Surprisingly, products like this Dark Tanning Oil still exist—like some sort of 1950s ad featuring physicians smoking cigarettes while endorsing a healthy life-style. To be clear, any amount of tan is damaging to the skin, and this product clearly endorses tanning and the misleading idea of a "healthy tan."
Unprotected sun exposure is responsible for much of premature skin aging, as well as for skin cancer. To repeat: Research makes it abundantly clear that there is no such thing as a safe tan or a safe way to tan, whether in the sun or in tanning booths. A product like this may prevent the dry, leathery look of skin after a day of too much sun, but it absolutely cannot prevent the damage UV exposure causes.
The marketing copy claims it "contains moderate levels of SPF," but at the height of Mad Hatter-lunacy sales techniques, it also states that it has an "SPF 0." "Zero SPF" is not moderate—it's the absence of sunscreen protection (but you knew that, right?). You cannot rely on Dark Tanning Oil for any amount of sun protection! As you might have noticed, we find many things about Hawaiian Tropic products problematic, but this one is just flat out dangerous to the health of your skin.
Even ignoring the idea of using this product to tan (although we are loathe to say it lest we encourage you to consider this for use in the sun), the formula does contain a good blend of emollients, including an array of non-fragrant plant oils. Regrettably, it also contains ingredients that can irritate skin and cause further damage, including a significant amount of eucalyptus oil, multiple flower extracts, papaya extract, and added synthetic fragrance.
Fragrance, whether natural or synthetic, is a problem for the skin, and papaya can be irritating for those with latex allergies (Source: www.naturaldatabase.com). See More Info for additional details about fragrance, essential oils like eucalyptus oil, and their effects on the skin.
Irritation from Fragrance: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
Achieve optimal color for your skin with our indulgent Outdoor Tanning oils. These products contain formulas enriched with skin-nourishing antioxidants, and moderate levels of SPF to keep your skin ultra-moisturized, soft and glowing.
Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil (Coconut), Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter (Cocoa), Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Extract, Lanolin, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Amyl Acetate, Fragrance, Plumeria Acutifolia (Plumeria) Flower Extract (Plumeria), Mangifera Indica (Mango) Extract (Mango), Psidium Guajava Fruit Extract (Guava), Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract (Papaya), Passiflora Incarnata Fruit Extract (Passion Fruit), Colocasia Antiquorum Root Extract (Dasheen), Aleurites Moluccana (Kukui Nut) Seed Extract (Kukui Nut)
Strengths: Almost all of the sunscreens provide broad-spectrum protection; inexpensive; above-average self-tanner and lip balm with sunscreen.
Weaknesses: Many products have SPF ratings of 15 or less, which medical boards around the world have demonstrated is a problem for the skin; products that encourage tanning, which research has shown causes premature aging and, potentially, cancer; every formula we tested contains multiple fragrance ingredients known to be irritating.
Founded in 1969, Hawaiian Tropic remains one of the oldest brands in the sun-care aisle at the drugstore, and it seems they’re short on innovation. Overwhelmingly, this tropical-themed brand lacks the advancements in sunscreen formulas that other drugstore options (including product lines like Neutrogena and Coppertone) have long ago adopted.
Even more mind numbing is the number of sunscreens Hawaiian Tropic sells with an SPF 15 or less. At the time of this review, some of their SPF 14 (and even lower-rated) sunscreens still claim to provide broad-spectrum sun protection. This is a significant step outside of regulations, as the FDA no longer allows sunscreen products to be marketed as broad-spectrum sunscreens if they have an SPF rating of less than 15; some countries have even higher mandatory SPF rating regulations.
In the United States, when a brand chooses to sell a sunscreen with an SPF rating of less than 15, they are required to display the following warning as part of their Drug Fact Labeling:
Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.
At the time of this review, none of the Hawaiian Tropic sunscreens we tested (with ratings of less than SPF 15) bore this required label. As disappointing as it is for us to see such products still on the market, they are relatively easy to avoid by sticking to those we recommend in the Best Sunscreens (including Kids) section of Beautypedia.
Adding to the pain in our brain about this line, Hawaiian Tropic is one of the few brands that still sells tanning oils and creams; in other words, they’re selling products that actually encourage unprotected sun exposure to get a deeper tan. You might as well hand someone a cigarette at the same time—it is that bad for your skin (and your health) to tan.
They even sell "after-sun" products, which might confuse consumers if they believe any of these after-sun options can reverse or counter the sun damage. Obviously, Hawaiian Tropic knows the sun is damaging; otherwise, why would they sell products to counter the damage? In truth, the research is clear: If the skin is tan after exposure to the sun, there is harm to skin cells (and your DNA), and it’s immediate. Such damage can be partially repaired, but only to a certain extent, and only over time—and your skin has a long memory (in terms of damage) from each time it was exposed to damaging UV light, whether the sun was shining or not.
Those with sensitive skin take note: Hawaiian Tropic products are extensively fragranced—every sunscreen, body oil, and lip balm we tested contained a potent array of perfumes (including papaya extract, which can be problematic for those with latex allergies). Also worth mentioning is that there are no mineral sunscreen options available from Hawaiian Tropic, so those who are sensitive to synthetic sunscreen actives are out of luck shopping this line.
Ultimately, the Hawaiian Tropic brand is no vacation for your skin. They offer some reliable, affordable options, but sun-care products from neighboring brands on the drugstore shelves are more desirable—in more ways than one!
For more information about Hawaiian Tropic, visit www.hawaiiantropic.com .
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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