Tanning

DHA and Your Skin – Everything You Need to Know About Self Tanners

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One way to look radiant and healthy is with a tan. While the tanned complexion may be stunning, UV rays can harm your skin. A self-tanner would work well as it allows your skin to glow while concealing minor imperfections or even making cellulite less noticeable.

Self-tanning has long been a safe and popular alternative to UV tanning. Self-tanning products have come a long way since the days of orange glows and nasty processing smells! Today’s premium self-tanners achieve natural color results that nourish your skin while still smelling great.

The sun is a wonderful thing, but just like anything, it has its dangers. It’s hard to say goodbye to the summer glow when you know you’ll be risking your health for that tan. Luckily for everyone, there are options out there! Self-tanning products allow people to get their beautiful skin back without any of those pesky side effects–no harmful rays whatsoever.

We can thank Coco Chanel for our addiction to a golden glow and love of all things tweed and tan! In the 1920s, she returned from a vacation in St. Tropez sporting her post-vacation suntan, instantly making it “IN.” Her admirers followed suit, so today, we still admire her sense of style – but with more healthy alternatives such as self-tanner or spray tans instead!

So what is a self-tanner and how does it work?

Self-tanning products are the best way to get that sun-kissed look without actually putting yourself in harm’s way. They come with a few downsides, but if you’re looking for something less time-consuming than just sitting on the beach all day, this is your following go-to product! Here’s everything you need to know about DHA and how it works:

DHA (dihydroxyacetone) is a sugar derivative. Derived from plant sources, and it helps create the perfect tan! In the 1970s, the Food and Drug Administration permanently added DHA to their list of approved cosmetic ingredients. This ingredient is NON-TOXIC, which makes it safe to apply externally on your skin!

The DHA attaches itself to the amino acids in your Epidermis, the top layer of skin cells, and goes through a chemical change through a safe and natural process. It is similar to browning, which occurs when you cut open an apple and leave it exposed to air. The result is a gorgeous tan color that affects only the upper layers of dead cells. It’s non-toxic too! Unfortunately for some people, this will not last forever! However, you can expect the beautiful color to last up to a week or two.

DHA was discovered in the 1920s when a group of German scientists first recognized it as a skin-coloring agent.  They noted that the surface would turn brown when in contact with their skin if not rinsed off!  Years later, Eva Wittgenstein, a scientist at The University of Cincinnati in the 1950s, researched the use of DHA to treat children with the metabolic disease – Glycogen Storage Disease.

While working with these children, she made an unanticipated discovery!  She found that when her young patients accidentally spit up or spilled the DHA onto their skin, it darkened the area after a few hours.  This led her to further experiment with the DHA, testing it out on her skin by painting various parts of her body.  Eva realized that the DHA created the same browning effect as UV tanning.  And with that, self-tanning was born!  Eva Wittgenstein is our hero!

A little science lesson about your skin

The skin is your body’s largest organ. It performs several critical functions: protection, sensation, heat regulation, storage, excretion, absorption, and water resistance.  Your skin is complete with three main layers: the Epidermis (top), the Dermis (middle), and the Hypodermis / Subcutaneous (bottom).

The Epidermis 

What is the Epidermis? It’s the outermost layer of your skin, and it has several different layers within. The surface layer that can be seen from outside – this where you get suntans. There are also three other layers: grains cells, spinal cells, basal cells.

As cells move upwards and away from the basal layer in the Epidermis, they move further from the body’s blood supply.  As they move farther from the blood supply, they flatten, die, and accumulate protein in a substance called keratin.  When cells finally reach the outer layer (stratum corneum), they are flat, scale-like, and dead. Still, they are ready to react with the amino acids in DHA to produce a beautiful tan color.

The lowest level of the Epidermis is called the basal layer and is where a UV tan originates. It’s the place where the old cells are constantly dividing, producing millions of new skin cells every day! The basal layer also contains melanocytes that produce melanin pigment – the darker color associated with a tan.  UV light is what stimulates melanin production.

In various races, melanin production is continuous regardless of exposure to UV rays. Hence, the skin is always somewhat pigmented, although UV light will increase the pigmentation.  Melanocytes produce two different pigments: eumelanin – brown and phaeomelanin – yellow or red. This is why fairer skinned people do not tan as well. Typically, they have a higher level of pheomelanin than eumelanin– which causes more yellow or red color rather than brown.

The Dermis  

This inner layer of skin contains blood vessels, nerves, hair roots, sweat glands, collagen, and elastin.  It provides life in the form of blood and oxygen to the Epidermis.  Collagen and elastin are found in this layer and give the skin its elasticity, firmness, and strength.

The Hypodermis – aka Subcutaneous Layer 

The Hypodermis is the bottom layer of the skin underneath the Dermis and is composed mainly of fat.  The thickness of this layer varies among people and is thicker where curves are formed.  The Hypodermis is typically found to be thicker in women than in men.  This added thickness is what helps develop women’s rounded curves!

Your skin is the most visible part of your body, and it deserves your protection!  You do not have to sacrifice your skin to achieve a dream tan.  Self-tanners work for every type of skin, including very pale ones like mine. With self-tanner, I can look as good as Coco Chanel without hurting my delicate complexion in any way at all.

The best way to apply sunless tanning lotion

Exfoliate first.

The first step is to exfoliate the skin to remove any excess dead skin cells. Spend a little extra time on thick areas like your knees and elbows. Then dry off the area you’re going to be applying it onto so you don’t get streaks or patches in unwanted places!

Apply in sections.

Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty while you’re getting tanned. Apply the product in sections, and don’t forget to wash your hands after each section, or else they’ll turn orange! Start with your face, then your arms, and work up from there. Make sure not to leave any patches of skin out–even if it means that you have more time left on the clock than usual when doing this part of the lighting process is over.

Wipe down your joints- knees, elbows, and ankles. These areas are more prone to absorb the sunless tanning products, so it’s best to wipe them off with a damp towel or apply some lotion over top of self-tanners on these spots.

Be patient.

After applying self-tanner, make sure to give your skin time to dry. Wait at least ten minutes before getting dressed, and keep in mind loose clothing that doesn’t restrict sweat or breathing is best for the summer months.

Protect your skin.

You can’t be too careful when it comes to your skin! The best way for you to protect yourself is by wearing sunscreen. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are; it’s important to be sun-smart! Be sure that your sunscreen offers all of these protections: SPF 30+, broad-spectrum protection (UVA/UVB), and water-resistant. Why? Because everyone wants a healthy-looking glow year-round – right?!

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