I have been fair-skinned my entire life. I could tan as a kid, but after age 20 my alabaster exterior would only burn. I've realized that my inability to tan is a blessing and that protecting my skin has saved me from years of sun damage. However, when I wear a bathing suit my veins show like a road map, and the glare can be blinding.
Then I met sunless tanner—and boy did my life change. Just the lightest tan makes my body look thinner and more toned. As a life long runner I have decent muscle tone, but with my new glow everyone was asking what I was doing to be in such good shape. Who knew?!
Since then, I've added spray tanning to my makeup artist services, and now I give others the gift of the glow. Here are the answers to the my client’s commonly asked questions.
Q: What is it and how does it work? A: All sunless tanning formulas use an ingredient called dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is a simple carbohydrate derived from beets and sugar cane. DHA reacts chemically with the amino acids in the skin to create a non-toxic browning effect.
Q: Who discovered it? A: In 1957, the tanning properties of DHA were discovered in a children's hospital where it was administered orally as a treatment of a childhood glycogen storage disease. Scientist Eva Wittgenstein noticed that brown spots developed where the DHA splashed on the skin. Research then continued on DHA's skin coloring effect in relation to treatment for patients suffering from vitiligo.
Q: Is it safe? A: Yes. DHA is not absorbed through the skin into the body and is non-toxic. DHA has been FDA approved since 1973, and has been used in cosmetic preparations for almost 30 years.
Q: Will it make me look orange? A: Sunless tanning got a reputation for looking orange because the formulas had a very high percentage of DHA. They were using 20-25 percent instead of the 5-14 percent that is commonly used now. If the percentage is too high for you, it will appear orange on your skin, no matter what brand or product you use. Find a spray tan professional that knows the percentages of DHA in their formulas and one that is willing to customize the solution for you.
As a general guide:
Fair skin: 5-7%
Dark skin: 10-14%
Q: How do I prepare? A: Sunless tanning only effects the top layer of skin, so you want to remove as much dead skin as possible before, and then slow down your skin’s natural exfoliation after.
Shave or wax
Mani/Pedis (if you must do after tan, don’t soak hands or feet in water)
Day of tan
Avoid body moisturizer and oil
Avoid skin products that contain alcohol (perfumes, body spray)
Wear loose clothing and avoid sweating or showering for 8 hours
To maintain tan
Moisturize daily but avoid anything with mineral oil like Vaseline, baby oil and Nivea lotion.
Use a gentle liquid soap and don’t scrub or exfoliate
Are there any other questions or concerns that you have about sunless tanning?