Sunless tanning

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Sunless tanning offers a safe alternative to the potentially dangerous effects of sunbathing. People can now obtain a healthy “sun-kissed” glow without exposing themselves to the harmful rays of the sun. While sunless tanning remains the safest way of achieving that bronzed effect, there are still some things you’ll want to know before you get started.

How sunless tanning works

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the most effective sunless tanning products are lotions that contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as the active ingredient. DHA is a colorless sugar that interacts with your dead skin cells in order to produce a color change. Since millions of dead skin cells are sloughed off of the surface of the skin each day, these color changes – or “new tans” – will naturally fade within about five to seven days from the initial application. This is why most product manufacturers recommend reapplying your sunless tanner once every few days for maintenance.

It’s important to remember that while sunless tanning is considered a safe alternative to sunbathing, most of these products will not protect you from the sun’s harmful rays, unless, of course, they feature an added sunscreen. However, even if your sunless tanning product does contain an SPF, sunscreens lose their potency within a few hours of application, so you’ll want to make sure you’re protected when you head out to show off your new look.

Tips for achieving a flawless sunless tan

If you have never used a sunless tanning product in the past, the last thing you want to do is “wing it.” The following tips should help you achieve a flawless, natural-looking tan.

  • When applying your sunless tanner, wear a snug, dark-colored outfit such as a black bathing suit. Wearing the same thing each time should yield you the best results.
  • When applying sunless tanner to your back, use a sponge paintbrush or small sponge roller that is two to three inches in size.
  • Five to ten minutes after you’ve applied your sunless tanner, rub your elbows, knees, wrists and ankles with a little lotion to lighten the effect. You’ll probably want to do the same to the back of your hands and the tops of your feet. If you find that a dark formula sunless tanner has caused problems on your hands and feet that cannot be remedied with this tip, you might try using an inexpensive light sunless tanner on just those particular areas.
  • When applying sunless tanner to your face and neck that is not specifically formulated for those areas, be sure to apply a lightweight lotion first, allowing it to soak in for ten minutes. This will prevent gathering in the fine lines of those areas.
  • Rub your belly button with a cotton swab dipped in lotion after you apply your sunless tanner. This will help reduce the excessive darkening effect sunless tanners often have on this area of the body. If the area is still too dark the next day, rub it with a cotton swab dipped in liquid eye makeup remover.


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