What Do Self Tanners Do?
Self tanners are products that leave the skin looking tanned without any sun exposure required. In most products, a sugar called dihydroxyacetone or DHA is responsible for the darkening results. DHA reacts with the compounds that make up keratin proteins in the skin. As the reaction takes place in the hours that follow the application of a self tanner, the skin gradually darkens. The color change is only temporary with the tan fading slowly over the days that follow a self tanning treatment.
Some products contain cosmetic bronzing pigments that immediately darken the skin and then wash off when you bathe. These products can give you instant tanning results and can make it easier to see where you've applied the self tanner to ensure even application.
Comparing Types of Self Tanners
There are many types of self tanners available on the market today. Most products are used every few days to maintain results, but there are some daily use products available that gradually darken skin for a subtler color change. Self tanners differ in tone with light products for fairer skin, medium products for medium skin tones and dark products for darker skin.
You'll also find that sunless tanners come in various forms. Creams, lotions and gels allow you to control the amount of sunless tanner that you apply and to cover a large area at one time. Sprays make it easier to apply self tanner to hard-to-reach places. Towelettes also simplify application by allowing you to simply wipe on the sunless tanner. These products are ideal for use on a single area such as the face or legs.
Promoting a Natural Tan
If you prefer to tan in the sun or in a tanning bed, you can still take steps to diminish the harmful effects of UV. Bronzers
that provide SPF protection can filter out some of the UVB that causes sunburns, and broad-spectrum products can also shield the skin from UVA that contributes to signs of aging and skin cancer. Many bronzers contain ingredients that assist with pigment production to help skin tan more quickly.
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