The Story Behind Sunless Tanners and DHA
Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) (pronounced Dai,Hai,droksi,acetone)
DHA is primarily used as an ingredient in sunless tanning products. It is often derived from plant sources such as sugar beets and sugar cane. Dihydroxyacetone is a white crystalline powder.
DHA was first recognized as a skin coloring agent by German scientists in the 1920s. Through its use in the X-ray process, it was noted as causing the skin surface to turn brown when spilled.
In the 1950s further research was done with dihydroxyacetone using DHA as an oral drug for another disease they were working on. It was noticed to stain their skin within a few hours after spilling it.
So continued experimenting with DHA was done by painting DHA liquid solutions onto the skin. It was found that DHA did not penetrate beyond the dead skin surface layer.
This skin browning effect is non-toxic- DHA reacts chemically with the amino acid found on the skins surface. Various amino acids react differently to DHA which is why everyone will produce their own color when it is applied to their skin. The reaction is similar to the browning effect seen when a cut apple slice is exposed to oxygen.
Coppertone introduced the first consumer sunless tanning lotion into the marketplace in the 1960s. This product was called “Quick Tan” or “QT”. TERRIBLE! Orange and Streaky. Unfortunately this is still the association that most people have with sunless tanners.
In the 1970s the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added DHA permanently to their list of approved cosmetic ingredients.
By the 1980s NEW formulations appeared on the market, and refinements in the DHA process created products that produced a more natural looking color and better fading. This coupled with the fact that the consumer was becoming more educated on the damaging effects of UV Rays found in Tanning Booths and the Natural Sun, spurred further popularity of sunless tanning products as a safe alternative.
The artificial tan takes 2 to 4 hours to begin appearing on the skin surface, and will continue to darken for 24 to 72 hours. Once this effect has occurred, the tan will not sweat off or wash away with soap or water. It will fade gradually over 3 to 10 days, in conjunction with the skin's normal exfoliation process. Because the skin continually exfoliates itself, losing thousands of dead surface skin cells each day, the tan is temporary.
Exfoliation, prolonged water submersion, or heavy sweating can lighten the tan, as these all contribute to rapid dead skin cell exfoliation (the dead skin cells are the tinted portion of the sunless tan.)
DHA does not damage the skin, and is considered a safe skin coloring agent and nutritional supplement. Most cases of sensitivity are due to other ingredients in the skin product preparation, such as preservatives, plant extracts, dyes or fragrances.
For a day after self tanner application, excessive sun exposure should be avoided and sunscreen should be worn outdoors, although TANS products contain sunscreen, its effect will not last long after application, and a artificial tan itself will not protect the skin from UV exposure.
Erythrulose is another agent that you will find in Self Tanners. It is in comparison very similar to DHA. It seems to have a redder appearance, and kicks in slightly later than DHA which has Sunless Tanning Manufacturers stating a better tan. However as it may be safe for use by all indications, it is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a self tanning agent!!! This is why TANS Spray Tan Solution only uses DHA as it’s active ingredient.
In summary, we have come a long way with Sunless Tanning. Today you can find NUMEROUS products on the market. Most drugstore products range from 3% to 5% DHA, with professional products ranging from 5% to 15%. However, that said, most still give the industry a bad name due to its coloring and its uneven tone. This is primarily due to its difficult process of applying it. This is why TANS Custom Spray Tanning is leaps and bounds superior to any other sunless tan application.
DHA-based sunless tanning, such as TANS, has been recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation, American Academy of Dermatology Association, Canadian Dermatology Association and the American Medical Association , World Health Organization, American Cancer Society, and the FDA.