I've made my feelings about suntanning
pretty clear - but I also understand that it can seem less than ideal to throw on beach outfits when you've been hidden indoors for nine months!
Luckily, modern technology has come to our rescue in the form of hundreds of sunless tanning products. Observe a few key steps, and you'll end up with the golden glow of your dreams (and not the streaky mess of your nightmares):
- The active ingredient in self-tanners, called DHA (dihydroxyacetone), reacts with amino acids in your topmost layer of skin. Consequently, the evenness of your tan depends on the evenness of your skin. Always start with an exfoliating scrub to slough off the dead skin cells that can cause a spotty tan and darker orange-brown patches.
- However, be sure to avoid scrubs that include petrolatum or mineral oil, as they are occlusive and can prevent DHA from working properly.
- Apply less self-tanner to the knees, elbows, palms, and feet - DHA will cause more darkening in places where your skin is thicker.
- Look for self-tanners with antioxidants, which tend to produce a more natural-looking tan than those without them.
- Don't use moisturizer for two hours after applying self-tanner, as it can interfere with the pigmentation process.
Many of my patients ask me if there's any difference between self-tanning creams and the spray-on tans that are offered at many spas. When it comes to the active ingredient involved, the answer is no - all self-tanning products use DHA.
However, the FDA has cautioned consumers against unwanted exposure to DHA, including inhaling it or being exposed to it through the eyes, mouth, or mucous membranes.
Obviously, you'll need to be more careful about avoiding unwanted ingestion of DHA in a spray-tanning booth than you are while applying a cream at home.