Make Your Own Non-Toxic, Sunless Tanning Lotion With Ingredients From Your Kitchen - Save Our Bones

It’s hard to believe, but summer is fast approaching in the Northern Hemisphere. Warm, sunny weather inspires us all to spend more time outdoors soaking up the sunlight.

To prepare for these sun-filled days, many people turn to fake tanning lotions; but these expensive products can contain harsh, toxic chemicals that can harm your bones and whole body and tax your liver and kidneys.

With this DIY sunless tanning lotion, you can give your skin a kick of color without risking chemical exposure. It contains no harmful ingredients, and you can make it at home using just three basic ingredients you might even have in your kitchen right now.

Summer’s Coming…But Your Skin May Not Be Ready

In these first days of summer, after a winter spent indoors, your skin is likely to be paler than it was last fall. If you’d like to give your skin a little color and prepare it for sun exposure without spending too much time in the sun, you may decide to try a sunless tanning lotion. But before you shell out money for one of these products, there are some things you need to know.

First of all, the good news. Most sunless tanning lotions have the same active ingredient: dihydroxyacetone, or DHA. This sounds like something toxic, but it’s not. It’s actually a kind of sugar, and it reacts with the outermost layer of human skin to produce a golden-brown color.

Interestingly enough, DHA’s ability to darken skin was discovered by accident in a Cincinnati children’s hospital in the mid-1950s. Children with glycogen storage disease were being given oral doses of DHA, and when some of the sugared formula spilled on their skin, it made dark spots that did not wipe off.

More research was conducted, and DHA was combined with various other substances to produce sunless tanning lotions.

It’s those “other substances” that you need to watch out for.

Toxic Ingredients In Tanning Lotions

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) rated various self-tanning lotions according to toxicity. Products rated 1-2 carry a low hazard; 3-6 a moderate hazard; and 7-10 are high hazard.

Of the 20 lotions that were evaluated, only one commercial self-tanning lotion had a rating under three: True Natural Cosmetics All Natural Anti-Aging Self-Tanning Lotion. And a lotion by Willa Moment in the Sun was rated a three. All other “tanners” rated five or above, with the highest rating an eight.

There are clearly toxic substances in these common lotions.

  • Parabens are one such substance. Used as a preservative, parabens are used in a disturbing number of cosmetics. They are endocrine disruptors that are easily absorbed into the skin. In 2006, researchers found parabens (where there were not any before) in the urine of volunteers who underwent topical paraben exposure.1
  • Oxybenzone is a synthetic chemical sunscreen that promotes absorption of whatever moisturizer or lotion to which it’s added. Oxybenzone disrupts normal hormone balance in the body because it acts like estrogen. Because of this, oxybenzone has been implicated in developmental problems and cancer growth.
  • Fragrance is found in just about every cosmetic ingredient list. And the unfortunate thing is that the term “fragrance” can mean anything from a harmless essential oil to a combination of well over 100 synthetic chemicals. Many of these fragrance chemicals are derived from petroleum, and are implicated in nervous system disorders, cancer, and birth defects. Fragrance can also cause allergic reactions in some people, such as sneezing, tightness in the chest, watering eyes, etc.
  • 1,4 Dioxane is a byproduct of manufacturing petroleum-based products for the skin. In order to make them less irritating, manufacturers process the petroleum-based ingredients via ethoxylation. Removing the resulting 1,4 dioxane from the finished product is fairly easy, but to save time and money, manufacturers typically leave it in. 1,4 dioxane is a carcinogen.
  • It’s important to note that all of these substances are toxic to bones, creating an acidic environment that depletes bones of minerals. In addition, the liver and kidneys have to work hard in the presence of these toxins, taxing these vital organs that need to be in top shape to keep your bones healthy.

    So to help you avoid these bone-damaging toxins, here’s a delightfully scented, all-natural sunless tanning lotion you can make yourself.

    Bone-Healthy Sunless Tanning Lotion


    • 3 cups brewed, cooled coffee (feel free to use a flavored coffee if you like to change up the scent)
    • 1/4 cup sweet almond oil (for use on the skin, not for cooking)
    • 2 cups of distilled water


    1. Combine all ingredients in a large spray bottle and shake to combine.
    2. After your shower, shake the bottle well and spray the mixture on your skin.
    3. Rub it in lightly with your hands.
    4. Over the course of a week or so, you will begin to see your skin darken. It will be softer, too, thanks to the almond oil.

    Giving Up Toxic Chemicals Is A Good First Step

    We sometimes receive questions from Savers who are not sure where to start with regard to their bone health. It can be hard to know what the first step should be, and that’s where cleansing comes in.

    First, you need to identify substances and habits that may be introducing toxins into your body, avoid those substances, and then, change those habits. The next step is to cleanse the body of osteoporosis drugs and any other acidifying toxins. It’s a good way to “kick start” your bone health journey.

    Don’t let the word “cleanse” scare you. When I created the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, I recognized the fact that many would already have taken osteoporosis drugs (or might still be currently taking them), and would need to flush those substances out of their bodies as rapidly as possible. But I also recognized the need for a doable cleanse that did not involve any harsh supplements or treatments.

    That’s how the Osteoporosis Fresh Start Cleanse came to be. It’s a week-long, food-based cleanse that removes bone-harming toxins, including osteoporosis drugs, from your body. You’ll enjoy more energy, better sleep, and a host of other benefits.

    And the Osteoporosis Fresh Start Cleanse alkalizes your body, too, giving your bones the environment they need to build and rejuvenate. Talk about a fresh start!

    Till next time,


    1 Xiaoyun, Ye, et al. “Parabens as Urinary Biomarkers of Exposure in Humans.” Environmental Health Perspectives. 2006 December; 114(12): 1843-1846. Web.

