Self tanning lotions have vastly improved since they first hit the market in the 1960's. Coppertone QT was the wonder product back in the day. While the concept of safe tanning was great, the delivery was horrible! Back then, orange streaked skin was the price to pay for a sunless tan.
Fast forward to self tanning lotion today.
You can easily create a natural looking tan - with no exposure to harmful UV rays... and no orange skin!
So how do self tan products work their magic?
First, the best of these are natural products. They contain dihydroxyacetone... phew!
Commonly referred to as DHA, this difficult to pronounce compound is actually a simple carbohydrate. It's derived from plant sources such as sugar beets, sugar cane, or the fermenting of glycerin.
The colorless sugar reacts with the amino acids of the outer layer of skin. Within 8 to 24 hours of application, the transformation occurs and ...
Voilà... tanned skin!
Is there a downside? Unfortunately, the product is not perfect. While sunless tanning lotions produce an instant tan, the tan is short-lived... lasting 5 - 7 days. To maintain color, sunless tanning creams must be reapplied every few days.
Self Tanning Product Tips
Shower and exfoliate skin before applying the product. Use a washcloth, loofah mitt, or sugar scrub. This removes loose skin cells, creating the foundation for a smooth application and longer lasting tan.
With smooth strokes, massage into the skin. Take your time, making sure to apply the self tanner lotion evenly. A few extra minutes spent here will pay off in the appearance of the finished tan.
Use less of the product on thick, dry areas such as elbows and knees - and bony spots such as toes and ankles. For best results, skip these highly absorbent body parts during the initial application. Once you've finished covering the rest of your body, go back and put a small amount on these areas.
Wash your hands thoroughly when you're done. Use a small brush or old toothbrush to clean beneath the fingernails. This will prevent dark palms and nails.
Finish your indoor tan by using a cotton ball to apply the sunless tanning lotion to the top of your hands.
Stay naked! Wait 20-30 minutes before dressing. This will help protect clothing from stains. Tanning in the evening before bed eliminates potential clothing disasters, but your sheets may have a few tanned steaks!
Stay out of the tub or shower for at least 6 hours. For best results, allow the self tan lotion to work its magic overnight, deepening the color.
Preserve your tan by applying a daily moisturizer.
Be aware that a self tanner is not a sunscreen. Although some contain SPF2 or SPF4, that is not adequate sun protection. Apply a broad-spectrum sunblock with SPF15 or higher before you hit the sun. Reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
Lavera Sunless Tan is a natural self tanning lotion. It is free of parabens and synthetic ingredients, but is a bit pricey. Alba Botanica Sunless Tanning Lotion is a less expensive alternative, but is not 100% natural. It does contain fewer synthetic ingredients than most self tanning lotions and is free of parabens.