It is very important that consumers recognize how products work- their basic functions, mechanisms of action, and the side effects, if there are any. In the case of sunless tanning, no other ingredient gets more attention than dihydroxyacetone or DHA. Among all the ingredients involved in the manufacturing of sunless tanning systems, it gets more scrutiny from those who believe that natural sun bathing is still the best way to go. In this article, we will shed light on everything that you need to know about DHA! By supplementing readers with myths and facts, you will most assuredly know that sunless tanning is still the better alternative to get a beautiful and glowing tanned skin!
What is DHA?
Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) or glycerone was discovered by accident. In the 1920s, DHA was used as a coloring agent for patients who are about to undergo X-ray diagnostic procedures. Scientists have noticed that accidental spillage of DHA results in brownish skin discolorations. It was also used as a medication for children suffering from glycogen storage disease.
DHA used in self tanners should not be confused with DHA found in Omega-3 fatty acids. It was in the 1960s that DHA was being marketed as one of the key ingredients of sunless tanning solutions. In its early years, sunless tanners were not so popular as men and women experienced undesirable results which mainly involved excessive orange stain that left the skin. Technological advancements have allowed manufacturers to improve on their DHA formula, thus most self tanning lotions nowadays leave a more desirable tan or brown color after application. The natural coloring of sunless tanners of recent years makes the most desirable option among men and women who would like to avoid sun bathing altogether.
DHA is a ketone that directly reacts with the amino acid chains that can be found on the surface of the skin. The Food and Drug Admnistration or FDA reports that staining from DHA only penetrates the uppermost layer of the skin. This means that glycerone is not absorbed in the bloodstream. For cosmetic uses, DHA is therefore deemed as a safe compound. Due to the high level of safety and efficient of DHA, majority of tanning solutions in the market increase the concentration to make them more appealing, especially to those who desire to have sun kissed skin all year round. Doctors recommend consumers to purchase DHA which contains 3% up to 15% of DHA only. This is more than sufficient data which points to the efficacy of DHA in larger doses, thus it is more sensible to stick with the recommended dosage to avoid any unpleasant side effects.
Myths and Facts about DHA
Myth: Regular use of DHA can result in the development of skin cancer
Fact: DHA’s main function is to with a sun kissed tan. It does not induce the absorption of UV rays or does not promote heating color or stain the skin at all. There is no way that sunless tanning can increase one’s exposure to sunlight or increase the risk of an individual in developing skin cancer.
Myth: it is unnecessary to wear sunscreen when you have applied sunless tanning products that contain DHA
Fact: People who have had sunless tanning should never forget to apply sunscreen before going outdoors. Majority of sunless tanning systems in the market do not have the sunscreen element thus it is only necessary to apply a separate sunscreen with high SPF level to protect the skin from UV damage and excessive sun exposure too. You will be able to maintain the ideal tan from self tanning lotions with combined use of sunscreen’s SPF protection.
Myth: There is no need to go outdoors for sun exposure as self tanners that contain DHA also feature Vitamin D
Fact: Even if you have already achieved a sun-kissed glow with the help of sunless tanners, you will still need to go out and enjoy the heat of the sun once in a while. Vitamin D is ideally sourced from direct exposure to sunlight. Although there are supplements that contain this important nutrient, the cheapest and most efficient means to get Vitamin D is through sun exposure nonetheless. To avoid the harmful effect of the sun’s UV rays, doctors recommend to do sun bathing early in the morning, between 7am till 9 in the morning. Exposure to the sun for about two to ten minutes will be more enough to supply your body with ideal amounts of Vitamin D!
Myth: Sunless tanning systems that contain DHA smell bad
Fact: This was once true, especially during the first few years of manufacturing self-tanning products. However, in recent years manufacturers have added certain compounds to make their solutions more appealing to consumers. For those who are allergic to fragrances, there are also tanning lotions as well as spray that feature neutral odor.
Myth: DHA in high concentrations bring about darker tan
Fact: The frequency of application determines how light or dark a tan will appear on your skin. More layers of sunless tanning lotion means darker tan, while those who prefer to apply them once will only achieve a subtle tan. The final color will only appear eight to ten hours after application. By gradual tanning, you will be able to determine if a single application will achieve your desired color, or help you in assessing if you will still need subsequent applications to achieve the skin color that you desire!