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Sunless Tanning? How Does It Work?

With the risk of sun cancer evident in traditional tanning methods such as direct sunlight and tanning booths, sunless tanning products have become a popular alternative to getting a golden tan.

The most popular method of sunless tanning is through products you apply to your skin, such as creams, lotions, foams, gels, and sprays, which turn our skin from pasty white to a crisp tan. But, there are also tanning pills and sunless tanning mist that can be professionally applied at a salon through a machine or even an airbrush artist.

You can buy sunless tanning products such as self tanning lotion online also.

But how do these products work: The human skin is made up of two main layers, the inner, or dermis, and the outer, or epidermis. When it comes to tanning, the layer we are most interested in is the epidermis. The epidermis has two layers, the stratum basale and the stratum corneum. The deeper layer is the stratum basale, and that is the layer that is affected by tanning in the sun. The outer epidermis is the stratum corneum. This is the layer where the sunless tanning products react. So, in general, the outermost layer gets dyed temporality. But, each tanning product works slightly differently.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the most effective sunless tanning products are ones containing the chemical dihydroxyacetone, better known as DHA. DHA is a colorless sugar, and as it interacts with the dead cells in the stratum corneum, a color change occurs.

The color resulting from the DHA ingredient lasts about five to seven days. DHA can be found in sunless tanning lotions, creams, gels, and sprays. Check product labels to see if the product contains DHA.