Self-tanning is a sunless or fake tanning method of achieving a tan without exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. It involves using various products to darken the skin temporarily, giving the appearance of a natural tan. Self-tanning products have gained popularity as a safer alternative to traditional tanning methods.
Types of self-tanning products
There are several types of self-tanning products to achieve an effective self tan result available, including:
- Self-Tanning lotions/creams: These products are applied topically to the skin and contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a colorless chemical that reacts with the amino acids in the dead cells of the skin’s outermost layer. The reaction causes the skin to darken, mimicking the appearance of a tan. The color sets within a few hours and lasts for several days.
- Self-Tanning sprays. These are aerosol or pump sprays that can be applied directly onto the skin. Some people prefer sprays for their ease of application and ability to cover large areas evenly.
- Self-Tanning mousses/gels. Similar to lotions, mousses and gels are applied to the skin and contain DHA for color development. They often have a lighter texture and can be easier to blend.
- Self-Tanning wipes/towelettes. These are pre-moistened wipes that are convenient for applying a tan on the go. They can be especially useful for touch-ups.
- Gradual self-tanners. These products are used as part of anyone’s daily skincare routine. They contain a lower concentration of DHA and build up a tan gradually over a few days of regular use.
Self-tanning products can provide a temporary tan at the same time sunscreen protection.
Is self-tanning harmful to the skin?
Self-tanning is generally considered safer for the skin than traditional tanning methods, such as sunbathing or using tanning beds, which expose the skin to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV exposure can lead to skin damage, premature aging, and an increased risk of skin cancer. Self-tanning products provide a way to achieve a tan without exposing your skin to these risks.
However, there are a few considerations when using self-tanning products:
- Uneven application. Improper application of self-tanners can lead to uneven or streaky results. To achieve an even tan, it’s essential to exfoliate your skin beforehand and follow the application instructions carefully.
- Color development. The color developed by self-tanning products is temporary and will gradually fade as your skin naturally exfoliates. You may notice some fading and unevenness as the tan wears off.
- DHA exposure. The active ingredient in most self-tanners is dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which reacts with the outer layer of your skin to produce a tanned color.
- Sunscreen use. Even if you have a self-tan, it doesn’t protect against the sun’s UV rays.
When used as directed and with proper precautions, self-tanning is a relatively safe way to achieve a temporary tan without exposing your skin to harmful UV radiation.