Self-Tanner: What Makes it Tan Your Skin?


Love the look of tanned skin, but don’t want to bake in a tanning bed or in the sun. Self-tanning is a good opinion for you. The active ingredient in self-tanners is Dihydroxyacetone, which is a sugar (or DHA, also known as Glycerone, often derived from plant sources such as sugar beets and sugar cane, and by the fermentation of glycerin), that reacts with amino acids in the skin’s top layer making it darker. As the skin sloughs off the color slowly fades away.

Dihydroxyacetone is approved for cosmetic use by the FDA, the Canadian Health Ministry, and most of the EU member nations.  Dihydroxyacetone-based sunless tanning has been recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, American Academy of Dermatology Association, Canadian Dermatology Association and the American Medical Associationas a safer alternative to sun-bathing. The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety has issued a comprehensive Opinion on Dihydroxyacetone in which after considerable review concluded that tanning with Dihydroxyacetone solutions did not pose risk to the consumer.  Some studies have suggested that there may be an increase of free-radicals  to the skin when using Dihydroxyacetone.  To prevent this be sure to limit your sun exposure, apply sunblock, and incorporate an antioxidant cream in to your skincare routine.  Again it is not definitive that there is an increase of free-radical activity.  Free-radicals are unstable compounds that can damage skin cells and can lead to accelerated aging in the form of wrinkles, dry skin, dark circles under eyes, dull skin, and more.  According to WedMD, Women who often use sunless tanners may reduce their sunbathing time and tanning bed use, according to a new study.  “Using the sunless tanners can change tanning behaviors,” says researcher Suephy C. Chen, MD, associate professor of dermatology at Emory University School of Medicine. ”  People who used the sunless tanners decreased the number of times they laid out or went to tanning booths.”  In the study, nearly 37% of people who used sunless tanning products and sunbathed reported they cut down their sunbathing time. And 38% who used sunless tanners and tanning beds cut back on the tanning bed sessions.  The study is published online in the Archives of Dermatology.

Whether you choose to use a lotion or an aerosol spray make sure you thoroughly exfoliate your skin first, getting rid of any dry rough patches. This will prevent the tanner from being splotchy, streaky, or spotty when applied. If you use an aerosol protect your eyes and lips and avoid inhaling the spray. Avoid self-tanner if you have Psoriasis or Rosacea (or any other skin condition). The tanner can end up concentrated on the affected skin. Always patch test the tanner to make sure you like the color and don’t have any reaction to the product. Behind the ear, knee, or elbow are good place to try patch testing.

English: Tanned arm

English: Tanned arm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Thank You For Your Comments Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: