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Can I Tan Sunless Safely?

Posted May 20 2009 12:39pm

Mid Brain muses:

According to this article, the Fake Bake sunless tanning market is hot. Over the last few years major skin care manufacturers have discovered how to combine a skin moisturizer with a sunless tanner to make an effective light sunless tanner that gives a steady color change. These new tech products prevent the streaking effect that has been a major drawback of traditional sunless tanners. They also provide daily moisturization so there’s a reason to use them everyday. You get healthy skin and a natural looking color.
half tan

How do sunless tanners work?

To understand sunless tanning it is helpful to have a simple understanding of skin structure. Skin is made up of two primary layers, the dermis and the epidermis. The dermis is the inside layers of the skin where all the blood vessels and living skin cells reside. Cosmetics are not supposed to have any effect on the dermis.

The epidermis is the outer layer of skin composed of numerous layers of keratinized cells. These are dead cells composed primarily of protein. Every day millions of new cells get created beneath the surface of the skin and the ones on the outer most layer are worn away. The top layer of the epidermis is called the stratum corneum and this is where skin moisturizers and sunless tanning products do there work.

DHA  to tan sunless

There are several types of sunless tanning products including lotions, sprays, and even pills. The most effective products are topical treatments that contain an ingredient called dihydroxyacetone (DHA). When cosmetic chemists create formulas with it, DHA is a clear, colorless ingredient. But this sugar molecule (derived from glycerin) has a special property in which it chemically reacts with the skin cells in the stratum corneum. After this reaction occurs, the cells change to a brownish color and you get your tan.

Incidentally, DHA is the active ingredient used in commercial spray tanning booths. According to the FDA, DHA has no known health issues and has been used in cosmetics for over 30 years.

skin Since the cells get naturally removed after about 7 days, the color will also be removed. That means these products have to be applied frequently to maintain the tan. That`s why these new sunless tanners have proven so popular. Since people are already moisturizing their skin everyday, now they can get a little color as an added bonus.

Of all the sunless tanning products available, only DHA-containing ones are said to be effective by the American Academy of Dermatology. Other products such as tanning accelerators that contain tyrosine or pills containing canthaxanthin have never been proven to be effective. Bronzers are effective but they are more like make-up that can be easily washed off with soap and water.

The Beauty Brains bottom line:

If you want a Fake Bake, stick to the ones that contain DHA. These products are safe and effective and produce a fairly good simulation of a tan. But if you do use these products make sure you continue to protect your skin with a sunblock. Just like a real tan, a fake tan will not protect you from the negative effects of UV exposure.

What do YOU think? Do you use sunless tanners? Leave a comment and share your fave fake bake with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.

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