How do self tanners work

A lot of people think that a sunless tan is just a sort of paint that you put on your body that instantly makes you tan and this is not the case. Every sunless tanning product has DHA (Dihydroxyacetone) in it and some also include Erythrulose. DHA reacts with dead skin cells in the skin's surface layer to make it temporarily tan. This process is called the Maillard reaction, and Erythrulose does the same thing. However, Erythrulose is never used by itself in products as it takes 3 days to see a tan when using it, it is only paired with DHA in sunless products. 

I like to share the story of how DHA was discovered, it was first used in the 1920’s as a sugar substitute for glucose. Then in 1957 a children’s doctor was studying the effects of giving DHA orally to kids, when she noticed that when they spit up the sweet syrup that had the DHA in it, it made their skin tan. She applied the liquid to her own skin to see if it would work on her, and she noticed that it made her tan as well, and the sunless tanning industry was born. I like this story because it was a complete accident. Imagine a world without self tanning? No, thank you!

Most self tanners will have DHA in it as well as other ingredients that make the fake tan look natural, moisturize the skin, anti-aging benefits, and sometimes ingredients that are actually bad for your skin. This is why it is important to read the ingredients that are listed on any product before using it. Our Sunless Rae has no harmful ingredients, is aloe based, vegan, cruelty free, and has eco-certified organic DHA. You can trust Sunless Rae to always be a brand that looks out for you.

Now that you understand that DHA is what makes you tan, it is important to understand that how you prep for your tan makes a huge difference in how your self tan turns out. Exfoliating before you self tan removes the dead skin cells and leaves you with a clean canvas that allows the self tan product to give you an even tan. Using lotion on the drier areas of your body acts as a barrier against the self tanner, applying it to your feet, ankles, knees, elbows, wrists and hands, helps the DHA not make the drier areas of your body look darker. However, keep in mind that you don’t want to have lotion all over your body, as the self tan mousse will not make you tan if you do that. 

Each self tan product has a different level of DHA in the product, a light tan will have 8% DHA, a medium tan will be 10% DHA, dark tan will be 12% DHA and rapid will be 14% DHA. A rapid formula allows you to shower in 2-4 hours instead of 8 with the regular formula, also with a rapid you choose how tan you want to be based on how long you keep the self tanner on your body, 1 hour is light, 2 hours is medium, 3 hours is dark, and 4 hours is very dark. I always recommend starting with a medium self tanner, as it is more forgiving with mistakes in application and will be easier to apply. The Sunless Rae self tan mousse is in shade medium, which is perfect for any first time self tanner.

So why is self tanning so popular? It is the ONLY healthy way to get a tan. Yes, we need Vitamin D, but in moderation. The days of laying out in baby oil are over, we are now self tanning before vacation and hiding our face behind our huge hats and umbrellas. The goal is to go to vacation already tanned, not have to get a tan while on vacation and risk skin damage. Skin damage is directly related to sun exposure, it causes wrinkles, dark spots and even skin cancer. Self tanners are every woman's new best friend, it gives us confidence and keeps us healthy. 


1 comment

  • Many people mistakenly believe that a sunless tan is simply some kind of paint that you apply to your body to produce an immediate tan, but this is untrue. DHA (Dihydroxyacetone) is an ingredient in every sunless tanning lotion, and some also contain erythrulose. DHA causes the skin’s surface layer to react with dead skin cells, temporarily tanning the skin. LuxeBody Tan Bronzing Mousse, the best bronze sunless tanner, is made with all-natural components. Natural bronzers offer a washable color guide for even application and instant bronzed results. The 10% DHA content is sourced from sugar cane and sugar beets.

    Emma Jasmine

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