How Self Tanners Work

Slathering yourself in self tan and waking up bronzed is a weekly routine for so many of us, but have you ever stopped to think about how the magic happens?

It’s time for some faux glow science, and the hero of any faux glow is dihydroxyacetone, more commonly referred to as DHA.

This mighty molecule is an active ingredient that reacts with the dead skin cells that make up the outer layer of our skin.

The chemical reaction that occurs once the DHA hits the outer layer of dead skin cells is what creates the deep tan colour we all love.

As it’s only the dead skin cells that are affected by this process, the tan slowly starts to fade once these begin to fall off. That’s why it’s important to moisturise and keep your skin hydrated to ensure the tan fades as evenly as possible. Nobody likes orange patches.

Whilst there has been some speculation about the safety in the use of DHA in self tanning products, there is no scientific evidence that links self tanning to any negative health effects.

The concentration of DHA found in self tanning products is very low, so when applied correctly, DHA cannot penetrate the protective barrier of your skin. However, as with any skincare product, it’s important to do a patch test to see if it suits your skin type before applying it all over your body.

There is also a common misconception that DHA in tanning products provides adequate sun protection and this is also not true. While DHA provides some protection, it’s minimal, and it’s still essential to apply high protection SPF to prevent UV damage even if you have a naturally dark complexion. It is the most powerful anti-aging ingredient after all.

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