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Becki

    It is about the above suntanning mixture. Do I only use it once since it was stated that within a week I should see a difference because obviously before the week is up I will have taken several showers? Or do I put it on everyday or every other day?

    Please advise. Thank you,


  2. thedreamhome

    Despite of your durability plus longevity, marble tiles can be stained. As being the case, anything made with marbles necessitates regular caution and cleaning up. However cleaning up of marble will not be same when that with cleaning with regular floorings.

  3. Bonnie Garoutte

    Recipie for sunscreen, especially for babirs

  4. Jan

    Hi Vivian, I just had to get back to you after my appointment with my GP. As I said I was shattered when my bone density came back the same as last year. Well my dr was extremely impressed and said that was great that the meds had done that, and usually the natural progression was to continue dipping further down. Then I told him I had taken no meds at all. You should of seen his face, he said that I was his first patient that had achieved that without meds, he even joked and said don’t let the pharmaceutical companies hear you say that, haha. So after my initial disappointment I have been telling everyone I know that this is the way to go and you can enjoy life without fear without the meds. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for having this wonderful program out there. God bless you.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      How funny, Jan! I wish we could all see the look on your doctor’s face. It sounds like he has a good sense of humor. Congratulations on maintaining your bone health for the whole year without drugs!

  5. Blessings

    Great recipe! I have allergies to tree nuts – is there a substitute for sweet almond oil?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You could try grapeseed oil. It’s skin-friendly and liquid at room temperature. Olive oil would probably work well, too.

  6. cindy

    What do you think of PEMF therapy for Osteoporosis

  7. Dorothy

    Your article mentions making the lotion with 4 ingredients yet I only see 3. What am I missing?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for noticing the typo, Dorothy! It’s been corrected.

  8. cindy

    What do you think of PEMF therapy for curing osteoporosis

  9. Carol Zampa

    I have been using a JergensNatural Glow for years. Is it toxic since you didn’t name the 20 lotions you checked.
    Thank you.

  10. Ann

    I was hoping to find information for protecting skin from the sun. It looks like this recipe is just for tanning. What about the chemicals in sunblocks?

    • June from down under

      I too was concerned about the chemicals in sunscreens, I am currently using Alba Botanica Hawaiian sunscreen revitalizing green tea spf45 broad spectrum which is supposed to be 100% vegetarian ingredients and has no parabens or phthalates or animal testing, biodegradable and gluten free. I get it from the USA. It certainly stops sunburn.

      What do you think about this product Vivian is it safe?

      • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

        Hi June,

        You’ll find Alba Botanica Hawaiian on the EWG’s review page – it rates a 5. If you’d like to check other sunscreens, or to take a closer look at the EWG’s review of this or any other product, your best bet is to check their site. Here is a link to the Alba Botanica Hawaiian review:

        From there, you can search any other suncreens or sunless tanning lotions by using their Search feature.

        • June from down under

          Thank you Vivian for the forwarded EWG but that was for Alba Botanica Hawaiian Moisturizer not sunscreen but can see that some of the same ingredients are in this as well. Having looked at the products I am not sure that EWG is reliable as they stock antipersperants which contain aluminium and certainly I would not use such a product so really am back to square one on a suitable all natural sunscreen.

          If anybody out there knows of an all natural SAFE sunscreen I would be so grateful.

          Thank you Vivian for your endeavours.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Hi Ann,

      The chemicals in commercial sunscreens are definitely a concern. Did you know there are foods you can eat that act as natural sunscreens? You can read more about that here:

      For more on this topic, your best bet is to use the Search feature at the top of the page and review the many posts that discuss sunscreen. 🙂

  11. Marg Schuller

    I am looking for the Save Our Bones book in German. I would like to send it overseas to my sister who does not speak English. Is the book available in Germany? Thanks for your response.

  12. patrice

    Would tea work just as well as coffee?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You could give it a try, Patrice; but tea is not as richly pigmented as coffee.

  13. Cheryl

    I am not receiving emails from saves our bones???

    • Customer Support

      Hi Cheryl,

      I’m very sorry to hear that you stopped receiving our emails. It’s hard to say why you stopped receiving them, but please check your spam or junk folder as they may erroneously be delivered there.

      And if you’re a Gmail user, please follow the instructions on this page:

      If you’re wondering why you stopped received our daily or alternate day emails it may be because you’ve completed our email course which has a higher frequency of emails. After that, we send new emails only about three times a week.

      If you still don’t find our emails, you can sign up for Vivian’s emails again at this link:

      Simply click on the blue button that says ‘Click Here – It’s Free.’ and enter your name and email.

    • tania hoschel

      thank you so much, vivian. loved.

  14. Julie

    When I was younger, and starting a modelling career, there were no such products as tanning lotions. I used to put potassium permanganate in a bath and soak in it, which gave a lovely, natural-looking tan. So long ago I can’t remember how long it lasted.

    It will also give your hair a reddish tint if you rinse with it. I would think this is fairly safe, but I would welcome comments if it’s not.

    • Donna

      Thanks for reminding me of this amazing chemical. I used it years ago for textile art projects and remember it was important in the Boar war as it was used to darken the white horses which were easy targets! But I seem to remember it needed a mordant rinse in a honey solution to set the color? Did you use anything to set the color?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Hi Julie,

      Interesting! Potassium permanganate is a fascinating chemical that’s been used for everything from a fire starter to a water purifier. It’s even used to “age” costumes and theater props to make them look authentic!

  15. Alfons

    Thankyou Vivian

    for the Non-Toxic, Sunless Tanning Lotion Info

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You are welcome, Alfons!

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