Sunless Tanning: The Right Shade with Less Risk

What is Sunless Tanning?

Recent research has shown that overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can lead to a high incidence of skin cancer, but sunless tanning can provide bronzed, beautiful skin without this risk. Many lotions, creams, gels, and sprays are currently on the market to change the skin from lily white to golden brown through a chemical reaction unrelated to the sun.

How does Sunless Tanning work?

The active ingredient in Sunless Tanning products is dihydroxyacetone which chemically reacts with the skin’s dead outer cells to turn them a darker color. These products only affect the basal layer of the epidermis, and as it sheds, the coloring fades away.

What areas of the body does Sunless Tanning treat?

All areas of the body may be treated with sunless tanners, but care must be taken when applying it to bony structures or skin folds. Unless these areas are treated lightly, they can end up causing lines darker than the rest of the body. Also, care should be taken to wash the hands after treatment or they will continue to darken faster than other body parts. Sunless Tanning products can also be extremely irritating to the eyes, and caution should be taken during its application.

What are the advantages of Sunless Tanning over other similar treatments?

For a while, consumers turned to sunlamps and sun beds as alternative ways to get that perfectly browned body, thinking this was a safer solution than the sun. In the past decade, scientists have discovered that these methods of tanning are just as detrimental to the health as sun exposure. At this time, Sunless Tanning is the only safe option to achieving a golden glow, and it can be applied all year long.

Who is a candidate for Sunless Tanning?

Sunless Tanning products may be used safely by anyone but are especially useful for people with light sensitivity or a family history of skin cancers.

What is the best method of applying Sunless Tanning?

If one is applying Sunless Tanning products at home, it is best to exfoliate the skin before application. Women who plan to apply a Sunless Tanning product to the leg area should shave first. These actions remove the oldest cells before application and will allow the treatment to last much longer. Then, an even application of the product should be smoothed over the desired area, with less applied to ankles, elbows, and knees. After washing the hands with soap and water, a cotton swab may be used to reapply tanner on the backs of the hands. Waiting at least twenty minutes before dressing to allow the Sunless Tanner to dry will prevent it from staining the clothes and also prevent splotching. Sunless Tanning is offered at some salons, and these spray-on treatments are safe and effective.

What will the results be like?

Although most Sunless Tanning products go on clear, a tint should begin to develop within twenty-four hours. Depending on the type of Sunless Tanning treatment used, the color may continue to deepen over the next few days or several more applications may add to the color each day. The tan will slowly fade as the skin cells die and drop from the body, but most treatments provide at least two good weeks of color.

What are the risks?

DHA is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe for use on the skin. Care should be taken not to ingest this ingredient or breathe it into the lungs. Also, it is possible for some consumers to have an allergic reaction to some ingredients in a few Sunless Tanning brands. All have been tested for allergy before marketing, but individuals respond differently to some chemicals.

Is Sunless Tanning approved for use in the U.S.?

Sunless Tanning products applied to the skin are approved for market in the United States and have been safely used for years.

Is Sunless Tanning covered by insurance companies?

Tanning is considered a cosmetic procedure only and is not covered by insurance.

Disclaimer: This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician.

By Staff
Updated: November 24, 2009