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The trend of having a healthy glowing skin is ongoing. Even though it’s not the goal anymore to be super tan, we still want to look healthy. This can be achieved without spending hours sunbathing, which is actually rather dangerous for us and our skin. The UV-radiation can do serious damage to our cells! In this blog post, I’m going to introduce to you the different possibilities of getting a healthy tan and explain the difference between a natural tan, tan enhancers and the different self-tan possibilities.
Why do we get Tan in the First Place?
The tanning process of the skin is nothing else but a protection mechanism. With exposure to UV-radiation, our skin cells start to produce more melanin. Melanin is a pigment, protecting us from the UV-radiation. There are two different types of melanin; eumelanin and phaeomelanin. The ratio of those two is unique for everyone, but eumelanin is more dominant in darker skin tones and phaeomelanin in lighter. Researchers also think that eumelanin is the form most important for UV-protection. This is why they conclude lighter skin tones to be more prone to UV-radiation induced skin cancer.
What is Self-Tan?
Self-tan products tan our skin without the need of sun exposure. This is why self-tans are said to be better for the skin compared to sunbathing. The most common self-tan ingredient is dihydroxy acetone (DHA). It tans the skin through Maillard reaction – a chemical browning reaction which occurs between DHA and free amino acids in our dead skin cells. As DHA only tans the outermost layer of our skin, the tan fades away within 5 – 7 days – when our outer skin layer is renewed. This is why it is usually suggested to apply the product 2 – 3 times a week, to keep the targeted tan fresh.
Even though DHA is tanning us very quickly and thus is very well liked in the industry, it often doesn’t provide a very nice brown tone to the skin. Many people get a rather coppery/orange skin tone from it. To minimize this effect, the cosmetic formulators add additional ingredients into the formulation. One of the most common ingredients used is erythrulose. Erythrulose tans our skin chemically the same way as DHA does, just slower and ending up with a different brown tone. Very often DHA and erythrulose are combined in well-proofed products. DHA is used to provide an instant tanning effect (DHA browning is visible within the first hour of application) and erythrulose to bring a longer lasting and smoother skin tone.
To get an even tanning effect it is very important to smooth the skin as good as possible before application (peeling, scrubbing) and to apply the product as evenly as possible. To make the product easier to handle for us the industry started to develop less concentrated products, which can be applied more often. Through this, the risk of having a smeary tan is reduced a lot. Another possibility is to get a spray tan, where the self-tan lotion is very evenly applied through spraying.
For the developer, it is very hard to choose the tanning degree the formulation should bring. How can two products (e.g. fair and dark) cover the whole spectrum of skin types out there? This is why I’m really into the new mix-in products, where you can choose the tanning intensity by yourself. The self-tan concentrate is mixed with your own face care or body care product and through this easily implemented into your daily skin care routine.
Never forget to apply sun protection, even though you have tanned already with the help of self-tans!
What are bronzers?
A bronzer is a skin tint or colourant, which only stains or colours the outer layer of our skin. Very often we can remove bronzers by just taking a shower. Its also possible though, that the colour actually tints the dead skin cells on our outer skin layer and fades within 5- 7 days – when our outer skin layer is renewed.
What are tan enhancers?
It is said that when sun protection is applied our skin doesn’t tan. Well, this might have been true once, but not anymore! Researchers have developed very innovative active ingredients, which stimulate melanin production when our skin is exposed to UV-radiation, even when sun protection is applied! I really like those combination products, as it keeps my skin protected and still give me the option to develop a healthy and natural tan. As your own melanin production is increased, a natural skin tone is developed.
What are self-tan pills?
Self-tan pills traditionally contain a colourant like carotenoids or canthaxanthin. The pigments are accumulated in our skin and provide a darker skin tone. If you’re not careful with the doses of intake, you can end up with a rather orange-brown tone instead of the desired healthy glow.
Which product should you try?
There are several possibilities to get a healthy natural glow without intense sun exposure. But as each one of us is very individual and also our expectations vary, you’ll have to figure out which way works best for you by yourself. If you are new to self-tans, I suggest you start with a mix-in self-tan where you can carefully work towards your desired intensity. If you are more experienced you might as well try a spray tan this year! Let me know what your experiences are!