What Options Are Available For Self Tanning?

Posted by Chad Melius on Tuesday 24 May 2011

Most of us would prefer to have a tanned body. It’s more appealing and healthy-looking, especially in the summertime. But most of us also know that the sun’s rays are dangerous to our skin. Ultraviolet radiation can cause sunburn in just a few hours – and skin cancer in the long run.

Tanning salons allow you to get a sunless tan. But unfortunately, they also emit ultraviolet radiation. And they definitely cost money.

There is a much better way to get your skin to turn a darker color – self tanning. This usually involves nothing more complicated than a trip to the drugstore.

Categories of self tanning products

There are basically two types of products that you can use to get a “fake tan”.

  1. Bronzers: These products are for short-term use only. They are like make-up, in that they wash right off. So be careful not to go swimming after applying a bronzer. And let it dry completely before you get dressed, to avoid possible stained clothing.

    Bronzers are very useful to acquire a healthy looking skin before attending a social function. But, since the tan doesn’t last, you will need to re-apply it every day, if you want to maintain that wholesome look.

  2. Sunless tanners: This is what you should use if you want to get a longer-lasting tan. These products actually stain your skin, and the color will last about 3-7 days, until the outermost layer of your skin exfoliates.

    The active ingredient in a sunless tanner is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). This chemical is very safe, and will not permanently damage your skin. It reacts with proteins in the epidemis, to produce melanin, which is the compound that causes the dark color.

    There are two classes of sunless tanners. Some are concocted to simulate a natural tan – the color builds up over several days. Others are fast acting, and produce darker skin in 2-3 hours.

Forms of self tanning products

There are several ways to package these products: powders, lotions, gels, mousses, sticks, and sprays. Each has characterisics that cause it to be used for different parts of the body, or for different types of skin.

Spray bronzers, for example, are nice to use for easy-to-reach places, and can even be applied over makeup. But, without assistance, they are hard to apply to the back. And care is necessary in applying it to the face, as DHA is not approved for use near the eyes, nose, or mouth.

How to apply

Before you begin using one of these self tanning products, it’s a good idea to apply it to a small test area first. This will help you decide whether the particular form of application works for your skin. And you will see if you are allergic to one of the ingredients of the tanner before you put it all over your body.

Since all tanners are temporary, and you want your fake tan to last as long as possible, you should first exfoliate your skin. This will ensure that your newly uncovered epidermis is fresh, and will not slough itself off too quickly.

To avoid getting orange hands, wear disposable gloves. And since your joints absorb the tanner more easily, wipe them with a damp cloth to keep them from getting too dark.

Don’t get dressed again for a while – and when you do, wear loose clothing. Avoid sweating, and don’t take a shower or go swimming for several hours – or at all, if you’re using a bronzer.

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