Sunless Tanning With DHA
In the world of sunless tanning, DHA is referring to dihydroxyacetone the sunless tanning ingredient and not docosahexaenoic acid the omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is a simple carbohydrate derived from sugar cane, sugar beets, or by the fermentation of glycerin.
When applied to the skin, DHA reacts with the protein molecules in the outermost layer called the stratum corneum. This chemical reaction (oxydation) develops color over the next several hours and is considered to be a safe alternative to indoor and outdoor sun tanning.
DHA is the most common sunless tanning ingredient, and can be found in a variety of concentrations from 1 to 15%. Mass-market products (available at drug stores, super markets, or chain stores) usually contain up to 5% DHA, where a professional product would contain 5 to 15%. The tan you get from DHA usually lasts up to eight days.
Self-application methods vary and include self-tanning bronzer lotions, moisturizing body lotions, mousse, gels, sprays, and cosmetic wipes. Professional application methods are generally via a spray tanning booth or airbrushing, which is also used for touch-up after spray tanning in a booth.
It is recommended that you leave the tanning lotion/product on for a minimum of 4 hours. Full color is usually achieved within 8 hours.
Although DHA is approved by the FDA and generally regarded as safe for hand-application, care should be taken when using products containg DHA in a spray application as it is not recommended for use near the eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes and should not be inhaled or ingested.
Allergic reaction to sunless tanning products is not common, but may occur. Oftentimes the allergy is cause by an added ingredient such as a preservative.