinogenic rays can make you prone to skin cancer as well.

Premature aging

Regular exposure to the sun’s UV rays alone can cause collagen breakdown. When combined with baby oil and iodine, it fast tracks the skin aging process. Collagen breakdown can cause thinning of skin, wrinkles, sunspots, and sagging.

A higher risk of getting a sunburn

This concoction not only causes skin burn but also causes discomfort, pain, and itchiness with the burn. Very severe burns with huge painful blisters can cause permanent scarring.

Alternative solutions to tanning

If you are looking for that alluring golden brown tint without burning or damaging your skin, there are other ways you can achieve that look.

Spray Tan

A young woman is getting a spray tan done at the local tanning spa.

This method gives you the most natural result and, the best part is that it’s hassle-free and less time-consuming.


Buy a foam product that you can spread easily, and use a glove. You must wait for 8 to 10 hours for the product to develop its color.

Body and face makeup

You can achieve a natural-looking glow with this method by using a large buffing brush on the body. You can use a bronzer for your face to match the same glowing tan.

Safe sun exposure

You can get out in the sun when the sun rays are not that harsh. Early mornings or late in the evenings is a good time.

Exposure to the sun also causes the production of vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D is good for the bone, lungs, and immune system.

You have to pay attention to the precautions like wearing generous amounts of sunscreen and wearing protective clothing when you do this. This method will give you the healthiest looking glow.


I hope you have your answer to whether baby oil and iodine are safe on the skin. The answer is a no.

Firstly, we have many products available in the market these days which do a great job to give you a nice tan. We must stop using outdated and sometimes dangerous treatments thinking; if it is older, it is a better method since generations before we used them.

Secondly, any naturally occurring tan is damaging to your skin so, you must protect it with sunscreen.

Not only is baby oil and iodine bad for all skin tones, but it can also sometimes lead to lasting damage and permanent scarring that nobody wants.

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Physical Therapist / Writer

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Nutrition & Diet