How do Self-Tanners Work? (Answered)

Now that everyone is aware that tanning in the sun and tanning beds can increase your risk of skin cancer and wrinkles, self-tanning products have become really popular. These products can be applied in various ways, but they are used to make your skin appear like you have been getting a lot of sun lately or have been on vacation recently.

Self-tanning might be confusing to you if you think about it. After all, you aren’t getting out into the sun or getting into the tanning bed, but suddenly you look tan. Why do these products work? Understanding how these products tan the skin can help you to know if you want to use these products or not.

Why do Self-Tanners Work?

Self-tanners work through the active ingredient that is most common to these products, DHA. This ingredient is a coloring agent that combines with amino acids in the skin. This leads to the browning effect in the skin that is caused by UV rays as well. This effect impacts the outermost layer of the skin only.

This is the ingredient that causes tanning in spray tans as well, but there are added risks to spray tanning due to the likelihood that you will breathe in the spray as you are being given your service. Self-tanners are much safer to use for this reason.

Self-tanners are considered to be much safer than other tanning methods due to the nature of the application process and the minimal damage that is being done to the skin. However, there is a chance that these products are still causing skin damage, and there is research being done to see if this is the case. You should be aware of this potential risk if you are using these products and consider using them carefully.

Can I Get a Great Tan With a Self-Tanner?

Self-tanning products have improved greatly over the years, and they are much less likely to be streaky or cause stains on your hands and face. However, you do still need to be cautious about trying out new products and start out with the smallest recommended amount of product when you first apply them. Some people’s skin can take on much more color than expected or end up blotchy. 

Some products recommend that they be mixed into a daily moisturizer to make them easier to apply and less likely to be blotchy or streaky. This is becoming a more common application option as this tends to work best for most people. You should consider the self-tanning process to be a slow buildup of color in the skin that takes place over a few weeks. Trying to get really tan in one sitting is not likely with these products and might instead make you appear orange or spotty.

Self-Tanning Can be a Safe Way to Get Some Color

If you have been missing your tanning bedtime and wish that you looked more sun-kissed in winter, you should try a self-tanner. Make sure that you always try a test patch of skin somewhere that is not obvious, just in case the product that you have selected does not work well for your skin. You might have to try various products before you find one that works well for your needs and if you’re looking to go one step further in the safety of your products try an organic self-tanner.

This article was last updated on May 29, 2023 .

Categorized as Skin Care