A lot of people have a natural skin tone that is lighter than they would like. The solution for this problem has been to either go to the beach and get a suntan, or use a fake tanner.
But How Does Fake Tan Work? Why do we need it in the first place? Read on for answers!
A fake tan is a product used to give the appearance of having recently been exposed to the sun. Fake tans are mostly composed of DHA, which is related to sugar. It is not an uncommon practice for people with lighter skin tones who wish to achieve a darker complexion without burning themselves in the sun’s harmful rays.
How Does Fake Tan Work?
After applying fake tan to the skin, a chemical reaction occurs which produces a brown color. The two most important chemicals in DHA are dihydroxyacetone and erythrulose.
- When they come into contact with dead cells on the surface of your skin, they begin to interact with amino acids that are found in these cells. This reaction is called a Maillard reaction, which will turn the skin dark brown.
- For people who have darker skin this isn’t an issue, but for those with lighter skin it can be dangerous as the color produced by the DHA may not be a natural looking color. Fake tan can also cause your skin to become irritated.
- Fake tanning products typically contain a chemical called dihydroxyacetone. This is the ingredient that gives you your brown skin tone when it interacts with dead cells on the top layer of your skin, causing them to darken in color and look like a suntan.
- In order for fake tanners to work properly, there needs to be an even application of the product. This way, it will appear as if you have a natural tan instead of looking like you’ve rolled around in mud or had an accident with some self-tanner that went horribly wrong!
- While there are many types of fake tans available, most work using this same chemical to give you your desired skin tone. The color your skin will become depends on the type of fake tan you use and how long it’s left on your skin before showering off.
- Most self-tanners are designed to be washed off after a few hours, but there are some that claim to last for days. If you’re looking for an all-over deep tan, then it’s best to choose the latter. These type of fake tans will need to be applied evenly and given time to soak in before you can get dressed. Once this is done, your tan should last for several days before having to apply another round!
- As with any product designed for self-application, it’s important that you apply fake tan carefully and cautiously. You don’t want to end up with streaks or patches in your tan, so it’s important you take the time to smooth everything out properly.
- While having an even application is important, using too much of the product can be just as bad. If you use too much self-tanner, not only can it leave you with an orange hue, but it can also damage your skin. For this reason, you’re advised to use self-tanner sparingly and never more than twice a day.
There’s no need to spend hours baking yourself under the sun or sitting in front of that nasty tanning bed at the salon anymore – these days you can fake it with ease! If you want to embrace your inner beauty junkie but are worried about the appearance of skin damage, try using fake tan for a sun-kissed look without the nasty side effects!
Different Types of Fake Tan
There are many different types of fake tan available at your local chemist or drug store. Some can be applied with a mitt, while others may need to be rubbed on the skin after being sprayed onto it.
Fake tans usually come in 3 distinct shades: dark, medium and light. However they may also come as a special formula cream for sensitive skin, an express tanner or one which doesn’t require showering.
Dark – A fake tan with a dark formula is a great way to get a deep, dark tan. These usually take longer to work than the other types but you will notice that they produce the darkest results.
Medium – A medium fake tan shade is usually used by those who don’t want as dark of a result as those who use dark formulas would achieve. This type is used by those who want to darken their skin tone without going over the top.
Light – A light fake tan shade is for people with very fair complexions. This formula won’t give you a realistic looking sun-kissed glow, but it will provide some color to your skin and make you look healthier and more radiant.
How to Apply Fake Tan
If you want to apply fake tan without staining your clothes or bed sheets then it is important that you follow these steps:
Remove all jewelry from the area where you will be applying the product. Try using latex gloves if possible – this can help prevent your palms from turning brown. Put on an old shirt and shorts so that you don’t ruin your outfits. You can also put a towel on top of your bed sheets if you wish to go to bed straight after applying fake tan.
Apply fake tan with a mitt, making sure there are no streaks left behind. If you have sensitive skin then use a makeup sponge instead – this will help prevent any irritation. If you want to wash the product off your hands, use some soap and water. Don’t scrub too hard or you could end up with dry skin.
Wear dark clothing after applying fake tan – this will prevent any smudges of patches on your clothes. Try to avoid contact with other people for at least 6 hours before going out in public. This will ensure that your tan doesn’t rub off on other people or things, which can be embarrassing when you find your tan on someone else!
Don’t apply fake tan to broken cuticles or around fingernails. This may cause pain and irritation to the areas surrounding the application site. If this does occur, wipe away fake tan with a damp cloth. If you experience irritation when using self-tanning products then stop use immediately.
The best time to apply fake tan is at night before going to bed – this will ensure that it has plenty of time to dry and doesn’t come into contact with anything (such as your hands) which may cause patchy areas.
It is recommended that you do not use fake tan more than twice a week, as this can cause your skin to dry out and flake. If you experience any irritation when applying the product then don’t continue use – it’s likely that your body isn’t used to having fake tan applied to it and taking a break for a few weeks will help make sure your skin is back to normal.
Fake Tan Ingredients
The active ingredient used in most types of fake tan is Dihydroxyacetone (DHA): This brown sugar-like substance reacts with dead skin cells on the surface of your skin and turns it dark brown/orange color. It is also safe to use on the face and is FDA approved.
Additional substances may be added to DHA in order to prolong its effects: for example, a moisturizing agent can be used in order to stop your skin from becoming too dry during the tanning process. A word of caution though – if you have sensitive skin then it’s best not to use a product which has been developed for use on both your face and body.
