Are Self Tanners Bad For Skin?

Categories: Tanning
Leave A Comment: Comments(9)

are self tanners bad?It’s a fact that excessive sun tanning is bad for your skin and health, but self tanners are the perfect, completely safe alternative, aren’t they? Maybe not. Why does everything good have to be bad for you??? I guess self tanners aren’t that great since they smell bad, they’re hard to apply, and they can turn you orange and streaky, but still…

So it turns out that DHA (Dihydroxyacetone), the ingredient in self tanners that gives you color, also creates free radicals, which ironically age the skin:( This information comes from one study out of Germany that showed a 180% increase in free radical formation during sun exposure after using a product with a 5% level of DHA. The increase in free radicals from the sun lasts for about 24 hours. Most drugstore sunless tanning products contain 3-5% DHA. Professional products can contain up to 15% DHA. I have a feeling spray tans are pretty high in DHA since they can produce such dramatic results.

How to keep your skin safe when wearing self tanner
Essentially, don’t go in the sun if you’re wearing a self tanner! Luckily, that’s the point of self tanners – to avoid the need for sun exposure to get tan. Of course it’s impossible to totally avoid the sun, so wear lots of sunscreen, plus put on a topical product with antioxidants to neutralize the extra free radicals. And it’s only the first 24 hours that produces the extra free radicals, and most people only apply self tanner every few days.

Erythulose, which is another self tanner ingredient, also causes a similar increase in free radicals. I’ve only heard of this one particular German study on sunless tanning ingredients, so maybe other studies would show different results, but I sort of doubt it. The study goes on to say “…dihydroxyacetone also has an effect on the amino acids and nucleic acids which is bad for the skin.” This is what scares me the most, because I don’t know what exactly that means, and does that mean DHA is bad for your skin even if you don’t go in the sun? UGH. Leslie Baumann, a Dermatologist who wrote one of my favorite books “The Skin Type Solution” also reports on whether self tanner ingredients are dangerous.

Will this information have any impact on how much you use self tanners? Usually I am too lazy to apply self tanner regularly, but now that spring is here, I am self-conscious about my big pasty arms, and in fact I just slathered on some self tanner on them this morning. I will definitely skip applying self tanner on days I know I will be outside, but I don’t see myself giving up on them completely. I haven’t used many bronzers, but maybe I will look into those for my face as an alternative.

Don’t miss out…get Savvy Skin posts via email!
Bookmark and Share


9 Responses to “Are Self Tanners Bad For Skin?”

  1. Frankie Says:

    NOOOOOOOOO this is horrible! I wear self tanner every day. I can’t believe it’s sort of bad for my skin. A lot of times my face burns after I apply it and go outside – now I know why.

  2. Sarah Says:

    I’m still going to fake bake, but maybe not quite as much now. I just look better with a tan.

  3. amitkumar Says:

    I believe tanners are OK to an extent , but anything above the permissible limit is risky for the skin.
    Try using natural remedies to restore the tan in the skin.

  4. Lou Says:

    That is scary, so if you apply it before you go to bed does the 24 hours start from when you applied the tan, or from when you rinse it off in the morning?

  5. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    I would assume it would be when you first put it on. I wish I knew more!!

  6. Laura Says:

    There are a lot of self tanners out there that have antioxidants in them. So would that fight the free radicals and balance it out? Or what about putting a moisturizer or sunscreen that has good ingrediants & antioxidants over it after it dries? By the way, I think there was also a German study done that said beer cures cancer….don’t believe everything you hear from one study.

  7. jen Says:

    Yes, it’s bad for your skin even if you don’t go in the sun. But so are most products (that you don’t buy from organic/natural stores like whole foods, trader joes, etc. Products like makeup, skincare, lotions, etc. You have to check the toxicity of each product you buy. Self tanners are generally HIGH in toxicity. But so is toothpaste (fluoride)!

  8. deisy Says:

    Ohhh that´s really bad news.. i love to use tanning lotions i always feel so much better with a little tan on… :S

  9. Kassafrass Says:

    Damnit … I stop tanning bc of cancer and I found a self tanner that I love Loreal Sublime Bronze…and now they throw this free radical shit on me??? Maybe I should just up the chocolate, blueberries, and almonds? Thoughts?

  • Savvy Skin HOME Latest Updates


  • Featured Sites

    Hair Loss Hell
    Amazon BEAUTY



  • Categories

  • Recent Posts