Dr. Joel Schlessinger shares how self-tanners work

Achieving a bronze glow doesn’t require harmful UV exposure. With so many sunless tanners on the market, it’s easy to achieve a safe, natural tan from the comfort of your own home. But how exactly do self-tanners work? In this blog, Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains how these products give your skin a warm, healthy glow.

Sunless tanners give your skin a tanned look without UV exposure, Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains.

The active ingredient in most self-tanners is the color additive dihydroxyacetone, or DHA. Derived from sugar, this ingredient reacts with amino acids found in the top layers of skin to create a bronze shade. This color change can take anywhere from two to six hours and each reapplication will help build color depth. This is why many products have a gradual effect over a few days or a week. Without reapplication, the coloring typically wears off after a few days.

Self-tanners do not replace the need for sunscreen. Even if the formula you’re applying contains sunscreen, this protection only remains effective for a couple hours. The bronze color produced by sunless tanning products will not provide UV protection so applying a broad spectrum sunscreen like EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen is still essential.

Self-tanning products are a safe alternative to sunbathing and tanning beds, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

When used as directed, self-tanners are safe and effective. DHA is FDA-approved for topical application and has a long history of safe use on skin. Self-tanners are the only tanning alternative advocated by dermatologists like Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

Self-tanners are available in a variety of formulas including lotions, towelettes and sprays. For a gradual, radiant glow, Dr. Joel Schlessinger recommends jane iredale Tantasia Self Tanner & Bronzer. Towelettes like Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta® Glow Pad for Face and TanTowel for body provide a more instant glow and a quick, even application. If you prefer a spray formula, bliss A Tan For All Seasons provides a head-to-toe tan and dries in just five minutes.

For best results, follow the directions on your product. Take care to protect your eyes, mouth and nose, especially if you’re using a spray formula as getting product into these areas can cause irritation. If you make a mistake, immediately exfoliate the area and apply an alcohol-based toner to remove some of the pigment. Wash your hands as soon as you’re finished to prevent orange palms and uneven color.

Do you have a question for Dr. Joel Schlessinger? Share with us in the comments.

Posted Friday, October 3rd, 2014 at 4:52 pm
Filed Under Category: Skin Care, Sun Damage, Sun Protection
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