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Search for The Perfect Self-Tanner

Diane Luke
Senior Editor, TipsHire

Self-tanner products and gives a tanned skin without the need to expose to the ultraviolet radiations (UV). Tanner products and self-tanner products have short-term effects on the skin that usually disappear within few days, but such products give a tanned look on the skin and can be easily removed with water or with cleaning products. The search for the perfect self-tanner can be really time-consuming, but this article purpose is to give you the necessary information to which self-tanner product best suits your interests.

How do tanner products and self-tanner products work?

Self-tanner products that can give a tanned-skin look, without needing to go to the beach or tanning beds, have various forms:

  • creams
  • sprays
  • gels
  • lotions
  • powders

Self-tanners are available in specialized salons or can be used at home.

Self-tanning creams and lotions have been produced since the ’60s, but nowadays these products have developed to offer long-lasting tan, very similar or even identical to the natural tan.

Tanning products, which have temporary effect, are typically made of natural dyes, pigments (carotenoids, beta-carotene, caramel, nut extract oil, jojoba and so forth)

Self-tanner products have dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as their main active chemical compound.

DHA is a colorless sugar which when applied to the skin, produces a chemical reaction with the amino acids found in the cells of the skin’s surface, giving a brown color. The most reactive amino acid are arginine, lysine, and histidine.

It is considered that DHA is the most effective substance.

Self-tanner products have an immediate effect, usually, although there are some self-tanner products that require up to 45 minutes for the maximum effect.

It should be noted that some of these products do not protect against ultraviolet radiation, so you’ll still need a cream with SPF to protect yourself from the sunlight exposure if going to the beach or tanning beds salons.

Self-tanners intensity depends on the amount of DHA in their specific composition.

The color change is observable after only a single application, but the maximum intensity tan after 24 hours after application and it lasts up to 5-7 days.

Other self-tanner products contain erythrulose as the active ingredient. It works the same way as the DHA works, but their tanning effects appear slower.

Erythrulose is a pigment extracted from raspberries.

How to choose the perfect self-tanner?

There are different types of tanning products and self-tanners products based on DHA.

When choosing such a product it is good to keep in mind certain aspects:

  • the concentration of DHA may vary between 2.5% and 10%, but usually, between 3% and 5% – this concentration may correspond to the level of coverage area and shadings from light to medium, or dark
  • some self-tanners products may contain emollients and moisturize substances, which are ideal for dry skin
  • alcohol-based self-tanner products are recommended for people with oily skin and sebum
  • self-tanner products based on DHA provide a low or even a very low sunlight protection (usually SPF 2-3), therefore, if going to the beach is necessary a usage of a protective cream with SPF of above 30

Choose only high-quality self-tanner products that will provide a natural tan on your skin, and not those offering an orange looking tan. DHA is considered the most effective ingredient in self-tanning products.

Choose only hypoallergenic self-tanning products (without paraben substances, PABA and so forth), and with moisturizing effects that will not clog your skin’s pores and will not irritate sensitive skin.

You can choose the perfect self-tanner according to your skin type:

  • Skin Type 1 (always burns and never tans): go for a self-tanner containing DHA
  • Skin Type 2 (it burns easily and tans little): self-tanners are truly beneficial for this type of skin that tans very hard using ultraviolet light, but you should avoid products that provide a dark tan
  • Skin Type 3 (moderate burns and gradually tanning, with a brown look on the skin): self-tanners are ideal, but this type of skin limits you to those self-tanner products of medium intensity (you can’t get a really dark tan).
  • Skin Type 4 (very little sunburns and it always tans): recommended self-tanners are those providing a dark or a very dark skin tan
  • Skin Type 5 (rarely burns and gets an intense tan): usually you do not need tanning or self-tanners products, but this kind of products can be used in winter or early season
  • Skin Type 6 (pigmented in depth, which never gets burned): no need for tanning, but, usually these people resort to self-tanner products only if suffering from vitiligo.

General guidelines for tanner and self-tanner products

Because the maximum effect of these products occurs in a few minutes or a few hours, it is advisable to apply the tanner or self-tanner products in the evening, a few hours before your usual bedtime.

Each product has its characteristics and it is best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure you have at your fingertips everything you need during application.

Since tan without UV radiation occurs at the skin surface, tanning duration depends on the skin’s natural recovery cycle. Cells at its surface are regenerated on every 5 to 10 days, therefore tanning will last as such.

Though, it is possible that some portions of skin to be ready for natural peeling and others to be freshly regenerated, leading to an uneven tan. This can be controlled by a prior exfoliation, thus providing a fresh uniform tan.

Exfoliation is such a mandatory step before applying a self-tanner product and must be done a few hours before applying the tanning substance. Pay special attention to the legs, especially for the tibia area (from ankle to knees).

Clean the skin with a water and alcohol solution or a toner to remove residues from soaps, creams, or shower gels that could interfere with the reaction of the DHA and the skin’s amino acids.

Hydrate your skin, including joint areas.

Apply tanner or self-tanner product by gently massaging the skin with circular motions. Apply the different segments at a time, such as arms, legs or back.

Wash your hands with soap and water after applying the self-tanner on each section, or wear surgical gloves.

Knees, ankles or underarm area absorb a greater amount of self-tanner product. To lower the effects in these areas, dab with a damp towel, or simply apply a lower quantity of the self-tanner product.

Wait for about 30 minutes for the self-tanner effects to become visible. It is recommended to wear loose clothing, to avoid excessive sweating.

Do not take a shower, or do not bath for at least 4 hours after applying the tanning substance, to get out of it the perfect self-tanner results.

Reapply regularly for the maintenance of the tanning color.

These self-tanner products are generally considered safe for use. High concentrations of DHA may be harmful, however, it can accelerate the release of the body’s free radicals, thus affecting the skin and causing slight damage.

Most of the self-tanning products are tested and safe, containing an amount of DHA that does not produce toxic effects.

The main risks when applying self-tanners are accidental inhalation or ingestion of the sprayed product, so it is recommended that you have your mouth, eyes, and nose covered to protect mucous membranes during spraying or application. Following inhalation or contact with mucous membranes may occur irritation, impaired lung or airway etc.

A perfect self-tanner should not be used on children’s skin!

If you are breastfeeding, do not apply tanning or self-tanning products on areas where the child come into contact with the mouth (e.g. do not apply on nipples)

Tanning pills and perfect self-tanner products accelerators

The only tanning pills that really works contain a pigment called canthaxanthin, which is a food-extracted color.

Ingested in large doses, this additive is deposited in the fats under the skin and in the organs, such as the brain and the liver, and may affect their functions.

As the pigment is absorbed, the skin will start turning into a brown-orange color.

Among the products that offer a perfect self-tanner effect can be found the tanning accelerators, in the form of lotions. They act either by preventing premature flaking of the skin, either by increasing the production of melanin. They can be applied before or after tanning.

A beautiful tan can be obtained by appealing to some perfect self-tanner products during cold and rainy seasons, but it is advisable to get a natural tan during summer days but don’t forget to use an SPV cream to avoid the side effects of UV exposure.

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