Sunless tanning lotion

Increasingly popular, sunless tanning lotion appeals to those looking for an alternative to exposing their skin to the sun's potentially harmful Ultraviolet (UV) rays. The appeal is also about wanting to obtain a beautiful, glowing, natural looking tan but not wanting to have to sun bathe outdoors or go to a tanning salon.

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Sunless Tanning Lotion review...

Plenty of choice

Since the invention of cosmetics there has been some sort of tanning or self-tanning products around in some form or other. Coppertone introduced its first sunless tanning product in 1960 - the one we all came to know as QT, abbreviated from Quick Tanning Lotion. Unfortunately it produced an unsightly orange effect that many still remember today and so won't try the more modern versions. However, the newer formulations today can impart anything from a subtle bronzed glow to a deep, dark sun tanned look. There are quite a few options available:

  • Tanning pills
  • Sunless tanning lotions
  • Self-tanning sprays
  • Cosmetic bronzers

Most of these take 45 minutes to an hour before they have any real effect. However, bronzers are the ones that yield the more immediate results. They are often used to jump start the tanning process. Like before going on holiday to a beach resort where you want to be in the sun every day. Some bronzing lotions are combined with other ingredients to give them a tingle effect - called Hot Bronzers, or cooling agents like Menthol - called Cool Bronzers.

Sunless tanning lotion does not contain any sunscreen and so offer no protection from the sun's UV rays. So although they create a golden skin color, sunless tanning products actually are not able to protect the skin from the ultraviolet radiation in the sun's rays the way melanin in a 'real' tan does. It's therefore important that users of sunless tanning products apply sunscreen before venturing out into the sun.

How does sunless tanning lotion work?

The main ingredient that makes all of these sunless tanning products work is "dihydroxyacetone", otherwise known as DHA. This is a fancy name for what is actually a colorless sugar that creates a change in the color of the skin's dead skin cells on the epidermis (outer layer of skin). The more times you use them, the darker the shade of tan you will create. Once the desired tan is obtained you can stop applying the lotion and after about a week it will begin to fade, until you are back to your original color.


Ingredients vary widely from brand to brand but some of the common active ingredients include melanin, L-Tyrosine, Tea oil, Copper, Green tea extract and many other natural oils for additional moisturizing. This is needed to compensate the tanning process and leave the skin looking smooth and healthy. Hempseed oil is a very popular moisturizing oil because it is high in fatty acids, which helps to seal in moisture and maintain longer effects from tanning.

Fragrance is another common ingredient used to differentiate products and although it offers no advantage in tanning, it often dictates a person's choice. Some even choose a product for its aromatherapy effect.

With added moisturizing oils and antioxidants such as vitamin E and aloe vera, your skin will remain hydrated and full of nutrients.

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