How to Choose
By: Camilla Blais
Getting a golden glow doesn’t have to put you at risk for premature aging and skin cancer. The
skin is made up of two distinct layers. Self tanners work on the epidermis level of the skin and will only
penetrate the upper most level of the epidermis. The first sunless tanner product came on the market
in 1960 and there have been vast improvements since then. There are hundreds of types of self tanners
available that offer a variety of levels of darkness, some offering just a sun kissed glow, to others that
will make your skin look like you just got home from a tropical vacation.
Dihydroxyacetone or DHA is the active ingredient in most of the over the counter self tanners. DHA is
actually a colorless sugar that reacts with the dead skin cells causing a reaction and change of color.
Most self tanners take a couple of hours to dry and take effect and the effects can last seven to ten days.
Self tanners come in lotion, spray, and gel formulas and are easily applied.
There are also body glows or bronzers available. These are more of a topical color. They will change
your color slightly and will wash off when you are finished, or wear off by the end of the day. Body
glows or bronzers are more like make-up that tint or stain your skin.
If you are using a self tanner you will want to apply it after showering.
Dry your skin, but not too thoroughly.
A little moisture left on your skin will help the self tanner take hold.
It is also a good idea to exfoliate your skin before application, especially on the elbows, knees
and ankles. Any places where dead skin cells tend to accumulate. This will help to stop dark
patches from appearing in these areas.
It is also important to wash your hands after application to avoid the palms of your hands from
looking colored, or patchy.
With a bronzer or body glow you will want to apply them to completely dry skin, just like you would with
any other type of make-up or foundation. Exfoliation is also important when using these types of self
tanners. A bronzer or body glow can cause the same patchy skin appearance that a thicker tanning
product can do.
Either product can color or stain clothing or towels. *Make sure that you are wearing clothes that you
are not concerned about getting stained. The same goes for towels, which can be stained if you use one
before the self tanner is completely dry.
Self tanner lotions can dry out the skin, giving you further dry patches. Many recommend that you also
moisturize with a regular lotion on top of the self tanner. With a bronzer or body glow there is more
moisture in these products. They often will have an SPF built in and they will keep your skin more moist,
then the other self tanners, but they will not last as long.
Both of these products are great, but you have to decide if you want that tan look for today or for the