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What is the Active Ingredient that produces the Tanning Effect?

The sunless tanner Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is currently the most popular way of gaining a tan without sun exposure. It carries less health risks than any of the other available methods. To date, it is the only active ingredient approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in America for sunless tanning.

The skin is made up of two main layers: the epidermis on the outside and the dermis on the inside. Whether you are talking about sun tanning or self-tanning. The epidermis is where the action occurs. The epidermis is also made up layers. The deepest layer of the epidermis called the stratum basal (basal layer), is affected during sun tanning. The stratum corneum (horny layer) is the outer most layer of the epidermis – it is this layer that is effect by most sunless-tanning products.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the effective products available are sunless or self-tanning lotions that contain Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as the active ingredient. DHA is a colourless sugar that interacts with the dead cells located in the stratum corneum of the epidermis. As the sugar interacts with the dead skin cells, a colour change occurs. This change usually lasts five to seven days from the initial application.

DHA has been used in cosmetic preparations for almost 30 years. In addition to its skin darkening ability (your tan), DHA is also used as an emulsifier, humectants and fungicide. It is declared safe and suitable for use in cosmetics and drugs used to colour the skin. DHA is derived from glycerine (vegetable origin), which is a commonly used cosmetic and food ingredient. DHA is not absorbed into the body.

Every day, millions of dead skin cells are sloughed off or worn away from the surface of your skin. In fact, every 35-40 days, you will have entirely new epidermis. This is why tans from sunless or self-tanning lotions will gradually fade – as the dead cells are worn away, so is your tan. For this reason we suggest your reapply our sunless tanning products every week or two to maintain your tan.

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