Using a self tanning lotion is believed by many to be one of the safest ways to get a tan without having to put your skin at risk of damage by lying out in the sun or in a tanning salon. For years, many people have enjoyed fake tans that lasted all year-round. It helps prepare your 'winter' body for long spells in the summer sun and also just makes you feel healthier and sexier when presenting well tanned. Actually, the truth is that your body IS much healthier if you expose it to the sun's UVB rays and allow a natural photosynthesis type process to take place, whereby your skin creates Vitamin D. However, it's not always possible to get out into the sun.
So, if you've been debating about a method to choose in order to get that healthy, bronzed look for the summer, and you don't have time or access to outdoor sunshine, using a self tanning lotion may be an option you'll want to look into.
Whether you are talking about sun tanning outdoors or self-tanning, the epidermis is where the real activity occurs. Our skin consists of two main layers: the epidermis on the outside and the dermis on the inside. The epidermis is also made up of layers. The deepest layer of the epidermis, called the stratum basale, or basal layer, is affected during sun tanning. However, the stratum corneum, or horny layer, is the outermost layer of the epidermis and it is this layer that is affected by most self tanning, or sunless tanning products.
As the name suggests, these lotions are specially formulated so that your skin changes its color without any assistance from the sun's UV rays. There are a variety of such tanning lotions available at many stores where you normally find sunscreens and the main ingredient used that makes them work so effectively is known as DHA, or Dihydroxyacetone. 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.
There are many times in the past that I can recall seeing people with a strange orange colored skin but technology for self tanning lotions has come a long way and nowadays consumers don't really have to worry about sporting an unsightly orange hue. Newer formulas now allow the tanning lotion to develop a shade that is closer to your skin's natural color by working with your skin's existing pigments. Many shades of self tanning lotion are listed as "light to medium" or "medium to dark," while others offer a helpful color spectrum where you can actually choose your shade. Needless to say, it pays to take some time to test your skin with the chosen tanning lotion on a small area of your skin upfront, before applying to the whole body or whole face.
Every day, millions of dead skin cells are sloughed off or worn away from the surface of your skin. In fact, every 35 to 45 days, you have an entirely new epidermis. This is why tans from self tanning lotions will gradually fade - as the dead cells are worn away, so is your tan. For this reason, most of the self tanning lotions will suggest that you reapply about every three days to maintain your "tan."
There is a certain art to applying self tanning lotions evenly so you don't create orange streaks all over your legs. Applying self tanning lotions takes practice and patience, but if you apply the following suggestions, it will be easier and your sunless tan will be streak-free:
Although these tanning lotions that contain DHA are believed to be the most reliable, there are some other ingredients on the market. Tanning accelerators, as lotions or pills, usually contain the amino acid tyrosine, which is claimed to stimulate and increase melanin formation, thereby accelerating the tanning process.
It's important to remember that most of these products, unless they contain an added sunscreen, will not protect you from the sun's UVA and UVB rays. Even self tanning lotions that do contain a sunscreen won't be of much help, since they lose their efficacy within hours of application. So, if you're planning to head outside to show off your new glow, be sure to apply some extra sunscreen.