Self-tanning, spray tanning, and fake tanning are all terms used to describe the process of applying a product to the skin to provide a tanned look without the requirement of sun or other light. Regardless of the name, this is the only safe way to get a sun-kissed glow for summer.
How Does Spray Tanning (Self Tanner) Work?
DHA (dihydroxyacetone) is the main chemical used to create the sunless tan. The tanning effects of DHA were first discovered in the 1920s, and formulations have been perfected over the past few years particularly with the use of spray tans that easily allow for even product distribution on the skin in order to produce a smooth glowing tan. The sunless tan caused by DHA is not a stain but a chemical reaction that changes the color of the cells in the top layer of skin.
Chemically, DHA is a simple sugar. When applied to the skin it reacts with the amino acids in the skin and causes the cells to turn brown.
Erythrulose is a chemical that works the same way DHA does on the skin but takes longer to develop color on the skin. It is often combined with DHA in self-tanning products because the two products together may provide a longer lasting tan.
Selecting a Method of Self-Tanner Application
Self-tanning products can be applied at home or can be sprayed on professionally. The best way to guarantee a smooth, natural looking fake tan is to have it professionally applied.
Professional applications are usually completed using a spray tanning method. There are two popular methods for spray tanning: 1) automatic booths where you enter the booth, push a button and are automatically sprayed with a tanning product and 2) airbrush tanning where an operator personally applies your tan using an airbrush.
The cost of professional spray tanning ranges from approximately $25.00 to $100.00 per session. The price of home use products ranges from $8.00 to $75.00 per bottle.
If you opt to apply your own tanning product, it is important to do so properly in order to get a smooth, not splotchy result. Home tanning products are available as lotions or in a spray on formula.
How Long Does a Self-Tanner Last?
The tan from a self-tanner lasts approximately 7 – 10 days depending on how much you exfoliate your skin after the application.
You Still Need Sunscreen
Self-tanning products change the color of the skin’s surface cells but do not actually trigger the production of melanin, the cells in the skin that darken to protect from the sun. Because they do not cause melanin production, they do not provide any protection from the sun’s rays. If you go outside, wear your sunscreen to keep from getting burned.
Self-Tanning is Safe Tanning
Skin damage caused by the sun’s rays, is well documented in articles by the American Academy of Dermatology and Skin Cancer Foundation. With a self-tanning product, it is possible to have the appearance of a tan without the damage from the sun.