How Safe are Sunless Tanning Products?

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Since Coco Chanel stepped off of her friend's yacht after a Paris to Cannes cruise, tanning has become a beauty trend. Throughout the decades, the evolution of various tanning products, as well as tanning tools like indoor tanning beds and lamps and spray-on booths, has been sustained by the high demand for an easier and safer way to tan.

Because in the recent years, sunlight and the radiation emitted by tanning beds and lamps have been proven to cause skin cancer, a new technology has emerged to answer to the tanning needs of the population. Sunless tanning technology has been perfected—as opposed to the orange-ish tan given by its earlier versions—to give people that authentic sun kissed look. All you need to do is to exfoliate and moisturize a few days before application and you can get that bronzed complexion without having to leave your home or spend a lot of money. And the main selling point is that you are not exposed to harmful UV rays that cause skin cancer.

But the question now is that how safe are sunless tanning products? They don't expose your skin to UV rays, but do they contain chemicals that may cause other kinds of skin diseases? What are the active ingredients that make them safe?

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) states that the active ingredient behind sunless tanning products that make it safe is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). What is it and what does it do? DHA is a form of colorless sugar that causes a darkening reaction when applied to the outermost layer of the skin. Because it's a form of sugar that is FDA approved for topical application, it's as safe as can be. What's more, DHA reacts only with the dead skin cells, so your skin remains healthy. As the dark dead skin cells wears away to reveal the newly formed cells, the tan wears off after five to seven days.

There are other active ingredients being used, but when it comes to topical applications like sunless tanning lotions, gels and sprays, DHA is the active ingredient used most of the time. This is why they are safe, instead of taking tanning pills. Of course, you need to look at the ingredients list at the back label of the product in order to ensure that they don't contain extra chemicals that might be harmful for your skin.

As long as you see that DHA is the active ingredient, then buy that product and self tanning will be as easy as 1-2-3. You just have to remember to read the instructions and follow them to the letter and you're sure to have a glowing and tanned look!

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