Most people know the health dangers of exposing the body to the UV rays from the sun or a tanning bed to get a sun tan. However, even self-tanning lotions are not entirely problem-free. We offer some useful self-tanning tips on which self-tanning products to choose and how to safely apply these chemicals to your skin.
The Dangers Associated with Self-Tanners
The main problem of any self-tanning product is that it is chemical-based. The active ingredient in most tanning products is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). This additive does not just sit on the skin; it actually binds to the proteins in the skin’s top layer, causing it to darken.
Studies have shown that in high concentrations, DHA can cause harmful free radicals to form. These reactive oxygen molecules are capable of damaging DNA and changing cell structures, according to Brooklyn dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe. However, the levels of DHA in most reputable brands of self-tanning lotions are low, and even everyday activities such as breathing and exercising can create free radicals, so the additional risk is low.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of DHA in self-tanning lotions, but not in tanning sprays. You should avoid any spray tanning products, as the DHA can be inhaled or ingested from the lips, hands and through the eyes.
Another problem of self-tanning lotions is that it does have an unpleasant smell of chemicals which can make some people feel nauseous.
Healthy Self-Tanning Tips
One of the best self-tanning tips is to ask for a sample of the product to try on the inside of your arm before purchasing. You can then assess whether it is likely to cause any skin reaction before applying it all over your body.
You will also get the chance to know how it smells. Look for a product that is organic and chemical-free if possible, especially if you have sensitive skin.
The most useful self-tanning tips include choosing one products that is specifically designed for tanning the face, and another for the body. Test each one separately, as your face and body may have different sensitivity issues.
Finally, don’t forget to use a sunscreen whenever you are out in the sun. Although your skin looks brown and sun tanned, it is actually just dyed. It is just as likely to burn or get sun damage from those harmful UV rays so a sunscreen is still essential for protection.
Just before you commit to trying a self-tanning lotion, you may also want to read our article on how to apply self-tanners for the ultimate self-tanning tips.