Fake Tan Side Effects
If you experience any side effects then stop use immediately and find an alternative. Some common problems include:
Staining other things apart from your skin (such as carpets, furniture and clothes) – this can prove to be costly if your tan doesn’t come out naturally! Irritation – such as dry patches of skin, redness and itchiness.
Sunburn is caused by too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays clogging up your skin cells which causes them to burst. This can cause redness, swelling and heat as well as damaging the deeper layers of your skin. It usually takes at least 24 hours for these symptoms to occur and exposure before that time won’t cause the burn to take place.
Sunburns can be extremely painful and should be treated as quickly as possible. Use a cold compress to relieve the pain and try to avoid using any creams. The best way to deal with sunburn is by staying out of direct sunlight for several days – this will allow your skin cells to repair themselves naturally.
Don’t use fake tan if you have sunburned yourself recently – it can cause further irritation which can end up as a serious burn!
Is Fake Tan Safe?
DHA is one of the chemicals used to make fake tans. It causes a chemical reaction with the skin, resulting in problems. In a nutshell, when you caramelize sugar or barbecue meat, the same chemical reaction that stains skin causes it to darken, called the Maillard reaction. You are still grilling your skin while there is no exposure to the sun, even if you aren’t actually grilling it.
This is what happens when you use a phony tanning lotion that includes DHA on your skin:
Vitamin D Deficiency – People with fair skin tones are more likely to develop a vitamin D deficiency. According to a report from the Office of Dietary Supplements, people who stay indoors most of the day and those who use sunscreen on a daily basis will not make enough vitamin D naturally. These individuals may be at greater risk for developing this type of deficiency.
Vitamin D is important because it helps the body maintain proper calcium levels. Calcium builds strong bones and teeth, as well as regulates heart rate and blood pressure.
Additionally, research has linked vitamin D deficiencies to increased risks of certain cancers such as those affecting the prostate, breast and colon.
A few studies have shown that people with darker skin tones are less likely to develop melanoma. But researchers have not yet learned why this happens.
This information has led some dermatologists to speculate that people with darker skin tones may have more melanin, the pigment that gives the skin its color. Melanin protects the body from damage by ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can trigger harmful changes in skin cells that eventually lead to this type of cancer.
Irritation – Some users complain that fake tans caused intense irritation to their skin, leading to rashes and itching. Drying of the skin is another common side effect. Ingredients in counterfeit tanners, such as DHA and other chemicals in fake tanners, can irritate the skin. Fragrances are used to cover up the self-tanner scent in some fake tans, which is one of the most common reasons for skin irritation with fake tanners. Some fake tanners can also clog pores, which leads to skin problems.
Sun Damage – The rays that you are trying to avoid by using a fake tanning lotion, such as the UVB rays, still penetrate deep into your skin. During these tanning sessions with DHA, your skin becomes damaged.
Oxidative stress – Notice how in this reaction, DHA and ozone combine to form a reactive free radical. This is no different than when your body creates free radicals when you are out in the sun too long – it leads to oxidative stress, which can lead to DNA damage and can harm cells.
This reaction also happens when you cook with an iron pan, such as on your stove.
When you expose skin to ultraviolet light, it creates oxygen-based free radicals that lead to inflammation, which can cause premature aging of the skin and potentially melanoma or other skin cancers. Also implicated however are oxidative stress, damaged proteins in the skin due to UV exposure – specifically keratin proteins – which is what you find in keratin-based hair and nails, and an increase of swollen blood vessels (which is why you develop a sunburn: it’s the result of all of the extra blood rushing to your skin to try to cool it down).
One study found that exposure to DHA results in twice as much oxidative stress on the skin than exposure to ultraviolet light. While DHA itself is not carcinogenic, it still irritates the skin and can increase your risk of developing cancer in time if you are exposed to sunlight with DHA on your skin – especially with repeated exposure over time.
Fake Tan vs. Suntan
Many people don’t realize the difference between fake tan and getting a sun tan:
- Getting a Sun Tan is caused by natural sunlight. The ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun stimulate the production of melanin which gives your skin its color. It usually takes 24 hours for these effects to take place.
- Because your body has to work with the sunlight in order for you to get a sun tan, it can also cause damage to your skin if you are exposed too much too quickly. Getting a Sun Tan is expensive – apart from the initial cost of buying sunscreen, sun beds can be very expensive and are not always available everywhere.
- Sun beds can cause a build up of redness and swelling in the skin. Despite what you might think, it takes around 7 hours for your fake tan to fully develop – this is because it takes approximately 4-6 hours for the color to be visible, another 2-4 hours for maximum coloration and then at least another hour before the tan begins to fade.
- Fake Tan is applied to your skin either with a special mitt or by using your hands, although some people prefer the use of a tanning brush – let them know that these are available for purchase! Fake tans are easier to reapply after you have showered/bathed as they are easily washed off using soap and water. Fake tans are much safer as they use DHA which has been approved by FDA regulations.
- A lot of fake tans are designed to be used on the face as well – if you have sensitive skin then it’s advisable not to use a product that has both your face and body in mind.
Fake Tans last much longer than Sun Tans – they can last from three days to a week, depending on how dark you go. Fake tans are much easier and cheaper as you will use it less often as well as being able to buy them for a cheaper price.
Fake Tans and Sun Tans both have their advantages. The important thing is to know what you’re using, what effects it has on your body as well as the cons of each type before deciding which one best suits you!
Understanding how fake tanners function may help you determine whether they are the best option for you and how to further safeguard your skin while using one.
Fake tanning products are a wonderful option for those who don’t want to expose their skin to the sun and damage it. The majority of fake tanning solutions may be utilized at home.