Over 50 years ago, a light and pale complexion was considered glamorous. Unfortunately for our skin, today it’s more of a bronze-glow that most people are looking for as they spend time and money on indoor tanning booths and “worship the sun” in the summer months. “The popularity of self-tanning products is surging, showing that Americans are wising up about sun safety. They’re putting their money where their skin is,” said an article on skincancer.org entitled, “As Sun Safety Grows, So Do the Benefits of Sunless Tanning.”
Luckily, companies across the world are getting closer to perfecting the most natural-looking, sunless- and UV ray less-tanning products. Spray tanning salons have become more up and coming, especially among Hollywood celebrities who fear nothing more than aged skin and wrinkles. During this current season, MTV’s “Real World’s” Key West cast members are working to promote the new Mystic Tan franchise.
Mystic Tan offers in-store, spray-on tans in one application. It’s delivered by a series of jets and dries within a few minutes. The tanning ingredient in all spray-on tans is DHA (dihydroxyacetone), which is approved by the FDA. The American Academy of Dermatology says DHA can be found in the most effective sunless- or self-tanning lotions as the active ingredient.
According to howstuffworks.com, DHA is a colorless 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 color change occurs. This change usually lasts about five to seven days from the initial application.
The effect of spray on and sunless tans is only temporary because DHA interacts with dead skin cells that naturally slough off, and the tan can disappear within a week unless lotion is reapplied.
“That’s a lot more healthful than a suntan, however, because while suntans also start fading after a few days, the harm done to the skin is permanent,” as stated in the skincancer.org article.
Despite what most people think, sunless tanning hasn’t been a new fad since Coppertone came out with the very first sunless-tanning product, QT or Quick Tanning Lotion, in 1960. Over 40 years later it’s becoming more and more popular with the increasing rate of skin cancer cases each year.
Companies all over the world have advanced since the first sunless-tanning product. Now you cannot only find instant tanning lotions, but tanning wipes, sprays, booths and even pills. Although, the tanning pill has not yet been approved by the FDA because it contains canthaxanthin, which is commonly used as a color additive in certain foods. When taken as a tanning agent, it has been linked to different side effects such as hepatitis and canthaxanthin retinopathy, which is a condition that causes yellow deposits to form in the retina of the eye.
With all the recent improvements, the interest in sunless tanning products has only increased. “They’re easier to use than ever, the color appears more natural, and some lotions even contain sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF),” says Stanley B. Levy, MD, adjunct clinical professor of dermatology at the University of North Carolina, School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, as quoted in the skincancer.org sunless tanning article.
On the popular women’s Web site, ivillage.com, visitors rated what they felt are the best self-tanners. The top ten items included in order: Coppertone Endless Summer Sunless Tanning Lotion, Lancme Flash Bronzer Self-Tanning Body Spray, Neutrogena Sunless Tanning Spray, Bain de Soleil Streakguarde Self Tanning Crme, Au Courant Sunless Tanning Spray, No-Ad Sunless Tanning Lotion, Coppertone Sunless Tanner Lotion, BeneFit Aruba in a Tuba, Banana Boat Sunless Tanning Crme with Color Indicator, and Neutrogena Sunless Tanning Foam.