Being a bronzed goddess this summer is something many of us try to achieve but as the suns rays are very damaging to the skin, many of us are opting for another solution: Self tanners. Most of us know within one application of a self tanner you can achieve a tan. But if you are a ingredient junkie like me, you scratch your head and wonder how it happens.
The key to all self tanners, no matter the price or brand is the ingredient Dihydroxyacetone or easier said as DHA or glycerone if you want to get technical. DHA is a simple triose carbohydrate that is taken from plant sources such as sugar beets and sugar cane, as well as fermentation of glycerin. DHA is hydroscopic, meaning that it has the ability to attract water molecules from the surrounding environment; it comes in the form of a white crystalline powder. To the taste, DHA is sweet and if you have ever applied a self tanner you definitely can recognized the smell(as all self tanners smell similar).
Germans scientists in the 1920s are the once who first noticed that DHA could turn the skin brown. This colour of the skin is non-toxic at all so don't be alarmed, it is basically when DHA reacts chemically with amino acids in protein on the keratin layer of the skin surface. Different colours, from yellow to brown can be produced by different amino acids. As this happens, melanoidins are created, which are pigments on the skin similar to melanin(the natural substance in the deeper skin layers which brown from the sun).
Self tanners can contain different percentages of DHA, ranging from 1% to 15%. Obviously the more you have the faster and darker the self tanner will work. Regular self tanners come usually with 3%-5% DHA, while professionals work with 5%-15% DHA. If you are a beginner, start with a lower percentage. You will notice a difference in the skin within the first 4-6 hours, and gradually throughout 72 hours after application. After you get your tan you will notice it gradually fade over a period of 10 days, exfoliation can definitely help make this process faster. Dihydroxyacetone by no means is considered harmful in anyway; it is a safe skin colour agent and nutritional supplement. It was actually approved by the FDA(Food and drug administration) in the 1970's as well as safe for cosmetic use by the Canadian Health Ministry and most of the EU member nations. The Skin Cancer foundation, American Academy of Dermatology Association, Canadian Dermatology Association and the American Medical Association have even recommended it.
Self tanning can be tricky sometimes as you can experience streakiness and blotchiness. So here are some tips to follow when self tanning.
1. Exfoliating the skin with a scrub a day before self tanning will help prevent streaks and blotches as well as make the tan last longer as you are not tanning over dead skin cells.
2. Make sure to wash hands after application as your palms soak up more product and can look orange afterwards.
3. Apply a regular body cream to the feet and hands before self tanning so the self tanner doesn't penetrate the skin as much. Therefore preventing orange feet and hands.
4. Moisturize the skin the days after self tanning as this will prolong the tan.
5. Shave/wax legs or any other areas that you will be applying the self tanner, the day before as this can prevent sensitivity.
6. Wearing gloves during application can prevent orange hands completely.
7. If you feel sticky after self tanning, apply baby powder 30 minutes after application.
8. I usually do my self tanning at night as I can wear dark pjs and wake up with a tan. Then shower off the product to reveal a nice tan!
9. Try and apply self tanner evenly all over the body. Do not try and apply more in areas as you will get blotchy.
10. Be prepared. Set aside a good half our at least.
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My favourite self tanner is Clarins Delicious self tanner!